MBA Stories: Part 45. Viola Wang

 Viola graduated from the University of Bath with an MBA. She now works for a high profile aviation It company. She says the most interesting thing she learnt is how she learnt from others, and the practices of entrepreneurship.

Explain your current role.
I work for a high profile aviation IT company within a world leading security group. I am a senior sales manager in charge of projects in Asia.

When and where did you achieve your MBA?
I received my MBA from the University of Bath in 2013. 

What is the most interesting thing you learnt from your MBA?
Being surrounded by 20 different cultures and a large range of professional backgrounds was a priceless experience for me to learn from others. Academically, I particularly enjoyed the entrepreneurial practice module as it inspired me to think outside of the box. Although it was just a module, we treated it as a real business, and came up with lots of ideas. The module taught not only academic theories but also provided practical exercises. During the entrepreneurial competition, we were challenged by real investors. Their questions were intriguing, helpful, and provided new angles to make me think and foresee real business problems. Today, I have a small fashion business alongside my professional life, and before I make any decisions, I still ask myself those same questions the investors challenged us on during my MBA.

How has the MBA made a difference to your career path and leadership journey?
It will be hard to imagine where I would be today if I hadn’t undertaken the MBA. During the career module, one of the visiting lecturers asked: ‘Do you want to change your location or the industry / industry sector, or both?’ I chose both, and I did it.  

The journey wasn’t smooth and the benefits didn’t show immediately. I really needed time to settle down and find a new career target, as well as digesting all the knowledge from the courses.  It was very difficult to find a job in the UK and I never thought I would succeed.  Luckily, I found my first job in the UK during my dissertation. It was to help a UK company working with a big Chinese household electricity devices manufacturer and I focused on the Chinese market sales estimation. Later, I used my network and found my current job. However, it was quite difficult to settle in as a salesperson, a role which has been dominated by men in the past. Luckily, I have received great support from my company and colleagues, and my previous professional experience and work ethic helped me navigate these challenges. Although the MBA only lasted one year, I learnt a lot, especially about how to work with people from different cultural backgrounds, and understanding the business in the western world. More importantly, I see more and more opportunities between the East and West. This has made me who I am today.