MBE Graduate 2014-2015
"A year of transformation"
Before joining WMG in 2014, Saisha Singh held various roles in property management in London. “It was something I fell into, to be honest,” she said. “I enjoyed many aspects of it, particularly the client liaison, but I found the work to be quite repetitive. I wanted to stretch myself, break out, grow and develop in new areas. Above all, I wanted to build a skill set that would set me apart.”
So what was it about WMG’s MSc in Management for Business Excellence that attracted her? “The whole idea of ‘excellence’ intrigued me. How could I develop it within myself so I would be able to lead excellence in an organisation? How much would I have to challenge myself and my own mind-set? I was absolutely fascinated, and I felt that this programme would push me, take me forward and help me clearly differentiate myself in the employment market.”
Saisha had previously studied and worked in the heart of London, so moving to Warwick’s open, green and relatively peaceful setting was quite a change, as she explained: “Yes, it was all very different! I was used to the hustle and bustle of city life and I wondered how I would fit in at first. The campus is extremely calming and conducive to study though. Even during times of stress, it was wonderful to walk out into all of that nature, breathe deeply and ground myself.”
Saisha went on to talk about how the culture at WMG surprised her. “I loved it. The whole atmosphere encourages you to open up your thinking and challenge everything about yourself. You feel free to explore and find out who you really are. It also encourages you to think differently and look at things in ways that no-one ever has before. I’d never experienced anything like it and I know this might sound like a cliché, but it really was amazing.”
On to the course itself than, which Saisha described as a ‘year of transformation’. We asked her to explain exactly what she meant. “The programme was definitely challenging – I would have been disappointed if it wasn’t! But the experience completely changed the way I face challenges. That was a huge thing. Everyone knows that they will face problems in the workplace, but it’s how you tackle them that matters. I learned how to face them head on, knowing that I have the toolkit to get over them. At the same time, I discovered how valuable it is to be open to critique and other pathways.
“Each of the modules was outstanding in its own right. Together they helped me build a deep and well-rounded understanding of leadership, business and technology. More than that though, they gave me the confidence to know that I can go out into industry, challenge conventional thinking about management and drive change.”
Developing a new framework
Saisha worked to develop her dissertation through her whole year at WMG. For the subject, she utilised her passion for brands to explore how brand extensions can be successfully created. “Research has shown that 84% of brand extensions fail,” she explained. “So I decided to work towards developing a new brand extension framework to support companies in reducing the likelihood of failure and contribute towards the journey of achieving excellence.
“Developing the project was an absorbing process as I researched the interlinked relationship between the brand and its extension – and took cues from consumer reactions to past successes and failures. I was over the moon when I found I had been awarded a distinction!”
After leaving WMG, Saisha joined her family’s wine distribution business in a marketing consultancy role, which again allowed her interest in branding to come to the fore. Amongst other projects, she was asked to look at the problems the business was facing as it attempted to roll out a new wine. “It was brilliant timing. I was able to put my dissertation project to work and test it out extensively as I mapped out the process of extending the brand with the new product. The roll out was hugely successful too, which was fantastic.”
Believe in yourself
So what advice would Saisha give to anyone thinking of studying for a master’s at WMG? “Just jump in, grasp the transformational experience and embrace the opportunity to grow,” she said. “Right at the start, our course supervisor told out that we would be challenged – even maybe scared at times - as we would be taken well outside our comfort zones. You have to drive through that fear in the knowledge that you will reach a solution if you use the tools you are given. Whatever the challenge, you can and will meet it if you just believe in yourself and work through it.”
Before we finished, Saisha wanted to give a special mention to her fellow students. “We were like a family, all working together and helping, supporting and pushing each other. It was great to work in teams with people from all around the world. That really develops your ability to empathise with others and see things from different perspectives, which is a very valuable skill to have in the workplace. We keep in touch now and I’ll sometimes call someone to get their take on something. The network of shared knowledge that we built is wonderful.”