How I designed my own self-study program to become a global business leader

open forum australia

Learning is going through disruptive changes with the unbundling of higher education. Ankit Khandelwal explains how he created an alternative way to educate himself with a program of self-directed learning.

I have a major in chemical engineering and always loved complex engineering and mathematical problems. But in early 2012 I realized my potential in becoming a global business manager. In the past years, I had developed different skills as part of my long term plan of becoming a manager. The participation in the 9th European Open Days and the Young Environmentalist Camp gave me the confidence that I had the potential to handle complex situations at a global scale. My vision was to become a 21st century global manager in the next few years, combining my technical education, visionary thinking, the ability to take unexplored paths and managing difficult situations.

A global manager is the kind of person who is quick learner, has an interdisciplinary approach of problem solving, the ability to work outside his area of expertise if a situation demands it, someone who can work anywhere in the world, make decisions with the least amount of information available and can communicate with any kind of person.

Idea-gathering phase

I spent close to two months in finding what skills and knowledge I need to become such a person. I took full use of various employment survey reports, managerial issues faced by large corporation and many other studies to identify necessary skill-sets. In this entire exercise, I also used the help of LinkedIn and some of my social media friends.

I identified four major areas where I need to work further on top of my existing skill-sets and knowledge. They were interdisciplinary studies, international economics, globalisation & culture and future trends.

Another area I got interested in was urban planning. As the majority of the future population is going to live in cities creates lot of opportunity and challenges. I thought a future manager can at least have a good overview of this trend to accommodate rising challenges in this area.

Setting up my own program: Taking full advantage of open educational resources

What I am aiming to achieve might not fit into a traditional curriculum. In early 2012 I was financially not able to go for an expensive professional education, and I had no intention of falling under debt through study loans. As I already had been through a traditional education with two degrees from top universities, it was unnecessary for me to complete another degree when I was more concerned about developing my skill set. After careful thinking, I decided to create my own learning path.

Initially I was very uncertain, but the open educational resources, MOOC and many free learning resources provided me with an opportunity to develop a strong knowledge base. Apart from this, I also created my own environment to test these skills in the real world by reading 8-10 newspapers from different parts of the world and using LinkedIn discussion forums to exchange knowledge.

This was my experimental journey designed to fulfill my own needs to gain the skills I was after. I really would like to emphasize that if one wants to gain knowledge in alternative ways, one just needs to find it, as there is so much knowledge available online and offline. With my project I want to show how to find such information, use it to develop skills and create an alternative way to educate oneself, without having too much money to spend.

Ankit Khandelwal is from India. A major in Chemical Engineering, in the early 2012 he realised his potential towards becoming a global business manager. He spent two months to find out what skills he needed and then, from May 2012 to June 2014, worked full-time on his ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’ project, a customised project to equip him with the skill-set needed. This project was done with minimum resources and innovatively using the free available educational material online. Interested in knowing Ankit’s journey? Visit

(How I designed my own self-study program to become a global business leader, in Open Forum Australia, 17.09.2014)


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