Leon Vaughan

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Digital Consultant, IBM Interactive Experience

I chose to study at LUMS because, fundamentally, it has a fantastic reputation, and once I arrived at the Management School it was easy to see why. The place was buzzing with innovation; light open spaces - it just oozed quality. It exceeded my expectations.

Secondly, the course looked great. The opportunity to experience a year in industry was key for me, so that I could blend my academic learning with practical insight.

Finally, it was the University as a whole that sprinkled the fairy dust on top of the cake. It wasn’t just LUMS that was buzzing, but also the staff, the Square, the students, the Spar, the bars... The whole campus was the selling factor for me.

I enjoyed how the academic teaching of entrepreneurship mirrored the entrepreneurship that I observed during the practical aspects of the course. It wasn’t just that I was able to gain an understanding of the tenets of entrepreneurship (although that did form a part of it), but it was the blending of academia, business writing and real life ‘events’ that showed and taught me something that was as close to real life as possible. This meant that when I left university I had already acquired a lot of the skills necessary for success in the workplace. I would challenge any university to say that they are better equipped at gearing the student for the place of work than Lancaster.

For me, I was a big Lonsdalian. I played pool and football for the college, and the Lonsdale bar and Sugar became my second homes. It’s so important to make the most of your university experience, in whatever way you feel fit. I lived every day at university as a ‘proper student’ (flip-flops and joggers) as I knew these would be the best days of my life. I took 'When in Rome' to the next level - but managed to combine it with a decent amount of study in order to achieve the degree I wanted.

I spent my Placement Year with IBM as part of their Consulting Division. From Day one, I was on client sites, working with clients to understand their issues around centralised sourcing of tactical products, interviewing senior stakeholders and working jointly with my manager to formulate a strategy of how IBM might source more effectively, leading to cost savings. I also worked with the Metropolitan Police as an IBM Business Analyst, in order to deliver an e-tendering solution. It was necessary for me to understand the requirements, so that I could deliver on them and train stakeholders on how to use their new system. On placement I learned that to be successful takes a lot of planning, listening and — most importantly — confidence. I would advise you to throw yourself in at the deep end. You won't drown as there's enough support around to keep you afloat!

I consider my experience at Lancaster to be irreplaceable!

I am now a Management Consultant with IBM Interactive Experience. I believe that my skills — not only academic but also social — were the key reason I got the job, and I believe that they will help me to enjoy a fruitful and successful career.

Even before I started work I felt ready, and I was fearless. These are not traits that I was born with. They are traits I learned and developed at Lancaster throughout the whole of my university life: on the football pitch, at the bar and in the classroom.

My years at Lancaster University were, and I am sure will always have been, the best years of my life. They are irreplaceable. They have shaped my career, my friendship group and my outlook on life. I’ll forever be indebted.