Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Lorna Kamau, I am from Nairobi, Kenya. My friends say I am short and sweet with an edge. I’m passionate about African women and their empowerment. My experience in the UK has reaffirmed the impact that women can make in various industry sectors. Many women in sub-Saharan Africa still face significant inequalities however and I would like to contribute somehow to changing this status-quo particularly in my country and across Africa.
Why did you decide to study International Economic Policy and Analysis MSc at Westminster Business School?
I was interested in economics as I wanted to change my career to policy and development. Apart from a strong recommendation by a Westminster alumni, I did my research and after looking at several different universities, I learnt that courses offered by University of Westminster are highly accredited with a total of 13 accreditations and memberships in professional networks. In addition to this, the International Economic Policy and Analysis MSc is quite a new and modern programme and the only one of its kind among all English universities (it is the only one accredited by the Government Economic Service). The course places emphasis on practical learning to develop students into working economists or policymakers in the public or private sector, rather than just providing standard theoretical teaching. Moreover, the IEPA course at Westminster Business School is relatively affordable compared with other universities, the location in Central London is very convenient and the campus was recently renovated with state of the art technology and improved facilities for students. I am amazed and feel greatly privileged that I am now here.
What have been the main highlights for you over the last year?
The highlight of Westminster Business School was the opportunity to make a presentation and submit a proposal to the University of Westminster Advisory Board of Directors, which was highly commended and well received. I also highly value the lifelong friendships I have made in my cohort. The UK is multicultural, multi-faith, cosmopolitan and diverse (especially London) so there are opportunities to meet and learn more from people from different countries all over the world. Plus I am interested in British culture and there are some famous and unique sites and experiences that I have enjoyed visiting (such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, River Thames, London Eye, museums and theatres).
What have been the biggest challenges over the last year?
Undertaking an MSc in Economics when coming from a non-Economics background, in some ways felt like undertaking a Bachelors and Masters degree concurrently. It was extremely daunting at the beginning, particularly with all the various forms of assessments (essays, technical reports, policy reports, viva’s, group reports, presentations etc). Balancing this and extra-curricular activities has been extremely difficult as I am involved in voluntary work. However this has led me to be disciplined, and greatly enhanced my time management, prioritisation and multi-tasking abilities.
What is your dissertation on and what is your area of specialism?
My specialism is the relationship between trade and economic growth. China is a rising superpower and has seized a tremendous advantage by establishing an economic presence in nearly every country in Africa. This comprehensive expansion into Africa is possibly one of the most monumental developments in the African continent at present. My dissertation aims to analyse the impact of China on economic growth in the East African region as well as prospective synergies and mutually beneficial policies and outcomes between economies in the “Emerging East” (East Africa – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania and China in East Asia).
What are your career aspirations?
I seek to work with multilateral organisations which have strong development and poverty alleviation agendas, focusing on empowering women, trade facilitation, investments in SMEs and innovation. I also seek to mentor and interact with young minds for the prosperity and sustainability of the next generation. In addition I would like to be established as an African business leader and launch my own consulting firm, I have a passion to contribute to the generation of enterprise, employment, development opportunities, for example through social enterprise or microfinance projects. This involves empowering people at national and grass root levels in order to lead the majority of the poor population towards lasting economic prosperity for my generation and those to come.
What advice would you give anyone who is about to start a Master’s degree at Westminster Business School?
I would advise them to pursue opportunities, not to be afraid to ask questions or approach Module/Course Leaders, research your Lecturer’s specialties and approach those who cover the areas you’re interested in even if they are not your Module Leaders – everyone here is really open and friendly. Purposefully seek to gain as much value from the experience as possible. For example, in my own experience, our Course Leader announced casually in one class that there was a potential project in the department and if anyone was interested to send him an email. This was above and beyond an already huge workload and only two of us volunteered, but as a result, we got an opportunity to make a presentation to the University Advisory Board and accompany the International Development Management MA course on their trip to the United Nations in Geneva. Take initiative and be proactive! You never know what could happen!
I understand you were able to join the International Development Management MA course on their trip to the United Nations headquarters in Geneva – how was your experience?
I absolutely loved the trip to UN Geneva, such an unforgettable experience and opportunity. My highlight of the trip was speaking to UN staff members one-on-one such as Manuela and Julian among others and receiving real insights into working at the UN as well as getting to know them personally. The spectacular view of the lake and mountains, walking under the fountain on the lake, sharing meals, the late night walks under a full moon were all unique experiences I shall never forget and will always treasure. The biggest thing I will take from the trip is sitting in the UN office in a sweltering boardroom and realising that even the most impossible hopes and dreams can become reality. To dare to dream, and dream big, and pursue the best version of your life as best you can!
If there was one word to describe your time at the University of Westminster, what would it be?
It has been phenomenal.
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