Karl Duffill

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Agency Business Lead, Google, Singapore

Since the first time I travelled up the front drive at Lancaster University, I just knew that this university was the place for me. Set in acres of green hills and fields – just outside Lancaster itself – the University is its own self-contained microcosm: full of vibrant students and excellent facilities.

The Management School really does set the precedent for the rest of the University. Its combination of a modern learning environment, great teaching staff and ground-breaking research all contributed to me choosing Lancaster University Management School as the number one choice on my UCAS form – which seems so long ago now!

I chose the BBA degree programme due to its broad academic offering and its adaptability to today’s business world. The flexibility of the programme allows you to tailor the course to your own interests and strengths: really providing value in the areas of particular relevance to you.

Studying in Canada

When I commenced my career at LUMS I decided to take advantage of the optional study abroad year in year two. The help and support network to guide students through the exchange process is very well established at Lancaster – making the planning and preparation process very easy and hassle-free. In order to prepare myself for the quantitative subject material traditionally taught in North American business schools, I was advised to take courses in Economics, Management Science, Operations Management, Accounting and Finance and Management Theory – as well as additional maths booster classes. This is just an example of the way LUMS goes that extra mile, ensuring that you are as prepared as possible before embarking on your year abroad.

Out of a choice of more than 30 universities, I eventually decided to study at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Karl (left) with other University of Alberta students in Canada.

From August 2007 to May 2008, I lived and studied in Canada. It really was an amazing experience: both academically and socially. Whether it was learning how to cope with temperatures reaching as low as -45 degrees C, learning the local social customs or attending a country rodeo – every second was a true learning experience. LUMS gave me the opportunity to experience a different social climate, and also developed my own communication and networking skills. It also gave me the opportunity to meet many people from around the world – many of whom I remain in regular contact with!

In my second year in Canada, I took courses in Marketing, Advertising, Statistics, Entrepreneurship and Business Theory. I also gained the opportunity to compete in various national business competitions. In one of these my team and I travelled to Toronto to secure second place in a national title! Studying in Canada really opened my eyes to a new perspective on the way business works – thanks to Lancaster's Study Abroad scheme. The opportunity has not only allowed me to grow as a person, but also academically and professionally.

Placement experience

As one of the central parts of the BBA programme is the placement year – a large proportion of the second year is spent searching for the ‘perfect’ placement. The job-hunting experience I had from Canada was certainly different to my peers who opted to stay in Lancaster, but the careers placement manager was always a phone call away and incredibly helpful.

The job-hunting activity not only initiates thoughts about what career you’d eventually like to enter – it also opens your eyes to the skills, competencies and attributes that employers look for in a new employee; and also the process of applying for jobs, attending interviews and assessment centres. All, naturally, will enhance my future employability and prospects.

After numerous applications and lots of phone interviews, I managed to secure a placement opportunity at Hewlett-Packard. I started working at HP in July 2008 and finished, after 13 months, in July 2009. My position involved working within the small and medium business channel (HP Preferred Partner Program) – alongside 70 other placement students from other universities throughout Europe. It really was a vibrant and enjoyable place to work – and challenged me on a daily basis. Throughout my time at HP, I felt I had real responsibility, autonomy and respect from my peers.

Mid-way during my year at HP I secured a 12-week summer internship at Procter & Gamble in London. My internship was positioned in a management role within the systems and solutions function and really did add credence to the skills and knowledge acquired during the three preceding years at Lancaster, Alberta and HP. My role at P&G involved project managing the roll-out of a new reporting tool for the sales and marketing teams across the business, as well as some consultancy-based project work.

Classes at LUMS are difficult and lecturers really do stretch you: but it will all be worthwhile. Aside from academics, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved at the Management School – in the student societies and various student bodies. A particular project I am very glad to have been involved in is helping, along with other students, to build an online community for the school on Facebook.

I had job offers from several employers by the time I graduated in June 2010 – in the end I chose a fantastic opportunity with Google. 

All in all, I truly believe that Lancaster University boasts the perfect mixture of academic, social and professional development opportunities. With eight bars on campus, numerous clubs in Lancaster city centre and a supportive collegiate environment – it really is my home away from home!