Portrait photograph of: Shaswati Panda

Shaswati Panda

Country Of Origin: India

Degree: Full-time MBA, 2016

Working as a Senior Analyst in Accenture, I was about to complete my 5 years in the IT industry when I knew that it was time to go for my long cherished dream; it was time to do that MBA I always knew I would do. I felt I was ready to make the jump from the technical side of the organisation towards the managerial side. I had enough experience in analysis of technical requirements but I wanted to know more than just architecture and technical information. So, I turned towards a management education which would help me look at those technical details in a business way. Clubbed with my prior experience, an MBA had the potential to add credibility and help me visualise the entire business picture.

With my mind made for MBA, the next big decision was to choose the school that would not only groom me with the knowledge but would also have something more. When I had started looking at my options, I had no clue what the “more” meant to me but then I found Lancaster University. I chose Lancaster for many reasons. The FT ranking was very good. The class size was perfect ensuring that I had the chance to deeply interact with each of my classmates and get an ample amount of time and attention from the professors. The diversity was phenomenal; 42 students and 22 nationalities. The course was well-structured (Mindful Manager was a winner for me), the university campus looked gorgeous in pictures and the scholarship was a big help. It also was designed to give the 360-degree view of the business. With its 4 challenges strategically placed over the course of 1 year, it gives you the practical experience of starting a new venture, managing a small enterprise, working for a medium-sized company and finally consulting with a corporate giant. This sealed the deal for me.

Much to my delight (and horror at times), the MBA was very intense. Suddenly you wake up one morning and realise that the MBA has taken over your life. But I would not trade it for anything in the world. Personally, the best aspect of the MBA was it aided in my self-discovery. I learnt a lot of things in the course but the most important aspect was discovering myself in an entirely different light. I was constantly challenged to push my boundaries and to step out of my comfort zone. The Mindful Manager and the Leading Mindfully module were instrumental in this. I was able to spot some of my flaws and work on them. But also I discovered several of my strengths which I had overlooked in the past. The professors and the administrative staff always lent a helping hand and were always receptive to our feedback. I enjoyed every minute of this one year - the late night group work, the London trips, the gorgeous and invigorating Prague trip, the presentations, the coffee breaks, the birthday celebrations and the best of friends that I made. Nothing beats the kind of friendship you build here. When things go difficult, and you need a helping hand, these people are your family and closest confidants. Our class was great together and we all learnt a lot from each other (script and cuisine included).

The Lancaster MBA delivered much more than the “more” I was looking for. It was not just a programme for me but an experience. I had the liberty and the flexibility to craft it the way I wanted to. I know I am a different person than the one who had walked in a year ago and I delight in the change. This one year has been the most memorable and rewarding year of my life.