How Digitalization and Process Management Helps Transform Education

GISMA Business School

We live in a digital world, and with recent shifts in how we live and work, our use and need for effective digital processes has become even more evident.

TopMBA spoke with Dr Gabriela Whitehead, Head of Digital Transformation and Process Management at GISMA Business School about what a role in this industry entails today.

With a PhD and MSc in Communication, Media and Marketing with a specialization in Employee International Management from Robert Gordon University and Aberdeen Business School, Gabriela knows how education and digitalization go hand in hand.

Studying during big life events

Dr Gabriela Whitehead GISMA Business SchoolGabriela’s PhD and MSc followed blended learning formats. At the time, Gabriela had some major personal milestones happening, but that didn’t stop her from achieving her educational goals.

She said: “I relocated twice to different countries. Because I followed a blended delivery mode, I was able to take my studies, no matter where I went. I had the opportunity to accompany my husband in extended expatriate assignments and be a mother at home, caring for my babies.

“For me it was the perfect mix; being at home while boosting my career; I was ready to enter the job market when my children started primary school.

“Moreover, the subject of my research studies is based on this enriching experience; being international, working across distances and using online technologies.”

Gabriela says her postgraduate studies were personally and professionally rewarding, namely due to her circumstances as a remote student.

She said: “While my home was in one country, my university was in another. I carried out the research for my MSc thesis and PhD dissertation via online communication; participants were based in different parts of the world, so I had to communicate at a distance.

“I learnt many valuable lessons and different ways of working, such as managing projects with a physically dispersed group and making the best of the technologies available to share information and to communicate face-to-face, at a distance.”

The importance of digitalization

Effective digitalization incorporates the needs of different business areas, ensuring communication and processes flow within and between teams, customers and external stakeholders.

Gabriela said: “These skills can be used in almost any industry and area of work. Digitalization has become a basic business need on the same level to finance, human resources and marketing.”

In her role, Gabriela acts as the interface between the operations and running of the business as well as the digital tools, solutions and platforms used, both internally and to communicate with students and stakeholders.

Gabriela said: “Process management involves critically evaluating each procedure, reviewing the steps and timeline with the respective departments, and creating an updated version which is in line with the needs of the business.

“Digital transformation uses available technology to reflect all internal procedures, so that each step can be followed in a timely manner. It also ensures everyone involved in the process can access the information, take action if required and generate reports, independent of their location.”

The importance of digital transformation and process management

Although the foundation of Gabriela’s work hasn’t altered much during the coronavirus pandemic – in terms of aligning the school’s business needs with the digital solutions they use – she says COVID-19 has changed some elements.

She said: “The coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on the need for my colleagues to learn to use our digital tools, as a means of communication and adopt them in their daily work.

“I have to create guides and deliver sessions on how to use these systems. During the past few months, I’ve had to create additional ones for the new digital tools we implemented to communicate as our offices closed.”

Gabriela acknowledges digital transformation and process management aren’t new, but business needs for related skills have become paramount over the past few years.

She said: “The global tragedy of COVID-19 highlighted the importance of digital tools; however, multinational organizations or any physically disperse group working together relies on their ability to manage their processes via online platforms to communicate and collaborate.”

How students should manage time and effort

It can be difficult to manage your schedule, and with first-hand experience juggling personal and academic life, Gabriela has a few words of advice for prospective students.

She said: “Break the work into small steps. At first, the program’s requirement might seem overwhelming, but you’re not expected to do it all at once. View the project ahead from a wider perspective, divide the tasks into manageable steps and set milestones within the timeline required.

“The journey of a postgraduate program has its challenges, but these only make the experience more rewarding and interesting, they also force us to do our best at each step. Graduation is not the end of this experience.”

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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