Alumni Q&A - Mamta Mehra
Master of International Business(2019)
· Current role/company:
Data Engagement and Reporting Consultant, University of Melbourne
· Where in the world are you?
· Tell us about your experience since leaving university. How have you come to your current position? Is this the sort of role you always wanted to be in, or were there some twists and turns along the way?
I graduated December 2019 and let’s just say the experience has felt most uncommon compared to any previous graduating class. Today and even years from now, we will be able to say we were the cohort that graduated right before the pandemic struck and that it most definitely defined our post-graduation experience, personally but also professionally.
I’m currently working as Data Engagement and Reporting consultant and this involves working with different kinds of stakeholders and a lot of numbers. Lucky for me, I enjoy both. The role came about through my mentor and I started off as an Analyst working part-time during the course of my degree.
Looking back and in comparison to my prior work experience, first in Finance and then Key Account Management at Nestle U.A.E., my current role is quite different in many aspects. As a newbie and prior to my move to Melbourne, I had no idea of what consulting entailed. It was through volunteering with 180 Degrees Consulting, interning with IBM Singapore and participating and winning a case competition that I was introduced to this world and figured where my skillset fit best. I’m still on a journey of self-discovery and hope to be able to contribute and work in social impact consulting, in organizations that fuse strategy, consulting and customer service into their product offering and whose values align with my own. To say there haven’t been twists in this journey would be an understatement – with COVID derailing so many plans. However personally, despite the disruption, I believe it’s all about perspective and that we can all still make the most out of a bad situation if we keep an open mind, persevere, stay resilient and not give up on what drives us. As they say, this too shall pass.
· How have you adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g. moving on-line, working from home, etc? Have you learned anything about working flexibly/digitally that you were surprised by?
Personally, I’ve been very lucky in the fact that moving to WFH was quite seamless given my current role and profession. However, understandably, it wasn’t the case for many others I know.
Professionally, I was surprised how quickly everyone made the transition and made it work. It’s a true testament to human resilience despite how challenging a continuous work from home scenario can be. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and in awe, especially of the mums and dads who have done this while juggling their kids on the side. In this time, I made a promise to myself to continue to check in and reach out to family and close friends, but also do the same professionally, within and outside of my current LinkedIn network. I've been very pleased but also humbled by the fact that I’ve had tremendous opportunity to chat to, learn from and network with many new individuals in different professions from my own during our collective work from home experiment. In fact, one chat resulted in me applying and recently being accepted to a highly selective and accredited online MBA program, which is crazy as I didn't expect to go back to school again, but also exciting. Another chat has resulted in my volunteering with a Not For Profit Foundation, aimed at community and youth development, as a Strategy Projects Consultant allowing me to feel like I'm doing MORE and giving back to the community during these times. The past three months have most definitely shone a light on the beauty of human perseverance and comity despite these odds.
I’ve also come to realise that I am and have been productive, whether in the office or out of it. I believe this pandemic will change the landscape for so may individuals and employers who might’ve otherwise believed WFH to be an unsustainable business model. I do however miss the socialisation aspect and believe going in for activities such as team meetings and team bonding exercises will come back!
I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed having more time and it has allowed to get back to my yoga practice and reading. I’ve finished 7 books this year and the plan is keep going.
· Do you have any advice for opportunities to work overseas?
I recently attended a webinar where this insightful question was asked: 'What advice would you have for working professionals to stay visible on LinkedIn and within their professional network, given the current pandemic and changing work landscape?'. The response was this one liner which will always stick with me. The speaker said, 'Remember, your network is your net worth'. Irrespective of a pandemic or no pandemic, it is vital we amass social credits. We then have the ability to decide how we use the social capital accumulated at a later time- be it through influencing someone, a cause or even asking for something. Ask yourself, what am I doing to top up my credit balance? What am I doing for other people that matter to me, in a space/industry that matters to me?
And so my advice would be... Engage, Engage, Engage! Connect with individuals on LinkedIn that you aspire to be, wish to emulate; with employers whose values and work ethics align with your own. If there’s one thing the pandemic has shown us, it’s that it doesn’t discriminate. It spans across borders and that in turn has provided us with an impetus to do the same. It serves as a reminder that self-isolation or WFH is no excuse to not strike up conversations, in fact, it should spur you to do so even more. This is a great time to reach out and reinvigorate relationships. So, my advice would be to use available platforms and the pandemic to its advantage. It has given us an excuse to reach out, connect and chat to people virtually, and this trend is going to stay even after thereby providing so many of us with the perfect opportunity to lay the ground work for working overseas.
· What is the best way to develop your CV while you’re at university?
Personally, I had a great mentor, who I met through the FBE Career Mentoring Program, who was instrumental during my time at University and continues to be to this day. As a mentor, she provided tips to better my CV in terms of layout, structure and content which was a bonus! I would say that feedback is one of the most beneficial tools when it comes to developing your CV. Feedback from those you trust or from individuals in the line of work you see yourself in, in the future. The different perspectives really help you define over time how you want your CV and in turn, yourself, to be viewed by different employers.
I also found the Resume and Cover Letter building workshops help by the University helpful early on in my journey. I would advise looking at Canva for inspiration around different layouts, colour palettes and designs too!
· What is your top tip for exam preparation?
Top Tip? DO YOUR READINGS IN ADVANCE, weekly if possible! I learnt this the hard way after my first semester and initially felt ousted by the number of readings per subject. By doing your readings in advance, you can avoid feeling completely overwhelmed by the content and exam material come exam time. I would also advise current students to plan out a study schedule, considering factors like the difficulty level, amount of content to get through etc., and try to stick to it.
SLEEP! I believe it is so underrated as a University student but so important. I personally am an early bird and realised I was able to study and retain a lot more if I slept enough. I consider sleep hugely important to be able to stay sane and prepare for exams well along with movement and exercise. Go for a run, do some yoga, a quick HIIT session or have your own solo dance party! Also, breaks. Make sure you take them. They really do help one reset, refocus however I should also caveat that and call them ‘planned breaks.’ We all know how this could spiral into an endless scroll through our Instagram ... or what is it now? TikTok?
If you’d like to ask Mamta more about her experiences, connect with her on LinkedIn and mention you have read the Q&A.