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Strathclyde Business SchoolStudent case studies

Natalia Planillo

I've worked in the construction industry for about 15 years. I was part of the board for that company and when the economic crisis hit the construction industry, the company decided to look overseas for new business. One of the areas pinpointed was Central Africa and I was asked if I wanted to take the lead in establishing the business there. I agreed, and took on the role of Joint general manager there. We were there for three years and gained important projects for the company amounting to 115 million Euros for the business. Living and working in Cameroon was very difficult at times – it was all so different - but the experience was amazing although I had to learn French – and very quickly! - to work and do business there.

I started in the construction company as chief of HSQE, then progressed to the managerial side of things (directing the organization department) and then I started the business from scratch in Africa which was an amazing opportunity but all my learning throughout that time has been in practice, not the theoretical side of things. My aim with the MBA was to be more comfortable in all areas of business and to develop softer skills such as communication and leadership. Strathclyde was recommended to me as a good business school and it has proven to be a great combination of business school and location.

In general I like the approach at Strathclyde that all subjects are covered and there’s a good mix of theory and practice as well as a strong focus on group work. I particularly liked the way the strategy courses are structured and delivered. The possibility of choosing elective subjects from a good variety was ideal – you have the option to reinforce your learning of certain subjects or to choose new topics – I chose two completely different electives: one to reinforce the strategy learning I received through the MBA and the other to learn the theory behind one of my previous areas of expertise, project management.

The group work is good for your skills – you have to work with people from all over the world in business and people have different ways of doing things so it tests your way of doing business. It’s also a really interesting way to learn to manage people.

I have really enjoying working with different nationalities – one of the best things is learning about their experience, as well as learning about yourself and the way you work with different people. The group work means that when it comes to project time, you have a good choice of people to work with if you decide on a group project. I’m working on my project with individuals from Thailand and Singapore – we are from such different cultures but we have really worked well together.

The programme is really good and the strategy content is updated to current times, so it’s really relevant to the changing business environments we face today - it’s a key thing for the programme. I have really enjoyed engaging with the lecturers – they are not so academic that they’ve no contact with the real world – they all have good business experience and are really connected to business. We’ve had guest lectures and company visits which have been very interesting and opportunities to get involved with industry.

Before I even got the offer from Strathclyde, my first contact with the business school was so friendly and so interested in what I was doing. The business school was very welcoming. I wasn’t confident about doing my MBA in English but was reassured from the beginning. I’ve a very good relationship with the administrative team – they provided good advice and support and encourage you to keep working. I only have good things to say about the people I’ve encountered – from the lecturers and library staff to careers team and support staff.

My plans are to stay here with my family – we want to live and work in Scotland and for the children to go to school here.

Contact details

 Undergraduate admissions
 +44 (0)141 548 4114 

 Postgraduate admissions
 +44(0)141 553 6116/6105/6117


Strathclyde Business School
University of Strathclyde
199 Cathedral Street
G4 0QU

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