Sera Ulusoy

Sera Ulusoy

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

I started my postgraduate studies at Bocconi in Italy. I always wanted to study in the UK but I wanted to give Italy a try as well, primarily because Bocconi was a very good school and the course I was accepted onto was a high profile one, I also received a merit scholarship. However, I noticed early on that the programme wasn’t right for me and I was more interested in consumer behaviour and marketing but I also enjoyed the quantitative side of it. After completing my first year at Bocconi, I made a decision to apply to some of the marketing courses in the UK that would be more aligned with what I wanted. I came across the Consumer Analytics & Marketing Strategy programme at Leeds (in its first year!). I chose Leeds as my first choice due to the course content. I’d also heard positive things about the school from some of the former grads, which helped me make the decision. Plus, it helped that the school was (and still is) amongst the top 5 to study marketing in the UK. 

Another thing that I always take into account and would advise others to consider is this: Leeds University Business School is a business school, which may not sound much to someone who did not do something related to business studies in their undergrad, but it matters a lot. If you want to do a business-related course, I would say always go for a uni that has a dedicated business school. The level and the quality of the education you receive is massively different at a business school in comparison to a business-related course offered at a uni without a business school. 

What was the best part of your studies here? What did you enjoy the most?

The people  - from the academic staff to my course mates. I enjoyed the ability to interact with my professors without hesitation, and mind you, this is not something you can find in a lot of business schools or universities. They make you feel at ease and they respect your opinions and contributions. There is no hierarchy between the student and the professors. The quality of the modules is high as well and you are exposed to very insightful and intelligent people in general. You understand this even better once you enter the world of work. 

What were your career aspirations when you arrived? Do you think the experience and skills you gained here will help/helped you in your future careers plans? In what way?

I did not plan anything specific- I’d told myself I wanted to either start my PhD in the UK or try to gain some work experience here prior to applying for a PhD. So I tried to do my best to apply myself to both. I wanted to have some industrial experience prior to starting a PhD, preferably at an innovative tech company. I’ve been lucky enough to be offered a position at Dyson and I am currently based in Malmesbury, near Bristol, at Dyson HQ working as an International Commercial Executive in the Retail Operations and Events department. My studies in Leeds have honestly helped me a lot; my course involved a lot of retail-related data analytics along with consumer behavior and marketing strategy. I also think that the international environment has definitely helped; it helps you become more empathetic, tolerant, open-minded, flexible and confident. 

What are your ambitions for the future?

I usually try not to make any long-term plans, mainly because I learned that if you plan too far ahead, they usually do not materialise the way you’d envisioned them. However, you end up doing something you enjoy by seizing the opportunities you come across. Having said that, I do have ambitions but broader ones, not a specific 5-year plan or a 10-year plan. I would love to stay in marketing and get more international experience. But I would like to get back to the academic life soon and begin my PhD (again in marketing, but I do not know specifically on what topic). If that happens, Leeds would definitely be amongst my top schools to apply for!

If you are not from the UK, how was the transition to a foreign country? Did the university offer support or services that you found helpful? Can you offer any advice?

I'm not from the UK but I was educated in an international environment and by a group of people who were predominantly British, hence I've always been familiar with the culture. My brother studies in Manchester and we were both lucky because neither one of us struggled with that transition, also thanks to our parents’ influence. I would also add that regardless of what might be going on in the country - such as Brexit or other things you hear every now and then that might create a negative perception, the UK is actually one of the rare countries that make you feel welcome as a foreigner. It helps that Leeds, as a Northern city, is full of friendly people that help make the transition easier. It also helps that the academic staff at the Leeds University Business School are the loveliest and they are there to help you regardless of how busy they are.

Always feel free to speak to your course directors or make sure to contact the alumni if you have any questions prior to your start or even during your studies if you struggle with anything. Surround yourself with people that are going through the same transition process and always keep an open mind if someone’s struggles are different than yours during that process because it truly helps you as well. And lastly, as odd as it might sound, my advice for the newcomers from foreign countries would be to familiarize themselves with the culture through TV shows, be it reality shows or sitcoms and dramas. Humour, in particular, is an essential part of this country and being able to understand that idiosyncratic British humour will help you a lot.  Also, learn a few local traditions – not just country specific but Yorkshire and Leeds-specific as well.

What was your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the region itself? What would you recommend to future students?

I realise that I have been so positive that people might think I am not being honest but I truly love the academic staff, the city and the region. We had a very lovely cohort - the only thing I would say is that because it was the first intake for our course - and perhaps because there weren’t as many of us trying to initiate gatherings - we didn’t get to organise a lot of events. But the course directors, amongst the other professors, always try to arrange socials, which help create that family atmosphere within the marketing department.

Business school facilities are usually very nice but having taken a lot of classes at the Roger Stevens Building. The student union is amongst the best in the country. I would say participate in some activities or even if you are not involved yourself, just go and watch the cultural fairs and shows they put on. You become more familiar with different cultures through those activities. 

Yorkshire is just heavenly, and Leeds is a very pretty and a very student-friendly town. I lived in big and populated cities for the most part and I always envied those living closer to the nature. Leeds offers both; you get the city atmosphere in the centre of the town, and then you have all these national parks and beautiful small towns within close proximity. Oh and the rail system works a lot more efficiently and effectively in and around Leeds: I live in Bristol now and sadly we always experience delays (plus, the trains aren’t as modern and nice either). Leeds is very ideally located- it is very close to the likes of Manchester and Liverpool, and it takes about 2-2.30 hours to reach London by train.