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 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 & Innovation (2019)