Meet Kierra Ward | GetSmarter Notable Achiever

PROJECT MANAGEMENT   |   3 minutes  |   February 2, 2017

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In recognition of students who stand out from the crowd, GetSmarter’s Notable Achievers campaign highlights a top-performing student each week.

Kierra just completed the UCT Advanced Diploma in Business Project Management and has been chosen by our Student Success Team for being a top achiever in the course and for maintaining consistency throughout her learning experience.

Here’s what she had to say about her experience:

Why did you decide to take the UCT online short course with GetSmarter?

I had been in the workplace for 6-7 years and now I had a clearer picture of how I wanted to develop my career, so I decided that I should study again. As far as I knew there were not many options for correspondence studies available in South Africa, but when I came across the GetSmarter website I was ecstatic to find out there was a way to work and study at the same time through a prestigious university like UCT.

What were your concerns before enrolling on the UCT Advanced Diploma in Business Project Management? How were your concerns alleviated and why?

I had many concerns originally, including that I did not have an undergraduate (which was the requirement for this course), but I decided to make an enquiry anyway. I spoke to someone named Praise, who was absolutely amazing, hands down the friendliest, helpful and supportive Success Manager I have ever spoken to.

This immediately put me at ease, as he answered all my questions, explained to me more about the process and even helped me fill in my application. Once I submitted my application, he even phoned to confirm that I had and encouraged me.
The information and application process was so clear and easy and I felt supported the whole way through. I felt like for the first time ever dealing with telecommunications like I actually seen as an individual in the process. BIG thumbs up to you guys at Get Smarter.

What aspects are you enjoying about learning online with GetSmarter?

All of it!

  • how easy and flexible the whole studying process is
  • how we have the support of a success manager
  • how we are constantly communicated with and all queries are answered within 24 hours
  • how relevant and up to date the course material was (and how I was able to implement it in my work
  • how user friendly and how fun and interactive the digital side was (infographics, tutorials, videos, online presentations etc)
  • I also loved that even though I was studying correspondence, I was still able to interact with other students through live tutorials and wikis- so I did not feel all alone in the process.

How do you plan to use the skills you learned on this course in your career?

I got a promotion as a direct result of my involvement in this course, and how I was able to implement so much of what I learnt into my work environment literally weekly – both technically and managerially.

I was invited to apply for the role of CEO (as my then CEO was transitioning out). They said I had grown so much, both in my technical abilities and leadership abilities, that I was considered a strong candidate.
Even though I finished the course, I still have all my notes on my laptop and plan to regularly go through them to implement what I have learnt into my new role. Such as: risk management protocol, individual and team objective setting etc.

I have also earmarked my notes on leadership, EQ, stress and conflict management as well as others to use as a training tool for my department managers.

What does it mean to you to earn a UCT certificate?

This might sound a bit over the top, but it really is like a dream come true. When I was in high school I always wanted to study at UCT, but due to financial constraints I couldn’t. But now that I am older, I was able to save up and do this course. The fact that I could study something that I wanted, while working full-time and then get an Advanced Diploma from UCT is quite crazy.

Will you be displaying your certificate?

My board did request to know if I had passed, and I will be attaching it to my CV for future reference.

Our Student Success Team identified you as being an outstanding student. Why do you think you are a Notable Achiever and what advice can you give to others looking to do this course?

Thank you, I was so surprised to hear that from Lauren. I really appreciated that even in the application process you have to write a small essay on how you plan to cope and who your support team is, as from the beginning I felt clearly informed about the intensity of the course and knew if I wanted to do well, I had to plan well. Lauren was also a tremendous support, especially in the beginning, helping me set goals, and checking in with me.
I think it is really important for potential students to go into this process with their eyes wide open, it is intense, mostly from a time management perspective (because the work is really doable). Setting goals from the beginning, using the support tools available (like success manager, planning sheets etc), really helped me.

Also, making sure you have a good support system in place at home (my husband was a huge support!) I would also suggest that students get into a routine that works for them and stick to it. This specific course is one year of your life, give it your all, don’t slack around, just push and absorb as much as you can like a sponge.

At the end of the day, you truly do get out what you put in – and that is my story. I really wanted to finish with a win and now I have, but I have gained so much more than a certificate. I gained confidence in my abilities, I was reminded that hard work pays off, and I gained a wealth of knowledge that doesn’t just benefit my career trajectory but my personal life as well.

Want to accelerate your career and stand out as a GetSmarter Notable Achiever?