"Being able to watch the lectures while travelling... was a fantastic benefit".
With an extensive career in accounting, Kiley Christensen has held a range of senior financial roles within large organisations.
But it was her passion for information technology that drove her decision to complete Deakin’s Master of Information Systems (MIS).
Now a project specialist in finance at Melbourne’s Alfred Health, Kiley was keen to boost her skills to ensure best practice in the wide range of projects that she oversees.
‘I’ve worked as a project manager for a number of years implementing many projects ranging from whole business redesigns to small and large information system changes, but I wanted a more formal knowledge in information systems and technologies,’ she says.
The flexibility of online learning – along with the option of three trimesters – was a huge drawcard for Kiley who needed to juggle study with a demanding full-time role.
‘Deakin was the only university to offer a full MIS with the right course structure via cloud based learning. This allowed me to study when I wanted and tailor it around my work commitments – being able to watch the lectures while travelling to and from work by train was a fantastic benefit!’ she recalls.
By opting to take an extra two units in Trimester 3, Kiley was also able to fast-track her degree and graduate a year earlier.
‘It meant I spent two summer/Christmas breaks studying but it was worth it to finish my course in two years rather than three. I believe the flexibility offered to students by Deakin is second to none – other universities just didn’t compare in terms of the options available for full-time students who also worked professionally.’
The scope of MIS’s IT and business information systems subjects suited Kiley’s project management focus while the specialty units matched her interests and helped for future career planning.
‘I really enjoyed the challenge of some of the technical subjects which pushed me outside my comfort zone in terms of current knowledge and really expanded my learning.
Learning how to work collaboratively with other online students – national and international – was a great experience and made me realise the technology potential that’s out there to work in this manner,’ she says.
Kiley’s outstanding academic results saw her take out a coveted Dean’s Merit Awards and she’s now looking forward to implementing her expanded skills – and confidence – across some of Alfred Health’s largest business and finance projects.
‘I’m responsible for overseeing all projects that have a financial impact or focus and ensuring appropriate methodology and reporting processes. This also includes guiding project managers to successful outcomes,’ she explains.
Currently, Kiley is directing a project to replace 13 billing/revenue software systems with one new consolidated billing system and also overseeing the entire services function and department with its 38-member team.
‘This is to ensure that along with the new system, the most efficient and effective processes are put in place to deliver the best service possible to the hospital, our doctors and our funding bodies,’ she adds.
Importantly, this is where Kiley says the MIS has strengthened her skills.
‘I have always had a keen interest in process and business improvement through the effective use of technology. The MIS has allowed me to gain a better understanding of the technical side of information systems and other key areas of project work.’
She explains that because the MIS was at postgraduate level, it gave her a high overview of how to successfully implement a new information system or process.
‘Now I fully understand (and sometimes challenge) the technical staff working on a project to ensure we build the right systems and implement them in the most efficient way. The key aspect for me is being able to bring a business focus to IT projects.’
In her role with Alfred Health, Kiley says there’s nothing more satisfying than implementing a process that helps create a better work life for employees, saves money or creates efficiencies.
‘Working in an organisation that helps save lives is immensely satisfying – every little improvement you can make to how the hospital operates helps towards the goal of better healthcare – and that’s an amazing thing to be a part of. In my past accounting life, work was very predictable but with IT project management, you never know what’s around the corner. No two days are the same – and I love that.’