MBE Student 2016-2017
Sybella Namirembe first travelled to the UK from Uganda in 2013 to study for a BEng in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Portsmouth. Having gained a first-class honours degree there, we asked her why she chose to stay in Britain. “I was undecided at first,” she said. “But my first degree had a narrow focus and could only really lead to jobs in the oil industry. I wanted to diversify my knowledge and explore new horizons and opportunities in other sectors, so I decided to take a masters course while I was here. I realised that if I went back home and started work, it would be much harder to return to full-time study.”
Sybella is particularly interested in management and considered taking an MBA course, but felt that an MSc would give her a more practical grounding. She already knew of Warwick’s high ranking and reputation – and friends recommended the university to her. “When I looked into the Management for Business Excellence programme,” she said, “I could see that its mix of key leadership, technology and business management themes was exactly what I wanted.
“I loved the campus as soon as I arrived,” Sybella continued. “It’s so green and beautiful, almost like a self-contained village. The staff were all helpful and the induction was great, giving me a good overview of what to expect and what was expected of me.”
The freedom to explore
As she began to talk about her course, it became clear that Sybella particularly enjoyed the research element of it. “I loved having the freedom to explore new things – to read, analyse, think critically about issues and constantly reflect on what I had learned. I was continually challenged and encouraged to seek out new and different ways of looking at things. That was wonderful.
“The biggest challenge was learning how to write my assignments. My background is more numerical and dealing with data, so this was quite new to me. My tutors were very supportive though and it became easier and easier as my writing skills improved.”
Sybella also stressed the practical focus of the programme: “That was something I noticed right from the first module. It wasn’t just theoretical learning. The group exercises and simulations meant that you could put the theory to work so solve actual business issues. That way, you don’t just absorb information, but find out how to apply it, which is extremely valuable.
“Something else valuable was the opportunity to share the WMG experience with people from around the world. It was fascinating to find out about their different viewpoints, outlooks and experiences. Working in teams with them was very stimulating and will definitely be useful in a global working environment. It was also nice from a social aspect: students would host dinners so we could all get together and try their own country’s food. It was a lot of fun.”
When she finishes her MSc course, Sybella is unsure whether she will stay in the UK to gain some working experience or return to Uganda right away. She is more certain of her longer-term goal though. “There is so much I have learned that I know will benefit organisations in Uganda,” she said. “I would like to launch my own management consultancy to share that knowledge. Also, my dissertation is looking at how organisational culture can help Ugandan SMEs achieve business excellence, so I’m planning to implement that thinking to help companies thrive.”