In July 2009, May Sheqem proudly graduated with an MBA after 3 years of hard work
studying. May, who is currently a Business Manager at Nasser Bin Nawaf & Partners
Holdings in Qatar, is just one of a growing number of alumni pursuing higher education
online. Now hooked on online learning, May has taken on the challenge of yet another
postgraduate degree with the University of Liverpool and is currently undertaking the online
LLM in International Business Law.
We asked May to tell us about her expectations, the benefits of online learning, day-to-day experiences, and the support she received.
May, congratulations on your MBA! It’s great to hear that you’ve decided to continue to further your education with another online programme. Tell us how you’re finding your LLM programme so far.
Quite simply, the University of Liverpool offers a great LLM programme. It is demanding, challenging and full of content. As you know I’m already a graduate with the University of Liverpool, and I was really satisfied with my MBA studies, so I knew what to expect when choosing to follow another online programme with the University.
What about the support you received from your family and employer?
My family were initially not that enthusiastic for me to embark on undertaking a postgraduate degree online! They were worried that it wouldn’t be with a reputable university.
But the fact that I chose an accredited programme with a reputable school makes all the difference as I didn’t have to worry that the quality of the programme would be compromised because it’s delivered online. But since my MBA and now with my LLM my family have been incredibly supportive.
My employer is also very supportive of my studies. Since completing my MBA in 2009 I was handed new responsibilities in my job. And since starting my current Law programme I have been working on more legal issues at work. I’m already bringing my studies into my day-to-day activities.
What do you think are the main advantages of online learning?
A big advantage is its flexibility of time. It becomes easier to juggle your daily tasks as an executive, a wife, a mother and a student when the programme is this flexible in terms of time. The forum is open 24/7 and you have deadlines to abide by every week, but at the same time are free to work whenever you want, and however you want, as long as you stick to your deadlines.
Another great advantage of online learning is when I study topics in my classes and then come across them the next day at work. The international mix in the classrooms is also very enriching, academically and culturally. You really learn so much from your fellow students, the countries they come from, their habits and cultures.
Tell us about the biggest challenge you experienced?
Well with the flexibility of the programme also comes the challenge of time management. Between my house, my daughter (and her requirements of homework, activities, and quality time) and my work – it’s a tough job! But with proper time management, studying online is definitely manageable.
You mentioned earlier about the international mix of people you met in your virtual classroom. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
There is such a diverse mixture of students in the classroom as people come from all over the globe. This diversity brings a unique colour to the classroom that a normal class might not have. I study with all sorts of professionals with quite different backgrounds. I really treasure this diversity – the fresh perspectives my peers offer from different angles. This is what makes you shift the span of your observation and move away from traditional lines of thinking. It’s quite refreshing really!
In a nutshell, what has happened in your life since taking on your online studies with the University of Liverpool?
I moved to Qatar with my husband at a time when Law was very conventionally practiced. Not only was I a woman in a man’s world, I was also not allowed to practice law being an expat. Since taking on my MBA and successfully completing it, I was assigned two new jobs at my company, and now with the LLM programme, I am getting assigned more and more legal issues every day. All of this came from both programmes with the University of Liverpool. I’m very excited to finish my LLM degree and discover the opportunities that await me.