Portrait photograph of: Iko Congo

Iko Congo

Country Of Origin: Portugal

Degree: MSc Politics, Philosophy & Management, 2018

Consultant, McKinsey & Company

Why did you choose to study at LUMS?

As I was finishing my BBA Management at LUMS I felt keen to go straight to work. However, in my final year, I studied a module of Business Ethics with the OWT department which was fascinating – assuredly my favourite subject, with Contemporary Approaches to Human Resource Management a close second. I loved these modules because they endowed me with the language and vision to characterize our cultural socio-economic system and understand why it is the way it is. I considered that I would only continue to study if it was to extend this learning path into the conceptual foundations of the business world.

So, when the opportunity to study the MSc in Politics, Philosophy and Management popped up, I was easily convinced to stay for one more year. What attracted me to the programme was its unique interdisciplinary structure and its purpose to endow students with a critical capacity to navigate the world. As a firm believer that real change must start at the level of thought, and only then can action be effective, I decided that one year developing my capacity to think critically about the business world would prepare me not only to engage it but to change it, and the wider world, for the better.

What/who inspired you most at LUMS and why?

The OWT faculty were the only reason I stayed after my undergraduate degree to study my MSc. The reason I point specifically to the faculty and not the programme or the content is because I consider their minds to be the content. There are no textbooks, or formulas that can be replicated to learn what I learned with them.

They combine the urgent message they aim to communicate with a chilled posture they embody (I’d say a result of their expanded consciousness of the world is that they don’t stress easily) with a many times humorous and diversified delivery. I am grateful I had the opportunity to be their student and only hope that I can stay in touch with them and as time passes find ways to collaborate. I also appreciate having had the chance to meet passionate Politics, Philosophy and Religion faculty who were equally inspiring. 

Describe your time at LUMS in three words?

Eye-opening, Enriching and Enabling.

What are your best memories of your time at Lancaster (course, social, work, experience...)? 

I will fondly cherish the memories of comradeship with my colleagues – the multiple group work projects, the long periods in the library, having Greggs for breakfast, Subway and SPAR for lunch and Pizzetta for dinner, savoring the rare appearance of the sun at the balcony of Cafe21, the multiple pool games. The moaning about the Spine construction work, the love-hate relationship with The Students Union and the use of the “Learning” Zone will be eternal.

I’m also nostalgic of the societies I participated in, specially Bahá’í society and the TEDx but also the basketball team, and much time spent at the chaplaincy centre, attending interfaith events, praying at the meditation room or just using the space. A memory that also stands on its own is the too many to count hours in the LUMS Hub, eating, talking, studying, participating in the many Career events, and imagining the future.

What are the best things about living in the Lancaster area?

Coming from a small island in the Atlantic Ocean (São Miguel, from the Azores) I thought it was impossible to end up in a smaller place. And then I met Lancaster - small but lovely. In my eyes the heart of the North. The local people, shopkeepers, landlords were all very nice. Through activities of the local Bahá’í community, I also got to engage frequently with local people who were not associated with the University.

And when I really needed something Lancaster did not have, Manchester was under an hour away by train. But I must mention the long exposure to the weather in Northern England as a non-native to that type of climate was really challenging and maybe one of the reasons my following destination was a Sub-Saharan country where the sun is sovereign.

Which parts of your Lancaster experience were the best preparation for your job?

The diversified experience I had during the 5 years at Lancaster University was a cornerstone for my progress. The classes in my undergraduate degree developed business acumen, helped me become an analytical problem solver and good communicator; skills which were then complemented by the development of a conceptual framework to navigate through the world which the postgraduate degree contributed to.

Also, I had the opportunity to study abroad (at HEC Montreal) which allowed me to expand my network and exposed me to a different reality. The careers team accompanied me through the interview process for a really good industrial placement with Aldi, which gave me practical experience and enhanced my work ethic and resilience. They also helped develop the insights that allowed me to succeed in the interview process of my graduate job.

Campus life was the stage to sharpen my initiative with different societies and learn to engage with stakeholders. The space I had during university was also important to pursue other opportunities like business challenges, seminars of the Institute of Studies in Global Prosperity and courses of the Ruhi Institute. 

The different awards I have been given and accomplishments secured are, to me, not a fruit of mere individual capacity, but a testament to fully using the opportunities and help the University provides. Also, the accompaniment of wonderful people Lancaster University is populated with, some of which I am happy to call friends who were not only important during my university time but will undoubtedly help me through my lifetime.

Succinctly, the experience at Lancaster University not only helped me get my current job but enabled me to pursue it in a unique way.