Haris Khawaja

"From the very first information session I attended, I felt the Business School had an approachable and open candidate engagement."

Haris Khawaja

Nationality: British
Programme: Full-time MBA, 2019
Pre-MBA: Investment Manager, Asset management and real estate company, London, UK
Post-MBA: Proposition and Strategy Specialist, Winterflood Securities, London, UK
Current Industry: Financial Services
Transitions made: Function

What motivated you to pursue the Full-time MBA?

I worked as an Investment Manager in a London-based private equity and real estate firm. I developed the investment strategy for multiple funds and managed the investor fund financial models to monitor asset and deal level returns.

I knew the Business School (formerly Cass) had an excellent reputation in strategy and that the Full-time MBA offered academic rigour. From the very first information session I attended, I felt the Business School had an approachable and open candidate engagement. Being based in the heart of London with excellent links to companies provides the professional networking opportunities that significantly enhance the MBA experience.

I joined the Full-time MBA to move away from finance and learn more about operations, marketing and corporate strategy. I wanted to develop some soft skills and to explore the possibility to transition into a corporate strategy role.

The programme is an intensive 12-month experience. The support and advice that is provided seamlessly through the course office and administrative staff made it incredibly rewarding.

Which modules made a difference to your career journey?

The core strategy module made a significant difference to my career journey, as this module blended topical, real-world case studies with rigorous academic frameworks, providing a thoroughly enjoyable and applicable learning experience.

The M&A module taught me valuable lessons on the non-financial aspects of a transaction, such as the challenges faced by a lack of information and time constraints – lessons which I applied during my Business Mastery Project (BMP) with Winterflood Securities.

You work in diverse teams across all three terms of the MBA, how has this benefited you?

Working in multiple groups comprised of diverse nationalities, professional backgrounds and skills was a rewarding and sometimes challenging experience. I learned how incredibly talented group members approached problems in disparate ways and how canvassing a wide variety of opinions can help construct an optimal solution.

There is an incredible sense of community among the diverse MBA graduates and they have provided me with valuable support and career advice both during and after I completed the programme. The MBA community is friendly, positive and has a success-driven mindset, while also having the ability to offer frank opinions and challenge your thinking.

Which electives did you choose and what did you take away from them?

My elective choices were: China International Elective, Israel and Palestine International Elective, Mergers and Acquisitions, Forecasting, Advanced Corporate Finance, Private Equity - and Applied Financial Analysis for Managers and Investors and Leading in Challenging Situations as sit-in electives.

Each elective had its unique valuable takeaways – I chose the Israel and Palestine International Elective as it allowed me to explore the role of fintechs in a resource-scarce region. The China elective provided exposure to the unique economic, political and cultural environment of one of the advanced economies in the world and how some of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world are operating and competing.

What careers support did you receive throughout the programme?

I had multiple 1:1 conversations with my Career Advisor throughout the course about my career goals. These conversations were perhaps most helpful to me by filtering out which careers I was not interested in, which then helped to match my skills to my interests and take a more targeted approach to my job search, helping me to transition from a Finance to a Corporate Strategy role.

Skills sessions like the Leadership Communication: Influencing and Persuading in Action module were very useful in providing valuable learning on how to present, the importance of body language when presenting and how to tailor your pitch to the audience – all skills that I have used when giving presentations at my current role.

The Careers and Professional Development Team also hosted a series of corporate engagement events. I found the Schroders event particularly interesting and influential in my job searching decision as it gave a valuable insight into strategy roles within the asset management industry.

How did your consultancy experiences in Dublin and during your Business Mastery Project influence your career transition?

The International Consultancy Week in Dublin was critical in influencing my career transition to a corporate strategy role post-MBA, as it gave an opportunity to show the impact of the strategy theory that we had studied for by applying it to real companies.

My BMP with Winterflood Securities was sourced by the Careers Team and I secured the project following an application on Cass Careers Online and a successful interview. I have since joined the company full-time as a Proposition and Strategy Specialist in the Product Team. My role has provided me with the opportunity to practically apply my MBA learnings. It is an incredibly rewarding job as I work closely with the Head of Product to help shape the future direction of products.