Articles - Advice: How I used my International Business and Economics Degree

Reena Bhawsar is a Senior Commercial Analyst at Viking Direct. She discusses how she used her degree to get into her current role and her day-to-day job, and gives advice to those who are looking to get into a similar career.

Reena Bhawsar is a Senior Commercial Analyst at Viking Direct.

How did you get your current job - what were the steps you took from graduation?

After graduation, I found it difficult to find a graduate job. I was working as a temporary employee at a large retail bank at the time, who then offered me a permanent position. In the year and a half I spent there, I quickly built up my professional skills and worked my way up to the manager of a small branch. 

Having reached my limits at the bank, I needed a change of career but was unsure of what direction to take. I fell into a job as a database marketing analyst where I was selecting customers for campaigns. My inquisitive nature led me to become more involved in the “why” behind the selections which then led me to the world of understanding customer behaviour, through Marketing Insight, and to where I am now.

How relevant was your subject of study in securing your current job?

I studies BSc (Hons) International Business and Economics at Aston University, and so my degree and subject studied didn’t actually play a direct part in me securing this job. However, the business skills I learnt during my placement year did enable me to get my first full time job, and it was this experience that helped me to secure my current role at Viking.

Describe a typical working day in your current job.

Typically, I like to get on top of my emails first thing. I usually write myself a to-do list the night before so that I’m already on top my workload the next day. I then ensure that the Junior Analyst I work with is working on the highest priority work and crack on with my endless analysis projects. Sometimes I have to attend meetings to give recommendations on the success of strategies based on work I’ve done in the past, or to present back findings.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I started off as a Junior Analyst. During my first year at Office Depot, I worked my way up to a Senior Analyst as I gained more experience and confidence in not only the work that I do, but also within the business by increasing my commercial awareness. This job has given me a taste for being more involved in the strategic decisions in the business and in the future I’d like to move on to a role where I’m able to use analysis to make these decisions.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Every day is different and interesting as you are involved in all types of business initiatives and issues that are happening. It’s also really rewarding to be able to give the business the “why” to a problem, recommend a solution and then see it being implemented.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

To be able to complete a full deep dive analysis, you need all the correct information. Getting the correct information can be huge challenge as people are not always forthcoming and helpful (especially when you may end up showing that their strategy isn’t having a positive impact on the business).

Another challenge is presenting back findings which are sometimes not what people expect or want to hear. For example, my analysis may show that a huge marketing campaign hasn’t worked but the campaign owner is adamant that it was a success. This can cause conflicts, but people can’t really argue with factual data (as long as it’s in the right context).

What are the best things about working in this sector?

Free stationery!

Finally, what advice would you have for other students and graduates who would like to get into this career?

If you have an interest for problem solving then this is a career for you. In any interviews you have, ensure you show your inquisitive nature and ability to find solutions to a problem. Also, pay attention when learning any statistical/econometric modelling techniques – they come in very handy!

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