Meghan Bell, BSc Business Management with Year in Industry
Why did you apply to the University of Birmingham?
I spent so much time travelling up and down the country looking at universities, but as soon as I came to UoB it just felt right. The campus was beautiful, the course sounded fantastic and the whole university felt sociable and like a fun place to be.
What do you enjoy most about your course here at Birmingham?
Personally, my favourite aspect of my course is the variety that it offers. The beauty of a management course is that lectures and modules are so varied, meaning you get a great breadth of knowledge across multiple business areas. Day to day I could easily have lectures in marketing, finance and procurement, which is quite a mix! This diversity has really helped me in the working world, as it’s given me a much better understanding and appreciation of how other business functions work.
In a slightly different way I enjoy the course because it’s in Birmingham. Before starting university I’d only been to the city once or twice, but now it’s become my home. Birmingham is such a friendly, vibrant city with so much to see and do. Having access to both the city and some of the amazing green space/parks nearby has made studying here even better!
What do you find challenging, and why?
As a result of being such a varied course, it means that you must be able to adapt quickly to different ways of learning (ie some courses are analytical, some are creative and others are theoretical). Being able to do this alongside a large workload can be a challenge at time, so I’ve definitely had to stay organised and not leave any work to the last minute!
What do you think of the learning experience?
The learning experience is great. My modules are often a mix of lectures and seminars which is nice as you get the opportunity to work in both large and small groups. The Year in Industry aspect is an incredible addition to the course and I would wholeheartedly recommend that people chose to have this extra year as what you learn is invaluable!
Would you recommend this course to others?
Absolutely! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on this course so far. Whilst it has been very challenging at times, it’s been a great experience. To have the opportunity to learn about so many business disciplines and then apply them in a placement year has been invaluable on both a personal level and as part of my career development.
Can you tell us about what you did during your work placement?
For my YINI I was fortunate enough to secure a marketing placement with Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS), a new business formed as a result of GSK selling off the drinks division of the company.
For my placement, I was put in the Orangina brand team. Whilst I had happened to work in marketing in the drinks industry before, I had never worked in a brand before, so this was a fantastic new opportunity. Orangina is one of the smaller brands owned by LRS, meaning that my team was quite small and subsequently the work load and responsibility was very high.
Very early on in my placement I was given high levels of responsibility, such as budget management, leading post launch reviews and managing the Trade PR for the brand. In addition to this I was also asked to lead two new product launches for the year- the Limited Edition Orangina Bikini bottles and the Upside Down can. With the bikini bottles being our biggest launch of the year, I felt a lot of responsibility to execute it well and at times this pressure was overwhelming given I was pretty much new to the industry! The role involved working with external designers and managing internal functions such as supply chain, finance, sales and planning to ensure that the product was executed effectively.
I’m so grateful to have been able to lead projects that were not only hugely impactful for the brand, but also way above a typical ‘placement’ job role. I can’t underestimate the value that this year has offered me. On a personal level, I have grown in confidence and worked on things far beyond my expectations- being able to see my bottles on shelves in supermarkets was so amazing and made all the hard work feel worth it! The responsibility of this year has also made me feel extremely well prepared to enter the world of work as a graduate.
Would you have any advice for future students joining Birmingham Business School?
My biggest bit of advice would be to take every opportunity that you get. You never know what may come from it on both a personal or professional level.
In addition to that, don’t ever be afraid to ask questions no matter how silly they may seem, as this is only to your detriment. If you’re in a seminar and something doesn’t make sense don’t keep quiet- say something! After all you’re probably asking what everyone else is thinking.
What are your plans for after graduation?
My year in industry confirmed that marketing is the subject area that I truly love, especially in the FMCG industry. As such after graduation I am hoping to either return to LRS on their graduate scheme, or to get another role within the field. Ideally I would love to find a role in which I could travel, but competition for these kinds of jobs are extremely tough. However I’m hoping that the experience I have gained on my year out will hold me in good stead to secure something.