The Aston Business School Q&A
Mohammed Rilwan grew up in Sri Lanka, worked in Dubai and always dreamed of studying in the UK. Have his experiences lived up to his expectations?
What stage of your studies are you at now?
I started in September last year (2009) and I’m nearly finished. I only have to hand in my project now.
Where did you grow up?
I am from Sri Lanka, but I have actually spent the last few years working for Exact Software in Dubai.
What led you to the UK?
It has been a dream of mine since I was young to experience UK student life. However I kept delaying my MBA due to work pressures, but coming to the UK was always a long-term plan.
I’d experienced the UK education system through previous examinations, so I knew that I would be able to adapt in the UK with ease, academically speaking.
What professional experience have you had prior to studying at Aston Business School?
I worked in IT for ERP (Enterprise, Resource and Planning). IT was an upcoming market at the time, and it still is. I have had 10 years experience in this field, with both ERP and Cutting Edge Solutions and it has allowed me to get experience of consultancy and to understand corporate business.
What is the greatest thing you have discovered at Aston Business School?
As I am currently coming to the end of my MBA the best thing for me has been opportunities in the UK Market. The company that I worked for previously, in Dubai have a UK base of operations, and it is through gaining an MBA that I’ll be able to work for them here and rise through the company.
The best thing that the MBA has done for my personal development is to bring together my 10 years of experience and training. I have worked in marketing and sales and accounting as well, I have CIMA, so the MBA has really helped me to connect to the dots.
Have there been any classes at Aston Business School that have really stood out for you?
The Advanced Strategy Topics class was really great for me. It really opened my eyes and taught me to think from a strategic point of view. Before I would never make a decision until I was certain I had all the information available, but this class has taught me that in business you can never have the complete picture, so you have to act as best you can with the information you have. The most important thing I learned from this class is how to move forward decisively.
One of the best things the business school has done has been to organise talks with various people in industry. For example the CEO of Jaguar came in and talked about how he has had to make his company adapt to the recession. These kinds of things have been great educationally.
How has the social experience at Aston Business School been?
Both the university and the business school organise a lot of social events so it’s really easy to feel like part of a community both in Aston and Birmingham as a whole. There are opportunities to socialise with undergraduates, postgraduates and many other people
What are your career goals?
My major objective is to get into general management in a multinational corporation. Given my background in marketing and business development, combined with my CIMA and MBA I am really looking forward to moving forward. The MBA has allowed me to say I’ve got these 3 areas of experience, a multi-skilled profile that will let me move forward.
What really sets you apart from the crowd?
The feedback from my colleagues has always been that I have a lot of character: I’m quite charismatic! So I’m easy to work with in a team…I can be decisive as a leader but still accommodate people.
Also I’ve got a real passion for teaching, I’d even list it as one of my hobbies alongside cricket and meditation, I really like to help other people learn and get them on the right track.
This has been good here at Aston, especially at exam time, my friends and I have been able to work together, in fact a lot of them call me up to check facts and make sure they’re on the right track.
Is there anything you would like to add about your experience at Aston Business School?
Yes, I have to say that the staff at all levels have been really helpful, the teachers are really accessible and always willing to give you their time or hold extra sessions if there are a few students that don’t understand something. They really go out of their way. The administration and coordination staff have been really helpful and friendly too.