Contract Business AnalystMalcolm Black

Why did you pick the University of Strathclyde as an institution?

The reasons why my peers chose the institution varied across our intake.

But the reputation of the University of Strathclyde for engineering excellence was consistent.

Why did you choose your programme?

For me, it was the personalities running the MEng Product Design Engineering course. I had been to a number of open days and interviews for equivalent courses but the down-to-earth and welcoming team at DMEM stood out. It is what made the difference on day one and continued through the duration of the course.

What was it like studying in DMEM?

The first two years were HARD but so varied that it kept it interesting!

It was a relatively small intake back in 1994 – so we all had to work together and support each other to get through. But that in itself brought us closer together as a group which I really liked.

What was the DMEM community like?

The intake of 1994 was a very diverse group of people, but that is what made it so fantastic. We had the nervous ones, the shy ones, the (less than) sensible ones and the mature and responsible ones. We had the 'geeks', the opportunists, the east-end boys and west end girls. All of which brought their own skills and talents.

Who would have thought that such a diverse group could get on? Well we did and we still do.

Twenty years after graduation and the infamous Christmas lunch that first started in 1994 with a select group of students from the course, this year (2019) will celebrate its 20th gathering (coinciding with DMEM's 30th Anniversary!)! More than 30 people will pitch up from all corners of the country (and beyond) on the last Saturday before Christmas (immediately after the works Christmas night out for a few) to share a meal, partake in a festive drink or two, offer up some terrible gifts and share stories of yesteryear. It is always a special date in the diary and seems to become better attended as the years pass! 

This close-knit community is one of the things I am most thankful for, and unique to DMEM!

Here's a photo from a more recent (and civilised) affair -

There are many pictures from across the years of our Christmas lunches, but here is another one, this time from back in the early 2000's -

What key skills did you learn as part of your studies?

Core technical skills were learnt and almost immediately supressed until needed. It is all about the proving that they can be mastered.

The core skills of dealing with people, working as a team, being creative, knowing what you are good at and what you need to rely on other people for is the real value.

Humour, compassion, empathy and hard work were required to be successful on the course. Looking back it is also what set DMEM staff and subsequently the students apart from other graduates.  

Where has your career gone since you have left?

Everyone on the course has followed careers as diverse as their personalities.

I completed my DMEM course at the time when a lot of technically proficient graduates were being taken on by the big technology companies. The opportunities offered at that time (travel/interesting projects/salary) made it a viable alternative.

Being a Business Analyst in the Technology Change environment uses a lot of the same skills (such as requirements definition and problem solving), but offers the opportunity to be a conduit between technology and business stakeholders. This is the area that appeals to me. Having a rounded skill-set with some core technical knowledge opens doors to roles outside the expected career path.

This career path has enabled me to travel, live and work in London and Sydney as well as Leeds and returning back to Glasgow more recently. I now work as a contract Business Analyst which allows me to work on projects that interest me and ensures my skill-set is constantly challenged 

Throughout my career I have regularly returned to the many hard and soft skills I learnt during my studies, which I now apply directly to business. My Business Analyst career has involved working with a number of large companies including:

  • ACCA
  • Asda
  • Barclays
  • BT
  • Clydesdale Bank
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Student Loans Company  

What are your ambitions for the future?

To celebrate our 40th anniversary Christmas Lunch would be quite some achievement!

If you could tell your 18-20-year-old self some advice, what would it be?

Doing Product Design Engineering at the University of Strathclyde is definitely the right decision.

What would you say to someone considering studying in or working with DMEM?

For those of you that are not quite sure what to study – Product Design in DMEM is ideal due to the range and variety of subjects.

For those that are unsure about where to study – the DMEM department at the University of Strathclyde is absolutely second to none when you consider all education, social, sporting and employment aspects.



Malcolm remains in regular contact with his DMEM peers, including Martin Fitchie and Steven MacGregor who you can find out more about in their graduate stories through the links.