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How an MBA helped Lisa reach new heights in not-for-profit

When Lisa Murphy hit a professional roadblock, she knew an MBA was just what she needed to fill her skills gap.

Lisa Murphy is a woman who is not short of a qualification. She completed a science degree before becoming a doctor, as well as postgraduate study in medicine, but when she moved into the not-for-profit public health field after having children, Lisa knew she’d found where she belonged. 

Working her way up from junior positions, Lisa reached the position of interim CEO at Kidney Health Australia but was unsuccessful when she applied for the permanent role. This is when she knew she had a skills gap to fill if she wanted to progress her career. 

“One of the things that I reflected on was why – and there were a number of reasons – but I think one of them was that I just didn't have that broad experience in managing the business side of things, which I saw as a gap,” she says.

Why an MBA at Deakin?

Lisa says her reasons for choosing Deakin for her MBA are varied, but she was already aware of its reputation.

“Probably the main reason was having worked in the public health space, Deakin always comes up,” she says. “But also I understand that Deakin was one of the first universities to do online learning. And I could see that I was not going to have time to make it to the campus every week.”

Flexibility in attendance was crucial for Lisa because she was already balancing work with family commitments. 

“I liked the option that I could sometimes [be on campus] and sometimes do it online,” she says. 

“The online learning aspect is really helpful. I couldn't do it if we didn't have that online flexibility and just being able to do it, log on at 5 o'clock in the morning or 11 o'clock at night and just get some work done has been really helpful.”

Flexibility in study options was also a selling point.

“I also liked the residential options,” says Lisa. “I really love the residentials and also the wide breadth of units that you can do; specialisation units to really make the MBA your own. And the other bit that was very interesting was the stackable units, just to give you that sort of tailored MBA.”

The life-changing effect of an MBA

Lisa wasn’t even finished her MBA when she landed her dream job. She was working as Executive Director of Stroke Services when the CEO left just before Christmas. Acting as interim CEO once again, this time Lisa was successful in applying for the substantive position – a career achievement Lisa says is “very exciting”. And this has all happened with one unit still left to study.

A qualification that makes a difference every day

As Lisa prepares to take on her new role, she says she already uses what she’s learned every day.

“I think the thing I've found is the MBA provides you with that academic framework to put things into action at work,” she says. “So making stuff relevant in the MBA to your work, I think is probably one of the most beneficial things, not just making up any old case to study. I found that really helpful. The transferrable skills into the workplace, I use them every day.”

Could an MBA work for you?

Lisa has no doubt that studying for her MBA has helped her reach new heights in her career, and taking the time to fill that skills gap is something she recommends.

“The MBA has been absolutely instrumental in getting myself where I am now,” she says. I have qualifications coming out my ears, but what I really didn't have was that business side. So, I think having an MBA was crucial to getting this kind of position, and I really don't think I would've got it without at least being nearly there.”

If you’re thinking about how an MBA could help you in your career, Lisa says it’s worth exploring.

“It’s one of the most useful things I've done, and I wouldn't be where I am now without it,” she says. So if you want to get on and be a real leader in your field, you kind of have to do it.”