Month: March 2019

Studying MSc Insurance and Risk Management at Cass: the Khatib legacy

Reem El Khatib

Prior to my bachelor’s degree in psychology, my father would sit me down and talk to me about the insurance industry’s potential, hoping that one day I would follow his path and that of his brothers. I was, however, fixated on a certain perception that stopped me from delving deeper into this misunderstood field. Upon finishing my bachelor’s, I soon realised that despite my passion for psychology, it was not the right career for me. By that time, I had lost my father and my main source of guidance and advice. I struggled to find a new passion that would give me the same excitement and thrill as that from psychology.

I am lucky enough to come from a family that looks out for each other. Although I lost my father, I had another father figure in my life that I looked up to, my uncle, Wael El Khatib, the Chairman of Lockton MENA. My uncle completed his MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at Cass in 1998. Upon completing his degree, he had unknowingly begun a legacy for the Khatibs to follow. Years later, my cousin, Ata El Khatib, followed in his father’s footsteps and also completed his MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at Cass in 2008. Ata is currently Deputy CEO at Lockton MENA.

I think by now you know where this is heading… Ata was not the last Khatib at Cass.  His brother, Faris, also joined Cass in 2012 and completed the same master’s degree. Faris is currently the head of Employee Benefits at Lockton MENA. Obviously, the list continues… In 2016, Zainab, their sister, also joined Cass. Zainab had a similar background to mine where, despite her bachelor’s in linguistics, she decided to venture into the world of insurance. She joined Liberty Specialty Markets in London, around two years ago, in an underwriting assistant role for the Strategic Assets team.

During my phase of confusion, Zainab spent hours talking to me about the beauty of the insurance industry. She described it as “the field that offers you something new every day, the field that challenges your analytical abilities and forces you to think about the unthinkable.” She helped me overcome the misconceptions and helped me acquire a clearer vision of what I wanted. That’s how the fifth member of the Khatib family joined Cass, as I am currently doing my MSc in Insurance and Risk Management.

Faris, Ata and Wael El Khatib

If it wasn’t for my uncle, I wouldn’t be where I am at right now. He encouraged me to join Cass and supported me in every way. They all told me about the strength of Cass’s education system, their remarkable memories at Cass and the unbreakable friendships that they developed. Hence, I knew that Cass was the place to be. There was always a common story that I heard, a story that described my family’s respect towards our professor, Chris Parsons. Professor Parsons managed to teach every member of my family. In the span of 20 years, he met the father, the sons, the daughter and the niece! Which is crazy if you think about it…

Zainab Khatib’s graduation

I am currently creating my own Cass experience, which so far has been indescribable. Not only have I acquired a new family that is so diverse and caring, I am discovering a world that I had no idea existed. Although I am leaning more towards Risk Management at this point, I am enjoying every aspect of the programme. I can’t deny it, it can be challenging sometimes, but I am definitely receiving the appropriate support and knowledge from my professors to help me overcome the obstacles. It is safe to say that my vision of what I want to do after my master’s is becoming clearer. But for the time being, I am planning to take my time in developing this vision. Every day I am learning something new, every day I am falling in love with a different aspect of this field. But, I am sure that Cass will eventually direct me towards establishing my vision.


Reem El-Khatib, MSc Insurance and Risk Management (2019)

A throwback to my year at Cass

Rushlene Kaur Bakshi, MSc Management (2018)

It is rightly said, “Everything happens for a reason.” Although my academic background is in computer science and engineering, I have always had a keen interest in learning about business and management. I wanted to academically explore it further, so I decided to take up the MSc Management at Cass Business School.

Student life kicks off

The course formally kicked off at orientation in October 2017, where I walked into an auditorium with approximately 100 people. Back then such a sight would have been extremely overwhelming for an introvert like myself, yet I had no idea that these unfamiliar faces would soon become an integral part of my experience at Cass.

Unlike the Indian system of education, the teaching system at Cass focuses a lot on group work which had me gradually connect with my peers of different nationalities, with different ideologies and different backgrounds. I feel fortunate to have worked with a budding film producer, an economist and a mechanical engineer, all at the same time.

Initially, I was not accustomed to working in groups, but over time I realised the true value of debate and discussion, which influenced my way of thinking– yes, for the better! The ideas suggested during meetings were often unique and contradicting in nature. While there were times when my peers sitting around the table held polar opposite opinions, the contrast brought ahead some amazing solutions. I feel this has made me more open-minded to the different situations that I encounter.

Work hard and play harder

The year has been such a rollercoaster ride, especially in London where you may experience four different seasons within the span of a single day. Furthermore, the events have been a revelation:  from freshers’ parties, to networking trips to Milan and Florence, the exposure has been extremely fun-filled and phenomenal.

The Cass library has been a great resource for me, I feel it is so easy to flip through the webpages in the comfort of my home. I have access to multiple databases so extracting supporting secondary data was never too hard.

As I reach my third term, nostalgia has already started kicking in as there are fewer classes with each passing day and everybody is focusing on completing their individual dissertations. I particularly miss indulging in more group work.

Putting my skills to the test

Nevertheless, working on this term’s real-time consultancy projects with large companies has been interesting. I am currently consulting for real estate giant Tishman Speyer exploring investment opportunities which has been intense yet satisfying.

I am also enthusiastic about working on a Corporate Responsibility Project for my dissertation– Cass is one of few business schools across the UK to provide such an opportunity to students! I look forward to presenting the findings to our client, the international law firm Slaughter and May, this August.

Overall, I feel pursuing a master’s degree at Cass is a lifetime opportunity where you get to experience the best of student life living in the heart of this truly global city, London.

Rushlene Kaur Bakshi, MSc Management (2018)


From Olympics, to Colgate, to Marketing Strategy Innovation!

Just like I knew I wanted to compete in the 2012 London Olympics as the youngest ever Turkish swimmer, I knew at the age of 14 I wanted to be in the marketing and media industry.

Hazal Sarikaya at the 2012 Olympics in London

Prior to the Olympics Games, I was selected to be in Vogue Turkey and on the last sentence of the published article, it read “When we asked Hazal where she imagines herself in 15 years, she said ‘Someone who travelled the world, has friends all over the world and who has a successful career in marketing and swimming’“.

Swimming has been a big part of my life since I was seven years old and it taught me many things from patience, time management to leadership. Being a professional swimmer and travelling around the world to compete led me to understand different cultures and look at the world from the different angle.

I then decided to move onto my next passion: media and marketing. Before joining the MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation at Cass, I had the chance to gain two years of work experience in two of the biggest firms in FMCG: pladis Global and Colgate Palmolive. At pladis, one of my key roles was to accompany press visits as the first representative of the company with senior exposure and to manage the social media accounts which involved monitoring the news agenda, creating content and liaising with agencies accordingly. These were very prestigious roles in a £3.5 bn company.

My time at pladis was ending so I decided I wanted another challenge away from the media aspects of a business. I applied for Colgate Summer Marketing internship and was successful with my application. Having had no previous marketing knowledge or experience meant that I had to work twice as hard and I was willing to do that! Perhaps this is something I’ve learned through managing education and sports at the same time, by putting in the extra hours and hard work.

During my first year at Colgate, my report on Colgate’s business highlighted couple million pounds worth of growth opportunity, and my recommendations were implemented shortly after. In the following year, I was asked to re-join as a project manager and led the most successful campaign to date! Having these internship experiences was very useful in confirming my passion for Marketing, but I still felt that I was missing the theoretical knowledge required in possible future jobs. To develop my knowledge for the industry, as well as to accelerate my career, I applied for the Master’s in Marketing at Cass knowing that with my experience and the knowledge I will gain from this year I will be ready for any challenge!

I was drawn to Marketing Strategy and Innovation because of the variety of modules offered. For instance, I was particularly interested in the Brand Management module as I aspire to be a brand manager in a FMCG company within the next few years. Considering my swimming background, I was also interested in modules such as International Sponsorships as well.

Hazal and coursemates at Cass

Two weeks after my internship finished, the introduction week at Cass started and from the first day I felt lucky to be a part of an established university with so much talent. We are currently on our second term and it’s fair to say I am enjoying every day at my master’s. As expected, my favourite module has become Brand Management and also Consumer Behaviours. The ability to work with real companies on real problems using the theories we learn from our lecturers are definitely preparing us to be the leaders in Marketing in the near future.

My advice for prospective students: Don’t be afraid to take on challenges and never settle before you reach your dreams!

Hazal Sarikaya, MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2019)

From Joburg to London: life as a master’s student

Nderitu Ndegwa, MSc Actuarial Management (2019)

My name is Nderitu Ndegwa. I was born in Kenya, raised in Botswana and studied Actuarial Science and Mathematical Statistics in South Africa. Thereafter, I worked as a Senior Actuarial Analyst at Deloitte in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I chose Cass Business School as I wanted to improve upon my leadership skills. I currently serve as the President of the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants (AIR-Q) Society.

My time at the Cass Business School has been challenging but amazing. The UK is the first European country I have visited independently. I experienced some culture shock at first, but the student diversity that exists here made me feel at home, as I discovered my peer group is partly comprised of Kenyans, alongside Chinese and Indian students, too. Studying with such a varied group of students has allowed me to learn more about different cultures and perspectives.

A positive attitude, I believe, helps one overcome any challenges or obstacles in one’s path. I believe that any student who has ambition and drive will be able to resolve anything; the students coming out of Cass Business School are future game-changers!

In the near future, AIR-Q Society will host both a Sports Day and a Casino Night. The Casino Night will see members use their skills collaboratively to win a Casino game. Alongside my fellow Actuaries, I hope to make a positive impact during my year at Cass Business School.

Cocktails, Classes and a Boost in Confidence

The past four months I have experienced as an MSc in Marketing Strategy and Innovation student at Cass have been one roller coaster ride after another, and I mean that in the best way possible. If you’re looking to challenge yourself in every way, this programme is the right place for people like you and me.

From assignments and deadlines, to group work and cocktails, you’ll never get bored!

When I first began the program I was especially impressed with the diversity of the student body, not just nationalities but especially the diversity of professional and academic backgrounds as well. This became even more interesting when we began our group projects, where you truly see the value of diversity in creative problem-solving.

Professor who?

My second favorite part about the course is the lectures simply don’t feel like lectures. The professors at Cass perceive students as equals, this allows for better engagement and an open group discussion where we are encouraged to challenge theories and to share our ideas. This has allowed us to feel valued, to become more responsible and to build our confidence, which has personally allowed me to boost my leadership skills.

Preparing for your future

The course structure in itself is more practical than theory-based and all that you will be learning is related to real-life case studies about some of the top enterprises of the world. This means that you will be given the opportunity to better prepare yourself for your career, whether it is for an interview or a job role that you will be pursuing once you graduate. And that’s what makes this program so special, this hands-on experience is not only innovative but it is also rarely found in other schools.

There are also endless amounts of societies and clubs for all tastes, in every sector, in every industry. I have personally found my place as an Executive Board member of the Global Women’s Leadership programme, where we host panels, workshops, and guest speaker events with some of today’s greatest leaders such as Dame Inga Beale, DBE and former CEO of Lloyds of London. Events such are great networking opportunities to allow students to stand out against other candidates when applying to jobs.

At Cass, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved with something they are passionate about. I am grateful for this amazing life experience and I look forward to what the next semester holds.

Khadija Cherif, MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2019)

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