Ian Morgan (36) will be travelling from his home in the French Alps to graduate with a MSc in Property Development with Distinction at 2.30pm on Friday 4 December.
Ian is originally from Worcester, but now lives in a small mountain village called Saint Cezaire sur Siagne, perched on the southern-most cliff of the French Alps.
After a few years working overseas for tour operators, Ian took his first degree at Thames Valley University in London, where he graduated with a Tourism/Business degree. Subsequently he worked in sales and marketing, followed by several years in European event management, specialising in large international commercial exhibitions. The last role proved to be instrumental in Ian's future career plans. "As a result of the technical, construction focus, I developed a keen interest in buildings and architectural design," he said. "Since my wife and I had bought and let several apartments by then, I thought it would be fun to combine personal and commercial interests and learn more about construction and professional property development."
So Ian left his job and set about learning the basics of construction, building a two room extension to his home with nothing more than the help of a friend, a borrowed cement mixer and a copy of autocad LT! "The result was pretty good, and I learned a lot of practical skills along the way, but I was lacking formal development knowledge, so I thought a postgraduate degree would be a good next step."
Ian applied and was accepted to Robert Gordon University's Property Development programme. He went on, "As a distance learner, the course offered me the flexibility to earn a living and maintain my home life with less disruption than studying on campus, especially with the facility to complete the programme in just one year.
"The course was tougher than I had expected, as it had been ten years since I had seriously studied but it was also more interesting, as I was passionate about the topic and too far from the union bar! Fellow students must have seen advantages to this learning pathway too, as the course hosted members from other areas, such as the Middle East, Africa and Pacific. Luckily time-zones weren't an issue with online discussions, as we just replied when we were available."
However, the course was not without its challenges for Ian. During his first semester a big storm wrecked his roof, and he had a severe bout of flu towards the end of the course. Ian cites the support of staff at the University's Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment for helping him to overcome these obstacles and graduate with distinction. "Luckily I passed the course, with help from my supervisor, Dr Amar Bennadji, great lecturers such as Professor Richard Laing, and people who went out of their way to help an overseas learner, such as Chris Brown from the library."
Unexpectedly, Ian has now become interested in academia itself, and plans to use his new skills in active property development in France, as well as pursuing an academic career with a research degree/doctorate and perhaps teaching.
Ian concluded, "I don't feel that reading a Masters in a year has given me all the answers for my future plans, but it has given me confidence in knowing where to seek those answers and to plot a course, in business and in life. I have enjoyed visiting the University during the course, and can't wait to see Aberdeen again for graduation."