Fiona D'Souza

Country of origin: India

Business Analyst, Xchanging PLC

Before joining the Lancaster MBA in 2009, I worked with a software services firm in a technical role for a little over seven years. While researching for MBA programmes around the world, I was focused on twelve-month programmes from reputed universities, but most importantly on ones that provided a balance between classroom teaching and live exercises.

Lancaster’s MBA programme attracted me with its structure that included three live consultancy projects aimed at putting the classroom modules into practice while you're on the course itself.

The Lancaster MBA is ranked within the top ten in the UK, which was very encouraging – and winning a scholarship made it easier to make my decision!

The programme was extremely demanding of my time and energy. Having to work on multiple core modules together tested and stretched my ability to grasp new concepts and multi-task.

The Lancaster MBA is designed to include a lot of team work which necessitates interaction with colleagues from different cultural and professional backgrounds. This, I believe, brought in very valuable learning from first hand-experience of managing group dynamics, and trying to bring out the best of myself and others in a team.

Summer project

My summer project was with Vodafone UK, and involved projecting the total cost of ownership for one of Vodafone’s cost centres, analysing their internal processes and advising them on potential improvements and consequent savings. It proved to be an excellent opportunity to bring together the learning from the MBA and apply it while working with Vodafone. I based my subsequent dissertation on performance management within organisations, making links to my experience from the Vodafone summer project and drawing also on an elective from the MBA.

Life in Lancaster

Having always lived and worked in larger cities, I had apprehensions about living in Lancaster and on campus. But I have to admit that my time at Lancaster turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had. Life on campus was very convenient, with access to university facilities, a sports complex, pubs, and, more importantly, to MBA colleagues. Living on campus also gave me the chance to meet people from other programmes and I’ve been lucky to have made some very good friends that way.

The Lancaster MBA continuously took me out of my comfort zone, and challenged me to reflect on my performance and find ways of improving it. It made me appreciate the challenges and benefits alike of working with colleagues from culturally and professionally diverse backgrounds.

Life after the MBA

I currently work as a Business Analyst with a business process outsourcing company in the City of London. The nature of my work requires me to manage customer expectations, and work with multiple teams to produce commercial assessments. Switching to a totally new professional area in this way was certainly yet another move out of my comfort zone, but one which I was able to manage thanks to my experience from the MBA year. One of the perks of my job is that I get to live and work in one of my favourite cities, but I still make the occasional visit back to Lancaster.

My advice to current and prospective MBA students?

Make the best of the mock interview sessions organised. They may not be entirely relevant to the country you want to ultimately move to, but they do help immensely in building your confidence in the process. Applying for jobs after the MBA is a full-time job in itself. The earlier you plan and prepare, the better. Good luck!