Blake Smith-Tyler

Blake Smith-Tyler

How did you hear about Leeds University Business School and why did you choose it?

When I was in sixth form, I was trying to decide what to do next. I decided to aim high by searching for the best Marketing courses in the UK. The consistently high rankings across the board meant Leeds University Business School stood out right from the start.

After visiting the business school on an Open Day, I knew this was where I wanted to go. Hearing about the opportunity to undergo a year in industry, and the fact that the Business School is one of the top targeted institutions by employers, made it a no-brainer.

Tell us about your degree - why did you choose it? What elements of the degree inspired you to study it?

Management with Marketing gives you a complete overview of the business world. In my three years, I have studied economics, accounting, entrepreneurship, organisational behaviour and the psychology of the workplace, digital technology, the history of business and of course the theory of marketing which has covered topics such as consumer behaviour and strategy.

I must be honest, I didn't realise the sheer breadth of the degree when I chose to apply back when I was 17. I have always been passionate about marketing. If I had to pick certain elements that inspired me to study my degree I would say it was the chance to learn about consumer behaviour and what influences consumers to purchase products and services.

What is the best part of your studies? What are you enjoying the most?         

I love the flexibility of the course. As you move through your degree, module choices get even greater as you specialise. I am enjoying being able to research a topic that interests me for my dissertation and add an original piece of academic work to the wider community.

My research topic is online vs. offline customer loyalty in the UK grocery market and the effect that price has in both channels. After my year in industry at Sainsbury’s I have a good working knowledge of this topic and is an area that interests me as it has real-life applications.

I’m essentially investigating whether price has a big influence on our choice of supermarket both online and offline, then determining how it differs in both channels.

What are your career aspirations? Do you think the experience and skills you will gain from your degree course will help you in your future career plans? In what way?

After my year at Sainsbury's in their marketing team, I am really keen to build a career in the digital marketing industry. My course has certainly given me some good foundations to achieve this.

Being able to take a year to work in industry is a fantastic opportunity. It allows you to gain that work experience that will be vital when applying for graduate roles.

Modules like Market Research and Consumer Behaviour will also be useful in my future career. Studying what makes a customer buy a product/service and how to actually find that out within your own product range is a necessary skill in any industry.

Do you have any noteworthy achievements from your studies at the Business School that you can tell us about - eg prizes, highest scores etc?        

Averaging a first in my second year was a massive achievement as I had to juggle academic work with a part time job and applying for placements which certainly took their fair share of my time. After working hard it was a great reward knowing that I'd done well and has made me calmer about final year.

I was President of the Advertising, Marketing and PR Society in my second year. From chairing the committee, to increasing our memberships by over 60 people in the first two months, to giving students the opportunity to meet like-minded marketers and work on real-life projects, this was a key highlight of my time at Leeds.

Have you taken up any of the extra opportunities available to you and what was your experience of these? Any highlights?

Throughout my degree, I have been heavily involved with extra opportunities at the Business School. I have taken part in the Nurturing Talent Mentor Scheme, Peer Assisted Study Sessions, and other employability-related activities. I have also successfully applied for and undertaken a year in industry at Sainsbury's in London.

Being part of the Nurturing Talent Mentor Scheme has been a huge highlight, with it helping me start to forge a career in digital marketing. My mentor, who works at Marks & Spencer has given me support in applications and interview preparation – including the opportunity to work shadow at the M&S head office in London.

What is your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the Yorkshire region?

Leeds is a great city to live and study in, with it having everything that a student could wish for. Pubs, restaurants, clubs, shops, cinemas, sport facilities, parks, you name it and Leeds most likely has something that will keep you occupied.

This is made even better by the excellent University of Leeds campus, with a lively Students’ Union that houses shops, bars, food places and great study areas. You will never be bored in Leeds.

Are there any other experiences outside of your studies that you have particularly enjoyed? What would you recommend to future students?

Going out in Leeds is a great experience for all students, whatever you are in to you will be able to find it. There are options for everyone and you can meet amazing people who you thought you wouldn't have met at all.

Were you involved in any widening access schemes before or during your time at Leeds?

I was involved in the Access to Leeds scheme, which allowed me to enter the university with slight lower grade requirements than the standard AAA offer. This was a massive boost for me as I am the first generation of my family to go to university and my school was in a low-achieving area. This was definitely a big factor in me putting Leeds as my firm choice.

Would you recommend the Business School to others who are considering studying here?

If you want to study at a world-leading Business School, then Leeds is the perfect place for you. High-level teaching combined with excellent facilities makes it very easy to enjoy your degree - it also attracts a wide range of international students which again gives the campus a great atmosphere.