Karen Mathenge

Country of origin: Kenya

Finance and Admin Officer, World Food Programme, Democratic Republic of Congo

My previous experience before coming to Lancaster was as a journalist. In all my assignments, I constantly felt the need to push for a more professional and value-adding system of work but felt that I didn't have the skill or the rank to make such decisions. I wanted to manage and give new direction to journalism and this quest eventually led me to the choice of the MBA programme.

My experience on the Lancaster MBA is something that will stay with me for life. It is not just the diversity of cultures and methods of work that I encountered but the unity of purpose and the requirement that we must be quite driven in order to succeed which were lifetime lessons. All this demanded dedication and sometimes very late nights but the end result was that I learned strategic thinking and honed my analytical skills.

While I definitely enjoyed the MBA experience, my biggest challenge, especially in the beginning, was time management. I felt like a sort of entrepreneur because I had to plan this 'company' (myself) and how to make it break-even (finish my assignments, catch enough sleep and be alert for next day's classes or demands).

Life in Lancaster was wonderful. The town too is quite conducive for academic studies. There were lots of activities to get involved in but we hardly had any spare time in the early months of the MBA. The people I met and the networks I formed have however been helpful, even in my current undertakings. My MBA project was based on a consultancy I carried out for a PR firm. This experience proved useful in gaining employment at my current organisation and most of my findings are still relevant in the tasks I perform today.

I am currently working for the United Nations World Food Programme as a Finance and Administration Officer. I joined WFP after having been seconded for two years by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency in the same role. In my current responsibilities, I provide guidance on the financial management of the WFP Truck Fleet's fund. I also plan, recommend, and implement systems for the administration of human, financial and material resources, and control and evaluate these processes and systems.