Stephen Dilley graduated from Kent Business School (undergraduate BBA with a year in Industry) in July 2011. He spent a Year in Industry at IBM and in his final year (Stage 3) contributed greatly to our placement workshop programme, assisting at workshops and acting as a mentor, offering advice and support to many of our students applying for placement. Due to his outstanding contribution to KBS he was awarded the Director’s Prize.
What did your Year in Industry at IBM involve?
I worked in the UK and European Mergers and Acquisitions team where we were solely responsible for integrating both large and small scale companies acquired by the IBM business. We worked with both the company as a whole and each individual going through the transition of an acquisition as such change can be difficult for employees to accept.
The role and the company gave me so much opportunity to learn about all areas of business as we worked with all the departments to make the acquisitions and integration process successful. I worked with HR, sales, finance, marketing, IT and operations teams to achieve our goal so gained an insight into how each area operated. This in turn related to the modules and studies I completed on the KBS business administration course. I became a core part of my team very quickly and feel I contributed significantly to how we managed the integration process.
My placement soon became one of my greatest achievements upon returning to my final year at Kent Business School because I could apply my practice to the theory I’d understood and vice versa. It also helped with my dissertation because I could relate back and had contacts for internal company information. I can’t emphasise more how important it is to take on a placement year and I’d strongly recommend it to other UKC programmes taught inside and outside of the Business School.
How were you able to share your experience to assist other students interested in the placement programme?
While applying for my placement I wished we had the opportunity to hear from experienced placement students and have the one-on-one interaction I was able to give to the upcoming students. For some, it is their very first important interview, so questions focused around that and the numerical tests some of the top companies require you to complete online. The set-up of workshops, bringing companies in and practice interviews and assessment centres will have truly helped the majority – I had no idea what to expect previously. Giving the students my email was also the best thing because then they knew they had a contact who had just been through the same placement process.
I used to let students know that the companies they are applying to know what it’s like to be in their situation and that the best way to overcome nerves in an interview is to treat it as more of a conversation about yourself. You have the opportunity to use your time to talk about an easy topic – YOU.
It would be a mistake not to try for such an opportunity such as a placement year, wherever or whoever it is for!
How did you feel about receiving the Director’s Prize?
The prize was an honour and I can’t thank KBS, Elaine and Angela enough for even being nominated as a candidate for it. I’m glad I was able to help the Business School and the successful students on that placement intake and would be willing to return when I am back in the UK if I can help.
How has your experience with KBS helped with what you are doing now?
I am now currently working for UBS Investment Bank in New York for a year and hope that I can stay here in the near future or be re-located back to the London branch. My experience at KBS and with IBM is the reason I am here (in New York), so again I can’t thank the staff and my friends at Kent enough for getting me here. I wouldn’t have known where to find such an opportunity online if I hadn’t previously searched for jobs for my placement and would never have been as confident to want something as much as I did.
Any final comments?
I just want to add that a placement year with Kent was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity without the support of Angela and Elaine at the Business School. They helped so much with reaching the final steps of being placed and then welcomed me back into my final year. I really can’t emphasise what a difference it makes to both your approach to work and how much better your final degree looks with a year in industry, when applying to companies. I only hope more and more students continue to take KBS up on the opportunity that is there for them.