Interview with Matthew Lee
Topic Chosen: 18 (A review of the marketing strategy of an organisation and its effectiveness)
Q: Of the 20 topics, which topic did you select for the Research and Analysis Project (RAP) and why?
I selected topic 18: Marketing due to my inclined interest for automobiles. Doing a project which I was innately interested in would have made writing the content easier.
Q: What made you approach The Learning Luminarium for mentorship? Were they your first mentor?
I approached the Learning Luminarium after failing the RAP the first time. This was on a recommendation from a friend who passed on her second try with her mentor at the Learning Luminarium.
Q: What were the most challenging issues during your Project and why?
The most challenging issues surrounding the project included providing apt perspective into the marketing area of expertise, as well as value adding to the data which was already provided by the company I was researching. In essence, the provision of relevant analyses for the project was crucial.
Q: What value did your mentor bring to the project?
He was able to structure my direction for the project, and to fine-tune the ideas which I had originally put in place for my original project. He was able to provide many realms of perspective and avenues for me to rethink and rehash certain aspects of my research material.
Q: Given the price of your mentorship package, would you say the benefits derived fully justified the costs?
The benefits derived from the package were invaluable and one would say that compared to what I was paying for the previous mentor I had hired, the benefits outweighed the material costs of the package greatly!
Q: Now the project is over and you have passed. Did the mentorship help you in the development of any skills that you can further carry in your career and life?
I have learnt to capitalise on the perspectives that my mentor has provided and this would carry forward to my working life in the financial industry in future.
Q: What advice/tips would you give to new students who are considering the Research and Analysis Project (RAP)?
I suggest that aspiring students undertaking the RAP take up the packages with The Learning Luminarium and listen to the advice that the mentors here have to offer. Moreover, utilising proper academic writing techniques with citations and being thorough in the research done would be crucial in doing well for your RAP.
Additional note from our mentors: If you are planning to select topic 18, do ensure that information on market size and shares can be easily obtained. You will be required to analyse the changes and relate these changes to the marketing efforts of the company.
Interview with Asher Teh
Topic chosen: 6 (A critical review of key factors or indicators in the motivation of employees in an organisation)
Q: Asher, congratulations on your fantastic result again! How nervous were you?
A: I don’t think words can describe my feeling. My report was singled out by OBU for plagiarism check, which I only found out the day I expected to get my results. I knew I had referenced accurately and my mentor had worked very hard to ensure that my report met his rigorous standards. Additionally, the company I chose was a small accounting company run by my father. There was absolutely no way I could have plagiarised anything! I spoke to my mentor immediately after and he suggested that my report was perhaps too well written, which led them to suspect that it might have been plagiarised. I refused to believe him then, but after the plagiarism check cleared me (it took few weeks) and I got my A, I realised he might just be right! His words really comforted and gave me confidence, and I was really grateful!
Q: Sounds like you had a very close working relationship with your mentor. Can you describe the relationship?
A: We worked very well together! My mentor was intelligent and perceptive, and it was a real pleasure being able to learn from him. He listened and paid very close attention during our conversations and often made very good suggestions which pushed me to challenge myself. I was initially intimidated by his confidence and brilliance, but he never made me feel inadequate or inferior. His down-to-earth personality and the amazing support he gave really accommodated my crazy work hours and made the mentorship really enjoyable. I remember how he had even reviewed my report while he was on holiday in the Maldives! I asked so many questions, and sometimes I feel like I could not quite put my questions in words? My mentor actually was able to read my mind and helped me phrase those questions! I think perception and his years of experience as a mentor really helped him to do all of this, and I think that’s important for any student looking for a mentor. We remain good friends until today, often catching up over coffee and some truffle fries!
Q: That seems excellent! Was he the first mentor you had?
A: He wasn’t. I had initially enrolled in a few packages in different schools, and was assigned a number of mentors who I felt showed very little interest in me or my project. I even had to chase them to get the mentorship started and going. This was also the first time I had done a university thesis, as I had never studied at a university. The previous mentors were very passive, which didn’t help at all. I was very lost, and didn’t know how to begin, and they often asked if I had anything for them. How could I have anything for them if I did not know how to start?! I was extremely fortunate to have been recommended a mentor from The Learning Luminarium (TLL), and I took almost a year to complete my project! The directions and suggestions given were practical and even anticipated issues I would face in future. Therefore when I finally encountered those issues, I was ready and prepared to deal with those incidents, and as a result, felt much more confident as the project dragged on. You know the cliched saying about giving a man a fish and teaching a man to fish? I felt my mentor really taught me how to fish, giving me skills, and made me a much better person overall.
Q: Looking back, how would you describe the process?
A: Wow. It was definitely tiring and grueling. Because my topic required a lot of primary data, I consulted my mentor a lot on the necessary data I needed. At his suggestion, I redid my survey twice, and further substantiated my findings with detailed interviews with the managers at my company. Looking back, I could see why my mentor was so insistent on me obtaining a complete set of information. It definitely made my analysis much easier. I would however, say that I learnt a lot. I think it gives ACCA students skills they wouldn’t have otherwise learned, and I am very grateful for that. I can also appreciate why a mentor is also a mandatory requirement by Oxford Brookes University. Communication skills, time management and other personal qualities were honed because a mentor followed my progress so closely and showed me a side of myself I didn’t even know I had! I don’t think I am very academically inclined, so the end result was really a pleasant surprise!
Q: Excellent. Having completed your journey, could you give our students some tips to score as well as you do?
A: Haha! I would first recommend TLL. You definitely want a mentor who shows great personal interest in you, and is keenly interested in your project. Additionally, you want to make sure you have an abundance of information. Regardless of the topic you choose, information is crucial in supporting your analysis; something my mentor had impressed upon me. Plan your time wisely. Always strive to budget more time that you expect, because the RAP is extremely tedious. I wish I had planned better, and thus would have taken less than the 1 year I eventually took. Finally, consult your mentor on your work plans. I realised that having the insights of my mentor made my analysis much stronger and gave me the needed direction. It definitely made the work so much easier.
Interviewer: Thank you Asher, and we wish you the very best for your future endeavours!
Note: Asher is currently an Audit Manager and an ACCA member.