Naina Bhargava

"Through the Careers Team’s corporate and networking events, I made many personal and professional connections that I still keep in touch with and I truly believe networking is the best way to secure a job."

Naina Bhargava

Nationality: Indian
Programme: Full-time MBA, 2019
Pre-MBA: Founder and CEO, iBakeIt Bakery, Jaipur
Post-MBA: Business Development Lead, Lil’Goodness, Bangalore

What drew you to studying the Full-time MBA at the Business School (formerly Cass)?

Following a bachelor’s degree in commerce in Mumbai, I studied patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in London and worked in food and hospitality for the luxury hotel industry in Dubai. I decided to return to Jaipur to start my own company and launched iBakeIt Bakery. It started as a small bakery in my own kitchen and grew into an upscale grocery store in the city.

While I had achieved success, I realised I needed further professional management skills to keep growing my business. Setting up a cafe and bakery entails so much more than baking: you are running a business, handling the finances and hiring the right people to work with you.

I knew I wanted to study full-time for a year and to be based in London. I loved the Business School’s (formerly Cass) central London location and I was also awarded the Most Potential Award scholarship. Going to the campus I had a great gut feeling about the programme and knew it was the place for me.

What did you enjoy about the academic side of the Full-time MBA?

My Strategy module helped me learn how to think outside the box to find solutions. The focus on teamwork on the programme taught me to draw on everyone’s individual strengths and backgrounds. Learning to utilise everyone’s different strengths and skillsets is an asset to any team.

The finance modules helped me gain a greater understanding of corporate news, the inner workings of major banks and the economy.

What was your favourite moment on the programme?

Looking back on my year, I have so many good stories. I had a lot of fun travelling with my cohort, such as the Achieve Your Potential week at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, our trip to Brussels, Dublin and my international elective in Las Vegas.

One of my favourite memories is Dr Paolo Aversa’s strategy module’s Bake Off cake challenge. I really enjoyed the Talo Chandler presentation competition.

Tell us about your international electives?

I chose to study the strategic marketing elective in Las Vegas, which was centred around the hospitality industry. I gained a lot of insight into marketing as each hotel and casino offers a very similar product, so they need to differentiate themselves. As well as that, it was a very fun experience with my cohort!

Tell us about your Business Mastery Project?

My Business Mastery Project was sourced through the Careers and Professional Development Team. was delighted to be selected by Unilever to work in their e-commerce area.

The project taught me how to think outside of the box and about the all the additional services you can provide to improve the consumer experience. While this is a project you undertake alone, I was able to lean on my cohort for advice and questions.

Working with a FTSE 100 company in my final project was incredibly helpful in my job search and interview process and impressed potential future employers.

What careers support did you receive throughout the programme?

The Careers and Professional Team design and deliver courses that enhance the professional skills that employers expect from MBAs. The Advanced Presentation Skills, Executive Presence and Leadership Communication workshops taught me how create an effective impact when building new corporate relationships and I was able to put those skills into use straight away in the myriad of networking opportunities on and off campus.

There were a lot of networking opportunities and I enjoyed all the events. Through the Careers Team’s corporate and networking events, I made many personal and professional connections that I still keep in touch with and I truly believe networking is the best way to secure a job.

Tell us about your career since graduating?

Post-graduation, I joined Lil’Goodness, a children-focused food and nutrition startup in India. I enjoyed the ability to move around— I joined as the Product Lead and then shifted to a business development role.

I reached out to the CEO on LinkedIn. The specific job I applied to didn’t match my interests, but the CEO liked my passion, attitude and skillet. After two interviews, he created a role for me.

The strategy knowledge and customer relationship-building are two core skills I learned during the MBA that I apply currently. The soft skills I acquired on the MBA, such as teamwork, patience, motivating a team and thinking on my feet are all skills I used daily. I also often thought back to my strategy module and the way it taught us to be open to thinking in news ways to solve problems.

Having gained the confidence and the skills I was looking for, I have since returned to my baking startup iBakeIt Bakery and am delighted to be focusing on scaling up my business.

What tips would you offer to anyone considering studying the Full-time MBA?

To anyone considering studying the Full-time MBA, I would say to go for it! It was hands down one of the best years of my life. Stay open-minded to learn as much as you can. Be adaptable and ready to run with the pace of the MBA.