As I travel to Tuscany in Italy, sitting by the window in the train, looking out at the picturesque hills, it seems an ideal time for me to write about all things Cranfield, to appreciate and reminisce about the journey so far and look forward to what lies ahead, as we usher in 2018. If I were to describe my journey to Cranfield in one sentence, I would say that it has been a rare transition – one from the glitzy fashion runways to the serene countryside of Cranfield! Quite unheard of generally, my profession just prior to arriving at Cranfield was that of a fashion model. Life until a few months ago was all about runway shows, shoots galore and everything high fashion. Prior to this, I worked as an SAP Analyst for Cognizant Technology Solutions, India, which is one of the world’s leading providers of IT services, for a period of three years. Having done a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering, a technical job profile seemed to be the ‘in’ thing; however, it is during this period that I discovered that my true calling is management and this is the direction I would eventually want to steer my career in.
My primary purpose for pursuing a Master’s in Management was to bridge the gap between the practical skills that I acquired at work and the knowledge that I need to acquire to be a global manager. I wanted to equip myself with a thorough understanding of the latest market trends and management principles, to provide well-rounded managerial solutions in a competitive and ever-changing corporate environment. I opted for a generalist Master’s course over a specialist MSc, because I wanted to explore different Management areas and not restrict myself to just one area, right at the outset of my Management career.
The first time I heard of Cranfield was while looking up universities online. Cranfield School of Management featured in the Palmes 4 Excellence list, with a recommendation of 313 percent. To put it in simpler words, it featured right at the top of the list as a UK Business School with significant global influence, which is what a Palmes 4 Excellence ranking stands for. Even before I had gone to the Cranfield website and applied for the course, I instinctively knew that this was where I was going to end up. Today, I would call it destiny!
The best part of the Cranfield MSc in Management course is that it provides a three month paid internship in a company towards the end of the course. This was a critical factor in accepting the admission offer, since there can be nothing better than having practical management experience, even before the start of my career. An internship can be exceptionally beneficial to students, even more so to those without any prior work experience. This provides a foundation not just to put their acquired management skills to the test, but also for students to acclimatise themselves to the corporate culture and workings of an organisation.
A typical day at Cranfield for an MSc Management student is attending between four and eight hours of classes, five days a week. This can vary across terms, but is at least what it largely looks like. This is followed by personal subject reading, either in MIRC (the Management Information Research Centre in School of Management) or in the Kings Norton Library and when the winter gets severe, I prefer to study in the comfort of my bed, snuggled up inside a blanket with a cup of coffee to keep me awake! It is pertinent to note that the classes are practice-oriented – there are activities and/or simulations to facilitate deeper understanding of concepts. I personally think that this is ideal as theoretical content can be forgotten, but practical study and experiences are hard to forget.
Speaking of content, in the technologically advanced age that we live in, any information on the course is just a few clicks away. But what makes Cranfield stand out in any of its courses is its network – the network formed by the alumni and professors who have years of expertise and experience in their respective subject areas. It is this expertise and the strong leadership vibes that our professors bring to class and this is what we imbibe from them, inculcate in ourselves and will eventually incorporate in our careers. The professors are very approachable, non-judgemental and a delight to be taught by – what more can a student ask for? For instance, our Course Director Professor Michael Dickmann is a specialist on Human Resources Management (HRM) and has authored several books on the subject. He might just be my go-to person just prior to a job interview, for it always helps to get tips straight from someone who knows it better than we do. Also, the Cranfield alumni network is extremely vast and is beneficial in establishing connections and can be the gateway to several opportunities in the future.
The Cranfield MSc Management cohort is a mixed bag with students from different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities. Each has had a different journey and will continue having a different one down the line. But, we all are at a common station for a year, learning from each other, growing together and standing for Unity in Diversity at its best.
It is not all work and no play for students at Cranfield. There are lots of recreational activities on campus, from different sports like basketball, football, badminton to gym, dancing, yoga, etc. There is also the Cranfield Students’ Associaton (CSA) that organises several activities throughout the year. Personally for me, hitting the gym after a long day is a great stress buster. There have been times that I have worked out past 10pm at night and it energises me like nothing else. Playing a sport or indulging in some form of physical activity each day charges us up and we study better, as it is a healthy body that houses a healthy mind. Students of different nationalities also form their own informal associations that helps them get together to celebrate their national festivals and other fun events. For instance, the Indian Association celebrated Diwali this year and it was a truly memorable experience: the feeling of home away from home in all its entirety. So, there is something for everyone here at Cranfield.
There are a few pointers that prospective students should consider while applying to Cranfield, be it for a Management M.Sc and/or any other course offered by the University:
- Firstly, the peaceful location of Cranfield tucked away in the countryside is extremely conducive to study and this decision to live slightly away from London or a bigger city is a personal choice one must make, based on self-aspirations and lifestyle.
- Secondly, studying at Cranfield is hard work and the Management MSc or any other course here will work for you, if and only if you work for it. Nothing comes closer to the real thing than this.
- Thirdly, do not be perturbed, especially if the Master’s in Management MSc course at Cranfield does not feature in common university rankings. Being a solely postgraduate university, the benchmarks are very different and there is no competition with undergraduate universities. This does not mean that it doesn’t match up to the ‘top ranked’ universities. I can personally vouch for this, as I have myself turned down five ‘top-ranked’ university offers to be at Cranfield and not once have I regretted doing so.
- Last but not the least, the decision to study abroad is a very crucial one. Several months of planning and thinking go into it. If at any juncture, you are sceptical about your decision, be reminded that this is an investment of your time and efforts, not just into your career but into overall self-development. Having lived away from home for the very first time, I just like my peers have discovered facets of my personality that I was unaware of until a few months ago. An international study is a life changing experience and leaves you transformed forever, in more ways than one. The person you were and the person you become at the end of this period are never going to be the same.
As I go on to explore the Tuscan hills now, I cannot wait to get back to Cranfield, meet all my friends after the winter break and see what the New Year at Cranfield has in store for me! Ciao! 😊