Thursday, 27 August 2015

Why I chose marketing

ABE's new marketing assistant, Michelle Mejia, talks about how she fell into marketing through a mixture of luck, being in the right place at the right time and being able to communicate her experiences and what she could offer ABE to gain the right job for her.

Change must come from within
"I took a chance.  I spent a year in Malaysia and decided on a whim to fly back to London.  Upon my return, I spent two weeks inside acclimatising to the 30 degree difference in temperature.  It was only six degrees outside and my body had to adjust, so I spent these two weeks sending my CV to various recruiters.  I like to keep busy and on the move, so I undertook a project to declutter the house whilst keeping warm and looking for employment.  I needed a new start.  Next step was to get out there and find a job. 

One of the best things I did to get my life moving was to find an open day at a recruitment agency.  I was offered roles including team assistant, administrator and receptionist lasting a day through to a week.  One of the reasons for temping was to get myself into the routine of work, to see what was out there, to figure it out and have the freedom to choose where to work. 

I was offered a temporary assignment at ABE working on reception.  Entering this organisation from the bottom, being able to wear lots of hats meant that I got to learn more about the business and who’s who.  I found myself drawn to marketing because I wanted to help get the message out for the brand.  It’s for a good cause that supports learning and development and I could use my experience which spans a broad range of sectors.

My new role at ABE as a marketing assistant entails supporting the marketing team with a focus on digital marketing, ensuring that social media channels are vibrant, informed, well populated and utilised.  I also monitor and schedule posts on Hootsuite and Twitter and write blogs for relevant themes, as well as creating infographics. Currently  I am overseeing the staff, directors and area managers’ photographs to go on the new website.  Each day is varied, and it means being open to new experiences and learning as you go along.

Experiences are what define you
Various experiences that have stood me in good stead to bring forward into this present role are:

Research – research is knowledge.  Knowledge is power.  It is important to learn new things such as people, events and topics.  Researching your competitors, knowing who they are, what they like, who they follow gives you great insight.  It’s important to get to know new staff so you know who does what. Even something like finding a decorator can be an opportunity to find a good service at the best price. Research is fundamental to the lifeline of the business if you want to get a few steps ahead and make informed decisions both in your professional and personal life.

Analyse – this falls under the remit of research - to be able to compare and analyse data to put into charts and to interpret into infographics helps enhance your critical thinking skills.  It’s important to be able to ‘feel’ someone out using your gut instincts. You need to look at the bigger picture as well as the little details and weigh up what would be the best outcome.

Create – this can range from assisting in the re-branding of a company logo, taking photos of staff for their profiles,  freehand  illustrations to be scanned and used to design and live trace into Photoshop for invitations.  I’ve used  Adobe software to create an annual InDesign publication to send out internationally.  I like to visit galleries and museums; I draw and paint when I can.  This keeps ideas flowing.

Volunteer – I firmly believe in giving without expectations. When you have this mind-set the universe will give you back tenfold.  Teaching children art in a charity, getting my hands dirty, mentoring and giving some of my free time to them, enabled me to share my experiences and cultural aspects which helped them to develop their creativity, expression, identity, imagination and vice-versa.  Empowering others helps empower you.

Read – reading has taught me how to be better at things I wished to be better at.  Again this falls under the research remit, but without reading, I wouldn’t be as good a writer or have set up my own blog.  I work for an education company.  By bettering myself, I can help others.

Having no marketing qualification as such, the experience I’ve acquired in various jobs and sectors has proven invaluable.  For example,  I worked as a research coordinator, an art teacher and am now learning the tools of digital marketing in-house.  These experiences will help round out my approach and working with different people who have a wealth of knowledge is an added plus.

Getting the job is the just the start of your journey
What persuaded me to join ABE was having the option to study and have a ‘second chance’ to start again.  ABE is going through changes; no two days are the same. It is also great to be involved in something that enables you to unleash and manifest your creativity and talents – even ones you didn’t know you had! 

Some of the courses I am thinking of taking are Business Management or Entrepreneurship and Business Start-up.  As I have creative experience, it would be good to learn the practical side to broaden my skill sets.  Even though my work history is not from a marketing background, my perseverance, determination and experience of various backgrounds and cultures has given me the ability to utilise my skillsets into something worth monetising for the company’s benefit and my own, both personally and professionally. 

Now I plan to use the qualifications ABE offer to help me take my career to the next level."

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Great exam results, now what about the certificate?

Success!   You have achieved your ABE Diploma.  All you need now is your certificate.   This is what happens after results have been published.

First ten days

After publishing results, a period of ten working days is allowed for any Enquiries About Results and Appeals. 

The next ten days

We commit to taking no more than 10 working days from receipt of forms to review and process all Appeals.

Once this process is complete we can then start printing certificates.  No learners should be disadvantaged which is why we cannot print until any queries, that could hold up someone’s certificate,  have been dealt with – we endeavour to complete this process as quickly as possible.

The next four to six weeks

Each person’s certificate is printed individually according to Ofqual requirements.   Because this is a secure process and certificates have built in features which protect them against fraud, printing for so many can take time. 

As much as possible we try to post all certificates together at the same time, so that all learners, ideally, receive their certificates around the same time.  However, postal services between the UK and different countries can vary considerably and, sometimes, even different regions can receive documents at different times. 

Three months after results

Because of the variances in postage we ask you to allow three months from issue of results to receive your certificate. But this is the worst case and usually most people receive their certificate sooner than this.  In the unlikely event that after three months your certificate has not arrived please contact us immediately so that we can trace what has happened to it and, if necessary, issue a replacement.  We can only issue replacements if we are told of a certificate not arriving between three and six months of the result date, so don’t allow too much time to pass before contacting us.

Whilst waiting:  we have published results in a printable format.  This means you can use it as printed evidence of your achievement before your certificate arrives. Also see our check list below to ensure your certificate is dispatched correctly.

We look forward to sending your certificate and wish you every success in your future endeavours.

Your essential certificate checklist

You have the result you wanted.  Now is the time to make sure nothing delays or affects your certificate.  Here are a couple of simple checks to ensure everything goes smoothly!
  1. Your name.  Remember the name in Members Area is what will go on your certificate.  This is taken from the information supplied at registration so if your name has been shortened or misspelt, or it has changed, please correct it.  Simply update your details in the Members Area.
  2. Your address.  If you have registered through a college, it is most likely that your certificate will be sent to that college.  This works well as your college will log its receipt and ensure it gets to you. If you have registered directly, check that the correct postal address is registered against your name.  We will send the certificate to whatever address is against your account in the Members Area.  So just update it if you have moved or have a more secure location you would like the certificate sent to. 
For full details of the certification process please see our earlier blog, Great Exam Results Now What About the Certificate?

We congratulate all learners who have passed this session and wish you every success in your future endeavours.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Alumni profile: Adrian Perera, Sri Lanka

With ABE, Adrian overcame the setback of disappointing exam results which stopped him from going straight to university.  He progressed through the ABE levels and went straight to the final year of a BA with the University of Greenwich.  Here, he talks about how his ABE studies have filled him with a passion for education.

I’m from a suburb of Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). I’m the youngest in my family.  I have studied hard always and was very disappointed when my OL, A Level grades did not reflect the amount of work that I had put in. I had always dreamt of going to university and I began to see that dream crashing down around me as I knew that my grades were not sufficient  to get me the place that I wanted.

I then chose to study the ABE qualification was because of the subject content and exam structure.  It was very helpful for me to learn every learning outcome in each module. I thoroughly enjoyed the International Business Case study which gave me  an insight into to how an organisation’s operations  are conducted.

I mainly studied the ABE qualification through self-study, it was the approach I enjoyed the most since it made me study and explore around the subject. I also attended few classes at Oxford College and London Business School in Colombo.

Awareness of ABE is growing  in my country especially in urbanised cities like Colombo and Kandy. There are people from many areas coming to study the qualification. Additionally there is also an ABE Alumni event held annually which helps people meet and build network opportunities.

After completion of the ABE Graduate Diploma I gained access to the final year of the BA(Hons) International Business programme specialising in Economics with University of Greenwich through VHEC in my country.

As a business student ABE provides a strong foundation for all the functional areas of a business starting from Human Resources, Marketing, Corporate Finance and Managerial Accounting through to Project Management.  I chose to study through them because ABE is globally recognised and has very high standards. It is an ideal qualification to have in today's dynamic environment.

ABE taught me to think analytically.  I gained knowledge from reading recommended text books and being able to apply what I study into real world examples which is very useful. It also taught me to pay attention to detail like the command words which are asked in questions.

My longer term plan is to get into lecturing which I have a passion for and also work for an organisation in a functional role such as human resources. I am even considering starting my own venture after another five to six years to provide consultancy services while continuing teaching and lecturing which helps me to share my knowledge with different people around the world.

Monday, 10 August 2015

9 tips to make studying easier and more efficient

Our Summer intern Julia Marie Lohmann, who is currently in her 2nd year of a business psychology degree, shares her tips for successful study

1. Prepare for your exam phase as soon as you can

I am a person who learns much better when I write down all the information I need to learn for the exam. Studies shown writing down everything helps. People remember facts better.

After my first semester with 16 horrible exams at the end, I promised myself that I would start to summarise the scripts earlier.

My tip for you is to sum up everything during your lectures or lessons. Start by summarising each page of the script and note the extra tips that your tutor gives you.

2. Use the SMART approach

You should use the SMART approach which is usually used in Project management, but it will help you a lot with defining and reaching your goals! Take 5 minutes to write down your goals, according to this format.

S specific
M measurable
A achievable
R results driven
T time-bound

The SMART goals are defined as follows:

The "S" stands for specific, clear and easy defined goals. For example- You will study harder for say four hours each day. Measurable (,,M”) means you can measure your success or not- for example, make a timetable for studying and see if you can stick to it – Plot out when your exams take place, how many, what you need to study, when is your last lecture, how many time do you need to study each subject… etc.

"A" means setting yourself achievable goals. Don’t pressure yourself with unrealistic goals, like getting an 1+ / A / 100% when you just have 3 days left to study and you haven’t started yet. You should try to be realistic and try to go step by step, if you wrote a 4 / D / 50% your achievable goal should be studying for a 3 / C / 60-75% or even a 2 / B / 80%.

You should ALWAYS be "R"esults driven! Try to focus on the result and how happy you would be with good marks and remind yourself that the work is worth it.

Last but not least "T"ime-bound helps you to calculate enough time for studying. Time management is the most important thing to do. You should make a planner or write down the structure of your day to find out if there is time to have dinner with your friends in the evening or if you’d rather stay home and study.

3. Stop snoozing!!!

We all know the struggle!

In the evening we are highly motivated to stay up early and study hard. But then the next morning comes, the alarm clock goes on at 8.30am on a Saturday and we lay in bed and are just thinking: "I am too tired; I can’t study when I’m that tired! Just 10 more minutes".

Then you hit the snooze button on your phone 3 times because you are thinking the same every ten minutes.


4. To all the Kings and Queens of distraction

I’m pretty sure a lot of you have the same problem as me, when I am ready with everything and should finally be ready to start studying, my thoughts start drifting away.

I am the Queen of distracting myself, I start recognising that I could vacuum my apartment, wash the laundry, clean the bathroom and I always wanted to rearrange my living room! During study phase and exams my apartment is so clean you literally could eat from the floor. After cleaning and moving things I get hungry and start cooking (avoiding studying went very well so far :D) But last but not least I have to do it anyway, that is what you should remind yourself of.

For all of a sudden cleaning becomes hobby number 1.

My tip, do the cleaning in the evening when you are done with studying or get up early and do it before you start, or have a cleaning pause if studying is giving you a headache. You should always keep in mind that your or your parents are paying for this opportunity to get a better job.

5. Options to learn

Over the years I have tried a lot of learning possibilities…

(a) My favourite variant is to summarise everything on D4 pages and highlight the most important parts with coloured pencils. It is easier to learn and to memorise *and it looks prettier*.

(b) Flashcards are a good option to learn, you can take them with you. Write down the question on the front and the answer on the back, first you learn better because you’ve written it down by yourself and for most people it’s more fun with cards.

(c) You also can record yourself with your phone as a memo; you read out loud the summarised pages which you collected during the lectures. The benefit is: You can listen to it wherever you are. The problem: It also can put you to sleep wherever you are. But maybe some of you like the idea, because this always works with lyrics of songs. I remember more lyrics from random songs than what I studied 10 minutes ago.

6. Set Milestones

When you have structured everything and you’ve got all the information you need to start the actual learning process, you should set milestones. You should set small goals and don’t put yourself under pressure so you are motivated again when you reach your first goal.

You also have to set priorities; friends, parties and your hobbies are no longer the first priority. Set a date when you want and need to finish the first subject and another date when you need to be half way through, it is important to have a good overview so you don’t get stressed.

7. Use check marks

I always use them, as soon as you get a task done put a huge check mark beside it or even cross it out! In red, orange, yellow, live it up. It’s a psychological effect and you get the feeling ‘Hey, I made it, I won, let’s continue, I’ll get the next task done just as easy!’ I find it strangely satisfying to cross things out.

8. Share your progress

Share your progress with your family and friends. If you get the chance to explain certain topics to them, use the opportunity. You will internalize much better if you explain your topic. It also helps if you share your progress with your classmates; you can discuss certain topics and can go more into depth.

Personally, when I tell my patents they are always proud which motivates me even more to be productive.

9. Reward yourself

One thing you always should do is reward yourself after a good learning session. Go out and meet some friends, cook something nice or go shopping. The very healthy ones can treat themselves with session at the gym. Rewarding yourself helps you to relax and to find new motivation.

Julia Marie Lohmann

Monday, 3 August 2015

The ABE membership survey

A big thank you to everyone who took part in our membership survey this March. We had over 7,000 responses and you gave us some really useful and insightful feedback. The survey is being used to inform our on-going work to upgrade and improve whilst ensuring we invest in the areas that matter most to you.

This is what you liked about ABE:
- ABE qualifications have respect;
- Studying for an ABE qualification enhances work performance;
- ABE is a great advantage at university;
- ABE is truly international, you are part of a global family;
      - ABE is flexible, you can study at your own pace.

Your top requests:
- Career support and guidance;
- More employer involvement;
- More convenient access to ABE information.

Aside from local activity that may be specific to your country, this is what we are doing internationally:

Career development
We have set up a new career development tab (under Benefits in the Members Area). This provides a library of links to a range of career development articles, originally shared through our blog and on social media. We will update it regularly with new articles, videos and webinars as they become available.   
Longer term, we plan to increase the number of networking events available to alumni and we are developing more continuing professional development opportunities.

Employer involvement
Employers can now access an information page and also a job advertising service on our website. In the coming months we will be promoting this service to ABE alumni who are now in employed in senior positions at large organisations. 
We will also start highlighting some of the major corporations we are working with or which are employing ABE qualification holders as well as encouraging more direct recruitment of ABE members. 

A more accessible ABE
A new website is being designed. You will be able to find information easily and it will work fantastically on your mobile phone stripping out data heavy elements so that it can be as quick and responsive as possible if you have limited internet access. 
In the longer term, we are in the process of upgrading to a state of the art learner management system. This will allow you instant access to account updates and offer other benefits such as news by text message and access to greater online learning resources facilitated by investment in new technology.
There’s more to come
This is just a small snapshot of some of the developments we’re working on behind the scenes. Your thoughts, comments and suggestion are helping to inform all that we do.  

We think you’ll be thrilled with the results!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

What's in a logo?

Kate Winter, ABE's Marketing Director, explains the rationale behind ABE's new branding

In my long marketing career, I have initiated re-branding projects and I’ve also been a team member who has had re-branding ‘forced’ on them.  The latter is not a nice place to be. When you don’t understand why a brand is being changed, and you don’t like the new identity, it is impossible to support the project. I once had a new marketing director who breezed in to the company, changed all the branding, and breezed out again, leaving a lot of devastation in her wake.

I wanted to share this with you now that we have unveiled ABE’s new branding.  The timing of the re-brand comes after ABE has made some significant changes internally.  I am one member of a new senior management team appointed by Gareth Robinson, ABE’s CEO, who has been in situ since December 2014. Gareth has assembled his new team with the objective of introducing great energy and results in to the business. He wants to ensure that ABE provides worthwhile qualifications and great customer service, and he is passionate about delivering quality qualifications to our learners.
The new management team is overseeing the transformation of ABE. We have already seen a host of new qualifications being accepted onto the Ofqual framework. These qualifications have been created to reflect current thinking and best practice in business management.  We are currently inviting our centres to pilot the new schemes and reaction so far has been extremely positive.

We have also invested in a new Learner Management System which will make it easier for our learners to interact with us and have clear visibility of their progress through our schemes.  In tandem, we are developing new web sites which will use responsive technology, so that users will have a better experience on their mobile phones when accessing the site and members’ area.
As a backdrop to all of this, we have been undertaking extensive student surveys to find out what our learners think we do well, and what needs to be improved.  It is heartening to hear from thousands of learners that ABE qualifications helped them get their first job or gain the promotion they wanted. Indeed, many of our learners go on to run their own successful enterprises or get responsible positions in government departments and large corporations.

When I came to ABE in March, my first impression with regards to the branding was that it was doing a good job.  There was nothing really wrong at all, but I felt it lacked an element of inspiration. It was when I started reading the testimonials of students that I began to really understand their achievements and how ABE connects them to a world of opportunity. It just seemed right that we should somehow reflect this in our branding. Additionally we felt that ABE is a journey for our learners. They start out on a road with a vision of what they want to achieve. They study with dedication and they achieve their qualifications; many of them stay with us to keep on achieving and pushing themselves. This is now demonstrated in our logo with a pathway – we like to call it the road to success.

The new brand is being applied to exciting campaigns we are running to support our centres. We are currently sending out printed posters as well as digital banners to help prospective students gain awareness of ABE.  We will be rolling out the branding on certificates in due course, but I would like to mention that the branding itself does not affect the certificate validity in any way. In fact it is the Ofqual recognition that is the real currency for our learners.  This remains the same on all our certificates.

By and large, reaction so far has been hugely positive. I know all too well that change isn’t always easy, but together with the rest of the team here at ABE, I am very confident that all the change we are introducing will result in a better experience for our learners and our accredited centres. It is because of them that we exist, and they are at the heart of everything we do.

Kate Winter, July 2015