Ellen Xuan
Full-time MBA (2020-21)

Tell us a bit about yourself 
I like staying curious about the world, challenging myself with different things, and learning a new skill to fuel my passion of life. For example, I spent six months learning Spanish since I would like to get close to local people when I travelling to Spain.  The MBA programme is a new challenge in my life, as I needed to come to a halt and go back to university after working for years.

What first attracted you to Warwick Business School?
I was attracted by Warwick Business School's reputation since it is widely recognized by many firms, meaning I could potentially access more connections in through the school. Additionally, the programme structure attracted me, as it provided very pragmatic core modules such as LeadershipPlus and marketing. Plus, there was a wide range of electives, which could enable me to specialise in my areas of interest such as various financial modules.

What is it like studying for an MBA?
Undertaking an MBA is like playing a team-based game. If you want to get a higher score, you need to spend more time in building up connections with the team and making more effective conversations. During my MBA study, most modules required us to have group discussions. If we wanted our proposed ideas to stand out, we needed to divide our work to each person based on our strengths to ensure high quality outputs. Also, we needed to have cross discussions to provide fresh and creative ideas on each part of the work. After three terms completing group work, I realised a highly efficient group can easily beat the challenge either in work or in games. 

Have you taken part in a project for an external organisation? 
During my MBA, I have been excited, together with my cohorts, to work for an organisation in the LeadershipPlus module. In the module project, my cohorts and I needed to provide a new business plan to help clients leverage their business. I enjoyed this experience so much as it provided me with a great opportunity to connect implement my academic learnings in real life situations. From market research, meeting with clients to designing the business plan, we had many discussions. Although there are were some disagreements that happened during the building of the business plan, effective communication allowed us to design the best business plan for our client. Working in a supportive group, I felt I grew very fast.

Has the Leadership module had an impact on your leadership style?  
Personally, the Leadership module was very pragmatic and allowed us to think of issues in the real world. Module simulation highlighted how to address the relationship between colleagues, the top management, and partners. Thus, this real practice, I think, will have a significant influence on my personal managerial skills in the future. It will especially affect my communication skills and the power of observation. Good communication skills can help me build effective work teams and increase team member engagement. The power of observation will encourage me to better understand my colleagues and put myself in their shoes, which helps tie people together to work on same the objective to improve productivity.

What kind of support have you receive from the careers team?
Career consultancy and the career development programme were intriguing as they made me rethink my career path and practice my interview skills. Career consultancy helped me build a reasonable career plan and linked me to people who work in the industry. By talking to people in career consultancy, I learned how to design a reasonable plan to adapt to the current job market and how to source and establish networks through external sources and internal sources (alumni) to ensure I speak to “right person”. With their help, I have known found alumna working in financial industry where I would like to enter post MBA. In addition, the interview practice is another thing I would applaud, as it helped me to identify my weaknesses and avoid unnecessary mistakes in the interview process.

Can you tell us about your career plans? What’s next for you?
I would like to switch my career to investment banking, working as financial analyst at the beginning. To achieve this goal, I have used the available resources at WBS to gain insights in financial knowledge. For example, I have selected all the electives in finance such as corporate finance, and investment & risk management. Additionally, I attended various financial events arranged by WBS or from other external sources to enhance my understanding of investment banking industry. I have started to apply jobs in this industry and I believe my transferable skills from MBA and accumulated financial knowledge will bring an opportunity.

Do you have any advice for anyone currently thinking about studying for an MBA?
I would say MBA is definitely a great experience to grow as a person. Not only does is provide leadership skills and business principles, but also stronger professional network and access to job opportunities. If you are looking for a career change, the MBA is a good choice to explore new industries, as different modules can equip you with new knowledge to better fit the new role. Also, if you would like to accelerate your career path, the MBA can provide professional development and leverage your skills so that you can access more senior roles at your current company.