Open University degree forges new career path

A Crawley man has hailed the commercial benefits of studying with the Open University after completing a Spanish degree.

Chris Simpson, 48, was managing director of a marketing agency when he started studying at the OU in Brighton in 2008. It was first to help communicate better with his European colleagues. He continued studying and by July 2015 had completed the last module towards a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages.

The impact it had at work was positive. He said: “Just from learning one language I was respected lots more by colleagues in other countries.

“A proud moment for me was when the managing director of the Spanish team and I delivered the announcement of the sale of my subsidiary, which ended with a Q&A session completely in Spanish. I was exhausted afterwards and the team there was very sympathetic of any grammatical errors and vocabulary mistakes; it was a massive achievement for me.

“I actually also secured a project with a client at the end of 2015 because of my language qualification from the OU. The client was an Argentinian business owner, specifically requiring a business coach fluent in Spanish with a degree in engineering. There aren’t many of those about.”

Chris, from Maidenbower, went on to establish his own business and strategy consultancy and strongly believes studying a foreign language has opened his mind to other possibilities.

He said: “The greatest benefit of learning Spanish is that it provided another way of looking at things and taught me to stand in a different place when viewing the world.

“More broadly, there is lots of respect in the business community for those with a qualification from the OU.

“I have an experiential bias towards OU graduates as, in many respects, my opinion of the OU has been shaped by the amazing graduates I have met; they are great to hire as they are driven and have a skill with overcoming challenges and obstacles. In fact, the best Operations Director I have ever employed is an OU graduate.”