Massey University Graduate Uses Executive MBA to Improve Leadership Skills for NZ Police

It is one thing to do an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) after having achieved a degree. Still, it is another thing entirely to get EMBA without any tertiary study or experience. However, that is the case for 31-year-old police officer Sam Keats, who completed his Massey EMBA in 2018.

In Sam’s own words, “I joined the police with nothing more than a first-aid certificate. A big part of the MBA journey was about understanding myself and being willing to transform who I was and how I saw the world.”

He said with his interest in learning, strategy, and leadership; he had a deep desire to stretch himself with his studies.

“Sitting amongst a diverse range of people, who were often very different to me, had different careers and saw things very differently to how I did was really great. It gave me a good opportunity to test my thinking and perspectives.”

Starting studies in an EMBA without any prior tertiary study is, of course, a big undertaking, but Sam is quick to praise his lecturers for making it feel more attainable.

“I had some real imposter syndrome moments in those first few papers trying to figure out what my place in the programme was, but the lecturers were really great in making it applicable for me – that meant that even papers like economics and finance became relevant and provided learnings for me to take back to the role I held at the time. It almost felt like each course was designed just for me in the way that I wanted to learn.”

The fact that many of his fellow students were already current or aspiring senior leaders also helped mould his thinking, saying, “You got to challenge your interpretations and assumptions by testing your thinking with your peers on each course, I really liked that format. You have to be open to being challenged by your peers, and that was easily the most valuable part.”

Sam undertook his EMBA with a specific goal in mind, and that was to test the use of self-reflection for police officers within communities’ practice. After his research, Sam tested his theories in a pilot programme that had police officers using a self-reflection framework that was then shared with a community of their peers to learn about and adapt to the issues of everyday policing.

The pilot programme proved to show success, and elements of his own programme have been adopted as part of New Zealand Police’s new leadership development programmes.

Beyond Sam’s immediate successes from his EMBA studies, he says his time with Massey has opened many doors in terms of applying his learnings in his broader role as a police officer.


Image – Massey

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