Guest blogger Alexandra Ursu: The world is in Millennials’ hands

I am a 20-year-old Millennial who wants to change the world. Despite all the critics and the bad press we receive, our voices matter – and I can prove it. Individuals, who are part of a movement, striving for change for a more sustainable world, surround me. What is making me so positive about our impact on the future of Planet Earth? Towards the end of last year, along with a team of nine other students, I attended the World Business Council for Sustainable Development meeting in Mexico City, a revealing experience that has demonstrated that forward-thinkers recognize our importance in driving change.

Why are people so reticent when it comes to our generation? Some may say it is because of our narcissistic behavior, placing us in the centre of our own universe, without considering the impact of our actions on others. According to a recent research conducted by Red Brick, 80% of hiring managers claim that their Millennial employees display narcissistic tendencies. Other people may say our lives are driven by technology, spending most of our time with our eyes stuck to devices with aspirations revolving around the number of likes we get or followers we have. I must be honest and admit that, for the majority of us, being popular on social media boosts our confidence. But is anybody thinking about the motives behind this seemingly superficial behaviour? Millennials are constantly facing criticism without being allowed to show our true colours. Therefore, online validation is the last resort we have – our last hope to be noticed and appreciated. You may consider it a scream for attention!

I strongly believe that, while making such bold statements, older generations forget one essential detail: their own children or grandchildren represent Millennials. Therefore, part of our behaviour has been directly influenced and shaped by them and the family environment we grew up in. Some parents are trying to get to grips with Millennial behaviour to show support to their children. It is no secret that even older generations now use all sorts of social platforms as a daily routine – so how fair is it to accuse the Millennials of something that the majority of individuals do? Did you know that, according to CNN Exit Polls, 55% of Millennials voted for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election? Most would be quick to blame the Millenials…

The conflict between generations has escalated quickly in the past few years. But the gap between generations has its roots well anchored in the past. “Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect their elders and love talking instead of exercise”. It may sound like a perfect description of a Millennial in the eyes of a sceptic, but it is in fact Socrates’ view dating back to the 4th Century AD.

 ‘Millennials are often portrayed as apathetic, disinterested, tuned out and selfish. None of those adjectives describe the Millennials I’ve been privileged to meet and work with’ – quite a powerful quote from Chelsea Clinton, but would you agree? I want to prove her right using the power of example.

Last year, I was invited to apply to take part in a fieldtrip module that gave the students the opportunity to work as session hosts at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) meeting in Mexico City. WBCSD is a not-for-profit CEO-led organisation, uniting over 200 world-leading businesses to try to accelerate us all to a more sustainable world. This year’s meeting was concentrated on showcasing good examples of business practices to help us get closer to realizing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting brought together some of the most important companies in the world, offering them the perfect environment to collaborate and share ideas in order to find the most efficient solutions to the key issues they incur in their effort of delivering more sustainable business practices.

What drove me to apply for this unique opportunity? The desire of bringing actual change to the world we all live in, the need to make my voice heard, a passion for demonstrating that, despite the negative image that has artificially been created of the Millennials, my generation is still willing to play an active role in driving change for the future of humanity. With hopes and dreams, I submitted my application and, one month later, I was informed that I was one of the 10 students from Lancaster selected for the role. The competition was tough, with over 400 students invited to apply. Each one of the selected students is the living proof that the Millennials are not just a group of people thinking about money and luxury, but want to learn how they can drive change into the world.

I worked with passionate individuals and most importantly, as a team; we have demonstrated that there is still something good to say about our generation. How can we be called selfish when we are dedicating our time into helping those in need? For example, I have always been interested in sustainability and as Chief Information Officer for UNICEF Lancaster University; I had the chance to see the passion in the eyes of 2,000 University students who were giving up their free time to organize different fund-raising events for children in need. There is no other motivation for those volunteers apart from the desire to give something back to Society, playing a role in offering a chance to feed or educate those who are not as fortunate as them. Our latest event, Fast24, is a manifesto against hunger, and 20 volunteers will be living without food for 24 hours in order to raise awareness of the situation of millions of people in low developed areas of the world, empathizing with them and encouraging others to donate so that the money will be used to feed children in those areas. And I am not the only member of our Student Ambassadors Team concerned about the wellbeing of others. Other colleagues have sacrificed their summer in order to volunteer to teach English to African children. Therefore, the first thing that my WBCSD experience has reinforced is that the Millennials do have souls and that we are capable of making a difference. This has been proved by the interest the attendants had in hearing what we, the students, were thinking about some of the most pressing environmental problems to date, offering us the opportunity to play an active role in the debates and workshops delivered.

The other thing that I have learned is that our opinion does really matter for those who are willing to listen. During the days spent at the WBCSD Council Meeting in Mexico City, our team was involved in the majority of sessions and workshops delivered by dignitaries and World Business Leaders. I cannot find words to describe how revealing and inspirational the overall WBCSD Council Meeting experience was for us. There is no better environment for a Millennial to realize their importance on the face of Earth, as delegates recognized our power in changing the course of Mother Earth for the better. Their openness to our ideas, their willingness to hear our opinion on the issues discussed, the incredible support for our work and the overwhelming encouragement they expressed for us in order to spread our wings and to change the world for the better are my dose of inspiration for a lifetime.

Therefore, the WBCSD experience showed 10 Millennials feeling Society’s pressure and blame on their shoulders that this generation is still powerful for all the right reasons. Under the guidance and support of older generations, with a new vibe and innovatory visions, the Millennials can change something. We grew up in a world dominated by pollution and waste, which means that we are aware of the problems our planet is facing in terms of sustainability. With dedication and hard work, we are willing to find solutions, we are willing to fight for a cleaner world, we are willing to inspire, and we are willing to fight for good.


Guest Post: MSc Management Student Keira talks about her experiences of the course

While sitting in the backyard and enjoying Christmas time, I started to receive sweet greeting messages from my MSc Management cohort. When those beautiful words floated onto my screen, I had no words to describe how lucky I felt to be in this cohort.

Graduating with a first honours degree in BSc Marketing from Lancaster University marked the end of my Bachelor journey. Wanting to extend my knowledge of the business world, to enhance my professional network with incredible people and to keep receiving individually tailored career services, I stayed at Lancaster University and joined the MSc Management programme in September 2017.

Life on the MSc Management is never boring because the programme is fundamentally different from any ordinary Masters programmes in any UK Universities. It’s 9am-5pm intensive, weekly block teaching style makes it an MBA-like programme for candidates who have yet to gain extensive work experience in the industry. The programme is designed to foster future leaders with essential knowledge of a wide range of critical business areas.

Because of the one-module-per-week learning style, the entire learning process is so fun and dynamic. We could be analysing and creating marketing campaigns in week one, while composing and understanding accounting and financial reports a couple of weeks later. Or we could be designing and calculating the optimal inventory level and manufacturing capacity one week and change to be mastering the restructuring of organisational structure and human resource systems this week. Every day is full of new challenges and experiences – presentations, group work, business games, networking lunches and career fairs to name a few.

The quality of the cohort is incredible thanks to the rigorous selection process. Not only do we have a balanced mix of different races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders and academic backgrounds with no dominating nationalities, but as we spend about 40 hours together every week, we quickly became close friends and families. Christmas Dinner at the lovely Lancaster House Hotel, the International Foodie Picnic with breath-taking views at the Ashton Memorial, and Team-bonding day at the Lake District… we share a passion for the programme as a cohort. A passion that brings joy, friendship and love.

This course is the highlight of my 2017. It brings me friends who are mature, mindful and caring, it equips me with the knowledge that enables me to stand out from other Masters students, and more importantly, it strengthens my employability and helps me to secure a great graduate job at an international giant. Having been in this programme for more than three months, I have no single moment of regret.

Guest post: An investment banking spring week at Barclays

Theodoros Georgiadis, a first year student on the Accounting and Finance programme at LUMS, gives an interesting insight into his experiences during his spring week placement at Barclays.

I applied for my Spring Week in the middle of my first term at LUMS and I am so glad I did as the experience gave me a huge insight into the world of banking and it positions me very well for next year. My week ran as follows:

Day 1:  We had a welcome session from senior people working in Barclays and started to gain our first insight into the financial markets. We were advised there would be lots of group work and, indeed, present a group project on our final day. Additionally, it was clear there would be lots of networking sessions with the opportunity to meet current employees across all sectors of Barclays and other Spring Interns from other departments with the prospect of making lots of new connections.

Day 2: I met my Barclays ‘buddy’ and would work shadow him throughout the week. As well as seeing his work, it was an opportunity to gain a personal opinion from someone currently working in the bank about ‘life at Barclays’. I also received an introduction and overview into the Barclaycard (credit card) division of Barclays. Indeed, most days, in my group, I received an introduction and overview on a different department.

Day 3: I was introduced to Barclays Wealth and Business Banking and had group project work to complete. Throughout the week there was a big emphasis on Barclays’ values which follow the acronym RISES: Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence, Stewardship. Clearly the Bank wants employees who can truly embrace and fit into the Barclays culture.

Day 4: An insight into Corporate Banking and Consumer Banking and further group project work.

Day 5: I had the opportunity to get involved in some filming in a digital studio all targeting  next year’s candidates applying for the Barclays Spring Week programme. I never imagined that media and marketing played such a big part within Investment Banking; I thought it was all about finance!

Importantly, also on the final day, I had an interview, CV guidance and a discussion about which division I wished to apply to for a summer internship next year. Depending on what you want to do, if your interviews go well soon after the Spring Week, a candidate can be offered a 2nd year summer internship even though he/she is still in their first year at LUMS! Indeed, I now have an interview next week for a 2nd year summer internship in Barclays Wealth Management. If I secure this position, this is the dream scenario to be in and one of the big attractions of Spring Weeks.

Finally, we presented our group project to senior employees of the bank – a nerve wracking but thrilling experience. We had been tasked to come up with a new initiative so that Barclays can attract more 18-24 year olds. We focused on the student market with a ‘Barclays Scholar Account’ concept.

Reflecting on the week, I was able to gather a lot of information on the different business divisions and associated career paths at Barclays; everything from Investment Banking, Wealth Management, Business Banking, Corporate Banking, Consumer Banking, Technology and Operations. There was the opportunity to meet new people, both from inside and outside of Barclays, as well as the opportunity to develop new skills particularly via the group tasks. Of course, I also have the 2nd year internship interview next week. The whole experience was hugely rewarding.

Guest post: My job application journey so far

Final year LUMS Accounting and Finance student Prithiv Ghosal shares his experiences of the financial services application processes and his journey so far as an international student. He also offers some excellent advice to those seeking employment in this sector.

Hi, I am a final year international student in Accounting and Finance at LUMS. I have previously interned with an Indian Investment Bank, PwC UK and will be interning further with the Financial Conduct Authority this summer. I would like to share my experience of applying to several organisations in the financial services area and getting through the application processes at PwC, Willis Towers Watson and the Financial Conduct Authority successfully. In my experience, most of these organisations have had a four-staged application process with an online application questionnaire, psychometric tests, telephone interview and assessment centre. In this article, I would like to focus on some of the most helpful resources I have used for my applications:

  • LUMS Careers Website: The careers website provides excellent resources to practice online psychometric tests of all types for free! Practice is the only trick to passing these tests. The quantitative reasoning tests I have given were never challenging in terms of mathematics techniques tested but mainly time pressured and logic driven.
  • Alumni: Many top employers will have university alumni working for them. I have found many of them keen to help and in an excellent position to guide me through every stage of the application. Many have even recently gone through the process themselves and are aware of the entire process and how to navigate through it. These people can be approached through LinkedIn or LUMS Careers.
  • Online Career Websites: Websites such as Glassdoors, WikiJobs and The Student Room can be invaluable resources to research application processes for most companies. These websites have students posting everything, from job reviews to help target and understand companies for applications to reviews about application process and frequently asked interview questions for telephone and video interviews.
  • Societies: LUIFS, Economics Society and several other management school societies organise events with firms ranging from HSBC, Deutsche Bank, PwC and EY to Accenture. These are fantastic opportunities to meet people from various  organisations in an informal environment and such meets are usually greatly appreciated when mentioned in application forms.
  • Financial Careers Coach: This special arrangement is available to LUMS students only. An experienced banker and careers coach holds mock assessment centres and other events throughout the year for students. Furthermore, his website, ‘Opening City Doors’ provides excellent application preparation advice, questions and even a regularly updated markets update for commercial awareness questions in interviews. The five-minute read can provide an excellent summary for any financial service interview and is easy to understand.
  • Society Experience: I cannot stress enough the importance of joining societies. My experience with LUIFS has helped me answer many difficult questions in interviews, has been looked upon favourably by employers and in masters applications and most importantly, has actually helped me grow tremendously, both professionally and personally.

Finally, I would strongly encourage any student targeting top financial services employers to start applying in September and October as most large employers start assessment centres by December. Furthermore, being an international student myself, I would strongly encourage others to apply to jobs and can say that plenty of opportunities are available as many top recruiters hire international students (usually clarified in the FAQ section of company careers website). Lastly, I would strongly advise a quality over quantity approach to applying. Having tried both for myself, I have found that speculative, unprepared applications seldom lead to success.

I wish you all the very best for your applications and am happy to be contacted regarding any questions regarding the organisations mentioned above.


Guest post:Putting theory into practice

Nadeem Khan, a current student on the MA Human Resources and Consulting,  has already started putting the theory from the programme into practice, working with a bank in Pakistan. Here, he talks about how he applied what he has learnt so far on the programme.

Nadeem (far right) delivering the session for SBP in Pakistan.

Nadeem (far right) delivering the session for SBP in Pakistan.

As an HRD Consultant I had worked for several years prior to starting the programme. Before leaving Pakistan I had informed clients of my schedule during the programme and that I would be open for assignments during my winter break. The National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBF), a subsidiary of The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) wanted me to deliver a two-day learning intervention in December 2016 on ‘Building Dynamic Teams’. I believe this proved to be a great opportunity for me to put the theoretical frameworks and skills that I had learned from the programme into practice.

The design and dynamics module had prepared me early on to outline the structure and activities that were to be incorporated in the two-day learning intervention. I picked up lots of ideas and activities drawing from the coursework. As there were 18 individual contributors from teams from all branches of SBP, I also had to keep in mind learning from difference. The careers module played a significant role when it came to selecting the relevant content for the SBP intervention through its focus on communication and effective team dynamics.

The MA HRC is set in a way that I had the opportunity to both study and experience firsthand group structures and processes, feel the power dynamics and struggles in teams, live the communication patterns and decision making and experience team leadership on the programme. Therefore, when I was delivering the workshop I was able to share my experience of being in similar shoes to the participants, making my examples more credible and worthwhile.

Overall, the improved design, theoretical framework and quality content enabled me to score higher feedback than previous interventions I had facilitated at SBP.

Guest Post: Naeem Desai – Life on the Lidl Graduate Management Development Programme

Naeem Desai graduated from MSc Management in 2016. Before even graduating, he had received offers of employment from four of the major graduate recruiters, including a place on the highly competitive Lidl Graduate Management Development Programme. It was this position that he chose to accept, and over the coming months, Naeem will share his experiences of this challenging and fast paced programme.


I was standing outside the Management School when I got the call from Lidl regarding the outcome of my final interview. I was so nervous, practically shaking as I talked to the recruiter, whilst pacing up and down along the side of the building. I was so eager to hear the decision. I burst into laughter as I was told I had been accepted onto the Graduate Management Development Programme! It felt surreal. It took me days to digest that I got the job I always wanted. All of my hard work had paid off. Here I was, six months later, at the Graduate Welcome Event in London. The two-day event comprised of a comprehensive introduction to the company and the graduate scheme. I was told I would be spending six months in the Regional Distribution Centre, and six months in a high-turnover store, after which I would assume the role of a Graduate Team Manager or Graduate Area Manager. Finally, the wait was over, and I was starting in my region on Monday. I left the event knowing that accepting this position was one of the best decisions I ever made.