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Chester Business School graduates Danielle Shaw and Carla Thomas.

Danielle Shaw and Carla Thomas graduated from the University of Chester last week, having both undertaken distance learning courses with Chester Business School.

Dental hygienist Danielle, from Essex, has gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Education of Dental Professionals, while Carla, Director of Customer Service at Openreach, has gained a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).

The pair both decided to study via Chester Business School’s Work Based Integrative Studies (WBIS) programme, which allows students to gain an academic qualification based on their professional skills and can be studied part-time and at a distance to fit around work.

For Carla, from Shrewsbury, it was a challenging but rewarding experience, and although she embarked upon her studies during the pandemic, this did not hamper her progress.

She said: “I had learned so much in my working life and having not completed a degree earlier, I wanted to consolidate and push my learning further to both improve my day job and sense of self in the job. Lockdown provided what I saw as an ideal opportunity from a time perspective – I was working full-on but there was no travel.”

Having graduated as dental hygienist and dental therapist in 2016, Danielle was looking for a way to broaden her career path.

She said: “I chose to take this course, as despite working in my current role for only a few years, I have found it very physically demanding, and I was finding myself tiring very easily. I realised I may not be able to continue this role until retirement and so I wanted to improve my future chances of employment in other associated dental roles.”

“I’m considering moving into a position teaching other dental professionals in the future, as I feel it is something that comes very organically to me. Having this qualification may help to secure a suitable placement and will help my CV to stand out.”

The flexibility of the WBIS programme – which enables professionals to study part-time fusing high-relevance professional development with a rigorous and distinctive university qualification – was one of the biggest draws for both graduates.

Carla said: “As a working mum of three children, the idea of completing a Master’s sounded like madness yet this is an exceptional course to undertake in terms of flexibility meaning I could fit it around work, children and life in general.”

Danielle added: “Being able to work part time and set my own schedules and deadlines, made this course ideal for me and I would recommend the WBIS programme to anyone who can’t afford to take time out from their job, but still wants to progress in their career, or even pursue a new one.”

The experience has given both women a significant confidence boost in their professional and personal lives.

Danielle said: “It was very useful to me in my current role, as it encouraged me to explore topics I hadn’t realised would be so relevant in my work, and my personal life. Modules covering people management, social skills and emotional intelligence, were not only interesting and enjoyable to learn about, but actually gave me effective tools to develop my own life skills.”

Carla added: “It has been both life-enhancing and career-enhancing. Immediately, I began to feel a confidence in knowing that some of my instinctive leadership practices had names and theories associated with them. Exploring this became a real passion for me which was an enormous boon to my career from both an advisory perspective and in my own leadership practice.”

“From a life perspective, the concept of setting this enormous goal and then hitting it was daunting at first, but because the course is modular, this became a series of smaller goals leading towards my completed MBA. The impact on my confidence has been enormous and I feel mentally awake and wanting to learn more.

“It was a either Master’s or the piano and I am glad to say, the Master’s won – although I am now onto my piano lessons and considering studying for a doctorate!”

Proud tutors, Sandra Hopkins and Neil Moore are pleased for Danielle and Carla who have demonstrated what the flexible WBIS degree course is for – helping ambitious professionals reach their academic and career goals alongside work. 

Sandra said: “Our degrees can be life changing and career transforming – if you are a professional wondering how to fit in academic study around your career and family our WBIS degree might be just the right step.”

To find out more about our professional courses visit the Chester Business School pages:


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