How LUMS changed my life – Guest Blog by Gor Stepanyan

I started my journey in the world of business in 2010 when I joined MSc Management program at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). The education process at LUMS was a great combination of theory and practice during which we focused a lot on real world business cases. Moreover, as a part of my education at LUMS, I participated in an international MBA exchange program and spent one term at St. Gallen University in Switzerland where we focused on strategic management, leadership and entrepreneurship.

  • Top 5 takeaways for me from the business education at LUMS and St. Gallen are the following:
  • In the business world, we need to take risk!
  • The difference between great ideas and great change is execution!
  • Focus on what is important but not urgent!
  • Business is a team sport!
  • Your teams can make or break you!

After graduation from LUMS, I moved to Russia and joined KPMG in Moscow as a 1st year consultant. In 2013 after 4 months of recruitment process, I joined UFLP program at Unilever Russia as a management trainee. During 2 years as a trainee, I worked in sales operations, marketing and sales departments. I was the first management trainee from sales department at Unilever Russia who was nominated for an international rotation and I spent 8 months at Unilever Turkey in Istanbul as a junior manager at sales operations department.

In 2016 I returned to Unilever Russia and was promoted to the position of Route to Market manager and was responsible for short term and long term strategy of sales department in Ice cream category. At that time I was managing a team of 9 people located all over Russia.

After spending 5 years at Unilever, in March 2018 I received an offer from Confectionary factory Torero and joined the company as a Commercial Director. Currently I am a board member of the company and I am responsible for Sales, Marketing and Logistics departments and I am managing a team of 47 people.

The knowledge, which I gained during my education at LUMS and St. Gallen till today helps me to manage the business both on daily basis and from strategic point of view.

MBA Blog – The Strategy Module – Guest Blog Dominic Roberts

Our class have just finished and submitted our final report for The MBA Strategy module. The Strategy module has been ranked number 1 in the world and we had high expectations –suffice to say it did not let us down. It was an intense and insightful week, led by Professors Martin Friesl, David Pettifer and Gerry Johnson.

The design of the module is highly action orientated, experiential and practical. Paired into 10 teams and each assigned different companies to analyse, in sectors such as retail, automotive, entertainment and e-commerce we needed to work over the week to develop strategies to present to the board. All of the companies were well known but faced challenges that only became apparent after investigating them. The unique part of the Lancaster module is that, unlike strategy in most business schools that rely on case studies which normally frame the issues to focus on, here we had no guide.

Every day we were presented one topic such as Industry analysis and relevant frameworks which we might be able to use and then had to present on this the next day.  We built on this culminating in our final presentation on Monday with strategic recommendations and a final submission of a report.

It allowed us the opportunity to experience the challenges faced by strategy consultants, dealing with a wealth of information and being unsure of which direction to go. All the groups spent long days and nights working to come to a recommendation, and it was very interesting to see some very creative solutions presented by the groups.

Overall, it was a great learning experience and one that all of us will be able to take away and use in the future whether we work in management consultancy or in industry.

 

6 Socio-economic factors that have shaped my first months of working and living in London – Guest Blog – Shannon McCaul

Looooong days…  

If you are anything like me, your student days are far from short, getting to campus for your 9ams and carrying on until the early hours dancing away in The Sugarhouse… but there really is something different and much more difficult with managing the tiredness of five 9-5 days every week!

Some days will flyyy by whilst others will be at s n a i l pace… I think getting used to sitting in one space at a desk for 8 hours, is where I have really struggled, I like to be up and active, so being confined to one space makes the day feel slightly longer (and much more boring)

The Tube?!?

For me, London has always been a novelty, a Christmas time trip with family or a competition location with my dance teams, so the tube was always a new, fun and exciting experience, however…

A (rural) Northerner on 8:30am commuter tube journeys in central London goes exactly how you would think, terribly! I feel like I’m too polite, I apologise every time I accidentally nudge someone, I let people on in front of me and just disregard those who angrily push in front of me. I’m working on getting a tougher, Southern, tube commuter skin – Stagecoach you aren’t going to know what’s hit you when I return! (Secretly I can’t wait to be able to smile and say thanks to the bus driver)

Office Relationships

Working relationships is something I have struggled with. Getting used to being around the same people for 40 hours a week as well as being in each other’s personal space constantly.

When do you become friends and not colleagues? Are we always going to be just colleagues or is it normal to become close friends with one or two staff members?

Competition in the workplace, especially when working at an intern level! Everyone wants the same thing, progression –balancing the friend/colleague relationship and maintaining a good rapport with the want to improve your personal academic and company growth.

Budgeting

Living in London, working in central London…it’s the dream, right?! All those amazing restaurants, sights, shows and things to do! “Make the most of your year in London, Shannon – take advantage of everything that you have on your doorstep!” I came to London with the expectation and readiness to live the London life, but paying (extortionate) rent and bills, for daily transport and for food shopping, it all adds up to a cost higher than what your minimum wage pay package can cover! I always knew it would be tough, but not as tough as it actually is. I am still having an amazing (budgeted) version of London life, I just have to be a lot more wary with where and how often I spend my money, in comparison to when in Lancaster.

Spare Time

Days are long, and life is expensive but from 5:30 when you are off the clock, you want to make the most of your free time! AND WEEKENDS – Never have I ever treasured my weekends more in my entire life! At the start of my placement I spent nights and weekends sleeping and having Netflix and pizza days in bed (which I still have don’t get me wrong) but I need to keep my mind and body active to ensure I maintain a good mental health, so I plan to see some friends, or go to a dance class or join a netball league! It is important to stay active and make some friends if there are non-down here with you. Without it or them London can be a pretty lonely place!

Home/Uni Sick

As I mentioned above, London can be a pretty lonely place, and can seem even lonelier when all your friends are still at uni having all the daily fun you are used to having, but you sit and watch it all through Social Media instead (we all love social media but it really can have its downsides can’t it ey?). My family have also booked a holiday, which I’m not sure if I can join, because of my work’s holiday allowance. It’s hard to manage, but it is a challenge I am glad to be battling through! Living this far away from home is a new experience for me, and one which is teaching me new things each and every day. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

I am having the most amazing time on my placement, facing new challenges every day and continuously learning about the working world. The factors I have mentioned above are ‘obstacles’ I face every day, ones that I didn’t even consider before moving down and starting my job!

A week in the life of a LUMS student – Guest Blog – Lydia Hill

When tasked with writing about “a week in the life of a LUMS student” my first thought was “well, which one?” because no week as a LUMS student is the same, and I think that’s the beauty of it. From my personal experience, a week in the life of a LUMS student is busy and fast-paced but, at the same time, very rewarding. In the middle of your day, when you’re running to and from lectures, seminars and countless group meetings it can feel hectic but then you step back and realise that you’ve achieved a lot. That’s the rewarding feeling.

A typical week for me as a LUMS student is squeezing all of the above in and managing to pepper my days with individual work too. What I like most about spending my time in LUMS is its buzz and community feel, there’s a sense that everybody knows everybody else, and just by walking around the LUMS buildings you bump into someone you know. This atmosphere obviously filters into academic work and means that during the week I spend my lectures, group meetings, and team activities etc. with friends and familiar colleagues. For me, this really adds to the experience and my time spent in LUMS. When it gets towards the end of a week and things are winding down a little, it’s nice to take some time out to relax a little, or work in a different environment. I find that the Hub and breakout space in LUMS are good places to do this. I quite like to take myself there, find a quiet table, order my favourite Costa (hot chocolate with almond milk!), and get my ducks in a row for the next week.

I think one of the distinguishing elements of a typical week at LUMS is the abundance of opportunities that are available for you to take advantage of. From careers workshops and drop-in sessions to one-off events, that all help to fill your week even more. By and large, I’d say that a noteworthy week for me is one where I reach out to get the support for something I need, have several productive meetings, manage to take some time in the Hub for myself and, by the time Friday rolls around, I have gotten a lot of work done. All of this, of course, takes place within the humbling buzz and comfort of the LUMS community.

A fresh perspective on my first term at Lancaster – Guest Blog – Faraz Khokhar

As my first term at university has just finished, I think this is the time to reflect on my experiences so far and how I have found it. I have had a brilliant first 10 weeks at Lancaster! One of the things you should know about me is that I am a non-drinker, and I can definitely say that drinking is not at all necessary to enjoy your time here as there is plenty of activities to get involved in!

Reflecting on my first term, also reminded me of the reasons why I choose Lancaster. One of the main reasons is because my father came here a decade ago as an international student. His experiences influenced my decision to come here. In particular, he told me about how the student services really helped him during his initial time of settling into life in the UK. It made me understand how the staff here are so courteous and caring, no matter where the student comes from.

Apart from sharing a personal connection, I had attended both the general open day and the Management School applicant visit day before starting here. First and foremost, I think it is vital to visit if you can as it affirms your decision as to whether the place suits you. I attended with some family, so they also got to see where I was going to study and get a feel for the place. Similarly, they loved it as much as I did. If you can visit I would highly recommend doing so, you’ll love Lancaster!

Also, I think a theoretical approach is essential to pass exams but what I’ve realised is that the Management School at Lancaster is much more than that. In my entrepreneurship minor, we learn theory in the classroom but to aid that understanding, the university employs over 50 people as Entrepreneurs in Residence who increase our real-world knowledge. The module is very much practice based getting us to do several challenges throughout the year. Read more about EiRs: here: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lums/business/community/entrepreneurs-in-residence/

I am career-focused and have come to university to increase employability skills, so this approach suits me. The University also encourages forward career planning from day one. There are many workshops available, which are delivered by the careers team and help students with expanding their knowledge of the job market.

I have found the collegiate system at Lancaster to be distinct. You can make the experience as competitive or as least competitive as you want. There are plenty of inter-college competitions that make students part of a collective identity and the sense of belonging to one of nine colleges’ appeals to many. A common conversation opener (‘what college are you in?’) gets the dialogue going especially in the first few weeks. I picked my college as the idea of being the smallest college appealed to me for various reasons. The fairly central location was also perfect for me as it is in close proximity to where my lectures are held. Finally, the college offered the room type I wanted. Personally, I feel very content with my decision, therefore; it is my advice that you should do your research looking at the factors I have mentioned. To find out about our nine unique colleges and what they offer, follow this link:

There are lots of student-run societies that you can be a part of, which ultimately helps make your transition into university smooth. By joining a few societies before coming university, I was able to integrate into the Lancaster community and find like-minded friends right away. I highly recommend attending the freshers fair in the first week of term to find out all about the societies on offer! Read more about societies on the LUSU page: https://lancastersu.co.uk/about-societies

Looking back, I’m glad to say what I had expected before coming to university has been exceeded. Being an introvert by heart, I was surprised to settle in so easily as I thought I’d feel more homesick. But there is plenty of support around you to ensure you enjoy your time here.

Ultimately, my experience so far has been shaped by the amazing people I have met and collaborated with. I feel valued to be a student here, surrounded by incredible people.

I look forward to the next few years at Lancaster!

Placement Blog – Laura Conchie – IBM

After 6-7 months of endless applications and assessment centres, I finally managed to get a Placement at IBM in Scotland. To start my placement I had a two-day induction at their London Southbank office. Within these 2 days, we met a few fellow interns and learned more about IBM and our roles.

The first 3 months of my placement was very much learning from day 1. I met all my new team within the first week and then went headfirst into international projects. The most difficult part for me was learning all IBM’s acronyms, which can vary from country to country, but this is to be expected when working for an International company. Many of those I work with are based in international IBM offices, so it has also been an adjustment trying to work with those in different time zones.

My day-to-day work is mainly project management with hosting meetings and keeping track of project files. It was quite daunting at first being an intern who is managing a group of 10 or more IBM employees that have been in the company for more than 20 years. However, IBM has given the encouragement and philosophy that you should never be too comfortable within your role, so I am trying to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.

Alongside my day-to-day role, I have managed to find time to be involved with other IBM activities such as Global Women at IBM but also those that are just run by interns for interns like the Project Management Community. There is a lot of flexibility for interns to be involved with other projects or take part in Giveback opportunities across the country with IBM employees.

I have also recently had my check-up visit from LUMS, which was great to see a friendly face and to take account of all I have done so far. The visit also provided me with the opportunity for my manager to give feedback to the University and myself on my performance so far. I also got the opportunity to come back to Lancaster to help with an open day weekend in August.

My placement year so far has been great, as I have been given a chance to network and get on hands experience within this area. This year I am taking as a ‘try before you buy’ year. Even though I am only a quarter through my placement it is a great feeling to have your weekends free again and not filled with University work. I hope that the next 9 months will be just as good as the first 3. It is particularly hard walking away from the student lifestyle and moving to the office.

In addition, I get to spend my weekends exploring Scotland. It is great to have the chance to explore and live in somewhere new for a year. With the extra money in my pocket and Scotland’s cheap travel, I am taking the chance to visit Glasgow, Edinburgh and many of Scotland’s beautiful national parks regularly.

 

My Lancaster Experience – Guest Blog – Benedetta Sinigaglia

It seems like it was only yesterday I was constantly checking my mailbox to see if there were any letters from Lancaster University, awaiting (anxiously) to know if I had been offered a place or not. And now here I am, finishing my third year, preparing myself to say goodbye to a place that has become, over the years, my home away from home.

My name is Benedetta, I come from Italy, and this is my last year attending Lancaster University, under the program of Politics, International Relations and Management. I vividly remember how shy and doubtful I was in my first year, questioning if I had chosen the right course for me, after three year I am glad to say that I did. In these years, I had the opportunity to study in depth topics that I have always been passionate about: from political thought to contemporary issues in human rights, from managerial organization to managing sustainability. Lectures and seminars have provided me with the right tools to structure arguments both from a political and a managerial perspective, all the while highlighting the linkages between the two disciplines. Most importantly I was given the opportunity to better comprehend, thanks to my professors and colleagues, the structures of the world around me, what had to be questioned and what ought to be fought for. The course has been of fundamental importance for me and my overall comprehension of politics and management in the 21st century and I have many professors to thank for demonstrating always their availability to discuss and comment on relevant topics, however, what made Lancaster my home, was the many friends I met in this journey. Lancaster University offers many societies that one can join and that offer many different events through which to make friends. Furthermore, the international community is ever present and I am happy to say that in these years I have made many friends that come from different parts of the world, all of whom contributed in making Lancaster my home and with whom I have grown with.

Sometimes I think about the girl I was at the start of my first year, and I cannot help but think that my experience at Lancaster University has been of pivotal importance for my own personal growth other than my knowledge acquisition: everything, from late nights studying in the library, to heated debates in class, from night outs with friends to early morning lectures has been important for me and I know I will always cherish it.

It is in these moments I think about Charlotte’s Bronte quote from Jane Eyre: “I remembered that the real world was wide and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had the courage to go forth in its expanse, to seek real knowledge amidst its perils.”

I believe Lancaster has given me this type of courage, I can only hope it does the same for you.

Reflecting on the first term of the Lancaster MBA

Dominic Roberts reflects on his first term of the Lancaster MBA, and shares his experiences so far.

As the second term has just gotten underway, I wanted to write some words here to reflect after passing through the first term, capturing my experiences. These months have been some of the most memorable of my life and seem to have gone very quickly, but also with the illusion of being slow at the same time – I think purely because of how much we have learnt in such a short time and the variety of the experiences. Having the Christmas break has allowed me to take some time to reflect on the experience and share some key insights of what I have taken away from the programme and what I have learnt in this time.

Three key takeaways that I would like to share:

1) Change of perspectives

One of the key strands of Lancaster´s signature Mindful Manager module is the need to be aware of one´s “spectacles”, i.e. the assumptions and interpretations that we see the world through. In the class we have over 20 nationalities, and one thing that I learnt is that there are no right or wrong ways of seeing things or doing things. Working closely in a group with team members from all over the world you quickly learn that everyone has a different perspective and you are not going to get anything done by not trying to understand their perspectives. You need to have a dialogue to come to the best arrangement, and encourage other team members to give their opinions.

Key takeaway: be prepared to let go of your ways of seeing and doing things and try and see from the eyes of others, you just might get a new idea or approach to doing something

2) Being challenged and embracing discomfort

Something that becomes apparent very quickly is how different and MBA is to the kind of academic study I have done before. Essentially the MBA is more of an executive education where you will not just be learning the fundamentals of management but also working on other more personal qualities like leadership, critical thinking etc. During group exercises, I have pushed myself into more of a leadership role, which was usually where I shied away from a little. Also, as someone without a background in these areas, Finance and Statistics were challenging areas at first, but with the help of others and taking the time to read up on the subjects in my own time made me realise that, yes, I can do this.

Key takeaway: pursuing stretch goals and pushing yourself is the best way to learn and grow as a person not just professionally but also personally.

3) Working hard but enjoying the experience

The programme is intense, with lectures running all day every day and then many readings, group works and essays to complete, you need to be highly organised and disciplined about how much time you dedicate to each project. You are also rapidly proceeding through different subjects, one week Finance, the next Marketing and then you are onto the next module, there is little time to catch up.

However, I have found that I have savoured every lecture. Every lecturer is an expert in their field and genuinely enjoy the teaching. We have also had illuminating presentations from companies such as IBM, Microsoft and the NHS. Some of the most interesting lectures have been about the 2008 Financial Crisis and the reasons for this, and we even visited an old Textile Mill which was one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution.

Key takeaway: don´t just go along with the lectures but try to find time to go outside the materials, engage, and improve your understanding with additional reading.

So, now we are kicking off the next term where it steps up a notch where we will be taking part in the Strategy modules, which are ranked 1st in the world, putting our learning into action on our Entrepreneurial and Corporate challenges and spending time in this London learning more about Finance and Macro-economics.

Come winter…come fun!

It’s probably considered natural to not look forward to winter. Having hardly experienced a ‘winter’ for the better part of my life in Mumbai, it’s even more natural for me! The better the summer, as we had this year, the more one dreads winter perhaps. But…and I am myself surprised to have a ‘but’ here…this is my third winter in Lancaster, and I admit that I am rather warming up to the unique delights that only winter has to offer. Let me count the ways…

Clothing: I absolutely love summer clothes but there’s so much more creativity and activity involved in dressing up during winter. How to layer one thing over another is a question of keeping warm but it’s also a question of blending different elements harmoniously. The scarf, the jumper, the thin jacket, the thick coat, the boots…all of them have to come together to make the perfect ensemble. And if all this wasn’t complicated enough, the temperatures can dilly-dally between 10 and 1 so that till the minute you’re out of the door, you may still be in two minds about whether you need to put on more or less. I am usually the sort who decides what to wear the next day the previous evening—a hangover from my Mumbai days where the weather pretty much never changed its mind throughout the year—but this strategy seems rather ill-suited to this weather.

Fireworks: Am I the only one who thinks that there is something exciting about watching fireworks go off in sky while you are shivering in your boots? The various firework displays all across Lancaster including our University are a lovely start to the winter…making you catch that feeling of something ‘festive in the air’ that you can’t seem to shake off from that moment on, and don’t want to!

Christmas Markets: I have this theory that Christmas was invented for the sole purpose of making winters fun (I mean the whole merry-making part of it). Christmas markets as I discovered are the heart of all the fun, and every little town worth its name puts up a bright and bustling market sometime in November to last till December. I am really fond of the Manchester Christmas Market but then I am fond of all things Manchester. I also love taking the ‘Day Trips’ that we at Lancaster University are lucky to have. York is one of my favourite Day Trips as it combines a visit to the quaint little historical town with a detour to the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet around the area. I have booked myself onto the Durham Christmas Markets Day Trip in the first week of December; you might want to check out the Graduate College Day Trips section for that!

Delectables: This is the only time when ‘mince pies’ debut in the food aisles. While they are supposed to be a Christmas delicacy, I have noticed that they start showing up in November itself which is a good thing…because two months is too short a period of time to enjoy them. Buttery and softly crusted outside with juicy fruity filling inside, every store seems to stock a slightly different take on it—not that different and yet somehow different. So far my favourite is Greggs’ (though M&S comes quite close) and it’s not a small deal that they’re available right here on campus! Another typical item that makes an appearance only at this time is mulled wine. I am not an ardent fan of wines but there’s something so endearing about the idea of having ‘warm wine’ in the cold outdoors that I had to try! Every Christmas Market will have one and generally more mulled wine stalls.

Lights, Music, Action: Everywhere is so beautiful in winter what with lovely lighting on trees that shine in the early dark, the music wafting into the air, and various events like the Christmas Lights Switch On, Carol Concerts, and what not. Sometimes like around the Manchester Christmas Market you might even encounter a live carol singing and dancing group… their energy and joy is so infectious that though I am not one to dance I am about as close to doing a merry jig as I ever am.

Snow: Nature is probably the most magnificent magician of all but we are all so used to its wonders that it doesn’t capture us anymore. That is till we see a trick we haven’t seen before and that for me was snow. I look forward to catching some snow in winter.

Gifts and Giving: Last but not the least…Winter means Home to me because I visit my family for Christmas …to celebrate the joy of loving and giving! While I don’t need a reason to enjoy shopping, there is a certain delight to shopping in the winter when everyone else is shopping for gifts for near and dear ones … it makes me think of what gifts I will take home…and what memories I will bring back.

Guest Blog: Anna Schaefer – University Innovation Fellows – Innovation & Creativity on Campus

In October 2018, me and two fellow students, James and Sarah, were officially launched as University Innovation Fellows. We are now part of a passionate community of people from all over the world who want to make a change. We can proudly say that we are the first ever Fellows in the UK and we are going to work together with the Lancaster University Enterprise Team to create valuable events for students.

As part of the University Innovation Fellows programme by Stanford University´s Institute of Design (the “d.school”), we´ve been trained to become agents of change on our campus to create lasting impact on students´ lives. We want to increase engagement with innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship because we believe that these areas are valuable for every student. To do so, we are going to create events to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge they will need in the future and even to address global challenges.

In May 2018, I applied to be part of the programme and I got accepted to be a UIF candidate. In September the 6-week online training started. We had weekly assignments to complete as a team, so it was very important to stay on top of our work. Especially when the new term started, we had to work efficiently to keep up with the workload. But we received great support by the Enterprise Team and our mentor, Jill, a Fellow from the United States who we could always ask for help.

During the training we learned about design thinking and we had to think creatively about possible ways to improve the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus. We found out about opportunities and which parts of the university need improvements in these areas. To understand needs and wants and how we can help, we interviewed many students and lecturers. We brainstormed ideas, prototyped solutions, got feedback and constantly improved our prototypes. The training was challenging but extremely rewarding as we have learned so much already and the real work hasn´t even started yet.