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From studying out of a suitcase to social justice campaigner

Like all children growing up in the UK in the 1970s, Lynnette Thomas’ first interaction with The Open University was via early morning television. This was just the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the OU, which led to her becoming Deputy Director for the OU in Wales last June. The OU connection doesn’t stop there- this year, Lynnette turns 50 as the OU celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Lynnette always wanted to study an MBA to help her move to a higher level in her professional life. She had already completed an MSc in a traditional university as a part-time student. However, continuing learning became more difficult as she moved around early in her career and did not want to be tied to one location. She wanted to study a course which was flexible and well recognised, and found that the OU could offer this.

Flexibility was key

Lynnette began her MBA with the OU whilst living in Cardiff, but, half way through her course, she moved to Brussels. She was now representing Welsh interests in the European Union, and continued to study as an international student.

The biggest challenge was moving to a new country and starting a new job two days before my Strategy module exam.

The lease on my flat didn’t start for ten days and I was living in an aparthotel in a new city, knowing hardly anyone. I was so relieved when the exam was over and found out I had passed. I paused for six months at that point to settle in.

During her studies, she changed career, moved abroad and married her partner. The flexibility of the course allowed her to tailor her studies around these life-changing events.

I enjoyed every moment and made some lifelong friends. I loved the thrill of the start of every module when I received a big black box of course materials, additional reading and (in those days) cassette tapes!

She completed her MBA in 2002 and found that it gave her a new confidence and competitive advantage in the jobs market that she used to further her career.

Alignment of values

Now a mother of two, she joined the OU in Wales as Deputy Director last June, and was attracted to the role due to the quality of teaching she received during her own studies. She felt that the values of the OU and its staff matched her own.

Yes, I am a huge advocate of the OU – I have encouraged lots of people to undertake the MBA in particular – the quality of the course material and innovative learning were something that left a lasting impact on me. This year I turn 50 so I feel very comfortable with my parallel life journey with the OU.

There have been so many great role models along the way, but the most pertinent is Louise Casella, Director of the OU in Wales. She has made so many positive changes to the ways of working in Wales and is a huge inspiration. The OU in Wales is a great place to work – we call it the ‘meadow of happiness’!

About Author

Liz works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She has over 15 years' marketing experience working across a range of sectors, from diamonds to shampoo. She has a BSc (Hons) in Management from UMIST. In her spare time, Liz is usually found on roller skates or off travelling, having adventures.

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