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Bath MBA Lands An Internship At Porsche

West African Salimata Diallo benefited from Bath's two-week break from studying, during which students are expected to focus solely on careers

Salimata Diallo from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, has just completed her MBA at the University of Bath and has been inspired by her professors and also by the calibre of guest speakers at the University. Salimata speaks about how she chose Bath and what she hope to achieve after graduating.

Salimata gained a master’s degree in accounting and finance at the National Polytechnic Institute of Ivory Coast, one of the top schools in West Africa. During her studies, Salimata was offered an internship at PwC as an auditor and was hired in a full-time position after graduation. “I worked for PwC as an auditor for three years. I really enjoyed it, the best thing about being an external auditor was the variety of clients I worked with: insurance, banking, IMF; I gained international exposure.”

In 2008 Salimata married and followed her husband to New York where her son was born. By 2010 Salimata wanted to get her career back on track,, many of her friends told her about the benefits of doing an MBA, her husband had a job opportunity in England so she looked at English business schools. “Bath was a good choice, I felt that I had a narrow vision of business and management and wanted a degree that would give me a broader picture of business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Bath seemed like a well balanced business school as some are so focused on finance.”

At an open day Salimata fell in love with the beautiful city of Bath and had the opportunity to meet with some of the students. Salimata’s imagination was captured by an ex-investment banker who was studying a project in business development; she wanted to change careers and saw that Bath would facilitate the switch.

Salimata enjoyed the diversity of her MBA cohort, “We were a very connected group and we are all best friends. We had more than 20 nationalities and exposure to people I thought I would never work with: different parts of Africa, Asia and European. If I go into a company that diverse I know what to expect.”

This MBA class may have worked hard but they also did a lot of socialising, and held international dinners where everybody cooked food from their own country. “The variety of the food was amazing, people were at first afraid to taste stew from my country but then they loved it!”

Bath’s career team also exceeded Salimata’s expectations, “the school is very clever at putting a career development course into our programme. There are two weeks where people have to forget about assignments and focus on our career. We had professional help from Workmaze who help you perfect your interview technique and give you specialized feedback.” Real companies would come in and host interviews as practice, which helped Salimata land her internship at Porsche.

At Porsche Salimata was given a management project; the company has an internal control system which wasn’t working. “They needed someone to recommend improvements and find solutions. I have worked with people from different departments and the developing solution is not just a financial matrix, but also needs to be used by sales, marketing etc.”

Porsche has been a brilliant working environment, “it is an open space office you can just go up to the financial manager and everyone is so nice.” The internship ends in a couple of weeks and Salimata is due to present her findings to the managing directors.

After she graduates Salimata is interested in doing a MBA Graduate Program where they train people to become a manager and you are not in a single function. “You may start in finance then marketing or you may be on one project that will involve many divisions. By doing that you get to use the full knowledge you gained on your MBA. I just think that business is not confined to finance.”

There were numerous highlights of the MBA year, including winning the best entrepreneur competition after developing a business start-up for a heart monitoring device which was linked to a smart phone. “I was the finance director for a group of eight and I did the presentation with my CEO and we won the best project. I had always thought I was a corporate person but this project made me realize I could be an entrepreneur so my dream is to set up a company.”

Salimata was overwhelmed by the calibre of the guest speakers such as the ex-CEO of Vodafone (who made the M&A between Vodafone and Mannesmann), the ex-CEO of Tesco and the Global HR Director of Ely Lilly. “I learnt a lot from them. You see these people on television and you think – ‘how did you get there?’ And then they say I only did a BA or I was at this business school and they had the passion and ambition. I thought to myself, in 20 years it will be me coming back to talk.” With her drive and determination, it sounds plausible that in 20 years Salimata will be telling MBA students her own success stories .

Ideally Salimata would like to work for L’Oreal or Johnson & Johnson but is open to any opportunity in banking or manufacturing companies. For the time being Salimata wants to remain in England but in the next five years would like to move into Europe or back to Africa and ultimately would like to end up in America.

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