Case study

MBA graduate — Durga Desai

After achieving a law degree in India, Durga decided to pursue an MBA as an international student at Cardiff Business School, part of Cardiff University

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

As cliché as it sounds, I wanted to broaden my horizons. My entire educational background was from India. It was always my dream to earn a Masters degree from a prestigious foreign university, to experience a different educational system and assess my capabilities in a new environment.

Why did you choose this institution?

It is a Russell Group university as well as a well-recognised business school. The course-curriculum also seemed interesting to me, introducing me to different aspects of business.

Even though I had business experience, it seemed important to stay abreast with international standards and practices. Moreover, the session held by the university for offer holders was informative and inviting compared to the other universities I had received acceptance from. Cardiff had its own charm that made my decision easier.

How did you fund your MBA?

Through an educational loan and support from my parents. The importance of a good education is valued in the middle-class Indian household I come from. Thus, I was lucky to have all the support I needed. I was also offered two scholarships that contributed to a significant part of my tuition fees.

What did you learn from the course?

An evidence-based research-oriented approach was required in all assessments. This had an impact on how you make your arguments more convincing and heard.

It opened up my perspective making it more malleable to different thoughts, ideas, technologies and changing industry standards. It improved my critical thinking and analytical skills. It also helped to develop my soft skills and made me more confident as a young professional.

The MBA curriculum is designed in such a way that barring the 'Accelerator Project', all other subjects are assessed in a group setting with a weighting of 40-50% of the module. This introduced me to the challenges of working in a team and helped sharpen my leadership skills.

My confidence was further boosted as my abilities were being tested individually while being assessed by internationally-acclaimed professors.

How was the course assessed?

The course consists of seven modules divided into individual and group assignments. The candidate gets to work on a live project and is assigned a professor as a guide. Studying one module at a time (the programme is designed in such a way) helped me to focus and contribute better.

What networking opportunities did the course provide?

We could attend breakfast briefings organised by the business school. Additionally, each module leader tried to bring in an authority from the industry related to the subject taught.

What support did you receive during the programme?

The business school has its own team dedicated to supporting you with resources such as improving your CV, tailoring it to your needs and helping you prepare for interviews. They continue to offer their services for two years following graduation.

What have you been doing since graduation, and what are your career ambitions?

I've been working in my family business - a transport company founded by my father. I am a second-generation businesswoman managing administration, sales, finance and process implementation. We are an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) and my dream for the company is to achieve an Rs 100 crore (£9.5million) turnover in the next three to five years.

On a personal level, I am a creative individual. In the last year, I've started voiceovers and dubbing and have my own YouTube channel. This is my passion project and I plan to start my own podcast in the future. As a country, India is a melting pot of cultures. Our history, heritage and culture needs to be documented and preserved.

I have multiple projects in mind where I hope to showcase them on a global level. I believe that as an entrepreneur you have to wear multiple hats and not let any one thing define you.

What advice do you have for others considering an MBA?

You need to be clear on what your priorities are. You need to know what you want from the MBA. Do you have the time and resources for it? Measure your return on investment (ROI) based on what your priorities are. As an international student, there are many other factors to consider. You have to be ready for a cultural change as well as a lifestyle change.

Visa status is another major factor to consider, including the cost of the post-study work visa. The challenges and risk involved are now a lot higher. If you think the pay-off is greater than the risk, then I would encourage you to take the plunge. The experience of studying abroad can be very enriching and fulfilling.

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