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I Left KPMG To Launch A Career In Tech

Sophia Withers decided to switch careers during her Online MSc International Business. She's using the skills she learned in business school to drive a career in tech


Wed Oct 9 2019

It wasn’t that long ago that Sophia Withers was travelling around Australia and Asia after her undergraduate degree. After a stint working on farms and in brunch cafes, she moved to Melbourne and joined KPMG Australia. 

While working as a coordinator for their audit division, she began studying the University of Birmingham's part-time Online MSc International Business, in 2018. It was during the program that she deep dived into her passion for blockchain and emerging technology. A career in tech was on the cards. 

Her degree research project—How will Blockchain 3.0 facilitate social and economic impact? A study on social enterprises in Melbourne, Australia—diverted her career path to infuse disruptive technologies with innovative solutions to global problems.

She left KPMG in the middle of 2018 and began work as a freelance strategy consultant. Shortly after that, she added an executive assistant role to her bow, for sports technology firm, Catapult Sports. Her career in tech blossomed further in November 2019, when she moved into her current role at Catapult, as people & culture operations specialist. 

The Online MSc, she explains, has provided her with a holistic, executive-level set of skills and knowledge to succeed in her career. She adds that frequent group work has enhanced her communication skills, and factual case study work has augmented her ability to put theory into practice to solve real-world problems. 

BusinessBecause caught up with Sophia to find out more.

Why did you decide to study an Online MSc International Business?

As a traveler and somebody who intends to live around the globe, I was attracted to the idea that by studying an online MSc, I could study anywhere in the world. 

With advanced technologies coupled with the inter-connectedness of communication today, I knew that studying an online MSc would be efficient and give me the flexibility that I required.

Why did the University of Birmingham stand out for you?

The University of Birmingham was one of the few universities that offered my course online. I initially researched a variety of courses and selected the University of Birmingham due to it being a leading global university. 

Moreover, my friends who have been enrolled in previous years spoke highly of the teaching and thoroughly enjoyed their time, which positively reinforced the university’s reputation for me. 

How did you balance work and study?

What worked for me was setting specific days of the week in which I would study. For example, three nights a week I would visit the library and always give myself Friday nights off! 

Around specific deadlines, it was a matter of clearing my diary and planning my assignments weeks in advance. Meditation, regular exercise, and rewarding yourself for hard work are critical for keeping momentum, motivation, and drive.

What major challenges are you facing in your current role?

Being a freelance consultant and co-founder, challenges consist of entering into unchartered territory such as new markets and being faced with unprecedented change. 

Therefore, an understanding of international business theory and being able to apply such knowledge in a practical sense is pivotal for thriving.

The study of my dissertation equipped me with theoretical knowledge that I can apply to a contemporary phenomenon which will be affecting almost every industry at some level. 

On a micro scale, I was able to understand and inspect how such technology is having a profound effect on smaller to medium sized businesses. My dissertation also taught me how to properly research, plan, and orchestrate a large project autonomously. 

What advice do you have for prospective Online MSc students?

Consider and review your long-term goals and whether this aligns with them and engage in lots of research. If you are unsure, ask as many questions as possible to the staff as they are there to guide and help you.

Student Reviews

Birmingham Business School - University of Birmingham




On Campus

An amazing experience

Great, knowledgeable faculty with a beautiful campus. Lots of societies and clubs to choose from in accordance with your interest. One can also discover scholarship opportunities here. The course is perfectly designed and the career services at the uni are very helpful




On Campus

The beautiful campus and teaching expertise.

Overall the University of birmingham is just an incredible institution. From the array of expertise teachings and how phenomenal the campus is definitely enhances its beauty and is enriched with the amazing resources and incredible people that are always willing to help and make you feel welcomed everywhere you go. I would 100% recommend the University of Birmingham to be one of the best universities out there and through not only the various courses that they offer but all the social societies definitely adds to the fun and great opportunities that it provides




On Campus

Exceptional Support for international Students

Exceptional Support for International Students As an international student, my experience at the University of Birmingham has been nothing short of extraordinary, thanks to the outstanding support provided for international students. I would like to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the exceptional support I've received during my time here. From the moment I arrived on campus, it was evident that UoB prioritizes the well-being and success of its international students. Here are some key aspects of the support I've received: 1. Orientation Programs: The university's comprehensive orientation programs helped me acclimate to campus life, navigate administrative processes, and understand the academic system. I never felt lost or overwhelmed, thanks to the informative sessions and friendly staff. 2. Academic Advising: The academic advisors for international students are incredibly knowledgeable and approachable. They assisted me in creating a personalized academic plan, selecting courses, and understanding degree requirements. Their guidance ensured that I stayed on the right track academically. 3. Language Support: UoB offers exceptional language support services, including English language courses and conversation partners. These resources were invaluable in improving my language skills and building confidence in my communication abilities. 4. Cultural Integration: The university fosters a diverse and inclusive environment, making it easy for international students to feel like part of the community. There are numerous cultural clubs, events, and workshops that allow us to connect with fellow students and celebrate our diverse backgrounds. 5. Mental Health and Counseling Services: Recognizing the challenges that international students may face, the university provides excellent mental health and counseling services. It's comforting to know that support is available when needed, and these services are respectful of cultural differences. 6. Career Services: UoB offers exceptional career services tailored to international students. From resume workshops to job fairs, they've been instrumental in helping me prepare for my career post-graduation. The university's strong network of alumni has also been a valuable resource. 7. Visa and Immigration Assistance: Navigating the complexities of visa and immigration regulations can be daunting, but the university's dedicated staff provided guidance and assistance throughout the process. Their expertise made the experience seamless. 8. Housing Support: Securing suitable housing can be a challenge for international students, but the university offers assistance in finding on-campus housing options with flexible payments. This support ensured that I had a safe and comfortable place to live. 9. Financial Aid and Scholarships: UoB offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. Their commitment to making education accessible is commendable, they also provide financial support for graduation through the guild of students.




On Campus

student experience

I highly recommend the University of Birmingham. I think the school environment is very friendly to international students. I was able to get guidance and help from students in the school. I was also able to get support and guidance from the professional team on my career path. I would recommend the University of Birmingham to first-time international students and Masters students.




On Campus

There is always somebody to help!

The university respects the culture and background of their highly diverse student. It carters to everybody's need and puts its student first. It tries to the make the student feel at home and helps them deal with the university life.




On Campus


I love studying Pharmacy at Birmingham and would absolutely recommend it, especially because of the variety in every aspect of the course. Firstly, the variety of people you meet from all areas around the country, and even countless others from outside the country. Each person has a different background and experiences creating a melting pot of personalities to interact with. Next, the lessons - there are numerous types of lessons we encounter on a weekly basis from lectures to dissections to a computer workshops. Additionally, specific to medical degrees, I have 7 placements annually in hospital, community, and GP pharmacies. The only lack of variety in the pharmacy course is the classrooms since there are limited number we can use and the medical school is separate from the main campus. The only part I don't enjoy about pharmacy is the distances and unreliability of public transport in Birmingham. Living in the vale, the university is a long 25-minute walk away and my closest shop is over 10-20 minutes to walk. Although there are closer accommodations, I really love my flat with its modern decor, large room, and social aspect of the shared kitchen.




On Campus

Experience at University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham has been an outstanding university. They have provided complete support during COVID-19. The university is incredible when accessing support with mental health. I currently study criminology at the university of Birmingham. The course has been brilliant, with constant support from lectures and tutors to ensure that you achieve the best grade possible. I could not recommend University of Birmingham more!




On Campus


Great campus for studying with kind and professional staff and the campus is very well connected to the city center. There were so many people who wanted to enroll in the course that they had to queue for a new course for six months in advance. The classes were always crowded, but the professors never let anyone through. I love this uni




On Campus

A very welcoming uni

This university is regarded as one of the best in the world. They provide a welcoming environment that enhances the lives of the students because each one of them has a sense of community and a desire to study.

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