Timur Khilazhev

Country of origin: Russia

Management Development Programme Associate, Mars

My university in Moscow was offering double degree programmes in several business schools in France and the UK and I chose LUMS because of its established reputation and promising programme structure. Favourable reviews from the returning graduates from LUMS also had an impact on my decision, as they particularly highlighted the high quality of teaching, great campus, and proximity of multiple national parks. The latter proved to be a nice bonus to me personally, as I am a huge fan of outdoor activities. Looking back, I can definitely attest to these positive comments and would recommend LUMS to my friends looking for a place to improve their career prospects with a Master’s degree.

The best aspect of the programme was how it brought together project management theory and the practical side of planning/running a project. What I would like to particularly emphasise is that the degree really helped me understand the importance of soft skills in projects, such as stakeholder and team management, and let me develop them. In my opinion, the programme may be useful for people from a wide range of backgrounds, as skills and practical experience acquired here will be applicable to literally all project environments. I myself did this course because I needed to develop my understanding of managing projects in the FMCG companies and it was indeed helpful and applicable to other project works as well.

I also really enjoyed the four-month Project Management in Action module where students were fully responsible for delivering a substantial project to an external client. We had to find a gap in the market, formulate a solution and deliver it to the client, which reflects the work done in the actual business context.

We also had a summer placement with an external company and had to deliver a project to address its business needs. I thought this was a very well-designed part of the course that mirrors the actual professional environment. Apart from being an interesting experience in itself, the summer placement helped me learn more about balancing various stakeholder interests, e.g. business-driven demands of the external client and learning-driven demands of the tutors. It was a challenging exercise, even for people with a substantial previous work experience.

In university life, I particularly enjoyed being physically active: jogging with friends, playing tennis/squash and exploring the surrounding natural landmarks. The campus system really helps to build stronger bonds with more people and socialise more often. I would summarise my experience at Lancaster as a great time that not only helped me learn more about project management, but also reflect on and improve my working style.

After graduation, I was positively surprised with the reception I received from the employers. I recently joined the Management Development Programme at Mars which is aligned with my initial goal of managing projects in an FMCG environment. I believe that practical and soft project skills acquired at Lancaster were the key to both securing the job and settling in successfully.