For MScom7 participant William Law, getting a solid background in strategic communications means 12 hours of additional travel from Volvo 3P headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, each month to attend classes at the Università della Svizzera italiana. But Law, Director of Corporate Communications with Volvo 3P, believes his MScom education can help prepare him for his professional future.
“For me, the idea was to get a strategic communications background,” said Law, who has a law degree from Aberdeen University in Scotland, as well as a degree in French language and culture from Université d’Aix-Marseille in France. “This is a good time in my life to be doing this, and I have the support of Volvo. Professionally, I thought the MScom background would be good to have, to prepare me for the next step in my career.”
Law joined Volvo Group in 1998 and held communications posts with Volvo Construction Equipment and Volvo Global Trucks prior to assuming his current position with Volvo 3P, a business unit within the Volvo Group responsible for product planning, product development, purchasing and product range management for the three truck companies; Mack, Renault Trucks and Volvo Trucks. Law said he chose to pursue an MScom degree because it offered exactly what he was looking for.
“I knew I needed some further education, but an MBA wasn’t the appropriate thing. In terms of strategic communications, MScom is exactly what I want. I also like the fact that MScom has quite an international faculty, and seemed to be targeted to people of my age, demographics, etc.,” he said. “So far, my expectations have been met.”
Challenging time investment
Law, who is Scottish, has lived in France, Sweden, Russia and Belgium, says travel is part of his professional life, so while his monthly trips to Lugano bring additional pressures, he’s become accustomed to it.
“Travel is a regular part of my work with Volvo 3P. In addition to traveling regularly to South America, North America and within Europe, I also visit China and India each year,” he said. “The time investment has been the biggest challenge for me. Getting to Lugano for classes involves a minimum of two flights: Gothenburg to Zurich and then Zurich to Lugano. Logistically, it’s quite difficult for me.”
Law pointed out that, thanks to MScom’s state-of-the-art lounge, he’s always just an email away from his colleagues at Volvo 3P.
“The wireless internet connection makes it possible for me to stay in contact with my office and work while I’m in Lugano; the equipment is fine and I have no complaints at all about that,” he said. “So in one respect, it doesn’t matter whether I’m sitting in Lugano or Gothenburg, because it’s so easy for the office to contact me. I’m working 100 percent, and my work hasn’t been affected by my participation in MScom.”
Law believes MScom is a step ahead when it comes to preparing communications professionals for executive roles.
“I think this will become standard in a few years, and that will be good for business. I’d like to see more communications managers doing this program,” he said. “Communications people must educate themselves to take on executive roles. If they don’t, then other people in the business world, like finance people and strategic planning people, are going to do it. Communicators have to educate themselves or they’ll be left behind.”
Text based on interview carried out in July 2005.