Len Puhm

Student spotlight details

Len Puhm pursued an Advanced Diploma in Data and Systems Analysis to take his career to the next level.

'After completing a management degree at the University of Manchester in 2010 I was offered a role in an IT function at a large financial services organisation. Starting a career in technology was something I had not planned for - therefore I was aware there were some gaps in my knowledge. I soon became determined to expand my skills and knowledge in the field of computing and started looking for the most appropriate training course.

'I already knew there were numerous courses available to enhance my knowledge however I was looking for a programme that would deliver the maximum benefits to enable progress in my career. It was important to gain both a theoretical and practical understanding of systems development - which the course definitely provided!

'I was attracted to the Advanced Diploma in Data and Systems Analysis due to its highly relevant content. I was able to apply the knowledge (like system development life-cycle, unified modelling language, the importance of well-defined requirements etc.) at the workplace instantly and therefore deliver changes to the company's IT systems more effectively.

'I chose the course at Oxford for numerous reasons:

  • It offered flexibility for learning as it was delivered mostly via distance learning with excellent tutor support and online facilities. This caters for the needs of a working professional.
  • The university has an excellent reputation and standards.
  • The duration of the course was one year - this was optimal time for me to gain a sound understanding of systems development. I have witnessed that many similar courses last from a few weeks to 1-3 months - which based on my past experience is not enough to cover and assimilate all necessary information.

'What I found engaging about the course:

  • The support and guidance from tutors at each stage of the course - from initial contact with the University to the submission of final assignment. For example, before submitting my application to study on the course I was aware of my limited exposure to programming and wanted to make sure this does not put me in a disadvantaged position - the programme director contacted me and assured that this would not be the case.
  • The topics covered and quality of the materials.
  • Knowledge and expertise of fellow students.
  • The course director's frequent humorous posts on course online portal!

'What I found challenging:

  • Course duration (1 year) - I knew it was going to be a challenge due to other commitments but I was keen to fully realise the benefits of the programme. The course is designed for individuals who can keep themselves motivated, focused and disciplined throughout the year. I always believed in the saying: "if you think you can, you probably can. If you think you can't then you probably can't". I realised I was on the right track when I achieved an overall result of 94 (out of 100) on the first assignment.
  • The last unit of the course was about delivering a proposal and designs for a new computer system - this required effective communication and collaboration in a team of 5. Since our group members were located in different time zones around the world (for example, there was a student from a Caribbean island in my team!) it was occasionally challenging to come together as a team, discuss and decide on the deliverables of the project.

'The level of interaction with fellow students surprised me as traditionally such courses tend to rely mostly on individual homework (therefore feeling isolated can be common) however the systems analysis and design course required collaboration with other students and it was encouraged at every stage.

'When applying to study on the course I did not realise how rewarding the experience would be! I have learnt so much during my time at the Department. When I found out I will be passing with a distinction I knew I had exceeded the goal I had initially set for myself. The challenge of concentrating on a career and committing to a year-long programme makes it even more satisfying and worthwhile when you complete the journey with an outstanding result.

'Since completing the course I have moved into a project management role in the financial services industry and frequently use the knowledge gained from the course. My work has involved delivering solutions for automating business processes, digitalisation of paper statements and implementing a system to deliver multimedia alerts to customers.

'I would recommend the Advanced Diploma in Data and Systems Analysis course to anyone who is keen to pursue a career in information technology. Although it may appear daunting at first it is fun, fast-paced and will provide you with the right knowledge to succeed in the future. Also, the staff at the department are most helpful - if in doubt I would encourage you to contact them for further advice and guidance.'

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