Ernest Akatue, MSc Finance graduate
Ernest tells us why he chose Durham, and reveals his plans for the future.
Akansha Agrawal - MSc Management (Finance)
Irreplaceable experiences and connections
I‘m Akansha Agrawal, student at Durham University, UK currently pursuing Master’s in Management (Finance). Being an enthusiastic learner throughout my finance career, I have experience working in the field of accountancy and finance in India as an auditor and a consultant.
We began this year with a lot of uncertainties. We weren’t sure about being offered the ‘International Study Tour’ module because of travel restrictions. Nonetheless, some of the optimists amongst us (one being me!) chose the module with hopes of a better future.
Within a week, the Business School team informed us that a complimentary, virtual study tour would be offered. Keeping all the past doubt aside, I was very excited to attend the virtual study tour!
The five day study tour introduced us to companies in France and Spain. Simply in front of my laptop screen, I interacted with some of the most inspiring leaders of my life.
The tour started with Ernst & Young’s (EY) Europe, Middle East, India & Africa activation leader from Paris who introduced the impact of Covid-19 in decision making, operations and strategy in multinational corporations or companies (MNCs). Being an amateur in the field of geopolitical business groups, I was amazed to learn that EY and similar organisations have such dedicated departments. It made me look at my career growth through a different perspective.
I was introduced to Havas Blockchain’s strategic consultant who outlined the revolutionising technology integration with financial sector and global economy. Along with the industry point of view, I also had an opportunity to communicate with a professor from the University of Barcelona who discussed the opportunities that Spain grabbed through Catalonia.
The tour then focused on the challenges faced by the European banking sector, and how banks such as CaixaBank are leaning towards innovation and growth with local talent and technology. The tour ended with a cutting-edge presentation on how technology solves daily issues. The discussion was held by the Executive Vice-President of Atos who instilled in me the eagerness to learn more about the ‘digital transformation’ in the global economy.
What really mattered to me was the one on one conversations with the industry professionals. From the beginning of the tour, the Business School team encouraged us to ask questions to the presenters, which made the tour very interactive. I asked them about the attractive career paths in my interested field of finance and consultancy.
Meeting a remarkable female strategist, a blockchain expert and the leaders of the bank who enabled Europe’s digital transformation, the study tour not only intrigued me to learn more about the upcoming areas of business, but also introduced me to various new departments in existing industries which I had no idea about.
My initial inhibitions of the conduct of the study tour were futile as I had an amazing learning experience. Despite the pandemic, the study trip was made available and the knowledge I ended up gaining has been irreplaceable. It would be difficult to engage personally with such exceptionally knowledgeable leaders and the Business School team successfully organised the virtual trip to make it possible.
I’d like to thank the team for their efforts and continuous support throughout the trip. It was a wonderful, one-of-a-kind experience and I would encourage every student to get involved and grab an opportunity like this!
MSc Management (Supply Chain Logistics), 2014-15
Coming from a law background, I only had a vague idea about what SCM is. At Durham University, SCM is taught in three different classes: Operations & Supply Chain Management, Green Supply Chain & Logistics Systems and Global Supply Chain Leadership. These courses link to each other to enable students to understand and analyse the field from a broader perspective.
The main personal benefits of taking these courses were, on the one hand, getting an insight into an area that I had little knowledge of, and, on the other, gaining the competence to write my dissertation in the field of procurement.
The classes are designed to be truly interactive. Case studies had to be prepared each week, which is a chance to get insights into the “real business world”. In each class or seminar we would come back to these cases and relate them to the academic background.
My lecturers were very dynamic, which allowed for a true exchange during class. Instead of simply giving students facts, lecturers challenged students to come up with innovative ideas and think one step further. In my opinion this approach is especially brought to life in the class of Green SCM & Logistic Systems as it connects SCM and sustainability, a young yet important factor for future supply chains.
Assignments were always very practical, which was challenging but important and rewarding. The knowledge gained in all SCM classes did not only benefit my dissertation but eventually also helped me to secure a job in the SCM world. I would take all of the classes again and can recommend the module to everyone who is looking for a broad, practical and interactive insight into the topic of SCM.