5 Business Careers and the Postgraduate Education that will help you pursue them
You’ve completed your undergraduate qualification, gained experience in the business world and want to grow your career. But with so many potential paths that you can choose from, which one is the right one for you? And what do you need to study to develop your skills in the right direction?
We’ll take a deeper look at five career options, and the education you will need to pursue them.
The title of futurist may sound like science fiction, but their role is very much grounded in present-day reality. Professional futurists provide forecasting and analyses of what may be lurking over the horizon for a business or organisation.
Jacob Morgan, futurist, author and speaker, defines a futurist as follows:
What is a futurist? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not someone who can predict the future. No one can do that. A futurist is someone who helps organizations to not be surprised about what the future can bring. They help organizations look ahead to see what their potential futures are and how to create the preferred future that the organization wants to see happen.
The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) goes further by defining the roles a futurist has in an organisation. These roles vary from futurist as analyst, to futurist as manager, to futurist as strategist. More information on all these roles and what they mean to an organisation can be found in their article What Role does a Futurist Serve? The APF article bases these roles upon research from Rohrbeck’s Corporate foresight: Towards a maturity model for the future orientation of a firm, and Mumford, Campion, & Morgeson’s The leadership skills strataplex: Leadership skill requirements across organizational levels.
The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) is the only business school in Africa to offer a futures studies programme. This programme offers a PGD, MPhil and PhD that will enhance your ability to make decisions, strategise and understand our complex and rapidly changing global society. To learn more about each of these study paths, visit our programme page here.
A leadership coach, whose skills overlap with executive and other business coaches, has changed in purpose over the years. In the HBR report What can coaches do for you, it is recognised that, in the early 2000s, the primary purpose of a coach was to help a company fix toxic behaviour in the upper parts of its management structure, while today a coach is necessary to get the most out of its highest performing members.
A leadership coach can serve a business in a number of ways, including helping their mentee:
- refocus on their goals within their role in the organisation
- improve company culture
- manage and prioritise their workload better
- refocus goals across the organisation
- be accountable
- break out of a rut
Once you have completed your leadership coaching qualification, you don’t have to start your own management coaching business. The skills acquired can be used to boost your suitability for leadership positions in any organisation.
USB offers students an MPhil in Leadership Coaching. This programme will equip you with a variety of skills, such as providing you with the theoretical coaching framework and models you need to develop your unique coaching style. It will also help you to gain new perspectives on your personal development, as well as the development of others, and make you suitable for senior management positions.
Techopedia defines a project manager as “the person responsible for leading a project from its inception to execution. This includes planning, execution and managing the people, resources and scope of the project. Project managers must have the discipline to create clear and attainable objectives and to see them through to successful completion. The project manager has full responsibility and authority to complete the assigned project.”
In the Monster article Career Spotlight: Project Manager, Sid Kemp, author of Project Management Demystified, offers excellent advice on the type of person who is a good fit for project management: “If you are willing to work with people so everyone gets things done, project management is right for you.”
But what exactly are the responsibilities of a project manager?
- Activity and resource planning
- Organising and motivation a project team
- Controlling time management
- Cost estimating and developing the budget
- Ensuring customer satisfaction
- Analysing and managing project risk
- Monitoring progress
- Managing reports and necessary documentation
Fortunately, a lot has changed since a 2014 study found the path to becoming a successful project manager to be “ill-defined”. USB offers a PGD in Project Management for anyone wishing to pursue this position, which is in high demand in South Africa. It will equip you with specialist project management skills, improve your management and leadership skills, and provide you with access to an MBA if you wish to study further.
In their piece What does a management consultant do exactly, The Guardian defines management consultants as individuals who “help businesses improve their performance and grow by solving problems and finding new and better ways of doing things. It’s not just in the private sector either – many firms work with public sector organisations to help develop their services and, where necessary, reduce costs and make savings.”
Brad Helfand, a management consultant, describes in this Muse article how ‘Being a management consultant is all about having a “Swiss Army knife of solutions you can use to work with a client”‘.
If you are interested in helping a business flourish, Prospects highlights the skills you’ll need to successfully fulfill your role. They describe how you will need to:
- Carry out research and data collection to understand the organisation
- Conduct analysis
- Interview the client’s employees, management team and other stakeholders
- Run focus groups and facilitate workshops
- Prepare business proposals and presentations
- Identify issues and form hypotheses and solutions
- Present findings and recommendations to clients
- Implement recommendations/solutions and ensure the client receives the necessary assistance to carry it all out
- Manage projects and programmes
- Lead and manage those within the team, including analysts
- Liaise with the client to keep them informed of progress and to make relevant decisions
You can begin your journey on this career path with an MBA. USB’s BMA programme cluster consists of a PGD, MBA (with two specialist paths) and PhD. If you don’t meet the requirements for an MBA, you can complete a PGD to gain access to the MBA. The MBA will then provide you with an understanding of how to be a responsible leader, the skills to thrive internationally, the ability to make better decisions and a greater understanding of how departments function together in an organisation.
A financial advisor is, at a basic level, someone with the financial expertise to help you make good decisions to achieve specific financial goals. These financial goals can vary from saving for retirement or college, to reducing any debt you may have acquired.
Career advisor Sokanu describes what a financial advisor is typically expected to do for a client as part of this process:
- Meet with clients in person to discuss their financial goals
- Explain the types of financial services they provide
- Educate clients and answer questions about investment options and potential risks
- Recommend investments to clients or select investments on their behalf
- Help clients plan for specific circumstances, such as education expenses or retirement
- Monitor clients’ accounts and determine if changes are needed to improve account performance or accommodate life changes, such as getting married or having children
- Research investment opportunities
If you are interested in completing an education that will allow you to become a financial advisor, USB offers a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning that will help you accomplish this goal. The programme will teach you the skills you need to acquire the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) accreditation. This accreditation is an internationally recognised certification that recognises your expertise in the area of financial planning. It will also ensure you are properly knowledgeable of financial regulations and other legal requirements.
These are just some of the career paths you can pursue if you want to grow your career. If you’d like to find out more about other careers and their academic options, be sure to take a look at USB’s Programme Finder. The Programme Finder takes into account some of your personal information and areas of interest to help you find an academic path that best serves your career.
We also have a range of online postgraduate diplomas, including a postgraduate diploma in Nigeria or a postgraduate diploma in Kenya, offered through the University of Stellenbosch Business School. Other options include: