Arif moves into Strategic Planning

Name: Arif Fahim
Course: MA Marketing
Graduated: 2012 

Nationality: Indian
Employer: St. Jude Medical, India 
Current position: Associate Manager – Strategic Planning

I come from New Delhi, India. Prior to beginning my Masters degree at the University of Durham, I had already obtained a Bachelors of Commerce Honours Degree from the University of Delhi, India, followed by some years of work experience in Product Marketing with a global life sciences company.

I chose to study at Durham University Business School for several reasons. First, while researching courses I found the Marketing Masters to be a very well structured programme featuring a wide variety of modules. These not only provided an extensive coverage of marketing, but also an exposure to concepts in business strategy, management decision making, organizational behavior, business economics and accounting. Second, the profile of the teaching staff seemed very impressive, they were highly experienced and qualified, and therein most of them had several research publications. Finally, Durham is a very beautiful and peaceful city, and the university is the third oldest in England, so is steeped in tradition and history.

When I arrived in Durham, my experience far exceeded my expectations, and the one-year I spent there ended up being very rewarding. I made some wonderful friends, saw some breathtaking places, and thoroughly enjoyed the entire year. Towards the end of the academic year, I had seven distinctions and two merit-grades on my nine modules; a distinction on the corporate-sponsored research dissertation; and an award for the ‘best academic performance’ on the programme. That was not all; my dissertation supervisor even agreed to co-author a research paper with a fellow student and me.

I believe, if you organise your time effectively, besides the rich academics, there are many extra curricular activities to pursue alongside studying. I participated in the University’s Blueprint Business Plan competition. The business venture made it to the final round of the University-level stage of the competition. I co-founded and was the Secretary of one of the South Asian Societies at Ustinov College. I also participated and stood 2nd in the Strategic Marketing competition organised by Durham Business School in coordination with Market2Win Ltd. This allowed me to secure work experience with the company working directly with the Managing Director, which later led to my contribution on a case study in his recently released book ‘Marketing Navigation’.

After studying on the Masters in Marketing programme, I developed an interest in Strategic Marketing and Business Strategy and was keen to work in a related area. St. Jude Medical offered the perfect role in Strategic Planning. It being a medical devices company, also presented the right opportunity to leverage on my previous work experience in life sciences.

The selection process was tough and had several rounds of screening, which comprised of a written application, a telephone interview, two face-to-face skills based personal interviews, an HR Manager interview and a personal interview with the Country Head.

In my current role I enjoy a great amount of variety due to a dual function nature of my job. My primary function entails conceptualisation, planning, development and implementation of major strategic programmes in Therapy Development targeted towards improving therapy awareness, access, affordability and adoption. My secondary responsibilities involve taking initiatives to reach out to top-level health insurance stakeholders to develop synergies and obtain coverage for therapy reimbursement in India.

I would say that the Durham experience taught me the much-needed thoroughness, attention to detail, workplace maturity and patience. My teachers at Durham have prepared my mind to think more maturely and strategically on day-to-day business problems. Moreover, the multicultural learning experience at Durham prepared me to value varied opinions and ideas. Advice from the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre was also very valuable in helping me to focus my CV effectively and prepare for job interviews.

The takeaway from the Durham experience varies from person to person. My advice to current and future students is to introspect their purpose of studying on a Masters programme and work hard.

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