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Andrew Myers
Certificate of Technology Management 1998
Diploma of Management 1999
Graduate Certificate of Corporate Management 2003
Graduate Diploma of Management 2005 and
Master of Business Administration 2006

Coles Regional Manager and DeakinPrime student Andrew Myers started his retail career as many students do-pushing trolleys after school.

Unlike many students, however, Andrew left his Adelaide school halfway through Year 12 to work in retail full time.

"That decision to leave school early really went against what my friends were doing," he recalled. "They were finishing off school and going to go to university. I was the only one of my group who didn't choose to go."

"They all asked me what I was doing going to work for Coles, but I enjoyed working with people and enjoyed the interaction and there were opportunities for advancement and to work in different demographics," he said.

Andrew now works for Coles Supermarkets in New South Wales, has a string of business diplomas under his belt and in 2006 completed his MBA. He believes the decision to leave school when he did gave him a terrific advantage.

"A lot of people say you should do the theory first, but the disadvantage of this is that they usually have not obtained any practical experience," he said.

"I feel I have been able to get the best out of every position I have worked in because I have been able to relate the practical experiences back to the theory."

Andrew said his study of financial reporting and analysis was particularly useful.

"It gives you a better understanding of the business in the global sense," he said. "It also enables you to talk to anyone at any level of your business."

"For instance, I would feel as comfortable talking with the chief executive officer as with a casual employee, mainly because you have a greater understanding of the business."

Andrew was one of the first Coles employees to return to study through Australia's first corporate university-the Coles Institute. The Institute is a joint partnership between Coles Supermarkets and DeakinPrime (Deakin University's corporate training arm). As a registered training organisation, the Institute offers certificates, competency-based diplomas, graduate diplomas and certificates, and masters degrees.

Andrew said he found returning to study "daunting" at first, but once the first hurdles were overcome he was able to handle the workload and differing expectations between the VET and the university systems.

"There was definitely a step up when I moved onto the degree in regards to the work, the tutors were much more demanding," he said.

"It meant we had to put a lot more time into a piece of work."

Andrew said one of the benefits of further study is that he must continually reflect on both his and the company's performance.

"A lot of the projects are work-related and mean we are in effect assessing our own business, be it change management, management communication or the organisation's behaviour," he said.

"You find yourself thinking about the theory versus the practical reality and maybe decide the theory doesn't always work or vice versa."

Andrew said getting assignments in on time is one of the most important lessons he has learned.

"Time is your big enemy," he laughed. "But seriously, having a support structure at home is vitally important. It is a big ask to say to your family:'I am spending all day studying'."

Despite the challenges, Andrew would recommend others give study a go.

"You don't necessarily think 'I will go out and study for 10 years', but every little bit helps-there is nothing hard about it."

Andrew says he has enjoyed his masters studies at Deakin.

"I never thought I would do my masters, but it becomes part of your life. So much so, you develop a thirst for knowledge, and knowledge is no burden to carry," he said.

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26th November 2009