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Charlie Calver - Personal Statement

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  25/09/2014 Charlie Calver  –  Personal Statement (25/09/2014) MSc Management and Information Systems: Change and Development (Distance) University of Manchester Application It is fact that businesses are having to adapt to an increasingly fast rate of change in the technology available both to themselves and to consumers. Broadly, these fall into two categories: strategy and systems. In regard to changing consumer use of technology, businesses must position themselves strategically to inhabit new markets and advance their brand and sales. Internally, it is necessary to continue to look at new systems for increasing efficiency  –  in order to cut costs  –  by utilising new tools and methods of working. In each place I have worked or studied I have seen the potential for better systems, and in each case it is management and systems which dictate how well an institution is able to use its own system and adapt to new systems. My undergraduate degree is a BA (Hons) in Music, from the University of Leeds, for which I achieved a 2.I. What increasingly frustrated me was (and is) the way this often subjective subject was tested by a set of rigid parameters which, rather than holistically assessing skills, focused on the acquisition of readily available knowledge or the repetition of a simple taught idea. Whilst it is important to have a base of knowledge from which to draw, with the access to information we are given through the internet, books, and other sources it is more important to hone the skills necessary to utilise this stock of information. My undergraduate dissertation was on the Role of the Parish Church Choir in the Sunday Eucharist. I applied a combination of Quantitative Analysis (to a questionnaire) and a qualitative approach to scholarly research with an interview with Dr Simon Lindley (one of the leading practitioners and thinkers regarding non-cathedral music) to provide context to the current assumptions regarding change. I felt that it was important to combine empirical evidence with perspective to give an accurate assessment of the situation. Facilitating change within an organisation requires strong leadership, a skill which I have improved through conducting several student orchestras and ensembles and being appointed Section Leader of the School of Music Chorus in my final year, working with Dr Martin Pickard (Opera North) to perform a challenging program of music by Benjamin Britten. My job as a Director of Music at Holy Trinity Meanwood required similar skills in expanding and maintaining the choir and taking the role of music in the church in the direction I felt would establish strong community in the long term  –  I set up a youth music group and helped lead the childrens’ drama group. Since starting work at the Home Retail Group I have been given leadership responsibility of the White Label team, working independently from the supervision of Senior Test Analysts. I am responsible for planning, allocation of resources, and business communication for all testing on Argos White Labels. I have been required to quickly pick up not only the in-house process of Waterfall testing, but the principles of Agile testing. In a short space of time I have become familiar with the use of HP Quality Center, as well as numerous other open source and third-party software packages, as each external developer has a different system for managing and reporting defects. This has also required a high level of time management to balance multiple projects simultaneously, and the ability to regulate internal demands on my time by being political yet firm in dealing with business owners. The larger the institution the more momentum it has and the harder it is to cause change. During the summer of 2008 I travelled to Romania to volunteer in local communities. Whilst there, I  25/09/2014 found that many of the Romanian volunteers and professionals were disillusioned with the state of things in the country, from a local to national level. The work we could do as volunteers was a drop in the ocean compared to the wider issues of corruption, poverty and poor infrastructure. Whilst the comparison between an entire nation with a complex history such as Romania and a company looking for digital change can only go so far, I had already become excited by the idea that change could occur by the effective management and inspiration of people. I decided that people, skills, and situations are the key, and if someone was able to create the right combination of these variables it would be a powerful force for change. It is also important to combine this with a sufficient level of technical knowledge and proficiency to garner respect and not be seen as a distant manager. I am fascinated by the impact technology continues to have on our society. Even this evening the global stock markets have reacted to Apple’s QA nightmare, Google Glass looms on the horizon of commercial availability and increasing scrutiny is being placed on the security of household network appliances. On a smaller scale it’ s interesting to observe the local awareness of people I know to the brand I work for, and the impact even a small digital upset can have to profit and reputation. The distance MSc course at Manchester appeals to me as it gives me the opportunity to continue to work whilst studying. Not only would I be able to fund the course using my salary, but I could use practical experience from work to enhance my studies, and the knowledge gained from studying to increase the quality of my work. Afterwards, I would also then have the experience and qualifications to pursue a career in the business world focussing on digital change. I am eager to give my efforts to a respectable scholarly community with a strong reputation in business, and to be able to improve my skills and knowledge for future use in this dynamic and fascinating sector.

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