John Beecher - Managing Director of Beecher Associates
John Beecher tells us about his experiences with the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning.
Name: John Beecher
Role: Managing Director
My name is John Beecher. I own a company called Beecher Associates, which is a management and training consultancy. For this particular course I attended at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and embarked on a Professional Practice Masters degree, an MA in a Professional Practice.
Why did you decide this was the right course for you?
I started looking at, I’ve always been interested in management, development, education and training. I did the postgraduate certificate in professional development area and then I went on to do the Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Development. So my interest area was always education and management and as a combination of both so that's really the foundation of it. But it was quite interesting looking at the professional practice so it seemed more appropriate that I was applying in those areas and it played a significant part in my decision, So one of the interesting parts of this project, was to do some grounded research, and I was particularly interested in doing some qualitative research obviously because I want to do explore the understanding as Vaber talks about Voerstein and I wanted to really explore that, and I wanted to explore it from the participant’s point of view. So I was I was looking at what experience, what anxiety, what areas of concern, motivation and drivers they had, and that’s why this area of research was interesting, it was really the the first time that I've been engaged in conducting research, writing research, particularly things like semi-structured interviews, which were quite fascinating, what can be learned and the rich data that is obtained from it.
What new skills have you learnt?
A new skill to me was in terms of the survey where I used electronic survey, looking at the problems associated with the collection of data skills from surveys and the distribution and all those things. So I thought we’ll try this, and I had to learn a set of skills to accompany that. Quite frightening at the beginning because as I was exploring with the participants their anxieties I was empathising having gone through them myself. I further developed lots of skills and understanding of things like education theory, motivation theory and how they relate with the work that I was undertaking for the project and then the discipline of writing the project I mean my initial attempt was trying to research everything in the world and document it and I had superb advice from my academic supervisor who kept me disciplined and kept me on track to where I should be and that was, without question, an excellent experience.
What has been the most enjoyable part of your studies?
The most enjoyable part of the cost was the evaluation, now I’ve always been familiar with the term evaluation having dealt with courses and they do an evaluation at the end of it. But this came across as a far more interesting and far more appropriate thing of evaluation that is has got context not just the concept of it. So you put it in context and that adds value to what I was doing. So I was evaluating and adding value to my own set of understandings and that was quite fascinating.
What has it been like studying at university and still working a full time job?
Studying at the University and working in a full-time position could have been very difficult, but I was fortunate being my own boss that I could manage my own time fairly appropriately.I sort of took a sabbatical in a sense, so I could stand away from the work and get on with the study which I was very fortunate to be able to do that. If you’ve got the motivation to do something then you'll do it and the enthusiasm that drives you to achieve that. But of course anybody can divert from that, I mean if you’ve got to feed the fish, it can sometimes be a problem with work that you do. But my enthusiasm, motivation and keenness and that was being fed of course because the more I was learning, the more I was exploring, the more I was enjoying the process and the consequence of that it feeds the motivation so it was an ongoing process of enjoyment and I reflect on that and I think, I really did enjoy. Sometimes I was a bit apprehensive and concerned as to whether I’d be completing things on time or whatever, but generally you reflect on the amount that I learned from that, my God it was incredible.
Has the course had an impact on you personally?
The motivation for me to undertake the course was a sort of, I’ve been a lifelong learner I suppose. I left school at the age of 15 without any qualifications. I didn’t start school until I was 11 as I had a medical problem. So since leaving school, and I’ll never forget my teacher said to me, John, you’ll never pass an exam as long as you will live but you may get by on common sense, well I'm still getting by on common sense and everything I do I don't know why, that little sentence keep coming back to me and I think, no, I can do better than that. But I just do enjoy learning I’ve continued with that from my days first in the ambulance service than in Her Majesty’s forces and then back into the ambulance service and it’s one of those things I think when they nailed me down I will stop learning.
How useful was the funding available to come on the course and why?
The funding from from Elevate was absolutely… the considerable decision that was made because to fund that myself I was thinking well, you know, what do i do, how do I do it, so that was superb. I mean, I don't think I would have been able to complete it had it not been funded by Elevate, it was fantastic. The other thing that I must say is that all the dealings with the staff were brilliant. There was an empathy, there was an understanding, there was support I mean, at one point in the process, I became ill and it was a question whether I was going to continue, when I had some information back that said, well don’t worry, we’ll keep an eye on that we’re not too worried about that. Luckily enough, I managed not to have to reduce the time and study it was a couple of days and I was back into it. But the funding was instrumental I think in my pursuance and continuance.
If could summarise your experience….?
The experience I had, as with all students is apprehension in the beginning because you’re not quite sure, and you know there’s a lot of work to be done but there is a feeling of apprehension. But, I must say the support from the University and the staff of the University, really gave the journey… it was excellent. My academic supervisor, Dr Rhianon Washington, I mean she was such an exceptional educationalist that kept me on track and kept me understanding what I was supposed to be doing instead of diversifying into different areas, but her counsel was first class, and anybody who is fortunate enough to attend the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and have such an experienced intellectual to support you, couldn’t fault it, absolutely brilliant!