The curious case of Marc Chapman
written by Marc Chapman, international student from Canada
Unlike most students, I have just entered my 40’s and am in the middle of my undergraduate studies. And no, I haven’t been studying for ages, I have had a considera-ble career “out there” with many dif-ferent experiences. But for now, those of you who remember the movie “The curious case of Benjamin Button”: It feels a bit like Benjamin, where he grew young instead of old. That is how I feel right now, like I’m getting younger while sitting in lectures with 18 to 20-year-olds. I will probably not go back to school afterwards but fo-cus on a new career with a different focus. However, there are obvious-ly more differences. Let’s focus on some of those aspects, which make my “going-backwards-career” quite enlightening.
I’m a third semester student in the IBE programme here in Schwein-furt and my name is Marc Chapman. I was born and raised in Canada and then in my ear-ly 20’s relocated to the UK where I lived for the most part in the London area for over 16 years. Having met my German wife back in 2010, we moved to Bamberg in 2015 along with our first child of now two daughters. Whilst in the UK I worked in Highway Engineering and Consulting with varying employers from multinational consultants to local government authorities to small family-run businesses. I had the pleasure of working on major projects such as the Channel Tunnel Rail link im-provements and for a long time in Central London on a multitude of small and large projects.
Going in reverse has provided one priceless trait that I have found greatly advantageous, and that trait is Life Experience. Whilst my fellow colleagues are often as-king why do we need to know this or how could that be applied, I am often able to make essential links between academia and practical use.
For instance, why would an engineer or manager need to understand accounting practices? Well, the know-ledge of accounting practices would assist in the role as a project manager, whilst reviewing budgets and mee-ting with finance departments. It even helps in your pri-vate life in managing expenses and understanding the present value of your savings.
Instead of being at the back of class, I now sit in the front and see the advantage of engaging with the professor regarding the topic at hand. In life, you learn that you need to challenge theories and ideas and you gain the confidence to do so. My work experience has required me to interact a great range of peop-le, from Lords of England to CEO’s of multinational organisations and every-one below and between. These inter-actions require you to set out, and pre-sent yourself in a knowledgeable and concise manner. These skills make presensations less frightening, suc-cessfully steer projects in the correct direction or even make the writing of exams just another task.
Even though there are many situations where I feel my experience helps me comprehend the topics, I also get se-veral eureka moments or at least, the moments which in the past, would have been a lot easier/clearer if I had known that. This occurs more often in my business courses where lear-ning about the overall business process whilst using ERP software for instance helps connects the dots bet-ween varying departments in a massive construction company.
Furthermore, my lectures in International Trade Law and International Accounting also gave clarity on the contractual relationships between parties I worked with and some of the financial decisions and investments that were made by the leaders in my organisations.
All of these events paint a good picture of how really the studies at FHWS IBE are so well entwined with real life and practical situations. However, to see these relation-ships are maybe not always clear to some students who may lack the real-life situation or experiences to com-pare to. Then once you have graduated, you are spending so much time climbing the professional ladder and wor-rying about paying the bills and raising a family that you don’t really get to reflect back to what you had learned. This is when I at least, appreciate those bizarre situations where your professor is trying to explain something in class and is there to help us be successful in life.