Running the numbers on a postgraduate degree -- why this entrepreneur thinks it's worth it

Source: Getty.

If you want to improve your career prospects and expand your professional network, study a postgraduate business degree at Sydney Graduate School of Management.

Learn More »

There’s a great way to get ahead if you’re climbing the corporate ladder, building your own business or taking a not for-profit to the next level.

For Western Sydney University graduate Aaron Warburton, starting a postgraduate degree was an opportunity to build on an already strong career and kick-start his own business.

A former commercial partnerships manager at the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Aaron had a unique insight into his industry.

“When I was at the Bulldogs, we placed an enormous emphasis on building relationships with our sponsors,” he told Business Insider.

“The gap I identified was evident. There were a number of brands sponsoring that didn’t have a dedicated resource within their business to maximise their sponsorship investment. If a brand isn’t adding value for the ‘fan’ and the ‘community’ as well as value for their company and the sporting team, the sponsorship simply won’t work.”

While he had over 15 years’ experience in working with brands, he wanted to undergo an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) to build on those skills and grow his idea into a thriving business. He decided to go to Western Sydney University’s (WSU) innovative postgraduate business school, Sydney Graduate School of Management, (SGSM) where the facilities are world-class and the study options are flexible.

“The EMBA gave me an advanced understanding of all subjects. [It] sharpened my skills in areas I thought I was competent and took me to the next level,” he said.

The demands of the EMBA was another key reason that Aaron decided to study at SGSM. Choosing to undertake a postgraduate degree at this stage of his career was an investment and he needed a university that would be flexible to accommodate his work.

It took a lot of sacrifice to be able to work and study at the same time – but it seems to have paid off for Aaron, who has now launched his own business called The Sponsorship Department which has grown to over five brands quite quickly.

Much of this growth comes down to some of the insights he gained while studying.

“Although I genuinely enjoyed all of my subjects, the one that stands out was Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE). This subject got me thinking differently. It taught me about the lean business canvas. It helped me illustrate my ideas on one page.

“It also taught me that regardless of the industry you operate in, technology will be at the forefront of your growth over the next 10 years.”

The rate of change of technology is a big factor for people who are looking to invest in further study. And it’s not just budding entrepreneurs – postgraduate study is the new norm.

Futureproofing your career

Where once less than 100,000 students would undertake a degree of any kind, now well over a million students are currently enrolled in Australian universities.

Generation Y, or the millennial generation, is the most highly educated generation to date (with the upcoming Gen Z-ers just starting to finish their first degrees).

In order to get an edge in a challenging workforce, existing undergraduate students are already mapping out their next degree. Beset with with rising costs of living, they are deciding to stay in university until they can enter with a more competitive pay rate.

People are valuing education more highly as a safeguard against constantly shifting industries and a workforce that could be replaced by AI.

Postgraduates are still the most highly employed portion of the workforce with overall employment rates over 90%. People are looking to postgraduate study as a way to future-proof their career and compete in this highly educated world.

The postgraduate cohort are diligent and willing to contribute their wealth of life and work experience to the classroom. It’s very different to the undergraduate experience. Many long-term friends are forged on university campuses; the postgraduates tend to swap the uni bars for the classroom in order to build strong professional networks.

For Aaron Warburton, this has meant that a lot of his former professors and student peers are a big part of his network.

“In every subject I undertook, I was exposed to Marketing Managers, Operation Managers, GMs and CEOs, all of which brought an array of diverse skillsets to the table. I’ve also kept in touch with a number of my lecturers who were either current or ex-professionals.”

“The one thing we all had in common was the fact that we were all sacrificing something in return for investing in ourselves through study.”

An investment that has ultimately paid off.

To find out more information about Postgraduate study within SGSM at Western, visit the Western Sydney University website and discover how to unlock your potential. Learn more here.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.