Director at digital workplace specialist Digicom
A director at digital workplace specialist Digicom, Peter Fox is currently completing his third and final diploma in the MSc Pathway at UCD Smurfit School
Tell us about your career path
I have a telecommunications sales background and worked with Motorola and Worldcom (now Verizon) before becoming a part shareholder in Digicom, which specialises in video conferencing, audio visual and managed print services, in 2001.
Why did you decide to do the MSc Pathway?
I think continuous professional development is very important in order to stay relevant. Change is happening every day in business and you can’t deal with that in your own little bubble – you have to reach out and see what’s going on out there.
Which diplomas did you choose for your pathway and why?
I started with High Performance Sales and Business Development. I’ve been involved in sales for the last 30 years anyway but to have it presented in an academic and up-to-date format was very useful.
I always had it in the back of my mind that I’d do the three diplomas for the master’s and was pretty sure about the ones I’d start and finish with, but not the middle one.
I decided on Organisational Change and Transformation, which relates quite well to sales – if you think about it you’re selling the concept of change when you’re selling something. I also wanted to sharpen my overall leadership and management skills rather than going for something like accounting or finance.
And now I’m doing Business and Executive Coaching, which again is very relevant – the biggest challenge in change is people’s behaviours.
What was your experience of doing each of the diplomas, and the main takeaways?
The common denominator and what I found very valuable is that each diploma is relevant to your own business as you’re doing it. We got to listen to the theory and debate it and then execute it within our own businesses.
In year one, my abiding memory is around sales alignment. At that time, the sales strategy, targets and resources were not aligned within my business. We identified that through the programme and then found a means of addressing the problem.
In the second diploma we learnt the different models around organisational transformation. So, whether you have a topic, or a goal or project or an assignment to achieve, you can use one of the models as your benchmark and check in on it as you progress. That was, and continues to be very, very useful.
Also very useful was getting an understanding of the large divide between your aspiration of when something will be completed and the reality. Understanding negotiation and compromise was also a big focus and benefit in that year.
For me, the diploma that’s having the most impact is the one I’m doing at the moment, probably because of the self-awareness it creates and the tools it gives you around trying to encourage change.
How have you found the experience of doing the Diploma in Business and Executive Coaching during lockdown?
I was considering not doing it because it is pretty much a year of virtual modules but it has worked. The coaching diploma is the one that I would thought would most need to be in person, but it’s working well and we’ve all adapted.
Everyone on the course had the opportunity to opt out but nobody did. I only knew one of the participants from my previous programmes, but I think we’re as well acquainted with each other now as I was with the people on my first two diplomas, if not more so. There really are no barriers.
As well as the sessions every six weeks, I’m in a group of four that meets every Friday online for an hour. I don’t think that would have happened if weren’t doing the diploma virtually – it didn’t in my previous two years. I think we’re friendlier than we would have been if we were sitting in the same room. It’s a very supportive group – we check with each other and share information around assignments and articles we’ve read and just make sure we’re all still on course.
On the module days, the sessions are intense and a little more energy is required. But there are good breaks so there’s plenty of time built in to reset.
And, doing it by video does have its advantages – you’re in the comfort of your own home and you can be ready for class in a few minutes instead of having the commute.
How do you think the MSc Pathway has benefited you?
I’m not sure if maturity is the right word to use, but I’ve definitely been on a huge personal and professional development journey over the last two or three years and it’s had a big impact on the business.
I’m so taken with the importance of professional development now and would keep going if I could. I will look at doing something else in time – it needn’t be a diploma or a master’s, but just a subject choice that would be relevant to where I am and where I’m going professionally.