''I'm in a different world at the moment, but I am enjoying it while it lasts.''

Essex MBA 2020 full-time student, Fercia Weyer from South Africa tells her MBA story.

Smartly dressed lady smiles at camera

What motivated you to do an MBA?

Many moons ago, I started my career in accounting. I joined a graduate scheme and later worked my way up to Corporate Banking Manger at First National Bank. I completed my accountancy qualifications alongside employment. 

For personal reasons I resigned because my son had some learning difficulties and I needed a less demanding role. I concentrated on my family and worked part-time in accountancy. 

Later, when they were much older, I opened my own accountancy practice. I eventually joined a smaller firm owned by a client of mine. This enabled me to visit my kids who were then living in Dubai and London.  In this role I was presented with many business challenges and I analysed everything!

Have you taken a career break to do an MBA?

Yes, I left my last accounting role because I was looking for a change. The economy in South Africa had slowed down and through an agent I was introduced to the idea of an MBA.

During a December holiday together as a family I decided this was an avenue I wanted to pursue. I said: ‘once we come back in January, I’m going to start investigating it’, and that’s what I did.  Some of my friends definitely thought I was crazy but once the house went on the market, they realised I was serious. It took a lot of support to get me here. I sold everything and moved lock stock and barrel.

Why did you choose Essex?

I got accepted by quite a few universities. Essex was the last application that I sent in but the first one to come back to me. So, we started the ball rolling. When Nicolas and I spoke, we had such a nice rapport. 20 minutes became an hour-long conversation and he immediately said in the interview that he would like me here. I was awarded a scholarship too, which helped out a lot.

I just decided this is what I feel comfortable with and liked the location of the University. It’s close to my son. I also really liked the idea of writing a business plan for my MBA project, as opposed to the dissertation, that just scares the living daylights out of me! I do not want to write a 10,000-word academic paper. This was a big thing in favour of Essex, the whole package just worked out.

How do you like being back in the classroom?

Compared to how I studied in the distant past things are very different - it was big change. But now I love it. I’m in a different world at the moment, but I am enjoying it while it lasts. It can be stressful but I love being with the other students, mixing with all nationalities. The group dynamics are amazing. It’s nice to be a student again.

Do you have an idea of what you’d like to do afterwards?

I am interested in operations management within the hospitality industry and as such, I was going to do a consultancy project in that industry for my final MBA project. However, COVID-19 called for plans to change and I considered doing a business plan but finally settled on a consultancy project relating to the acquisition of businesses.  I am not a 100% sure what the immediate future holds, but would still eventually like to pursue the hospitality industry. 

Would you recommend The Essex MBA?

Yes! I am a student representative and this enables me to share feedback from the course. So far it’s been very positive. Some of the things that we have suggested are changing for next year – just small things, things that we have found difficult. It’s a lovely diverse group too. I’m the oldest in the group but it’s not a thing. Everybody brings their experience and knowledge, there is no exclusion of any kind.