Kari Thor Runarsson

Country of origin: Iceland

Chief Operation Officer, Nordican Investments

I had been working in marketing for five years when I started to get a craving for more knowledge and understanding of marketing. After working for three years in the marketing department of Iceland Telecom my previous undergraduate marketing education was no longer providing me with the answers I was seeking, and my superiors – who in the beginning of my career had tutored me and filled me with knowledge – now often did not have the answers either, nor could they guide me on how to find the answers.

This led me to start a search for a Masters degree to see what was on offer. I was determined to study abroad as I wanted a more international experience, both in regards to the teaching staff and the students I would be studying with. I was almost immediately keen on studying in the UK, as the British have a reputation for pioneering marketing studies and practice. I also wanted to study at a university with a good reputation – to get the most from my degree – as employees do look at this factor when hiring.

After some search I found three universities that met my criteria of being top rated. I was accepted to them all so I had to decide which was the best choice. Lancaster University has a very good reputation, with the Management School racing up the league tables and recognised as one of the best business schools in Europe. The Marketing Department I found also has an excellent reputation and the MSc in Advanced Marketing Management sounded very interesting – it met my needs and matched my interests.

After a twelve-month stay in Lancaster I finally handed in the MSc dissertation that I did for Microsoft. Just getting the opportunity to work with Microsoft as part of my degree was a chance I would otherwise never have had, and the travel throughout Europe that I had to undertake for Microsoft was the icing on the cake.

The MSc itself was very intense and required a lot of studying and group work. I learned to organise myself and learn new study and memory techniques. The lecturers are very experienced academics and well-known within the marketing world.

My class included students of 16 different nationalities, which was very interesting, and I made some wonderful friends with whom I am still in contact and will hopefully never lose touch with.

My first position after leaving Lancaster was as Sales and Marketing Director at an international outdoor wear company called ZO-ON in Iceland. I think it is safe to say that I would not have achieved this position without my degree, but more importantly I would not be able to bring with me to this job the resources and higher degree knowledge without my experience at Lancaster.

Kari has since moved into the financial services sector, as Chief Operating Officer for Nordican Investments.

In September 2006, I was offered a job at Iceland’s largest outdoor wear brand, 66° North, and I have been enjoying every action-packed day! My title is Vice President, Marketing, and I am head of all marketing activities, domestic and international.