Friday, 9 November 2012

More Than Just A Degree

There’s nothing like the sudden desire for self-improvement to spark a radical change of direction.

Take my decision to enroll in a Masters of Commerce degree at The University of Sydney Business School. Prior to taking the plunge I’d been running my own one-man consultancy, developing new technology for some architects who’d come up with a new product idea. It was all going great until it came time to think about project funding. Their line of thinking then quickly became something like this: “we haven’t made a firm decision about how to raise further funds - we’ll get back to you.” At that point, I realised I’d missed out on a piece of business I’d otherwise have won had I known about the entire holistic commercialisation process.

Indeed, when it came to entrepreneurial start-ups, there were plenty of questions I couldn’t answer. For instance: what happens if it doesn’t work? Will we get sued if something goes wrong? How do we get the funding? How does venture capital work? How will our company be valued? How do we know if we’re getting a fair deal? Not surprisingly, I quickly identified postgraduate study as the best way to fill in some considerable knowledge gaps.

I’m currently halfway through the course and I love it. But it’s not just the actual study side that’s been brilliant. Just being in the university environment and having the opportunity to meet many business-minded people with their own ideas and entrepreneurial aspirations has been extremely beneficial. The academics in the faculty have been amazing and very facilitative. If you demonstrate the interest, they can easily steer you towards countless additional learning opportunities. If you really get engaged, this place has so much more to offer than just a degree.

So, where will it all lead? Eventually, I’d really like to be in a position to facilitate great ideas. I’m passionate about ensuring that new start-ups get the support and attention they deserve. The skills I’m developing now will help me do just that.

Author: James Harry Crowther – Masters of Commerce student


  1. tks James. how did you choose between courses? it is confusing and there is a lot of jargon and marketing around!

    1. Hi Siobhan!
      Yeah, Choosing a degree isn't easy. I was surprisingly methodical in choosing the Master of Commerce. I say that since I chose my undergrad out of passion, so that was easy!
      So the MComm? Basically I had been working on commercialising a new invention and noticed that I loved the business behind start-ups, but I knew little about business. When I started looking for a degree I already had a list of the skills and knowledge I wanted and did some research to clear up the "jargon" so I had it straight what I needed. Doing some basic research into your future career and working backwards really helps. If you can see your goal, getting there is possible!

      Hope that helps!

  2. big call. significant investment of time and money, how do I choose between universities?

    1. Agreed that you cannot go wrong with a degree but which course, what stage of career and which university is a hard question to answer. Any help available?

    2. Hi Vesna and Banker,
      Both very good questions. Not easy to answer them, I have gone through this and have a friend about to apply for a degree, we often chat about this.
      For me my choice was firstly based on the must haves, I had a list of things I wanted/needed from my degree and I looked at all the units available to cover off on my list. You'll likely find that a lot of universities have similar sounding units, so next you can try to cut down the number of Universities by reputation if you like.

      Having said that, although Sydney Uni has a great reputation, thats not what I made my decision on. Basically I felt at home here, since I did my undergrad at Sydney Uni. So I guess I made my decision on gut feel, my friend made his decision a similar way, he just felt excited about a particular uni and went with that.
      I've done a lot of study into financing ventures and it seems that most decisions to back a startup are also finalised on gut feel, so there is something to be said for "going on gut feel", if you feel happy with your choice, I think thats a sure sign you've made a good one!

  3. Consider these when you begin:
    • Is a postgraduate course necessary for the field of work/career that you have chosen?
    • If career advancement is the reason for doing a postgraduate degree, can you find out from professional
    bodies in your own country which qualification you should aim for?
    • Would a postgraduate qualification enhance your job prospects in your chosen field or might employers be
    more interested in the skills that you have picked up during work experience?
    • Do you need to do a particular postgraduate qualification to convert to the career area which you are interested
    • Do you need to do an initial postgraduate course (such as a Masters) as preparation for later doctoral study?