5 Reasons why I chose Lancaster University

My journey of making the decision to pursue Management from Lancaster University has been very unique. It was a bright sunny day early in February when I decided to attend the college fair organised by a counselling agency in Delhi. I chose it because, with a full-time job, I knew I would not be able to do thorough research on my own. It was a good decision because they gave me an opportunity to meet 100s of Universities under one roof. On the day of the fair, I was given a list of all the participating Universities and Colleges and was asked to approach the ones I was interested in. Seeing all the Universities and students being so specific in their approach, I got scared for a moment. It was finally happening. I had a few universities in mind that I definitely wanted to speak to, and so it all began. I went round and round in circles, crossing out the names of the ones I’d spoken to and making notes of whether or not I wanted to consider them and finally I came to the desk by Lancaster University. The programme appealed to me right away. I went home and started my research. I shortlisted 10 colleges from the long list and decided to further shortlist just 5 colleges where I wanted to apply.

My criteria of shortlisting those 5 colleges were the programme structure and modules, rankings of the University, FT ranking of the programme, fees and other living expenses and career support.

These were also the 5 reasons I chose Lancaster University:

  • Programme Structure and Modules: The programme had very interesting modules and a few modules that drew my attention were Digital Innovation in Businesses and Entrepreneurship. Most of the other universities were not offering these modules and I really wanted to learn them. Also, I was unaware of the block-taught structure of the programme while applying, but the structure closely resembles the industry environment and it prepares you for the future challenges. The 9-5 classes and different modules in different weeks made me a better manager of my time.
  • Rankings of the University: I made it a point to thoroughly check the rankings of all the universities and their programmes as well. Lancaster University is very highly recognised by institutes such as Quacquarelli Symonds World University rankings, Financial Times rankings, etc. 
  • FT ranking of the Programme: It is extremely difficult to find out the world rankings of the particular Programme, however, it was important to me. So, I took the challenge and researched and found that the programme was amongst the top 100 programmes in the world.
  • Fees and other Living Expenses: I would not say that fees and living expenses were my top priority but I understood the reality and I was definitely influenced by the amount of money I would be spending.
  • Career Support: It was an important criterion for me. I wanted to choose a University that not only provided the career support during the year of education but also after it. The careers support at Lancaster University has been exceptional. The team is amazing and I go to them with everything. If I have to prepare my CV or for an interview, they have the solution to all my problems. Also, it is just nice to have a chat with Martine whenever I am disheartened by the result of my job application, which has been the case so far. She seems to always know the right words to boost my morale!

I would just say that I applied to 5 universities and got offers from them all. I spoke to my counsellor, my friends as well as my family but in the end, I decided to go with my gut instinct and I could not be prouder. It was the right decision. I have grown more as a person and professional in this one year. It has been a difficult year, for people who say that it will be a cakewalk are probably being dishonest. But, at the same time, you are successful only when you challenge yourself. So trust your instinct and take the road not taken!

 

Privacy in the world of Big Data

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my Business Ethics class for a guest lecture, wondering about what I had just heard. The slide was titled, “ I am an Advertiser, you can trust me!” It got me thinking about the ways in which consumers are being manipulated. But then it got me thinking if the advertisers or companies who collect data on their consumers are to be blamed or are the consumers who blindly agree to share their data without understanding the consequences are to be blamed? I decided to further explore this topic and do my assignment on it. I decided to explore Big Data and Privacy.

 

Big Data is a buzzword these days and there is no denying that the technology has helped industries cater to the basic needs of their consumers through customisation. I came across the word Big Data years ago in some news article. But I did not completely understand it until my Digital Transformation of Businesses class. It was only then, did I actually understand what Big Data is. The size or type of data collected is not the only distinguishable feature, it is the insight that this data provides that makes it special. These insights can be used for any commercial purpose, for example, the business model of Uber is based on Big Data, Uber does not own the cars that are rented but it owns the network of those car owners and drivers and thousands of customers who are willing to rent those cars. Big Data became a buzzword because it gave businesses the power to make valuable strategic decisions based on it. It has introduced new horizons for businesses, some organisations choose to be data users, some become data facilitators and yet others choose to be data suppliers.

 

But going back to the initial question, what about the consumers’ privacy? Is that the priority of organisations? There are laws and then there are ethics. Following laws does not imply that organisations are being ethical. Facebook complies with all the regulations yet Cambridge Analytica happened but it is not just Facebook’s fault, it is also the responsibility of consumers to be equally vigilant, to read the consent forms before blindly agreeing to the terms, to have different passwords for different accounts and to have strong passwords. I know it is difficult to have different passwords but there are so many applications these days which remember those passwords for their users. There is always a solution if we are willing to find it. It is also the fault of the lawmakers to not have kept up with the fast-paced technological advancements. The privacy laws and regulations are still archaic in most non-EU countries. Finally, I would just like to say that no regulation can prevent invasion of privacy in this hyper-connected world unless we are careful. So be vigilant and protect your privacy, because no one else can!

TWO + TWO

The perks of doing a general Masters course is that you get to participate in the events organised for other specialised courses as well and that you still have the time to decide what you want to do in the future. I developed a knack for Marketing modules and I wanted to test my understanding. So as soon as I came across the opportunity to participate in the event organised by Creative Resources where I could put all the theories into practice, I seized it.

The event was held in Manchester on 16th February. It was a platform for students of various institutes and courses to come together and tackle youth-loneliness. We were provided with a brief explaining the issue at length and were then put into teams of 5-6 members. Each group was assigned a mentor who was an industry professional. There were other mentors who we could approach at any time with questions. The aim of the event was to come up with unique solutions which could be undertaken by organisations to tackle the issue at hand. The solutions could be anything ranging from mobile applications to websites or even campaigns.

Loneliness is becoming a major problem amongst youths. This event was an opportunity to not only talk about it openly but also to tackle the issue head-on. All the groups came up with unique ideas. For example, one team suggested that people who feel lonely should wear yellow colour t-shirts on a particular day of the week. They also wanted to spread awareness about this day and encourage everyone to communicate with people who were feeling lonely (wearing yellow). It was a very simple idea and yet it could be put into effect.

Having stayed back for the Christmas vacation, I understood that it can be particularly difficult for people from other cultures, who may feel a little alienated at times, feeling a little left out and most importantly missing what you have left behind. Amidst all this, we often tend to forget the opportunity we get to explore new things and to embrace new cultures. All we need is a little positive nudge. I shared my experience with my team and they all understood my perspective and we decided to focus specifically on the loneliness issues faced by the international students. However, our target audience comprised of all University students. After a lot of discussion and guidance from many mentors, we came up with an App, which would allow the international students to connect with the local students according to their hobbies. We wanted to create value for all the students utilising our services by creating cultural exchanges.

It was a very well-organised event and I learned a lot about the real world. Coming up with ideas under pressure and working better in teams were my biggest learnings from the day. In just a day, I had met total strangers, discussed the issues, and most importantly understood their perspective. It was the first time that I was working directly with the creative side of Marketing.  Coming up with taglines and logos was a thrilling experience in itself. Overall, it was a unique experience and I look forward to utilising the skills I acquired that day.

The Strategy Simulation Challenge

The final term is finally upon us at Lancaster University and I thought this would be the perfect chance to share with you all a module that I enjoyed last term – The Strategy Simulation Challenge, which enables you to manage your very own virtual airline company!

My career ambition is to have a role which involves strategy planning, so I chose the module because I felt that it would be the perfect platform to gain insight into a strategy role. So, after signing up to the module at the end of my second year, I had been particularly excited when last term finally came around so that I could start the challenge.

For me, an appealing element of the module was the module design because it is very different to others I have studied. This is because it comprises of practical activities in a simulated environment which include making weekly strategic decisions for the airline, producing a company shareholder report and delivering a company presentation. The varied activities involved with the challenge made the module interesting and enabled me to learn about the different ways in which a company develops and communicates their strategy to various stakeholders.

At the start of the challenge, participants are split into teams and you can really get into role by allocating team members a management role. For example, within my team we allocated roles including marketing manager, human resource manager and financial manager. Then, one of the first activities to complete is to come up with a company name and catchphrase and design a logo. This was a particularly fun part of the module because it enabled us to apply our creativity whilst also allowing us to consider a brand strategy, such as the brand image we would like to portray.

A key element of the challenge was to choose a positioning for the airline and develop a strategy which would support the company to successfully achieve the chosen positioning. For example, you could choose to enter the market as a low cost airline carrier or a luxury airline carrier. Then throughout the challenge you have to identify the business activities and investments which will support you to achieve the strategy. For my company, we chose to position as a low cost, quality carrier airline and therefore we developed a strategy which would enable us to keep costs down and deliver to customers a good quality service.

The key decisions we had to make each week included expenditure decisions for business activities, including marketing, Corporate Social Responsibility and employee training. This meant that the challenge enabled us to visualise in practice the effect of increasing or decreasing the expenditure on business activities each week. However, the simulation programme also prompted me to consider other factors, such as lower customer demand in winter and the activity of competing teams. Therefore, the challenge also enabled me to learn about responding to competitors and dealing with elements which can influence an airline company.

My team were successfully able to develop a business strategy which led us to achieve a profit. After completing the module I feel more confident making strategic decisions and I have learnt how to create and implement a strategy for a business. I really enjoyed taking part in the module and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about business management or strategy management.

Multiculturalism in Lancaster University

Lancaster is a melting pot of a wide variety of cultures. Lancaster is home to almost 3000 international students and the university has a very welcoming environment which encourages students from different nationalities to interact with each other and share stories about their respective heritage as well as their experience of living abroad. There hasn’t been a student I’ve met here who doesn’t have a fascinating life story to tell. Ever since I came to university, I have met people from all corners of the world such as Eritrea, Thailand, Portugal, Ghana, Canada, France, India, Cyprus and Mexico. Meeting people from different countries may sound intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never heard of their country or are unfamiliar with their culture; however, with time, you realize the many striking similarities we all share, and maybe you’ll even be able to pinpoint more and more countries on a map (which I am fortunately getting better at).

But to simply say that there are no misunderstandings or disagreements that arise between students would be a lie. Sometimes, opinions may not completely align with my views but by being exposed to this international environment I’m still able to approach each topic with an open-minded and global mind. What’s important to remember is that respect is the key to life.

One of the main thoughts my international friends and I share is that we all decided to leave our home countries and study in the UK. Despite our cultural differences, it was rather easy to reach a consensus on what surprised us the most while living here: the weather. The weather is ‘absolutely mad’. (Now that’s an expression I’ve learnt here but never used before. Definitely sounds better when the locals say it.) It is simply unpredictable and plays a big part in setting the mood for the day. One day it’s raining, the day after it’s snowing and there are even days where it can all happen at once! I don’t understand the logic nor the science behind it (which is why I don’t take science as a subject) but we can all agree it can throw us into a frenzy at times.  But life does come with its surprises. Now, as I am writing this, the sun is shining warm upon all our faces, and there’s a cool and gentle breeze passing by.

Besides the weather, I was naturally and quickly introduced to the culture of sports and food here in the UK. Although the last time I watched a football match was around a year ago, I still admire my classmates’ fascination with the sport. Sports have the unique ability to transcend cultural borders and our sport teams and societies on campus are a true testament to that. Student also like to watch live sports on the TVs in bars throughout campus which is exciting, especially during important matches.

The other aspect I found interesting while first living here is the food. It’s quite different to the food I have at home but even then, there are still slight differences in the cuisine among different areas in the UK; and even terms such as breakfast, dinner and tea (I could expand on why I still find it rather perplexing as to why dinner is lunch and tea is dinner, but that’s for another time). To put it shortly, try the pie, the scone and their traditional “fish and chips”.  And by the way- it’s not fries but chips. And it’s not chips but crisps. Try those dishes and know those phrases and you’ll be fine. And of course, don’t forget an umbrella!

Take care!

 

Why BSc Management, Politics & International Relations?

Management, Politics & International Relations (MPIR) is one of the most interesting and relevant courses on offer at Lancaster University. As a student at Lancaster, you are constantly doing new things and meeting new people. One question you will be asked no end is ‘What course do you do?’. When I answer ‘Management, Politics & International Relations’, the response is often a mixture of intrigue and bemusement. For many, the way in which these very different disciplines link into each other is far from obvious. But in reality, their intersection answers some of the most pertinent questions of our age.

How?

It is no longer enough to view business and management as insular institutions, separated from and distinct from the wider world. They exist and operate within a context of a rapidly changing and interconnected world, where the established order of things is being transformed and destabilised by political phenomena: an ascendant China, rising Western populism, a Fourth Industrial Revolution fuelled by advances in artificial intelligence and online connectivity, and commerce across borders. Each of these changes present both challenges and opportunities – not just for politics, but for business, and managers will be at the forefront of facing them. Increasingly, employers desire individuals possessing not just the technical knowledge of how to manage, but also an ability to apply and adapt that knowledge to our changing world. Business takes place across borders; but an understanding of what occurs within and between those borders is essential to the practice of effectively doing business.

Okay, but where does MPIR fit in to all that?

That’s where this course comes in! I am in my first year of the programme, and my study is currently split three-ways between management, politics and international relations, and philosophy. In the management modules OWT.100 and OWT.101, you gain an understanding of the historical development of managerial practices and managerialism as a discipline, and the key issues and debates affecting management today. In Politics 100, you are introduced to the theory and practice of political philosophy, domestic politics, and international relations. In Philosophy 100, you grapple with the ethical and wider philosophical questions which underpin the theories of management and politics, and gain skills to read and write in a logical and analytical manner.

One of the most satisfying things about the course has been seeing how these three disciplines intersect with and complement one another. By analysing the moral philosophy of John Stuart Mill in philosophy, you can better understand issues surrounding business ethics and motivation in management. Learning about human resource management and ideas of organisational culture in management is contextualised by study of the liberal underpinnings of our democracy in politics. Logic and critical analysis in philosophy aids you in assessing the strength of arguments in sources for politics essays. Each aspect of the course benefits the other, and you often find yourself applying theories learned in one aspect in coursework for others.

Is grappling with so many subjects and issues at once challenging?

Of course! But university isn’t about taking an easy ride – it’s about challenging yourself, confronting difficult issues, and constantly bettering yourself. MPIR certainly enables this. Although you encounter many new and complex ideas, the teaching at Lancaster equips you well to deal with them. Complementing lectures, each week you have seminars for management, politics, and philosophy. These are taken in small groups with dedicated tutors who you have week in and week out. In these seminars, you get an opportunity to discuss and debate what you have learned; critically analyse the reading you are set; prepare and plan for coursework; and discuss any difficulties or points of interest you have with a knowledgeable tutor. In addition to this, we have regular meetings with Bogdan, our course director, who discusses the course and our progress in-depth with us in a friendly environment. You are also assigned an academic advisor who will stay with you for the duration of your time at Lancaster University and discuss any aspect of your study and university life with you on a one-on-one basis.

What about Year 2 of the course and beyond?

There are two things in particular that I’m really looking forward to about the later stages of this degree. Firstly, there is the greater degree of choice and flexibility in Year 2. Alongside compulsory modules in Business Ethics and Social Research Methods, there are a huge range of modules in management and politics and international relations to choose from. I’m especially intrigued by some of the modules in entrepreneurship and marketing on offer as these would present whole new endeavours for me. Year 4 also offers a great deal of choice in this respect. But first…

Year 3 is a year in industry. We’ll start preparing for this soon with the Management 150 module, where we’ll learn how to write a good CV, undertake mock interviews with large organisations, and look at a range of employability skills. I’m undecided on where to do my work placement at present: it could be a small business, a large multinational, an NGO, or even the government. Wherever I go, I’m looking forward to applying the knowledge from Years 1 and 2 in a practical management context – and of course making a bit of money, too!

 

My graduate plan

‘‘So, what are your plans for after you graduate?’’I am sure that for many students, like myself, who have entered their final year at university, this question has become a regular occurrence in conversations. It seems that final year lights a spark and leads career plans, graduate schemes and interviews to become a part of your daily personal thoughts.

At the start of the academic year, my plan reflected that of many of my course mates. I planned to update my CV, apply for graduate schemes and enter into the graduate market…Studying a Masters degree was not an option I had even considered.

However, speaking to some of my friends in the graduate market and friends who are currently studying a Masters degree, they expressed that they recognised the enjoyment and positive attitude I have towards education and encouraged me to consider furthering my studies.

At first, the thought of studying a Masters degree was a little scary for myself. I worried that it would be too challenging and I was apprehensive about remaining in education whilst my friends and coursemates progressed into graduate jobs. However, I admit, I became intrigued about the option and started to have a look at what courses were available.

By exploring Masters courses and the modules that different courses offered, my interest in progressing my learning grew. I discovered that many universities were offering an International Business course and this was an appealing option because I am interested in learning about culture and have enjoyed the international perspectives I have been given so far on my course. Not only that, but with ambitions to work within an international firm, studying International Business would be in line with my career plans and provide me with greater depth and understanding about operating in international markets.

So… having been drawn in by the courses available, I decided to apply for some courses.

It’s 4 months on and having accepted a conditional offer, I can finally say I know what my plans are for after I complete my final year at Lancaster University! Having reached this point I thought it would be a chance to share some advice and tips for if you are considering applying for a Masters degree.

  1. Apply on the university website: When I was researching courses and looking at university websites I found that, unlike applying for an undergraduate degree, you apply for a Masters course directly on the website of the university you want to apply to.
  2. Personal Statement: The personal statement is your chance to let the university know more about your interests in the course and your motivations for studying a Masters degree. One tip I can share is to make the personal statement specific to the university you are applying to. I did this by mentioning a module I was looking forward to or a facility at the university that I would like to make use of.
  3. Seek Advice: From my experience I highly recommend that you seek feedback from friends or a careers advisor once you have written your personal statement and CV. When completing my applications I went to a drop-in clinic and attended a one-to-one appointment with the careers advisors at Lancaster University Management School. These sessions were really helpful as the careers advisors shared their advice about how to make your personal statement stand out.

Beginning My First Year at Lancaster University (Again)

My first year at Lancaster University was one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of my life. From beginning my first term making new friends, starting modules, and learning how to do laundry (easier than it seems; still no fun); to ending my final term performing real-life consultancy work for a large company, participating in debates and campaigning for the General Election, and writing analyses of organisational theories. It’s a hectic, packed, brilliant time; and a journey on which I picked up a huge range of skills and experiences, and made friends for life from all kinds of backgrounds.

Despite the great time I had, I knew my course wasn’t quite for me. I was a BBA Management student, and while I thoroughly enjoyed learning management theories and applying them in incredibly fun and challenging group projects; I could never quite hack the more numbers-based side of the course – Maths and Statistics isn’t my forte, and while my grades hovered around firsts and two-ones for the more qualitative modules, I could never quite match that in, for example, the Accounting module I participated in.

Fortunately, the university couldn’t have been more helpful in aiding my transition onto a new course. After shooting an email to my academic adviser stressing my concerns, a meeting was quickly arranged, and we promptly sat down to talk through my thoughts. He was able to offer me a list of courses that would suit my needs and interests and the means by which I could transfer to them. I settled on Management, Politics & International Relations (MPIR), and now on my twelfth week of that course, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

So, what is it like being a first-year again? Well, I didn’t need to waste any time trying to learn how to operate a washing machine for a start (NB: laundry still isn’t fun). Already knowing my way around the campus and the city, having an established group of friends and experience of living independently; a lot of the challenges that come with being a fresher didn’t present themselves this time round. However, being a second-time fresher presents challenges of its own: living off-campus with an established friend group (as most second-years at Lancaster do) does estrange you somewhat from your new coursemates who are mostly new freshers and living on campus. So making friends with people on my course has been somewhat more difficult – although thanks to regular meetings between us and our course director and departmental socials such as the Politics 100 quiz night, I have been able to get to know many of my fellow ‘MPIR’-ers.

Had I not come to the university doing BBA Management, I would have never known that MPIR was right for me – only through engaging in campus politics and making new friends doing other courses did I discover this. Additionally, although I’m no longer doing BBA Management, the experiences I had, the knowledge I gained, and the friends and contacts I made have been of huge value and will stay with me forever.

At the end of the day, you have to do what you’re passionate about doing – and LUMS is an excellent environment for guiding you towards what that is.

Networking in London

I don’t know if the sound of networking is a daunting prospect for everyone, but it certainly was for me before the Capital Connections programme. Entering a room of CEO’s, managers and vice presidents, to name a few, was certainly something to be apprehensive about…But I was ready to embrace it.

Studying at Lancaster University Management School, the benefits of networking and the value that social capital can bring are topics commonly spoken of. However, actually building social capital? This was something new for me.

Attending a preparatory workshop with Jackie, Capital Connections Skills developer, I was provided the opportunity to practice and develop my networking skills. It was relieving to know that I was not the only one new to networking. Practicing with other students on the programme, I came away feeling confident and prepared to immerse myself at the networking events that awaited me.

The highlight of the programme was the networking event at Wallacespace in the vibrant district, Covent Garden. At the event, I had the chance to demonstrate my networking skills with professionals who had been in my shoes before – Lancaster University graduates.

I was amazed at how interested the alumni were to hear about myself and their willingness to share their knowledge and advice with me. It was particularly interesting that whilst exchanging experiences about Lancaster University, alumni recognised the value of the skills I am developing through membership in societies. Additionally, the suggestions alumni provided about societies and activities to get involved in has inspired and motivated me to discover even more of what Lancaster University has to offer me.

To finish the evening, it was a privilege to receive an invitation to dine with Liqiang Xu, a senior associate at Deloitte. This was the perfect opportunity to hear more about Liqiang Xu’s experience living in London, whilst capturing the atmosphere of living in the cultural capital of the world.

From visiting just a handful of the workplaces in London, from the BBC to EY, I’ve been awakened to the many exciting and interesting roles available for graduates in London. One thing I discovered is that many of the Lancaster University Alumni that I had the pleasure of meeting had pursued diverse career paths, with many unrelated to their degree subject. This so, I have taken the message to keep my career options open and to always pursue a career I will enjoy.

Looking back on the experience that Capital Connections have provided me, I have learnt that networking isn’t as daunting as I first thought and that with practice it is a skill that can eventually come naturally. Working in London indeed sounds an exciting prospect and I have certainly increased my interest in living and working in this vibrant business and leisure landscape. It is pleasing to hear that the Capital Connections programme is running again this year in April. I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more about career opportunities in London and to develop networking skills.

Guest Post: From Varanasi to Lancaster

MSc Management student, Anjani, shares with us her journey from Varanasi, India, to Lancaster, UK.

 

“We are pleased to inform that you have been selected for the Masters in Management programme at Lancaster University.” These words blurred in front of my eyes when I first read them. Excitement and joy took over. A small town Indian girl was now going to be a part of the top University, it was more than dream come true. I was sure that my struggles were finally over, but it is usually when we think that the struggles are over do they really begin. Amidst the excitement, I had missed a fundamental detail. The course commencement date. I had exactly 32 days when I noticed the tiny detail I had earlier missed and I was yet to apply for visa, arrange my funds and select accommodation for my self.

If I have learned anything from my life, that is to never give up. I wasn’t ready to give up, not just yet. Days passed by, and all I had accomplished was booking my accommodation. I was happy that I had accomplished one of the major tasks. But the pressure was building, with just 15 days in hand I had gotten the Visa appointment. If things went well, I’ll be carrying my visa in a week. However, the very same day my bank had deducted a large sum of money in order to fulfil one of the loan criteria. I was devastated when I found this out the next day. There was nothing I could do. I did not want to lose this precious opportunity, but what could I have done? I prayed to my stars, I hoped for the best. I am an atheist but I believe in Karma. I believe that if we work hard enough, if we don’t give up, we will get what we deserve. The 4th day, the visa came through and the preparations began.

This wasn’t the first time I was leaving my home, but this was the first time that I was leaving my country. More than anything, I was scared. The excitement that I had felt a few days ago, had now turned into fear and anxiety. Even my family was anxious, their little one was off to a country they knew nobody in. I come from a typical Punjabi family in India, my parents are over-possessive about me. But this entire time they were nothing but supportive. To be honest, I expected them to ask me to stay but they realised that I was finally emerging from my cocoon. They realised that it was time for me to fly and to make my own mistakes. Not a day has passed, when I don’t learn something new. I make mistakes, I fall down, but with every new day I get up again and strive to achieve my goals. Life rarely gives us second chances so I want to make the most, in this first attempt.