My Torrens MBA Helped Me See The Bigger Picture: Melissa O’Brien

Melissa O’Brien

Even seasoned professionals can find themselves on shaky ground in uncertain times. Fortunately, that is where an MBA education comes in – to provide stable footing and a strong platform to grow.

Melissa O’Brien, a Senior National Business Manager for Nikon Australia, realised that the business world is never stagnant, and she found herself wondering what the future may hold despite the years of experience in the workforce she had obtained after graduating from high school.

“As I was getting older, and with the workforce changing, I started to think about what would happen if I lost my job,” she said.

“I started thinking – what would I do? Where would I go? What skills have I got?”

After receiving information from Torrens University’s Chifley Business School about their MBA program, Melissa realised her path was clear.

“I had a lot of practical skill, but before doing an MBA and didn’t have the ‘piece of paper’ behind me.”

I wanted to see if I could do it and to prove to myself that I could complete an MBA.”

Choosing Torrens

When Melissa started her MBA journey, it was immediately apparent that it was not going to be an easy feat. As a national business manager, Melissa’s work life came with a demanding schedule and regular travel. Amongst all of the MBA programs offered in Australia, Melissa opted for Torrens’ MBA for its flexibility and cost.

An MBA is challenging…

Melissa’s MBA studies with Torrens were not without challenges right from the start. Having never attended university, she needed to learn brand new academic skills, from referencing to learning how to write academic reports.

“Not only was I learning new subjects but I was learning the academic side of thing and how to do it properly.”

The workload was also particularly challenging.

“Trying to fit in the hours required to get through each subject as well as keeping on top of my job was challenging,” she said.

“You’ve really got to go with your own gut feel, do the research and put the hours in.”

…but a rewarding experience

Despite the challenges, Torrens provided an environment where Melissa could conquer her MBA studies, and with their tutelage she learned what it took to overcome the academic roadblocks that stood between her and her MBA by her first subject.

Throughout the process at Torrens Melissa was able to adapt to the seemingly foreign academic world and improve on her newfound skills, and the things she found most challenging turned out to be the most rewarding.

“With each piece of assessment that comes back, you look at the feedback, learn from it and improve on it next time.”

“Each time I submitted an assignment was the most rewarding part – I would get my results back and see how I was progressing with the things I was learning,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Melissa started to “get into the swing of things” by,

Coming out the other side

Melissa’s MBA from Torrens University certainly enhanced her career, by giving her the technical skills to see how all of the working parts of business come together to form the bigger picture.

With an enlightened business understanding, it became easy for Melissa to see where she could apply her new skills and help her company succeed.

“I didn’t think things would change that much … but I’ve been surprised,” she said.

“I can look at the business from a completely different view now. As a national business manager, Before I started my MBA I was very much focused on my own achievement within the company, my own accounts and being number one.

“I can look at what I do and how it affects other departments,” she said.

“Now, after learning more about the ins and outs of how business runs, I can look at the bigger picture and how I can improve my company’s performance, rather than just my own.”

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (