After graduating from his bachelor’s in International Relations from George Washington University, Oliver Yogananthan wanted one thing: an invigorating, interesting career outside the spectrum of your regular nine-to-five.
He perused the market, looking at the United States Marine Corps and the US Navy. He chose the latter and spent the next four years in various roles, first as an analyst at The Pentagon, and then an officer on two US Navy vessels.
Through his time in the Navy he says he honed his technical skillset but felt it could be put to stronger use in a different role. It was then that he began to look toward the business world, and an MBA at Cass Business School, in London.
“I wanted to come to London as I wanted to broaden my horizons,” he says. “It’s a competitive and dynamic city.”
Oliver (pictured below, right) says he is the only former military professional in the current MBA class at Cass. He brings to the class a skillset that revolves around meticulous time management, leadership, and inspiration when pushing teams to achieve.
One of the key benefits of the Cass MBA, he adds, is being able to conduct group work and learn from a diverse set of peers—the current MBA class at Cass Business School is made up of 64 students represented by 29 nationalities.
“Cass brings out my passion and adaptability to work with people with various skillsets and motivations,” Oliver explains. “Cass taught me to become a better leader in the business world.”
He hopes that the MBA will allow him to transition from the military into the oil and gas sector, and a mid-level manager position.
London, he adds, is a city that allows Americans to thrive.
“London is suited for Americans because you don’t have to learn a new language, there is a lot of diversity, and there isn’t one group or culture that is peripheral; everyone, from everywhere, is in London.”
A nation state of affairs
Does Brexit worry him at all?
“Not particularly,” he states. “Ideally I’d stay in the UK for between two and five years. I might benefit from staying longer term, so I consider that part of the coin too.”
Lina Rahmanian, a classmate of Oliver’s, admits that the ambiguity around the UK leaving the European Union was a concern, but at the same time it is her goal to return to the US when she graduates.
She worked as a market associate then finance analyst for the Expedia Group for just over three years before moving to London for the MBA.
Lina explains that an MBA was something she had always wanted to do, as she was after career flexibility and the ability to move between industries and roles.
She adds that the care Cass Business School took during the application process to get to know her more and to explain what the school was all about made the difference when it came to pick the right program.
“Because I come from the service industry, how you treat people is very important for me,” she says.
Cass also offers an atmosphere on campus that promotes gender equality in the workplace, and aims to act as a catalyst for the future female leaders of business—Lina herself is the president of the Cass Women in Business Society.
“We get to learn how to work with each other more, and to look at each other as equals. I think it’s a really great starting point,” she says.
“It’s called the Women in Business Society, but my ultimate goal is to include men as well. If men are not supportive then we’re not going to reach the goals that we have.”
These changes, she admits, come slowly. But, the men and women who partake in the society will take the mentorship on offer with them when they graduate—“The next generation,” says Lina (pictured below, right), “will educate the next.”
After the MBA, Lina wants to take her knowledge into the consulting or technology sector. She explains, though, that the diversity of the Cass MBA has given her a wealth of exposure to a variety of industries which has shown her the multiple doors she may walk through after her degree.
London, too, offered her all she was after.
“Location is a huge factor,” she concludes, “It’s [Cass] in the heart of the city, close to major banks, consulting firms, and the tech hub in London.
“It’s so diverse, I could not have chosen a more suitable city for my MBA.”