Helen Watts

Helen Watts

Helen Watts

Nationality: British
Programme: Full-time MBA, 2017
Pre-MBA: Research Analyst, Fast Track 100, Oxford, UK
Post-MBA: New Business Intelligence Manager, Denstu Aegis Network, London, UK
Current industry: Media
Transitions made: Function, Industry

Before I joined the Cass Full-time MBA programme, I was working as a research analyst in Oxford. My partner and I had decided to move back to London for personal reasons and I had to consider my next career step carefully. During my time as a research analyst, I had become very interested in companies’ strategies, particularly regarding international expansion. I wanted to learn more about strategy and business as a whole, therefore an MBA seemed like the best choice.

I’d heard nothing but good things about Cass. Several of my ex-colleagues had been there and had hugely benefited from the experience. I also liked that it was a one-year programme, located in the centre of London and that strategy was the school’s strength. I decided to attend a recruitment event and was impressed by how welcoming the staff were, the expertise of the faculty and the size of the facilities.

During the programme, I particularly enjoyed the strategy module, where I learnt the foundations of strategy and used this to discuss global companies in more detail. I was able to put this new knowledge into practice during the Strategy project, where my group and I advised an external company.

Organisational Behaviour was another module which provoked a lot of discussion – it focused on how firms create culture at work, different types of leadership styles etc. It was interesting to hear my cohort’s experiences, particularly regarding differences between countries and industries. I am now very aware of culture at work and it was a major factor in accepting my post-MBA job.

The Achieving Your Potential weekend, a leadership course at Sandhurst, was hugely challenging but a great learning experience. It taught me that everyone has a slightly different leadership style and how to make the most of your own natural attributes. We also did presentation courses and even the cohort’s most reluctant public speakers were presenting confidently by the end of the year, as there were plenty of opportunities to practice.

I had always wanted to travel to Cuba and when the MBA offered a week-long elective there, I jumped at the opportunity. I had access to places and speakers that otherwise would have been impossible to arrange – this included the Ministry of Tourism, journalists, ex-diplomats, entrepreneurs and a private tour of a cigar factory. I examined the country through the lens of sustainability and how the boom of the tourism industry was affecting the social and environmental situation. It was an unforgettable week in a fascinating country.

The Careers and Professional Development team played an important part in preparing me for interviews and supporting my job applications. Practice interviews and the subsequent feedback straight afterwards were particularly useful – better to make mistakes in a practice interview than the real thing!

I have since got a job through the Cass network at a Global Media Group as a Data Manager. We sit within the Strategy Development Team, so I am able to further build on my strategy knowledge. I also often draw upon the leadership skills developed during the MBA as I currently manage two people.

I made some friends for life during the MBA and those of us based in London try to meet up every month or so. A large group of us recently flew out to Greece for an MBA friend’s wedding and it was great to catch up with everyone.

The MBA has made me think about business in a more analytical way and I am able to see how the different components of a company interact to grow business. Not only that, it has made me think differently as a consumer too.