Studied: MSc Business Information Systems
Place of Work: Systems Technology Group – Ford Motor Company
Why did you pursue a Masters degree?
I will start by letting you know that I have always been an IT geek! I had just completed my undergraduate studies in Computing and I was keen to kick-start my career in the IT field. I asked myself what I imagined I would be happy doing for the rest of my ‘career-life’ and, because I couldn’t readily come up with an answer, I decided to apply for IT internships in the UK, Europe and Asia. I didn’t have to wait long before receiving an offer from an organisation based in Switzerland.
The internship was exactly what I needed to gain an understanding of working in the IT field. I primarily worked with the Development Team, but over the course of the six months, I was encouraged to explore other areas and projects that were of interest to me. I shadowed the Project Managers, as they are responsible for taking on projects to do with generating business and translating business needs into technical requirements. It was during this time I realised that IT isn’t just about technical knowledge but also about people knowledge in equal measure. While my undergraduate degree has equipped me with technical skills, I wanted to find a course that would allow me to marry these technical skills with my people skills. That desire presented itself as the Masters course in Business Information Systems at Royal Holloway.
Tell us about the main project you undertook on the course.
My main project was working on a prototype IT system. It was definitely a challenge but I learned everything that I had hoped to in order to prepare myself for my chosen career path. The project is group-based, and it was immediately apparent that all seven of us weren’t just from different cultural backgrounds, but multi-skilled backgrounds as well. Some were from IT backgrounds, some from Finance, and some fresh out of undergraduate degree courses. Every single person had a unique skill they could bring to the project.
We first identified our key skills so we could divide the group into two sub-teams: the Business Team prepared the business needs and the IT team translated these into technical requirements. Each sub-team was led by a Team Leader, one of whom took on the role of Supervisor and the other as the Project Manager. I was nominated as the Supervisor and thus the main Team Lead, but both roles had distinct responsibilities while spreading out the weight of responsibility amongst the sub-teams. In retrospect, having this kind of leadership proved to be very effective as we managed to deal with many conflicts in a more democratic system.
We then came up with the project. As this project requires a real sponsor, all of the team looked at our contacts from previous work experience to come up with a list of potential projects. After two weeks of debate, we unanimously settled on creating a research system that would be used in the cancer department of a hospital based in Saudi Arabia. The project consisted of analysing the business requirements, translating these into technical requirements, designing the system architecture and producing a wireframe, all of which would be presented at the end of the course.
The project ran as any project would. We came across a number of hiccups with some personality clashes and one unforeseen broken ankle! We made sure that communication was always open between all seven of us, and we built a project around all of our skills so that everyone of us had the opportunity to show-case ourselves through the presentation on the final day. I will always remember this project as it was the first one I had the pleasure to be a part of, from initial concept through to final delivery. Every single challenge and success re-confirmed why this course was exactly what I needed to gain the skills that would help me in my future career.
Tell us about your current role.
I am a Consultant at Systems Technology Group, a Michigan-based consultancy firm. My current client is the European Marketing Department of Ford Motor Company, for whom I am a Business Analyst. My duties include travelling between my UK on-site team and India off-shore team, working closely with the business and business users to understand and articulate their requirements. The best part of my job has to be the travelling! Apart from that, it would be the opportunity I have had to understand how what I learnt in the classroom applies to real-life. After just one year, I am proficient in developing Use Case Models, Behaviour Diagrams and Class Diagrams based on UML methodologies. I have learnt how to translate customer requests and business requirements into specifications and tangible product changes by wireframes and mock-up designs.