My first exposure to the world of marketing was quite early on in my life. My father is an entrepreneur and runs an advertising and marketing agency. During my school days, I used to visit his office and observe the creative teamwork on building brands and campaigns. In hindsight, I believe that this is when I subconsciously decided to delve into and explore the field of marketing.
The Cass MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation has been one of the most intriguing courses I’ve ever studied. I find myself facing new and exciting challenges every day. I continuously look forward to learning more from my professors, who are some of the best academics and practitioners in the field. Studying at Cass has made me even more curious about the dynamic world of marketing.
Cass gives you the opportunity to put the knowledge that you learn in class to use in the practical world. We worked with real companies to help them with their marketing and branding strategies! That experience was an eye-opener and I cannot thank Cass and our professors enough for equipping us with the skillset to fight our own battles in the real world of marketing, as well as learning how to improvise by keeping us on our toes.
I have participated in exciting group challenges and presentations, individual assignments, workshops, come up with innovative ideas for projects, worked till midnight to meet deadlines and learned how to be a part of a team.
Being elected as the President of the Marketing and Strategy Society was yet another learning experience. I truly recommend joining a student society to learn something outside of what is being taught in class. Exploring other fields of marketing and strategy while networking with so many people and learning something from each person you meet is an incredible experience.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, I still choose to look at the positive outcomes of my past six months at Cass: I have grown as a person, I have become a better marketeer with lots of new creative strategies and I have become a friend to so many new people. I cherish the knowledge I have gained, the memories I have made and the friends who have become family.
To all of you out there looking for the courage to step out of your comfort zone by moving to another country to learn more about your passion, I would like to quote Paulo Coelho and say, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” Believe in yourself and challenge yourself to achieve everything you have ever dreamt of.
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!
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.
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.
One important thing I’ve learnt from studying the MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation at Cass is that there is really nothing quite like teamwork. Working in a group is by no means an easy feat, but it is an incredibly rewarding one nonetheless. There are multiple factors to consider, such as individual weaknesses and strengths, meeting times, goals and deadlines.
To give a brief overview of the first term, we have five modules to get through: ‘Marketing Fundamentals’, ‘Marketing Strategy and Practice’, ‘Creativity. Innovation. Design’, ‘Essentials of Accounting and Finance’ and ‘Market Research’. The majority of our work has been group assignments. For instance, in the second module, we have to participate in a business simulation for which you have to imagine that your team have been recruited as Marketing Managers for a division of a large diversified firm. For this project, our group sat down and discussed our goals for the coming months. We aimed for a distinction grade by Christmas and decided to meet twice a week to discuss our workload. Little did we know by week two of term that this idea would result in us meeting five days a week, to such an extent that I was considering bringing a sleeping bag and a flask of tea! Having said that, every group works differently, but for us we excelled by working together in a study room as opposed to working individually.
As the weeks continued and the workload became more intense, I began to notice my own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of my fellow teammates. What I can honestly advise everyone to do is to discuss these factors before you begin your work. I have observed two ‘positive pitfalls’ that groups can encounter and how they should be tackled:
There should be no shame in discussing what you aren’t good at. Many times I have found that in groups it is easier to brush your weaknesses under the carpet. But if you see someone struggling in your group, you need to discuss it. In my group, we noticed an issue that had the potential of affecting our group work in the future, so we sat down straight away and confronted the issue head on and the result was incredibly positive.
It is always important to treat problems and group members with a level of professionalism and respect. The only way to improve is to discuss it together as a team. A group assignment should be no different to that of a professional workspace. We are all here to work hard and perform well, so if you see an anchor weighing down your performance, you will naturally try to reel it in. However, it’s the way in which you do this that can be make or break for a group.
Approaching Term 2, I look back at the highs and lows of our teamwork. For the most part they have been positive, but the challenges we faced should also be viewed in a positive light. Our team adapted to these issues and we ended up achieving our aims. At the end of the day, a master’s degree is there to push you beyond your undergraduate skillset. I’m incredibly grateful for this experience as I have learnt a lot about myself and teamworking.
On the 24th of October, Dame Inga Beale, former CEO of the world’s specialist insurance market, Lloyds of London, was the special guest for this autumn’s much anticipated Fireside Chat, hosted by the Global Women’s Leadership Programme.
One of the most powerful women in London, Beale was invited for an intimate conversation about her successes, but more importantly, the hardships that she has faced and how that has empowered her to be one of the greatest female leaders of this decade.
Lessons in leadership
Beale’s words of encouragement related to topics regarding getting comfortable with discomfort, safety in diversity, and collaboration being the essence of leadership.
Her words of wisdom have inspired me to stop fearing the unknown as that is the only thing that stops us from discovering our true potential. I am an MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation student and today, I am a member of the Cass FinTech Society. Although it is far from being a field I am familiar with, I am embracing it as a new challenge and exercise that will help me gain further knowledge on some of the most relevant topics in the 21stcentury.
PIE, an acronym presented by Beale, stands for performance, image and exposure. We learnt these three key components are key to a successful career and we should aim to deliver quality work daily, work on being perceived positively, and expand our networks as much as we possibly can.
As we all stood up to leave, everyone turned to each other with a smile that defined how inspired we all felt.
I was very impressed by the turnout. Ladies, your presence was expected as this day was a chance for us to embrace and to celebrate girl power. Gentlemen, your presence was admirable, your support to your female colleagues, students and friends gives us the energy to progress.
Opportunities for Cass women
As a Global Women’s Leadership Scholar, this event was only a teaser for what I know will be yet to come for this upcoming school year. Being a Cass student and an ambassador of this programme makes me want to set my goals higher than ever before. This opportunity has boosted my confident in my ability to become a leader of my generation, and with this programme, I can expose myself to a large network of people that will allow me to pursue the changes I hope to see in the world someday.
This is a rare opportunity that most people cannot obtain throughout their time at school, but Cass makes it a priority to bring these exact opportunities to its students, why not make the most out of it?
The Global Women’s Leadership Programme aims to exercise your mind and help you flourish into the leader you’ve always wanted to become. I am proud to be involved in such an initiative and we are thrilled to continue foster ambition throughout the upcoming events we will be hosting this year.
Sitting in my living room, drinking my freshly brewed coffee, I start to reminisce about the year that has just gone by. As I start to reflect on my journey studying the MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation starting back in October, I feel myself laughing and smiling remembering all the fun I have had.
My story at Cass has had many twists and turns all of which are memorable. Apart from the amazing friends I have made, the learning experience was great; I learned more in this past year than I have during my four years of undergrad.
First experiences at Cass
My story began at Moorgate Underground Station. As I walked up the stairs in the station, I felt the buzz of the City. Excitement filled me as I was about to embark on a new chapter in my life.
However, my life hadn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. I was injured during my time in the military which forced me to leave. Then ended up getting a terrible job as a salesman at an estate agency followed by working almost every day in a bar. I needed to do something to escape this but had no idea how?
One day on the way to work, I heard some people discuss how excited they were about starting their master’s at Cass Business School. It was almost as if by divine intervention, God listened and provided a path for me. This lead me to research more about master’s degrees and more about Cass Business School.
After more research, I decided to enrol myself at Cass, choosing to study MSc Marketing Strategy & Innovation. Everyone has different reasons and skill sets. However, for me this course allowed me to work on projects that will give me the skills that I can get the dream job that I wanted. Cass has many connections to firms in London and allows students to take part in the Colgate-Tesco Hackathon to create a campaign.
Back to Moorgate. As I looked at my phone trying to find my way to Cass, I soon saw someone looking at their phone in confusion too. They looked more like a student than someone working in the City so I tried my luck and asked them if they were also looking for Cass. With a smile and laugh, he said he was and we soon joined together for the quest. After talking to him, I also found out that he enrolled to study MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation. This individual soon became my best friend later during the year.
The initial induction was fantastic as I met many people from all over Cass. I appreciated the diversity in backgrounds, and everyone’s willingness to help out. It was from this diverse set that throughout the year I was able to learn and develop as a marketer and person.
One commentator asked the question, “How do you know if your business school is good?”. He continued, “Firstly, look at the Professor. How do you trust what they are saying? Secondly, look around you. Are your peers smart?”. The answer is different for everyone, but personally studying at Cass, I can answer yes to both. I learned so much from my Professors but even more so from my peers.
Highlights of my year
During the course of the year there were many highlights, but the one that sticks out the most was attending the Colgate-Tesco Hackathon, held at the Dunnhumby office in Hammersmith, London. This event that really develops you and throws you into the deep end. In teams of six or eight we were tasked to design a full marketing campaign for Colgate and Tesco. It was an intense two days as we had to quickly work out the best strategy and tactics that will allow us to be creative and analytical with our campaign.
At the end, we competed with other teams and pitched our campaign to the judges comprised of many leaders at Tesco and Colgate. This real-life business challenge gave us the opportunity to apply all our newly gained skills to something real and tangible. Even though my team didn’t win the contest, I learned a lot talking to executives and professionals at Colgate and Tesco with the addition of learning from my peers and the group that won the competition.
However, the best learning takes place at the local Artillery Arms pub, located just two minutes away from Cass, where a classmate and I created our Marketing Society Friday Drinks. Here we invite both professors and students to join us.
Many topics are discussed, and it is a good way to know our professors and their life outside of Cass. Also, it gives us a great opportunity to talk be philosophical and network.
The Friday drinks at the Arms has become a bit of a tradition and my classmate and I no longer need to try arranging it anymore. Everyone knows what to do now and we hope this tradition continues even after we finish studying.
My advice to you
I would advise anyone that wants to pursue a career in marketing to join Cass. Not only do you learn a lot, you can count on a reliable team of people around you to help you succeed. I would suggest that you take full advantage of the careers office located near the cafeteria. Always helpful to discuss any job application, cover letter or jobs in general, their expertise has helped me secure many job interviews, and when I graduate the team will still be available to help. I have a very good relationship with them and they are always helpful.
After an amazing year studying MSc Marketing Strategy & Innovation at Cass Business School, I am confident that I will succeed to be a great marketer for any company, or perhaps when I start my own company one day.
I have made amazing friends both students and professors ,and you can always count on an alumnus to help get your CV to someone in HR at their company. Cass has surpassed any expectations I had, and I would advise everyone looking to join to attend any event or competition being offered. From my Hackathon experience with Colgate and Tesco, I have had many job interviews and it is very impressive on your CV, especially if you lack experience in marketing.
Giving up was never an option when I was working jobs that I didn’t enjoy. Cass Business School gave me the opportunity to explore and develop myself; I didn’t give up and neither did they or my peers around me.
If you truly want to excel and gain new friends, then look no further. Again, “How do you know if you are at a good business school? Look at your professor. How do you trust what they are saying? Look at your peers. Are they smart?”. I can truly say a solid “Yes” to both.