For his first degree, Priyank Patwa studied computer engineering at the University of Pune in India, followed by a job in computing with Patwa taking a position with Cognizant Technology Solutions, first in India as a programmer, and then as a senior associate in Switzerland dedicated to Credit Suisse projects.
"I covered client relationship management, business development and project execution, mainly implementing private banking IT solutions, and heading a team of about 20 associates based in Zurich and in India," he says.
Patwa might easily have pursued a successful career in the computer industry, but he had ambitions about moving into senior management, and in order to do that decided he needed an MBA. "I felt restricted to a smaller area within the technology space. It was getting difficult to move into the business side or a different area. Coming from a technology background and having no knowledge about finance, economics, or marketing, for example, I felt an MBA was needed to broaden my scope, and ease a move into leadership and senior management."
The strategy worked, and with the help of the School's careers service, Patwa used his MBA at Said to transition into a management role. "There was a lot of support from the career service, whether it was preparing for interviews, understanding what questions could be asked, or making applications," he says.
After graduation Patwa was hired in London by financial services giant, the Prudential, gaining a place on the firm's international management development programme. He is currently working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for Prudential BSN Takaful Berhad, a Shariah-compliant financial solutions provider.
The MBA was integral to getting the position at Prudential, says Patwa. "The reason I was able to get onto the management programme was because of the MBA. It is difficult to quantify the direct effects of the MBA, but there was definitely a big shift in my thinking; the way I approach problems and address issues is very different from before."
It wasn't just the academic element of the MBA that has proved useful. "It helps to work in such diverse teams on the MBA; you learn to get along with one another," he says. "The soft skills, understanding people and their cultures, looking at things from different perspectives, being able to work with others and achieve your objectives - they are some of the most important aspects of the MBA."
The MBA, advises Patwa, whilst not an automatic ticket to a different role, is a platform that provides you with the opportunity to switch from a specialist function to general management position, or from one sector to another.
And Patwa has high hopes for his new career track. "My ambition is to be one of the senior leaders here at Prudential," he says. "Hopefully a regional or country CEO."