ITM Graduate 2016-17
“WMG has helped me define who I want to be professionally”
When he arrived at WMG in 2016, Kjartan Hearn had just completed a BSc in Engineering Management at Reykjavik University. Before that, he had gained 22 years of working experience, finally as a Service and Product Manager for a major telecommunications company. We asked Kjartan about his experience at Warwick and what he feels he has gained from his time here.
“It’s certainly been intensive,” he said. “That was what surprised me most and I would definitely describe it as challenging. Each module includes a week’s taught learning which is over five very full days, then there are post module assignments to research and complete, as well as a dissertation to work on. It does add up to quite a heavy workload at times, but that in itself is good experience and mirrors what life is like in the working environment.
“The positive thing is that you do learn a lot over the course of the year. I really can’t imagine learning any more than I have! And I have to say that it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience too, particularly having the opportunity to work with other people from around the world. Only three of the 21 students on my course were European, so the course gave me a fascinating insight into different cultures and ways of working.
Connected with industry
So why did Kjartan decide to travel to the UK with a young family to study at WMG? “In Iceland, you have to have a Master’s degree to be an engineer,” he answered. “I did look at MIT’s Engineering Management programme but I wanted to stay in Europe.
“When I read about WMG’s course and found out about the broad mix of subjects it covers, it seemed to shout out my name right away! Just like MIT, WMG is very closely connected with industry and isn’t just focused on the theory, but the practical application of that theory.”
For Kjartan’s two young daughters aged seven and ten, it must have been an exciting time. “It’s been a great experience for the kids and they got a lot out of their experience here,” he said. “The staff are very welcoming and they helped us get settled in very quickly. We all soon felt at home here.”
Building valuable skills
When we talked about the course itself, Kjartan was keen to mention the quality of the lecturing staff. “The great thing is that they have strong experience in industry. For example, my supervisor worked at 3M for over 20 years. With the guest lecturers too, I was able to see how International Technology Management works in real life. This mix of the academic and practical made everything real. That’s a stand-out feature of the programme for me.”
Kjartan also expanded on what he said earlier about working with other students on the course: “The group work we did was a huge learning experience. We had to collaborate closely with people who have very different backgrounds and outlooks, which was challenging at times. It teaches you a lot about teamworking and negotiating with individuals from other cultures, which are valuable skills to have in today’s workplaces.”
The next step
As for his next career step, Kjartan is looking to join a management consultancy, probably in the UK. “What’s interesting is that my time at WMG has helped me define who I want to be professionally. After so many years of working and studying, I have a much clearer picture of where my talents lie and what I can achieve in the future.
“Throughout my working life, I have always been interested in helping companies to increase efficiencies and do things better. The course modules gave me the tools I need to do that. I understand how to use them in a practical context and how they can complement each other, a little like how the colours in a painting combine to create the overall picture.”