Gunel studied the full-time General MBA in 2010, having relocated from Azerbaijan where she had held a variety of high-level finance related posts.
‘I had a lot of good business experience working for companies in Baku and at the Sangachal Oil and Gas Terminal on the Caspian Sea. Most recently I worked as Finance and Logistics Manager for a pharmaceuticals company F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, but the majority of my career was taken up with senior management and finance positions in the big oil and gas industry multinationals. I enjoyed the jobs I had at ExxonMobil, BP and Petrofac, but whilst I was working for Roche I began to think about where my career was going next.'
‘I started to think about moving to UK and studying a business masters degree – I felt I wanted to do something that would give me a little more variety in my CV and to gain some new areas of strength aside from finance. I looked around at what MBA courses were available - I wanted to live in East Anglia and was attracted to the full-time MBA at UEA because of the emphasis they put upon consultancies. I was thinking that the customary MBA modules would strengthen my existing management skills and the out-of- the-ordinary consultancy modules would give me an entirely new set of skills.'
‘For the first time, I was beginning to wonder what it would be like to run my own business. The UEA MBA was going to give me the skill set to do just that –the course also offered a dual diploma in Management Consultancy from CMI / IBC -the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Consulting. I decided to apply and as it happens, it worked out very well for me.'
‘The MBA was not always easy for me – you have to work hard to study at masters level. I am fluent in Azerbaijani, English, Russian and Turkish, but English is not my first language and besides, I had to leave my family at home in Azerbaijan without seeing them for months at a time.'
‘In our second consultancy module on the course, Morston Assets, a property investment and development company, commissioned a research paper from UEA on entrepreneurship in Norfolk. Luckily I was chosen to be leader on this project and it was particularly successful for me as I was offered a job with Morston Assets upon its completion! Until a few months ago I was Operations Manager there, supervising a team of seven people and managing the operations of their business centres at Kings Lynn, Gateshead and Nantwich.'
‘Now that I have some experience of working in the UK and I have all the consultancy skills learning fresh in my mind from the MBA, I have decided to take the plunge and start my own business. I had an idea to start up a multilingual website for Azerbaijanis to get in touch with each other. I wrote a business plan and had it checked over by one my consultancy skills tutors at the business school.'
‘Now it seems I've got everything in place to get my new business up and running. It's a big step for me of course, it will mean an entirely new way of earning a living. But with all the ideas from my recent MBA as well as all the new experiences I've had since graduating, I feel I've got everything I need to make it work.'