Case study – Juliet Lei

Juliet Lei

What is your nationality?



What/when did you study at Durham?

I studied MA Education from 2014 to 2015.


What are you doing now?

I am an Account Specialist at a global software product company, Avepoint, in Shanghai, China.


What does your job involve?

My clients are enterprises from all over the world, such as Washington DC, London, Paris, Munich, Melbourne and Singapore. Briefly speaking, my job is to deliver presentations that give prospective and existing customers insights into how our solutions solve their challenges. I get to attend remote and onsite meetings with global clients, work with our technical experts to help close the deal. It is really interesting and mind-blowing to talk to people with different cultural backgrounds.


How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?

The greatest treasure for me is the amazing people I’ve met along the way in Durham University who enriched me as a better person. They’ve been nothing but inspiring and supportive. Many people might think London is a better place to live than any other places in the UK. Well, the answer can be NO if you come to Durham. There were plenty of events to join literally every day which is one of the benefits of having the collegiate system. The only thing I felt a shortage of was time. I wish I could have had 30 hours a day to go to class and attend all sorts of events. The diverse workshops and seminars have helped me prepare for my future career. The societies and clubs have helped with my skills in particular areas. I was surprised how resourceful and thoughtful the platform that Durham has provided to us.


What advice would you give to current students?

Don’t stop trying just because others say you can’t make it. They are not you and they have no idea what you are capable of. Keep an open mind, open eyes and open spirit. If you are paying attention, there are many positive aspects you can learn from people around you.



Any other information you want to provide?

Keep smiling. It brings good luck.


Case study – Youssef Ebrik

What is your nationality?YE


What/when did you study at Durham?

I received my MSc Finance degree from Durham in January 2014.

What are you doing now – employer and role?

 I am currently an Associate with KPMG‘s Deal Advisory team in the UAE.

 What does your job involve? 

My job mainly involves working on mergers & acquisitions from a due diligence perspective.

 How did your time at Durham help you to succeed? 

I have learned a lot from my time at Durham. Other than improving my technical skills and learning more about my field of interest through the classes I took and the career events I attended, my soft skills were also enhanced by interacting with people from different backgrounds.

What advice would you give to current students? 

My advice to current students would be to first figure out what they want to do, take classes which are relevant to their field of interest, and glean as much as they can from the classes since those skills will be applied in their careers. Also, a very important bit would be to network as much as possible. Career events are usually a good place to start.

Case study – Namali Goonetillake

What is your nationality?Namali new Sri Lankan.

What/when did you study at Durham? BA Economics, 2008-2011.

What are you doing now? Employed by RBS in London, Assistant Director in Corporate Banking.

What does your job involve? Providing financing requirements for Healthcare and Pharmaceutical companies with a turnover of more than £25m.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed? The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre allowed me to explore my options within the banking industry and helped me prepare for interviews and assessment centres.

What advice would you give to current students? Work experience is pivotal – I found that doing Easter weeks and internships are helpful. In the current job market in the banking sector, doing an internship is almost the only way to get on to a graduate scheme – out of the 20 people that started on my scheme, 18 were on my internship the previous summer. Employers like to know whom they are hiring long term. Consider your internship a 2 month/10 week assessment centre! In addition, extra curricular activities are important. I was quizzed about volunteering at a local Durham school as a mentor as well as my involvement in the water polo team – it gives you something to talk about at an interview, allows you to answer competency questions easily and shows you have interests outside work and education. In addition, it’s likely to give you an edge over most applicants as the admissions process into grad schemes is increasingly competitive.

Any other information you want to provide? Students don’t seem to use the careers centre as much as they should. I was only one of a small handful of students in my year who bothered to find out options – you may think you know what’s out there, but it helps to make sure!

Please note – the opinions expressed here are those of Namali and not her employer.

Case study – Jo-Sharon Udoh

What is your nationality? – NigerianJosharon

What/when did you study at Durham?MSc Software Engineering Management, 2009/10 academic year. Ustinov College.

What are you doing now?

I currently work as a Quality Assurance Analyst for the United Bank for Africa Plc.

What does your job involve?

I provide software testing and quality assurance support to the entire IT Directorate of the bank.

Working as part of a progressive team, I am responsible for planning and executing test related deliverables across various stages of testing, analysis of complex projects and activities to identify the test requirements, both functional and regression based, work closely with the development team to ensure business and systems requirement coverage. My role also involves identifying process improvement opportunities, developing and managing standards, methods and procedures towards improving the quality and accuracy of deliverables throughout the development life cycle.

I take pride in delivering high quality standards both in product and process. My role has enabled me develop a working knowledge of the supported portfolio of functionality and systems in the bank’s IT enterprise.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?

I had the opportunity to learn about a wide range of cutting-edge research during the 12-months spent in Durham. I also learned new techniques and found valuable resources for my degree programme. Aside from offering a great education, Durham University enhanced my employability skills. The courses were designed in an integrated way to build up my expertise step by step, using a balance of theory and practice, with many team-based projects running alongside lectures. I left Durham feeling able to choose who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. You stand out with a Durham degree and I still feel lucky to have been there.

What advice would you give to current students?

Durham is a great place to study – the research is world class, and the collegiate system provides unrivalled support and social opportunities. I have no doubt that past, present and future students of Durham University will take the experience and knowledge they’ve gained in Durham and translate it into cutting edge work ethic and research all around the world.  I would definitely recommend applying to Durham. Good luck!

Any other information you want to provide?

Academically, the teaching I received and the knowledge I accumulated in Durham University has vastly helped me in my current professional endeavours and will continue to do so for a number of years. I’m sure I speak for a number of the Durham alumni when I say that my Durham years were the most intellectually formative of my life, and have well prepared me for any number of upcoming professional challenges.

Case Study – Michelle Okoyomo

What is your nationality?Michelle O


What/when did you study at Durham?

2010-2011, MSc. Finance and Investment, Ustinov College.

Dissertation: Managerial Over-confidence and Cross-border Mergers and Acquisitions: An analysis of bidder’s performance in cross-border acquisitions managed by overconfident and non-confident managers. Distinction Earned in Dissertation

What are you doing now?

Investment Banking (“IB”) Analyst at Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, a leading boutique Investment Bank headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria

What does your job involve?

My role as an IB Analyst involves advising and assisting clients in various industries to achieve their business growth objectives whether it’s their need to undertake/explore strategic options such as mergers & acquisitions, or seeking capital for business expansion.

This requires carrying out an in-depth analysis of the client’s business and industry to understand the growth drivers as well as analysing the company’s financial performance to identify an optimal strategic alternative/source of capital (equity or debt) to raise depending on the operating dynamics of the business.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?

My studies at Durham equipped me with the skill sets required for a successful career in Investment Banking.

My course work and experience developing my dissertation enabled me develop strong research, analytical and project management skills.

Planning, researching and presenting my dissertation enhanced my ability to understand and analyse complex data to identify trends and make informed decisions. In addition, this experience helped me learn how to effectively manage a project and present ideas and findings.

With Durham having a diverse body of students from all over the world, I enjoyed working in seminar projects with people from different backgrounds which helped me develop good people skills.

What advice would you give to current students?

Identify what goals you seek to achieve from an education in Durham, develop a goal schedule, plan your time and never procrastinate.

Time goes by before you know it. Make the best out of the short time you have.

Engage yourself in all the many social and professional activities. Try meeting up with any of the companies of interest that come for a career talk because there are a whole bunch of them that visit the school.

Take time to enjoy Durham in the summer, the scenery is beautiful.

Any other information you want to provide?

Excelling in Durham requires a lot of hardwork but what is most important is working smart and efficiently. Like I said, time management is key.

Case study – Afiola Etomi

What is your nationality?Afiola - Grad (2)
Dual citizen of Nigeria and Britain.

What/when did you study at Durham?
Philosophy & Politics (Hild Bede, 2010-2013)

What are you doing now?
Currently, I am an Assistant Project Manager with a sports management firm called Making of Champions. We are working to revolutionise the performance of Nigerian athletics through private sector channels. I have also accepted a place on a Management Consulting grad scheme with Capgemini in London, beginning autumn 2015.

What does your job involve?
It’s a dynamic, generalist role that sees me working closely with colleagues to answer pressing strategic questions. Alongside this, there is the classic project management activity of planning and executing big sporting competitions all over Nigeria. This allows me to travel around to discover new talents.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?
Durham provided immense extra-curricular opportunities which really accelerated my personal development. I sharpened public speaking skills with the DUS, honed commercial skills as a promoter of Itchy Feet, and enjoyed the team bonding of college sport.

What advice would you give to current students?
“Don’t let your degree get in the way of your education” was what my Hild Bede principal always said. Spot on!

Case Study – Damilola Fakiyesi

What is your nationality? NigerianDamilola Fakiyesi 2

What/when did you study at Durham? MSc Economics & Finance, October 2009 to January 2011.

What are you doing now? I work with Access Bank Plc in Lagos, Nigeria. I am a Transactor, Project & Structured Finance Group.

What does your job involve? My job involves the arranging and structuring of project finance loans to include limited and non recourse financing.

It also involves the analysis of company and industry fundamentals, financial modeling, forecasts and the provision of structuring and advisory support to core market facing units.

How did your time at Durham help you to succeed?

My time at Durham University has been fundamental to my career growth. I can say Durham made possible my transition from Retail Banking to Investment Banking. While I remember the process being tough, the knowledge has stayed with me ever since. Constant practice before and during the seminar sessions all through the MSc. built a strong modeling foundation, which I have been able to apply to Project Finance.

What advice would you give to current students?

Take advantage of every learning opportunity provided during your time in Durham If you are a postgraduate student and happen to be in Ustinov College take advantage of the multi-cultural background to learn about different cultures and exchange ideas. Enjoy every second of your time at Durham and work hard, the result is worth it. Finally take the boat ride and take lots of pictures.

Any other information you want to provide?

The local Durham University Alumni and Durham University Business School Alumni in Nigeria has also been pivotal I’m my career development which is another avenue both current and graduating students can utilize either in providing guidance for research work or for networking.