#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Pascal

Through the #DILO series of blog posts, we have been bringing you insights into the life of our master’s students, sharing their thoughts and opinions, ups and downs, and key learning points during their online studies. The whole idea behind this series is to make you aware of the realities of online studies and aid you in decision making.   

This week we take a look at a day in the life of one of our master’s degree student, Pascal. Here are a few insights and some words of wisdom that Pascal had to share from his own experience:  

An Introduction  

Who are you, really?  

Pascal S, a journalist for more than 25 years  

Which Uni are you studying with?  

University of Cumbria  

Which programme did you choose and why?  

MBA Media Leadership, to get even better in my job as a journalist/editor/redactor in chief. And another challenging part was to study the programme in a foreign language.  

  

The Study Plan  

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?  

I studied between one and two hours per day during weekdays and at least two hours per day during the weekends, sometimes more.  

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)  

Because of the family and the job, the only suitable time to study was the evenings during the weekdays rather than in the afternoons & evenings during the weekends.  

How much time did you devote for each assignment?  

ItI took me around 10 days for the interim assignment and a little more than two weeks for the final assignment. Coordination for the final assignment is quite delicate as I wanted to end it at least a week before the due date, in order to check, read, correct, Turnitin Test, etc.  

  

Travelling and Communication  

How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

It did not, as I did not travel a lot—only a daily commute.  

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?  

I consider interaction as satisfying, although I prefer chatting directly with people. But I enjoy reading contributions and experiences all around the world, which is a bonus for online teaching.  

  

A typical day as a master’s student  

What does a typical day as an Online Master’s student look like for you?  

After the daily chores and home duties, I read the assignment documents, trying to find out what is the most relevant or, at least, the general picture. I take notes, references and try to see if there are other sources to complete the assignment. Sources I will use for my final assignment.  

  

Any advice?  

Study a bit each day (one to two hours in a day), prepare yourself a work schedule, take notes, write down your ideas and start your assignment(s) early; otherwise, the time pressure will kill you.  

Well, indeed, incredibly helpful advice from Pascal. A proactive early start not only saves you from an unpredictable situation but also helps you follow your study plan with confidence. To get you through the master’s studies, we have an excellent faculty team of subject-matter experts, who guide and encourage students to achieve their potential.   

If you have been dreaming of joining a master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain a higher education, now is the time! Take the valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your own unique study strategy, and make your own success stories! I would love to feature you one ce day on our college blog.  

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time. 

Want to study for long hours? Here are 7 tips to get you started!

University, for me at least, was a blast. I had loads of friends and every day was a party. I wish I were a better student than I was, but at the same time, I don’t think I would change any of my experiences. The friends I made then are pretty much the same friends I have today. Someone wiser than me once said that a good friend is the one who comes to bails you out of prison, but your best friend/brother is the one sitting next to you in jail saying, “dang! we are now in trouble”. These are the kind of friends I have today.

But in having this amazing experience in university I pushed studies to the background and would try and cram as much learning as I could a week (or a day) before the exams. But that never worked; I would get easily distracted, and what I did learn would slip right out of my mind the second I closed the book. Last-minute cramming sessions hardly ever work. Studying long hours, like everything else, is a skill that needs to be developed and fostered.

Learning to study long hours is especially important for mature students doing an online programme. Apart from the usual work pressures, there are also many other things around that demand our attention and can be an unavoidable distraction from studies. So, putting in the time when the opportunity arises, even if it is a marathon study session, can be very important, and learning to learn and retain during this time is critical.

But how does one go about studying for long periods? Here are 7 tips to get you started.

1. Break it down

Don’t feel intimidated by the amount you have to study. Break it down! Photo by Teslariu Mihai on Unsplash

Some of the study material you have to go through can get quite intimidating; there is just so much. This intimidation could lead to anxiety, which in turn could lead to your getting distracted, and finally, you will just end up procrastinating. Take a pen and paper and write down what you intend to achieve by the end of your study session, and then break it down to smaller targets that can be achieved. This list of achievable targets will be your guiding star; this will help you focus your efforts and concentrate on the micro picture, reducing overall stress.

2. Changing your frame of mind

Let’s face it; you will not come back from the office or a football game and get right into studying. Your mind is still at the office or at the game or whatever you were doing before getting to your studies. Give yourself some time to get into the right frame of mind, say 30 minutes. First, get rid of all distractions – tv, phone, tablets, etc., then use these 30 minutes to transition into a learning frame of mind – get your study set up, ensure all stationery required is on hand, eat something and keep drinking water close. Once everything is set up, just relax your mind – do some breathing exercises, listen to some calming music, or take a hot bath. And once the 30 minutes are done, get to studying!

3. Think positive

Photo by Katrina Wright on Unsplash

I know there are a thousand different things you’d rather be doing than studying. But this is what you must do to get ahead in your career, improve your knowledge, and earn that degree you always dreamt of having. So, keep thinking positive as you work towards your dreams, and don’t forget to celebrate the small victories. 

4. Unscheduled breaks

Schedule and time all your breaks. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

AVOID unscheduled breaks! I get it; you have to take breaks but ensure that they are timed and scheduled. Don’t be tempted to check your phone or watch that match on tv in the middle of your study session. Once you get that ball rolling, it will just pick up speed, and the next thing you will be doing is studying during commercial breaks. Take the break when you schedule it and only for the duration it was planned for!

5. Study actively

Be engaged with what you are studying. Start reading the study material actively, making notes, asking questions about what you are reading, and answering them to better understand the subject. Don’t just read for the sake of reading; understand and learn by getting engaged with what you read.

6. Mix it up

Get a few extra hours of learning done by changing your location. Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

While it is essential for you to have your own study space devoid of distractions, during an extended study session where studying can get physically tiring, you might get a few extra hours of learning done by changing your location. Try to keep distractions to a minimum, so maybe go out to a park or sit in your backyard, but if you end up in a café, make sure you take your noise-cancelling headphones with you.  

7. End it

Once you are done with your marathon study session, end it. Close your books and maybe go right to bed, don’t think about studying anymore, this way you will be fresh and rested for your study session the next day.


These study habits, like everything else, must be cultivated and developed; it is not something that will work right off the bat. You get into a habit of long study sessions by repeating regularly. Start with one full day of studying every alternate week. If you have the time, do it weekly, and before you know it, this one day a week study session will help you get ahead of your class. But please do not neglect your regular study sessions; this is just a boost to give you an edge in class and help you cement what you learnt. 

We would love to hear from you about what helped you with your long study sessions. Is an all-day-long study session something you would do?

If you are ready to start your online studies, chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the 100% online master’s degree programmes we offer and the application process.

The Subtle Art of Saying No

Ever wondered why we tend to say “yes” to people when we really don’t want to? Blame it on human psychology or human beings being social animals. We find it extremely difficult to say no to anyone.  

We adore attention and feel gratified when others admire us, trust and look up to us. But when this takes the form of constant requests and more work for yourself, you detest being the go-to person. People want to say yes because they are afraid, afraid to disappoint others. We feel personally responsible for letting others down if we decline their proposition or their request for help. During these troubled times, with businesses being in jeopardy, everyone is overwhelmed, constantly working, and juggling work and relationships. Everyone is over-extended, and it is not the best soil to grow ideas or make sound business decisions.  

Are you saying a “good yes” or a “bad yes”?

What begins as an intent to help becomes a bad “yes” – simply because you do not have the productive capacity or knowledge to complete the task. Such a “yes” is bound for failure. When there is so much asking around in an organisation and collaborative overload, one should focus on moving to good yesses and good nos to avoid failures.  

How to say No?  

You have decided that you are going to turn down someone’s request to undertake a task. Now comes the even more difficult part: actually saying “no”! How do you effectively communicate your decision?  

Begin with a positive statement by appreciating the opportunity extended your way, that you were considered worthy enough to do justice to the job. But present your “but” in a way that shows you have carefully considered the proposition and convey the “why” of your decision. Let them realise that you did not decide to say no lightly, that the “no” was not because you are lazy, un-zealous to learn, or simply being difficult.  

Saying no can be an onerous process but trust me, it will prove to be more productive for yourself and the business. Base your decision on this checklist:  

1.    Do not let fear decide  

If you fear that saying “no” will stress your work relationship, remember that saying “yes” when you cannot deliver the results will stress you and the relationship even more. If the working relationship turns sour just because you said “no”, then it was never meant to be. Let it go.  

A decision taken under duress leads to stress on oneself and on work relationships

2.    Evaluate the proposition  

I know from personal experience when we are new to an organisation or a job, we are eager to learn because knowledge is power. Gain that power but keeping in view the quality you are gaining. Ask yourself what ‘value addition’ can you get from this task. Ask questions such as why, when, and what is needed for the task. Doing due diligence on someone’s request is respecting them and yourself.  

3.   Remember what you want to be known for  

What may seem like an opportunity to learn for you could become an opportunity for others to learn a thing or two about you. When you say “no”, back it up with legitimate and fair reasons, tell them why the proposition is not worth your time or effort or simply that you do not have that kind of time to invest in this project. You already have enough on your plate. When the other person: your boss, your client, your colleague, hears your side of the story, they will understand your situation, and you will become known for your work ethics and values. You will be known for authenticity and for being a good decision-maker. Everyone will respect your decision when you say “no” the next time because they will know there is a genuine reason behind it, and it’s just not a lack of interest or laziness involved. They will even bring better propositions to you that you will find difficult to turn down. They will try to please you and not the other way round.  

When you say “yes” to someone’s request, you commit to executing and delivering results.

4.    Deliver results  

The only consideration that should drive your professional decisions should be results. When you say “yes” to someone’s request, you commit to executing and delivering results. You do not want to be in a position where you realise later that either you cannot, are not allowed to, or should not do so. Do not bite more than you can chew. Do not be hard on yourself thinking that you are being difficult. Convey that you are making a good business decision.  

5.    Provide options  

While it is not easy to say “no” to someone who had high hopes on your saying “yes” and was relying on you for completing the task, remember that people come to you because you are a problem-solver and are resourceful. If you cannot do the job yourself, give them other options on how to complete the job or provide solutions to resolve the issue. It will save your time and help build trust with team members that learnt something valuable when they approached you.   

You can also choose to defer the project instead of completely shutting it down. Offer them a plan where you can join the team at a later stage and be more valuable once the project’s gone past its conception stage.   

6.    Don’t be afraid to say the ‘C’ word  

The majority of the time, bosses try to use influence to get things done. Little do they realise that when they use power, they lose influence.  

Photo credit: Canva.com

Every employer has a budget, and the more he can get done without expending his budget, the better (the lesser the merrier, in this case). This is one of the most frustrating and de-motivating situations when you are asked to deliver more results and but are not “C”ompensated for that extra work. You might say “yes” to the extra load now and then, just to be nice or on the pretext of learning something new, or simply because the boss asked you to do so, but this will eventually burn you out. Be firm to tell the work is simply beyond your pay scale and justifies an extra dollar or two.  

It is a misconception that you must be a “Yes Man” or a “Yes Woman” to be successful and boost your career. Remember Jim Carrey’s movie – Yes Man? The film is a classic story where the protagonist is encouraged and made to promise to answer “Yes!” to every opportunity, request, or invitation that presents itself. After a series of interesting events in his life, he realises that the covenant was merely a starting point to open his mind to other possibilities, not to permanently take away his ability to say no if he needed to.  

So, are you the go-to person at your workplace? Do you always end up saying yes? How do you strategically say no? 

Coronavirus Vaccine – To take or not to take?

I realise this is a departure from my usual blog. I recently got the second shot of the Coronavirus vaccine, and I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But I soon realised that nothing had changed. A couple of days after getting my shot, I learned that one of my neighbours, who coincidentally is a doctor and fully vaccinated, was tested positive.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

At the end of the day, we still have to wear masks and practice social distancing. And I urge you to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing, try self-isolation (at least as much as you can before going bonkers), and hand sanitise, at least until COVID-19 is well and truly behind us. Just because you have been vaccinated doesn’t mean you are fully protected against the coronavirus infection; it merely reduces the chances of developing complications by helping your body develop antibodies. Keep in mind, most vaccines have only about 90% efficacy.

But why isn’t COVID-19 just going away? Why does it keep evolving and mutating?  

The simple answer is because we are giving it time to evolve and mutate. Even today, a vast majority of the world’s population remains unvaccinated; only about 30% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated (status on Sep 14, 2021, see the chart below). There are several reasons for this – from the lack of availability of the vaccine in certain areas to false information being spread and an inherent mistrust for vaccines. 

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations

So, why is it so hard for us to believe highly educated and qualified scientists and doctors, who have worked endless hours to get us COVID-19 vaccines in record time, but are swayed by celebrities and politicians who tweet for publicity and whose only research is a cousin in Trinidad who won’t get the vaccine because his friend got it and became impotent (a reference to a recent Tweet by a popular rap star).

The answer is FEAR. All we need is a kernel of doubt to be planted in our minds, and our imagination will do the rest.

People are afraid of the unknown

There are many reasons people come up with for not taking the vaccine or for looking at alternatives. I can understand the fear, but more than a billion people worldwide have already taken the vaccine, and it has worked out well for the overwhelming majority of them. It is no longer the unknown.

People are afraid of the government – because they “rushed” the vaccine to look good in the eyes of the voters or to blame the inaction of the opposition

Protest in Liestal, Switzerland against the corona pandemic measures. Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash.

As for the government rushing the vaccine (which they did), this is a legitimate concern. Do you want to put something in your body that was rushed or not tested enough? The fact of the matter is that researchers were already researching vaccines for other coronaviruses for years, so when COVID-19 hit, they were already ahead of the game. In the US, “Operation Warp Speed” wasn’t about rushing the science but about cutting down the bureaucracy. Researchers were able to compress the timeline for the development of the vaccine; things that were done in sequence were done in parallel to save time. 

People are afraid of the side effects of the vaccine

Most medications will have side effects; you can usually find the warning on the label. For a vast majority of people, the side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine will just be minor – headaches, cold or flu symptoms, fever, and body pain are some of the most common. Serious side effects like anaphylaxis are very rare (example: 4.7 cases/million for Pfizer-BioNTech and 2.5 cases/million for Moderna, for vaccine doses administered) and usually only occur for cases with a history of allergy.

People are afraid of big corporations – they have the right to be because most big corporations are out to get your money 

The greed of man can be astounding, and it won’t surprise me to find out that some might have cut corners or taken other underhanded steps to increase their profits. But this is the COVID-19 pandemic, and the eye of the world is riveted on this. And it will be a brave (and in this case, by brave I mean psychopathic) company or executive that will play around with results that can impact millions of lives. But I still wouldn’t put anything past man’s greed, but that would not be more than the usual (cynical, I know).

The point is, we have to flatten the curve. We must develop herd immunity. And for this to happen, more people must be vaccinated. Because if you do not take the vaccine, you might not be affected by COVID-19, but you can still spread it to other people, becoming a carrier and helping the virus mutate. Encourage your friends, neighbours, and family to get vaccinated.

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-cases

Managing healthcare is never easy, but don’t worry, we got you covered. For more information on our 100% online Master’s degree programmeschat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for personalised guidance through the application process.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Get vaccinated.

All you wanted to know about Global Warming – Its cause and its effects

The Earth is warming up, and the phenomenon of the overall temperatures of the planet rising is referred to as Global Warming. This trend of increasing atmospheric temperature has had been observed since as far as 1880. The industrial revolution blew the bugle and marked the beginning of the era of rising annual global temperatures, with an average increase of 0.07 degrees Celsius (0.13 degrees Fahrenheit) every ten years since 1980. The average rate of increase has doubled in the last two decades – and it seems there is no sign of it slowing down.  

There are several elements that affect the Earth’s climate over time, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, rain, and humidity. This creates a network of intricate ecosystems where plants and animals’ life, growth, and survival are affected by a slight change in the climate and throw it out of balance.

According to an analysis at NASA, Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record

Causes of Global warming

The Greenhouse Effect

Increased human activity such as excessive use of fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrialisation has been central to the drastically changing climatic conditions and increased concentration of greenhouse gases.  

The heat-trapping pollutants like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and other fluorinated gases form a layer over the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead of the radiation escaping back into space, this layer absorbs the sunlight and solar radiation reflected from the Earth’s surface. This process traps the heat for years and centuries, leading to rising temperatures and a hotter planet.  

We live in a Greenhouse. Video credit:https://climate.nasa.gov/causes

Natural cycles and fluctuations also influence Earth’s climate. Some have even blamed the Sun for the global warming trend. Proxy indicators such as sunspot records and the amount of carbon in tree rings are generally used to estimate solar irradiance. However, research shows that neither the natural cycles nor solar irradiance can account for more than 10 per cent of the recent global warming.  

NASA with the cutting-edge observations from it’s Earth System Observatory helps to understand our ever-changing planet

Effects of Global Warming

One of the main effects that global warming has is climate change. Commonly these two terms are used interchangeably. However, they are different.  The change in the weather patterns and growing seasons across the globe is referred to as climate change. Melting ice sheets, expanding warmer seas and oceans leading to rising sea levels are the effects of climate change.  

A recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals some shocking climate change findings. The research conducted by 90 scientists from over 40 countries concludes that limitig global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is no longer a viable option. To curb any further devasting effects of climate change, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040. In the event the world fails to achieve this mark, then events like floods, fires, or varying temperatures will no longer be a statistical anomaly but will instead become a seasonal happening just like changing seasons.  

Though in our daily lives we might not understand the impact of global warming and climate change, the changes to the environment are happening now and, with time, will make a more significant impact than ever before. If we look around closely, what used to be subtle hints, are now taking more devastating effects such as:  

  • Extended periods of wildfires
  • Melting glaciers and ice caps in Antarctica and the Artic.
  • Bleaching of the coral reefs
Coral reef decimation is one of the sad effects of the global climate crisis
  • Warmer and acidic oceans
  • Extreme weather conditions due to rising temperatures
  • Spread of diseases
  • Farming has been affected by changing rainfall patterns, severe drought, and heat waves. The growth of the produce is mutated, and the quality of the crops has also been affected. 

The future is not determined; it is on our hands

David Attenborough

While not a lot, there is still time to act and slow down the pace of global warming. The Earth has already warmed 1.1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial levels. The need of the hour is to bring all nations together and work towards building a fossil-fuel-free economy. And the next decade is crucial in achieving this target. Countries have the technology, scientific foresight and solutions to reverse the damage for a healthier planet. Using alternative and renewable sources of energy like wind, water and electricity; adoption of a flexitarian diet with less dependence on meat; afforestation drive etc., can save our planet Earth. Do you pledge to save our planet? 

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Lebo Buthelezi

We continue our blog series that answers some of the questions we get here at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) by prospective students looking to join one of our online programmes. We asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled the challenges of online learning. Hopefully, this will help you to make an informed decision.   

Hear from our online Master’s degree students about a day in their lives. Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash.

Let’s learn from those who came before and see if what worked for them will help you become a better student!  

An Introduction 

Who are you, really?  

My name is Lebo Buthelezi. I am a family-oriented person, ambitious and can be a bit pessimistic sometimes. Passionate about diversity, inclusion, women empowerment and gender equality. Professionally I work as a project cost controller in the mining industry, where I have been learning the corporate reputation and shaping the perceptions of the company in projects for more than a decade. I am also a founder and director of LebVic Design fashion clothing line start-up.  

Which Uni are you studying with?  

University of Salford 

Which programme did you choose and why?  

MSc in Project Management, I want to have a qualification for the career that I have chosen. I aspire to have my own Project Management consultancy company. I have learned that studying is an incredible opportunity to learn about business prospects and how to effectively transition to economic opportunities.  

The Study Plan  

Time flies, so plan your studies. Photo by Lucian Alexe on Unsplash.

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?  

I planned to study at least 25 hours a week: Monday to Friday 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evenings, and Saturday 5 hours. Reality: The study hours fluctuated as I found myself spending more hours of studies during weekends and less during the week as anticipated.  

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)  

Early mornings during the week and most of the hours on weekends.

How much time did you devote to each assignment?  

The plan was to spend two weeks on assignments. In most instances, I overthink and over analyse assignments and end up taking more days after the two weeks.  

Travelling and Communication  

Figure out how to study and stay connected when travelling. Photo by Brett Zeck on Unsplash.

How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

It improved my personal development, discovered different cultures, contributed to a better academic performance and social interaction with other students. Learning in a new or different environment offers a different perspective on how other countries conduct businesses—expanding career horizons when you earn the international qualification. [Editor’s note: remember pre-Covid times? One week long residencies were a thing – and Lebo attended one in Salford]

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?  

Technology played the most important role, even though there are time differences. Using the online campus gives flexibility as you can communicate anytime, and feedback is given promptly. The way the online campus is set makes life easy because most of the questions are answered on the platform. The zoom classes as well contributed, and a WhatsApp group was created between students.  

A typical day as a master’s student  

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?  

I would wake up, study for 2 hours, get ready for work, and off I go. In the afternoon, I get home, follow up on business, and study for 2 hours before I sleep. Saturday morning work in my business until lunchtime, after lunch, I study. Sunday, I rest and spend it with family. Studying online comes with the room of being flexible with your studies and making it easy to have a work-life balance.  

Any advice?  

Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.  

The moment you enrol yourself to study, make sure that you break the habit of multitasking. I had to learn the hard way; managing work, business and studies comes with challenges. However, it is not impossible to manage all of them. It is important to set up a study strategy, have a life study schedule to track your progress. Time management is crucial, have a study plan with deadlines and stick with them. Studying can be challenging and take us out of our comfort zone; when that happens, we should be resilient and disciplined with our studies till we reach our goal of graduating.  


I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this space for similar blogs. So, if you have been thinking about doing a master’s degree and now understand how to study better for an online programme, look at our programmes and see if anything interests you.

If you still have questions though, post them here in the comments or, even better, chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for personalised guidance through the application process.

ROLE OF AI IN CYBER SECURITY – A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly getting integrated into various business domains and deployed within applications. The most advanced sectors using AI are Information Technology and Telecommunications, and the rest are catching up.  

We live in a world where we’re facing cyber-attacks every day, and these attacks are multiplying. Analysing and fighting these attacks is no more a human-scale problem, and this is where AI comes in handy. AI-based tools help the security teams detect and stop a substantial number of cyber-attacks.  

AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines which are then used to prevent variety of cyber attacks

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE EXPLAINED

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable” – John McCarthy. This intelligence is then used to assist and augment the current technologies to prevent new varieties of attacks in the future. Some of the examples of these techniques are Machine Learning, Neural Networks, and Deep Learning. Earlier, we had discussed the reasons why AI is the future of business. From enhanced customer experience to data mining and from supply chain management solutions to recruitment, Artificial Intelligence has penetrated the realms of every business – big or small.   

ROLE OF AI IN CYBER-SECURITY  

AI plays an increasingly significant role in cyber security, reinforcing the defences against newly introduced virus/malware attacks on modern enterprises. The same has been highlighted in the research by Capgemini Research Institute in its report titled Reinventing Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence.  

BENEFITS OF AI IN CYBER-SECURITY

AI’s technology tools provide the capability to safeguard identities, systems, organisations, and their multiplying devices against relentless cyber-attacks. It includes detecting new threats and providing robust protection against them. 

-        The ability to detect the attacks beforehand and tighten the security around essential data.  

-        Saves time as it helps in faster detection and shorter response cycles resulting in early decision making by stakeholders.  

-        Helps control effectiveness as it can identify the strengths and gaps that lie in a program.  

A ransomware attack is now expected to happen every 11 seconds. Photo credit: Canva.com

AI – A CURSE?

The impact and severity of a cyber-attack may vary with every business. The disruption caused by the attack can result in significant financial losses, legal liability, loss of reputation and continuity of business in the long run. Cyber-attacks demanding a ransom from the attacked company are on the rise. The rise is alarming according to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, with a ransomware attack now expected to happen every 11 seconds in 2021 instead of every 40 seconds in 2016.   

While some industries are more vulnerable to a cyber-attack, any business today can be subject to a data breach, especially those closely linked to people’s lives. Such organisations include, but are not limited to, healthcare institutions, banking and financial institutions, education industry and retail and FMCG industry.   

With its various security tools, AI and machine learning, on the one hand, is playing an increasingly important role in identifying potential threats or a variant of malware. However, on the other hand, cyber attackers are using this very AI to make even more sophisticated attacks that are difficult (almost impossible) to decipher. It is challenging to spot a variation in the malware, especially when it is deliberately disguised.   

 AI-powered cyber-attacks exist in many shapes and forms. One such tool is deep-fake technology, which poses a major concern to cyber-security officials. What worries them the most is the fact that deep-fake technology has the power to make things look so real that an innocent onlooker is fooled by its uncanny resemblance to the real thing. Deepfakes are made from an AI-based deep database that imitates people’s voices, faces and creates a seemingly realistic video with movements and audio.   

Deepfakes are made from an AI-based deep database that imitates people’s voices, faces and creates a seemingly realistic video with movements and audio. Photo credit:Canva.com

FBI warns that deepfake fraud can be used in a cyber-attack vector called Business Identity Compromise (BIC). Such an attack causes a significant financial and reputational impact on businesses.   

One of such rather famous deep-fake cyber-attacks happened in 2019 when a CEO of a UK based energy firm was tricked into wiring Euro 220,000 (approx. USD 243,000) to the bank account of a Hungarian supplier following instructions from ‘his boss’. The CEO thought he was on the phone with ‘his boss’, the chief executive of the company’s German parent company, as he could specifically recognise the German accent and melody of his boss’s voice.   

There are several other examples of cyber-security threats like cyber-attacks, ransomware, phishing attacks, self-learning automated malware, malicious insiders, financial information, and data breaches.   

Businesses need to revisit their security practices in the wake of these new-age cyber security threats. Continuous development and improvement of cyber-security tools and application of such tools in conjunction with expert human security teams can help businesses identify such potent cyberattacks and stay secure. Become an expert and bolster your AI knowledge with 100% Online MBA Artificial Intelligence offered through an exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, UK. Click here to apply for the programme. 

6 tips to help you study better at home

It is so easy to get distracted when studying or working from home. There are so many things to distract you – from your better half asking (some might say nagging) you not to eat unnecessarily to children wanting to play, from your neighbours knocking on your door asking for some sugar (again) to someone unexpected ringing the doorbell.

Studying from home. Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Now that you have decided to do an online master’s degree programme, you must be prepared for the challenges that studying at home entails. Most people don’t take these challenges seriously, and by the time they realise they have fallen behind in their programme, it may be too late to recover. So, tackle these challenges from the start.

In addition to all the “normal” challenges of studying at home, COVID-19 has forced some of us to isolate and work from home and forced children to stay home all day too.

How do you stay on top of your schoolwork? What can you do to help yourself study better at home?

Here are 6 tips to help you get started:

1. Location, Location, Location

Have a dedicated area at home for your study. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The first thing you need to do is have an area at home dedicated to your study. Make the space comfortable; add a few personal items to this area that give you ownership. And finally, make sure all the study materials you require are with you in the study, so you have no excuses to get distracted. Remember, when you work in silence, success does all the talking! Set up the study in a place where the external distractions will be minimal.

2. Organise like a pro

Use organisers to increase efficiency. Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

People who use a calendar know how useful it can be to increase efficiency. The organiser/calendar is a tool that can be far more useful than to remind you of your next meeting. Create a calendar that contains every minutia of your daily activities for the week/month/quarter (however long you can go), from household chores to study/work deadlines. Then populate the calendar with the schedule of your family. This will give you a good idea of your schedule, inform you when to expect distractions from your family, and help you plan for it.

3. Chewing Gum

Photo by Pete Alexopoulos on Unsplash

According to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI), chewing gum can enhance attention and promote well-being and work performance. The impact of chewing gum is said to be more than that of coffee, the catch being that the effects of chewing gum will last for only about thirty minutes. So, make sure you use the thirty minutes of heightened focus wisely and stock up on sugarless, flavourless gum.

4. Cutting the noise and setting boundaries

Having your family and friends around can get a little noisy. Getting your family, especially kids and pets, to understand that you are studying and not just sitting back and relaxing while reading your favourite LITRPG novel (Gnomes Rule!) might be difficult and, at times, heart-breaking (I know it is hard to say no to kids). But once they understand your schedule and that you are not to be disturbed when you are at your study, they will learn to give you your space.

Another way to reduce the noise is music. Put on an over-the-ear headset and, in low volume, listen to some classical music. It will also have the added advantage of keeping you calm.

5. Engage all your senses

Photo by Solstice Hannan on Unsplash

You are already listening to online lectures and reading articles, so why not make notes and ask questions? One of the best ways to learn is by being engaged in your studies, so try to increase the number of ways you can be involved with what you are studying.

Another good way to learn and retain more information is to teach, so once you have a handle on a subject, start by pretending to teach it to someone. Prepare for questions you might get asked by students, maybe join a study group with your fellow students and have a go at teaching them.

If you are not the teaching kind, then doodle. According to an article by Harvard Health Publishing, during an experiment on memory and retention, it was found that people who doodled were better at paying attention to the message and recalling the details. They recalled 29% more information!

6. Celebrate the accomplishments

Celebrate your success with a couple of squares from that bar of chocolate. Photo by Keriliwi on Unsplash

When you have successfully completed a task, realise that you have, and acknowledge this fact! Stand up and dance like nobody’s watching! Have a couple of squares from that bar of chocolate. You will find that celebrating your success will lift a weight from your shoulders that you did not even know you carried, which will help you focus better and remain motivated.


If you have been thinking about doing a master’s degree, and are ready to challenge yourself, look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything you are interested in earning your master’s degree.

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programme that is right for you, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.

The new age leader – a coach and a mentor

We live in a world of flux – a world where change is the only thing constant.  

I remember when I was a kid, my father would tell me about his job and the management style at his office. He worked in a semi-government organization where hierarchy and command-and-control leadership dominated. A more technically qualified and experienced leader would lead a team or a department and evaluate each team members’ performance against a pre-set benchmark. Little or no importance was laid on developing the skill-sets of employees or encouraging innovation.  

Fast forward 20 years, the leadership styles shifted dramatically. The existing (ancient, in my opinion…) management styles were not sustainable and organizations begged for a radical transformation; transformations that would inculcate new energy, ideas, motivation, commitment, and innovation. 

Leaders are expected to step up and assume the role of a coach and a mentor

Types of coaching styles 

Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds. Having a consultant coach from outside the organization could be helpful for developing specific skills or as a one-off motivational camp. A modern learning organization would invest in a coaching style appropriate to the needs of the company. Keeping in view the long-term goals, the leaders within the company are expected to step up and fulfil the need of the hour – the need to assume the role of a coach and a mentor.  

The leader may adopt one of the many leadership styles, with some of the most popular being: 

  1. Democratic: This style as the name suggests, encourages the general principles of democracy and takes into consideration the opinions, ideas, and interests of the people involved.  
  1. Laissez-Faire: This style is the minimum leadership style when the team members operate at their maximum efficiency and vigor and do not require any supervision or direction.  This is generally seen as inefficient, and depends largely on the ability of the teams to self-manage and self-regulate. Not recommended.
  1. Directive: Quite contrary to the Laissez-Faire coaching style, directive leadership requires the leader to ‘tell’ people what is expected of them, assign necessary resources for successful completion of their job, and convey the expected results as well.  
  1. Holistic: No organization today operates in isolation. Businesses are global and companies all over the world are taking wholesome decisions for the greater good. This leadership style recognizes the connection between leader, follower, and organisation, and focuses on a people-in-environment and developmental approach. 

Mentor or a Coach 

People usually use the term coaching and mentorship interchangeably. This is not correct. Mentoring is offering advice based on knowledge, expertise, and experience. Coaching, on the other hand, is inquiry-based. A little push with insightful questioning can spark a person to see themselves and the world differently and solve their own challenges. 

Mentoring is more formal and structured, where a mentor helps his mentee gain a broader and deeper perspective and understanding of the business (and life). A mentor, based on his own experiences, guides and channels mentees by illuminating the right path for them. It is, therefore, more directive in nature and could be related to a directive leadership style. Mentors offer exposure and connections to other functions and levels of the organization.

A coach supports, challenges, and encourages. A coach approach for leaders, on the other hand, uses very different techniques for developing people. The role involves asking and listening rather than knowing and telling. The coach empowers the employees, by making them fully capable of finding their own answers to their problems. Employees have more self-awareness and experience an increased performance.  

Now, this is easier said than done. While leaders may recognize the need to embrace the idea of coaching and mentoring their employees and subordinates, the flair does not come naturally to every leader. However, using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Our MBA in Coaching, Mentoring, & Leadership programme creates opportunities for you to develop through practice a range of coaching and mentoring skills and techniques and enables the development of a critical understanding of issues related to the design and implementation of coaching and mentoring schemes. The programme is delivered in such a way that you are encouraged to utilise your professional and work-based context as a resource in which to practice and develop your skills in coaching and mentoring. Feel like you could benefit from this? You are not alone! Apply now to join our more than 150 students currently taking the programme!

Unable to focus when studying? Here are 3 tips that may help you focus!

With age comes wisdom. By and large, the saying holds true, with a few exceptions – I am sure many of us know someone in our lives who hasn’t learnt from their mistakes. But this blog is not about introspection, or learning from one’s mistakes, or even about changing the past. It is about learning to focus when studying.

However, when I thought about writing this blog, it got me thinking about my childhood and the student I was; it got me introspecting. I remember sitting in my study and trying to focus on my textbook, and I remember all I needed was the slightest distraction to get completely distracted. Even when I read, I was just going through the motions and not really focusing or even trying to understand what I was trying to study.

It got so bad that even my parents realised I wasn’t focusing on what I was studying, and I remember the day before some exams, my mother would come to the study and offer to read the textbook for me. I don’t think I have ever thanked my parents for all the support they have given me, so thank you, mom and dad, for all you have done for me.

There goes my focus! Let’s get back on topic, shall we?

FOCUS! Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

What is focus?

In the simplest terms, focus is the ability to do a task without getting distracted.

Focus (or attention span), like most other human habits, can be trained and developed. The easiest things to develop are bad habits as it is usually fast and easy. But focus/concentration/attention span – whatever you want to call it, will take hard work and dedication.

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

Bruce Lee

Our mind is, after all, a muscle, and so is trainable. The following are 3 simple tips that should get you started on the path of training your focus.

1. Take responsibility

Don’t wait for a sign from heaven to take responsibility for your life! Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Human beings like to deflect responsibility. If we take on the responsibility of a particular task, like, let’s say, studying a particular subject at a specific time, then the responsibility of completing the said task is in our hands. There may have been several reasons that distracted you and prevented you from completing the task… wrong! You allowed yourself to be distracted, and you failed to complete the task. So, stop making excuses and get back in the driver’s seat of your life!

A good way to understand what I am trying to say here is by imagining yourself on a long road trip, and you find yourself in the backseat of the car. For most of us, it is just a matter of time before we fall asleep. Now, keeping all conditions the same, only you find yourself in the driver’s seat, you will find yourself more focused, alert, and determined to drive the car to the best of your ability.

So, take responsibility, get on the driver’s seat, and you will find yourself able to focus a lot better.

2. Practice

Attention is a muscle, and like every other muscle, it needs to be trained and worked out to develop. Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, wrote that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. He said 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field.

We have many distractions around us that prevent us from focusing on the task at hand, and more often than not, we give in to those distractions. We do it so often that in the end, we become experts in ‘getting distracted’.

So, how do you go about training attention?

Let’s start with a simple exercise. Let’s start with a 10-minute exercise. Go to your study, just with a notebook and a sheet of paper to note down all your distractions. Leave all distractions (mobile phones, storybooks, food, etc.) outside. To start with, choose your favourite subject and take study material only for that subject and only what you will be able to cover in 10-minutes.

Time yourself. 10-minutes, that all it takes. Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Start reading the study material actively, making notes and asking questions to better understand the subject. In the middle of this active study session, if anything distracting pops into your mind, make a note of it immediately in the distraction sheet, and return to your studies immediately. And once the 10-minutes is done, stop. Close your study material and leave the study.

Gradually try increasing the number of these 10-minute slots, rather than increasing the duration of study. If you find yourself unable to focus during these slots and cannot refocus, stop the session early and walk away. 

You will find you can cover as much in 10 minutes of focused effort as what you would usually have covered in an hour previously.

3. Health and rewards

We have covered most of this in detail in our earlier blogs, and I will link them here – eat healthily and exercise your body. To keep motivated, reward yourself, even in small ways. On completing tasks, realise that you have, and acknowledge this fact! Stand up and dance like nobody’s watching!


I hope these tips will help in getting you started on focusing on your tasks better. We would love to hear from you about what helped you with improving your focus.

If you are ready to start your online studies, chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the 100% online master’s degree programmes we offer and the application process.