‘Studying Business and Management made me a natural leader’

Kent Union President Zaid Mahmood reflects on his journey from BSc student to Kent Union President

Zaid Mahmood studied Business and Management on the Medway campus followed by a year in Data Analytics at Canterbury, before being made president of Kent Union, the charitable organisation that acts as the voice of all Kent students.

Zaid is no stranger to going out of his comfort zone. He landed a place on BSc Business and Management through clearing after missing out on the grades to study Medicine.

He then relished life at Kent Business School student, taking up posts far and wide across university – from President of the Business Society, Social Media Assistant and Student Trustee not to mention podcast host and presenter. He also embraced the study of Business, enjoying it more than he could have ever imagined.

As an Undergrad, Zaid worked as a Social Media Assistant at KBS

‘I had an amazing experience on the course and have loved the way I’m taught. It’s helped me grow and develop the business intellect I need to move forward.

‘The programme included a wide range of modules – the foundations of everything in business. It was really interesting getting to know different areas. Every lecturer we had was an expert in their field – we had some of the best people teaching us. One of the best modules we had was on entrepreneurship, with Adam Smith. He’s an amazing lecturer and person, and makes you think for yourself.’

While the pandemic meant that Zaid couldn’t study his Year in Industry, he still reflects on this as a positive thing – as he got to add Data Analytics to his course, through an extra year of study at the end.

Zaid hosted the Kent Business School podcast. Spill the B while studying her BSc course

‘I’d been planning to work as cabin crew for British Airways – and you can’t do that virtually! So I went straight through to the final year instead. I’m grateful to KBS for making it a smooth transition.  The Year in Data Analytics helped me to understand that the business world is going digital – and Data Analytics is crucial. It was great to move to Canterbury and get to live across both campuses.’

This move was his first step to a role within Kent Union, as he got to know the university as a whole and gained a feel for the student body.

‘Over the course of my time at Kent, I found some of the best people that I’ve met in my life. True, genuine and authentic people who exude the same values as me. It feels like a diverse, multicultural and educated place with people from all walks of life.

The campaign poster for the 22/23 run for presidency of Kent Union

He had always followed the student union and felt he was well placed to be part of the organisation.  After running for presidency during his final year of study, and failing, he came back stronger.

‘We did a whole week of online campaigning and a week out on campus with handmade placards and t-shirts. I used the skills I have gained through my social media assistant role to launch a new Instagram channel, I followed everyone, sent DMs, designed beautiful graphics and things to share – all of this stuff I have learnt through KBS.’

By the end of the first week, traffic on his Instagram had risen 53,900 per cent and his name was getting out there.

Zaid out on the campaign trail on campus

‘I spent the time out on campus listening and understanding, coming up with viable problem solving for issues that span the student community. The Choice for Change slogan, I explained to them, is synonymous with ALL students being seen and heard at university. Regardless of race, religion, sexuality or background, they should feel represented. I have proven leadership skills, but I am an empath, first and foremost.’

He was thrilled to win the vote in 2022 and immersed himself into the role.

‘The Kent Union is a charitable organisation, but all day-to-day running requires business knowledge,” explains Zaid. “The stuff I’ve learned on my course – from financial accounting, management accounting, marketing, business operations to HR, all of these areas came into play straight away. The Union runs the Coop, Woody’s, Venue and the library café. These are streams of revenue that need to be managed to make a surplus that goes back into the Union.’

Zaid promotes his cost-of-living initiatives through the Union Instagram channel

Zaid has also really made a difference to the student community through campaigns that tackle the cost-of-living crisis and the safety of students including open letters to the government and a cost of living survey of the student body.

The Union has introduced a £3 meal deal at various food outlets, free advice services, free sanitary products and free breakfasts for students.

He says: ‘It’s been really beneficial to work for the Union in such a varied role. It all started with my course at KBS – getting an overview of business opened up all different fields of work and studying Business and Management helped me feel like a natural leader. On top of this, I was able to get involved in so much more than just my studies.’

Interested in studying Business and Management at Kent? Find out more

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