My name is Rahul, I am part of the WBS Alumni, having completed a four-year course at Westminster Business School from 2010 to 2014. Throughout my time at Westminster Business School I studied Business Management BA and completed a 13-month placement year at IBM. During my placement year, I was part of the Sales Operations team supporting a Sales Manager with day to day reporting and forecasting of deals to the European management team at IBM. I also supported 12 sales people within my team with client related tasks.
After finishing university, I joined SAP’s graduate program. SAP are one of the largest B2B software companies globally. SAP’s software helps improve processes, solve business problems and drive revenue for organisations’. I currently work within SAP’s Digital Applications business and my remit is working with clients within the Retail and Services industries looking for Customer Service, Marketing and e-Commerce software solutions. This is a huge area for organisations, therefore my role is very interesting and current, especially working with some of the most well-known brands and retailers.
Which achievement are you most proud of?
In terms of my achievements at university, gaining (achievement) awards in my first and second year for my grades and getting a 1st overall, are most definitely achievements I am proud of. In addition, one of my key achievements has been securing my job at SAP before I even graduated, which was very challenging as I had many assignments and exams ongoing. It was a great feeling to know that I had a job secured in April. With this job at SAP I was fortunate to be part of a great graduate scheme, that entailed 3 months in California, near Silicon Valley. This opportunity was huge especially as a lot of technology companies are located there and of course, the weather was great!
Reflect on your time at Westminster Business School
Where do I start? My time at Westminster Business School was great! I thoroughly enjoyed my time, meeting some great people and learning many new things on a number of interesting modules. Of course, I also went on a placement year so doing a four-year course was one of the best decisions I made, as I gained a lot of experience and commercial awareness. Ultimately, it provided me with a firm idea of the area I wanted to branch into after university, which was another bonus.
How has Westminster Business School helped you to develop professionally?
The university holds a number of CV sessions, mock interviews and support on how to do well at various stages during the application process. I really leveraged some of these services, especially before I applied for my placement. In addition, group simulations in modules such as Strategic Perspectives were very beneficial to utilise teamwork, communication and analytical skills. I also participated in IBM’s Universities Business Challenge where we had to run our own business. Also, leading the group was beneficial to develop my leadership and organisation skills. All these skills have been fundamental in the workplace, so developing these whilst I was at university was very helpful.
Who is your role model?
I have plenty of role models that I look up to, but I would say Richard Branson is right up there. What he has achieved to develop the Virgin brand is phenomenal. I have read some of Branson’s books and tend to read his blog where he gives some great business advice. In terms of other role models, I can give you many other names such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, who have developed Facebook and Tesla (and others) respectively, both really great innovative companies.
What are your future plans?
My ambition has always been to start my own business, this hasn’t changed. I think gaining experience working in a large organisation helps to build the core skills, all of which are applicable when starting/managing your own business. The challenge with doing so is having a concrete enough idea that you can develop, plan and execute. I am currently on that journey, as I am looking to start my own fashion e-Commerce business. It’s a great learning experience, I think there are lots of challenges involved, but the key thing is to keep going as that is part of being an entrepreneur, solving problems and innovating.
Do you have any advice for students graduating this year?
Work hard, actually scrap that – it’s all about working smart. The final stages of the university are pivotal, I cannot stress that enough, so time management, preparation and being organised are key.
My other advice would be to ensure your CV is strong, you will be competing with thousands of other students, so you don’t want to give an employer a reason to dismiss your CV. Furthermore, it is also important to have self-belief and prepare well for the application process – research the company, practice questions that may come up during the interview, think about how you can set yourself apart from the other candidates.
With regards to jobs, have a plan of the types of organisations you’d like to work for or what you would like to do. This comes down to identifying your skills, interests and passions. I recently presented to 300+ final year students at WBS and my advice was simple, do something you are passionate about, that way you don’t really have to work a day! You will really enjoy working and will be eager to learn and develop! Don’t get me wrong, some days will be frustrating, but you have to stick with it. In some cases, you may just be in a job for the experience but you need to really gain experience and find a job you truly enjoy. This can take time to find the ideal job, so be patient and be open to learning and adding value to the organisation you work for.
What is your advice: do further studies, start a business venture or find a full-time job after graduating?
This is a tough one, as it depends on the individual. I would say doing a Masters or a specialist course/qualification is definitely worth it if it’ll give you an advantage and is essential for a specific field. I would say, it is important to do a Masters that is more tailored than the Bachelor’s Degree.
If you have a great business idea and have some support from someone that can back that up and you’ve done your research, then go for it! But, it is a risk coming straight out of university, due to the university debt that has been accumulated. In many cases, a business requires substantial seed capital to get things moving.
If you aim to start your own business at some point and don’t have any concrete ideas, then find a full-time job in an area of interest. By doing this you’re gaining commercial experience, earning money and you can work on your business ideas as they develop, that’s exactly what I’ve done. It may get to a point where you quit your day job and focus on your business, and that’s fine, but at least you’ll have built up some capital and experience which is invaluable.
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