Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Women In Business: I Went From The Aston MBA To A Top Job At Deloitte

Shivani Vaghela provides strategic advice to bidding teams at Deloitte in the UK

Mon Dec 19 2016

When Shivani Vaghela worked for Jacobs Engineering back in 2009, she was often the only woman in the room. Only ten percent of her senior female colleagues were women.

She felt stuck in her position, and decided to diversify with a part-time MBA at Aston Business School in the UK. Over the next three years, she was promoted twice and landed a new job in finance at British outsourcing firm Serco.

In 2014, she was headhunted by Deloitte. And today, she's an audit bid advisor for the firm in the UK, working with teams of anything from 10 to 90 people.

Would she be where she is today without the Aston MBA? “No.”

What does Deloitte look for in its MBA job applicants?

The work environment at Deloitte is extremely attractive. It’s very diverse and flexible. It requires self-starters who are bright and have a high level of emotional intelligence. We hire people who get on with people.

How are you applying your learnings in your current role at Deloitte?

The core for me is the strategic thinking. In my role, the elements of my MBA electives in strategy and international business have had quite an impact in forcing me to think outside the box.

For example, if you're doing a financial audit for a large client, you need to think about what their market will look like in the future, what makes them work and their ongoing environment. You need to change and adjust to offer the best possible information.

Plus, an MBA teaches you what good leadership looks like.  It gives you the ability to recognize good leaders in a room and bring them to the forefront.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Aston?

I was working in quite a male-orientated, engineering environment at the time and I was unsure of what progression and career development looked like, not being an engineer myself.  I wanted to strengthen my credentials in the environment that I was in, and wanted a new challenge and something that was going to give me more transferable options in terms of my future career.

Because I was working full time and self-funded the MBA, Aston was the one school that offered me the flexibility that I needed. I could pause the course if I needed to. And I could actually attend my classes live online from home. Aston was already using the kind of advanced technology that a lot of schools only caught up with later.

How have you profited from your MBA experience?

Business confidence is the biggest thing. Aston is quite a practical school. They teach you things about the real-world. And on a part-time course, you get other people who are living and breathing real-life examples of the workplace. They bring that into the room. And you can help your classmates with real-life projects and issues.

So the MBA gave me the confidence to take business knowledge into a completely different environment. It’s opened my mind and it’s given me the ability to challenge and question things in a really constructive way.

I got promoted twice during the MBA. Then I moved to Serco, and the MBA was the driver of that. Now, I’m in a strategic role which is exceptionally different to where I was when I started the MBA.

How was your experience as a woman working in engineering?

Very challenging! Comparing teams I’ve worked with from different environments, quite often there’s more of a fight that women have to put themselves through to showcase their best abilities.

The MBA is definitely a good confidence builder for women. Having an MBA was something different in an engineering environment, which brings the much needed diversity to a place where credentials are often at the forefront.

What is the future for women in business?

I think more women will move into more senior roles in the future. Women are thinking differently about what they can do with their lives. There are a lot more female graduates coming out of university who want to be in leadership positions but also want the ability to live fulfilled lives. 

Today’s women are generally more empowered to make a decisions of the type of career in business they want.  We have the facilities to work from anywhere, which means we can have more work-life integration.