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Olebile Bolobilwe Olebile Bolobilwe

MSc Project Planning and Management (2010)

How would you introduce yourself?

My name is Olebile Bolobilwe, a Botswana national currently based and working in Gaborone, Botswana. In the context of this interview I’m a 2010 graduate of the University of Bradford’s Centre for International Development, where I studied MSc Project Planning and Management fulltime for one year – thanks to the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJWBGSP)!

How did you come to study at the BCID?

I was initially supposed to go the University of Sussex, but things changed at the last minute because of my scholarship. Luckily, the University of Bradford was my second choice when I applied for the scholarship and my MSc was also eligible for funding which made it easy for me to go to Bradford. In many respects, the turnout of events was a big blessing in disguise because Sussex University had admitted me for a course that would easily be second choice compared to project management. But at the end, things turned out the best way for me.

How was the Bradford experience for you?

Coming to Bradford was such an opportunity and experience in many respects! The academic experience was always going to be better than back home due to the age of the university and the level of development of England, despite the city itself being small. The main thing I appreciated was the overall academic support and general availability of resources. The seminars were fantastic and one of the highlights was a seminar presentation by Rory Burke organized seminar organized by our Course Coordinator, Professor Tom Franks. We even bought some of his sought-after books at very-good student prizes. Tom really made us feel like professionals from the start by taking us to Project Management seminars in Leeds and other places. Coming to Bradford was my first time in the UK and Europe. Although the university is generally very international in terms of its student population, the department of Development and Economics Studies was probably the most diverse in student populace. Everyone was really friendly and for the outgoing type like me, it was easy to have a friend from all the 5 continents and we’re still in touch through social media. At times it felt like a ‘world-tour-minus the sights’ in one year. This really made life easy and my wife shared in these great friendships when she visited later during my stay. The academic support and the good social life made the big-freeze feel like normal life. The location of the university also was quite convenient for students especially for newcomers as everything was within walking distance, although the city inevitable becomes too small after getting used to it.
One of my unpleasantly memorable experiences was when I was refused entry into my core module examination because I was 1 minute late after going back for my student ID… another blessing in disguise because it later turned out to be my best exam… I probably studied in anger for it!
I also had one of the best personal tutors in Dr. Anna Mdee, which really completed the support environment, leaving me with no reason not to do well in my course.

Has the degree helped you in what you are doing now? How?

The MSc was a life-changer for me and I’m sure for many of my classmates too. Having resigned my previous contract job to pursue my scholarship in 2009, I didn’t know how long it would take before I got a job again. I had also deliberately decided not to start job-hunting before my graduation, which also increased the chances of staying unemployed for a while. However, I only had to wait about two months after my December 2010 graduation before getting a new job with my new qualification. The best part of this is that I was employed as a Project Manager, although in practice I turned out to be a Program Manager coordinating a number of projects. While I had expected to start my PM practice as a step by step process, God must have had other plans for me because my new job didn’t give me the time to walk. But I have to say it has been a good run so far as I near the end of my first 2 year contract. This for me puts PM up there with the desirable 21st century qualifications and the University of Bradford is up there with other top providers of the PM degree. Perhaps most importantly, the PM degree at Bradford is taught by people who have spent years in the field as PM practitioners and what they bring to the classroom extended far beyond academic knowledge.

Would you study at Bradford again?

Oh yes I would!

Received: 15/11/2012