Two weeks ago I got my first real flavour of what it actually means to study an MBA at Westminster Business School. As a Social Media Officer with a ten year plan that involves amongst other things, digital marketing, travelling, studying a PhD and setting up my own social enterprise, studying an MBA wasn’t something that I’d given too much thought to. After joining the MBA class for a Pitch Yourself Guest Lecture with Bill Faust, I may just need to sit down and reconsider.

#WestminsterMBA’s Professional and Personal Development Module

As author of Pitch Yourself and creator of the Career DNA Bank concept, Bill Faust was without a doubt, a superb choice as Guest Speaker on the #WestminsterMBA’s Personal and Professional Development module. Focusing on reflection, self awareness and as one would expect, developing oneself and one’s life plans, this core module, run by Professor Vlatka Hlupic, provides an excellent opportunity to take a step back, to objectify and to re-evaluate, something which we all should do.


Using the main points from his book, Bill’s aim was to provide participants with the core foundations of their own personal marketing strategy. Why is this important to #WestminsterMBA students? – well it depends on who you talk to. To those who are looking to transition to an alternative career, developing a personal marketing strategy is key to overcoming the challenges that accompany any employer’s preconceptions and expectations. To those looking to accelerate their careers within their existing professions, it was an excellent opportunity to look at how they both identify and present themselves. For myself, it was a bit of both – a few hours to focus on me, my future and me again – refreshing, tangibly affirmative and inspiring all at the same time.


How to Pitch Yourself

Following the session, I wouldn’t hesitate to point you straight in the direction of Bill’s book, however to highlight a few key points from the talk, here are some ‘Pitch Yourself’ directives:

1. Differentiate yourself 

It sounds obvious doesn’t it? You don’t want to be just 1 of 100, you want to be the 1 in 100 who gets selected for that second round, that interview, the job. And yet it’s not as simple as it sounds. Look around you – how many people do you see who also have those ‘excellent interpersonal skills’, the ‘ability to analyse a situation to their advantage’, or ‘outstanding team-skills’? Depending on where you’re sat right now I would imagine a fair proportion. So where do you go from there? Bill argues that what differentiates you from every other person is the way that you think. Employers actively scrutinise your thinking, something which you will demonstrate through your personality, traits, behaviours and characteristics during interview. He also recommends focussing on Competencies: ‘Competencies focus on how you do & the way you do something rather than what you do. They describe your underlying characteristics, behaviours & traits enabling you to perform better in your role. They go beyond your qualifications, experience and technical expertise.’ 

2. Target your employers (or recruiters)

We’ve all got a CV in one form or another. So what do you do to make it stand out? First – research the employer and adapt/target your CV to suit. We’re not talking about lying here – after all what’s the point of telling the head of Microsoft that you’re xyz when you can’t even spell it? You will get found out. And fired. No, we’re talking about being smart – doing your research and highlighting those parts of your story which particularly resonate with their core values, beliefs and operation. Bill reminded us that we are not just one job in one industry, we have so much to offer, and so in some circumstances our CV/personal marketing collateral will look very different. We have much more potential  than most of us realise and of course no two companies are the same. Finally, if you’re applying via a recruiter – don’t forget that this is your first sell!

3. Moving the ball into your court

Demonstrating and assuming control of a situation is clearly going to impress employers. Hopefully they won’t know what’s hit them. How to do this? Here’s just one example: You’re in an interview, and you get that all too familiar question ‘so, Jeni, please tell us something about you and your background.’ Now I’ll be the first to admit that I usually just launch into a 10 minute spiel about my life and career to date. And, whilst I may match this exactly to the job description, I never really feel comfortable. Bill’s answer is to challenge the questioner and take control – ‘of course, I’m more than happy to talk about xyz, what would you like me to expand upon?’ Simple.

4. Know yourself & prepare, prepare, prepare 

First steps are to go back a few steps – revisit those core competencies, and understand exactly, specifically and completely what your biggest assets are. You should also assess your presentation style and know in advance which tactic you’re going to use.

5. Do it now

Building up a Career DNA Bank is somewhat of an ongoing process – it’s not something that you do a week before that key interview with Ernst & Young. You start now, right now, today, and then, in fairly regular intervals, you revisit, reassess and re-realise just what it is you have to offer. Without a doubt this will be a lot of work, but this is what will set you apart.


So what’s next on the #WestminsterMBA?

If like me you were inspired by this weekend’s MBA session, there are several ways you can find out more about the programme.

For international students, Dr Kellie Vincent, Director of the MBA will be hosting upcoming Online Information Sessions specifically designed to provide you with more detail of the programme. For those who are slightly closer to home, why not join the Business School at the upcoming #MBATuesdayClub, or at the PG Open Evening?

On top of this you can always visit our website and keep an eye on this blog, where we will have posts from myself, students, alumni and staff. Finally, you can engage with the hashtag #WestminsterMBA on Twitter and Instagram.

This blog was written by Westminster Business School’s Social Media Officer, Jeni Stokes. On behalf of Westminster Business School, thank you to Bill Faust for joining us and for such a dynamic and engaging presentation. Here’s to future collaborations! 

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