You can never give up on what lies ahead, because you are the only person in charge of looking for it. If you are tired of applications, auditions, interviews, take a break and come back in an hour, a day, a week or a month - but you should always come back.
More about Sarfaraz
Sarfaraz studied MSc Management and International Business, graduating in 2020. He now works as a Digital CX Product Owner at Toyota Material Handling in Indiana, USA. We caught up with him to see what he’s been up to since leaving Nottingham Trent University (NTU), and Nottingham Business School (NBS).
Q:Tell us why you chose to study at NTU/NBS, and any key features which may have influenced your decision. What set us apart?
A: The course was not my deciding factor for NTU. The location at the heart of the city, the growth of NBS over the years to how much it invested towards the students, the assessment structure of the modular curriculum, everything added heaps to the praises of friends who studied at NTU prior.
Q: What did you learn as a Nottingham Business School student - both inside and outside of lectures? What still makes you smile when you look back?
A: NTU made me friends from across the world, friends I am still well connected with, and we all connected every day at the Global Lounge. NTU instilled this networking factor within me that has helped me with my career progression. I also loved interacting with my lecturers, on and off topic, and they helped to push my confidence on a regular basis as we progressed through each lecture.
Previously I would never have been the first one to volunteer for anything, but this was a new pasture where I could create my own identity as I pleased. I did everything that was put forward to me, and I was usually the first one to do it. From competitions, to karaoke, to participating in cultural events, I did it all and I wish I was a student there for four years longer.
Q: What does your current day involve?
A: My day starts quite early. Since we work in a hybrid model, it either involves a good stretch in bed or a nice long drive, both followed by a coffee before early morning meetings. Most of the rest of my day goes into internal and external team meetings to align project delivery, followed by individual tasks to work towards short and long term objectives. My outlook on work life balance is very strict, so I get to follow up with ample gym and family time.
Q: How has your experience studying at Nottingham Business School helped you in your current role?
A: Finishing my degree at NBS has allowed me to put my five years’ experience there into practice as per the modules, and work towards my career path. My current position as a central role for project delivery working with various stakeholders is similar to my degree in many ways; modules were related but were also very varied, which is the same as my role. This is something I enjoy, as it ensures that I am able to work to excel in all areas whilst avoiding any monotony.
Q: What attracted you to this field of work?
A: Technology is part of our world right now, whether we want it to be or not. Coming from a non-technical background but being part of digital transformation attracted me the most, as there are a lot of core and shared strategies to work for. I thrive on working on and towards the strategic planning that leads to the technological result.
Q: What challenges have you faced?
A: I had worked mostly in start-ups which was a great learning curve for me, however it did pose as my biggest challenge as my CV got very diverse in a short amount of time, both in terms of experience and companies I worked for. It was almost as big an opportunity as it was a risk, however it did finally pay off as my skills backed up my experiences, all of which I can now take with me into my future career.
Additionally, the majority of people you come across will have had bad experiences with a manager. I have faced managers who disapproved of my performance without looking at the numbers, have not taken my health seriously when sales were their priority, and have ignored the value I generated because of arrogance and personal bias.
Don't give up or give in immediately. Create a plan of what to do; if that is to leave, structure your exit in a way that doesn't harm your progress. I can't believe the managers I have had recently who have provided me with regular support and flexibility that I could once only hope for.
Q: What have been the highlights of your career so far?
A: Career highlights can be hard to quantify when you have moved around a lot, but some of note include:
- Launching my home country's biggest e-commerce platform
- Being recognised as the top sales representative earning myself a trip on a yacht in NYC
- Acquiring some of the most notable brands as clients for a marketing agency
- And finally, turning around a loss making client portfolio towards making multifold in profit in less than 2 years.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: My plans are like tree branches, but the one I go along will eventually be fruitful. I could work towards the grander vision of my current role for digital transformation at a company the size of Toyota. I could work for a role globally remote, living in my dream city (every beautiful known/hidden town in Europe). Or I could take up my desire to act and you'll see my name on the big screen some day. I know my strengths, and I'll take my days as they come.
Q: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to share with our NTU community?
A: LinkedIn only knows of the 1000+ job applications I submitted through it, Gmail is aware of the rest. You can never give up on what lies ahead, because you are the only person in charge of looking for it. If you are tired of applications, auditions, interviews, take a break and come back in an hour, a day, a week or a month - but you should always come back.