Udaya Adhikara is a London Met MBA alumnus from Nepal now working as Director, Marketing and Strategy for Cigna. We talk to him about the highlights of his time in London on his MBA course.
What were your first impressions of London, and what made you choose our MBA programme?
When I visited London for the first time, I was fascinated by the city’s diversity and cosmopolitan lifestyle. I was drawn toward London Metropolitan University because it provided me with a unique opportunity to design an MBA programme that would help me achieve my long term career goals. The course offered a progressive blend of academic and practitioner perspectives so what I learned ten years ago is extensively relevant in today’s marketplace. I was lucky enough to get an international merit scholarship award from the University.
How was the study abroad experience?
Studying abroad in London thousands of miles away from home gave me the freedom to choose and make my own decisions. The idea of self-survival made me a responsible person because asking for financial support from home was not a reasonable option. Working odd jobs, saving for food and rent, going out with friends or simply staying up all night studying – to me, these were all part of an exhilarating process of growing up. Frankly speaking, there was never a dull moment.
What benefits did you gain from studying the MBA?
Studying at London Met changed my life. At the University, I quickly realised that the architect who shapes my future was myself and the investment I made in laying a robust foundation would ensure a better career for me in years to come. The University presented a wide variety of programme choices and brilliant teachers to learn from. The students came from all walks of life and from around the world which facilitated a global perspective on the MBA programme.
The most meaningful aspect of my programme was the dissertation I wrote post-MBA on 'Building Brands through Aesthetics,' which really transformed my understanding of modern-day consumer behaviour. I led and developed customer and business surveys to support the research objectives in my MBA dissertation. This hands-on experience helped me later in my career to think more broadly, write compelling business cases, marketing and product launch plans. Being a sociable person by nature, I did a lot of networking outside of university and that further strengthened my relationship-building skills. I was also part of the international student welcome team where I volunteered to share my experience of the MBA programme to new students. This was a pretty good way to meet new friends and make new contacts.
What is your current role?
Currently, I work as a segment director of marketing and strategy for a Fortune 200 health care company based in the US, with 80 million customer relations worldwide. The education I received at London Met helped me understand modern-day consumers, their needs and evolving behaviour as well as changing business models. I was able to demonstrate how an undifferentiated industry like healthcare in the US can build consumer brands that would resonate with all segments of the demographic. This made me appealing to healthcare employers and over time, I became part of a team that now helps define a Fortune 200 company’s brand.
The thing I miss the most about my student life at London Met is 'learning with intensity' – I was hungry for knowledge (there is no better way to put it). It is that discipline and passion I had ten years ago around learning that still propels me today. I also miss the freedom, social life, meeting new people every day, and most importantly the obsession around “uncertainties of life” – Where will I be in five years, ten years? Who will I be? What will I do?
I plan to continue the work I am doing right now hoping one day to become a better leader that will inspire others. I want to learn more, apply more, and grow more. The time I spent at London Met has instilled a discipline and passion towards accomplishing my dreams in the face of uncertainties and I hope this will continue to drive me forward in the days to come.
Do you have any advice for international students hoping to study abroad?
I would advise others hoping to study abroad to dream big and remain passionate. There will be let downs, there will be struggles but do not give up hope. Where there is hope, there is everything.