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The University of Southampton
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Sitsofe Awushie Banini

MSc Project Management, 2020

Sitsofe Awushie Banini

What made you select the University of Southampton?

I selected the University of Southampton amongst the others I applied to for the following reasons:

- It was a Russel Group University

- Some of the Modules in the MSc. PM courses were unique compared to other (Eg. Decision making and analysis in Projects, Data & Knowledge Management, Systems Thinking & Problem Solving)

Support services even before I decided to join the university. The country rep contacted me, I was invited to a meet up and introduction event in my home country. That made me a bit more at ease and gave me a personal touch with the university.

What was it like studying here?

Studying at UoS was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. One of the intriguing things I would like to highlight was the mode of delivery of my lectures. Most of my lectures (project management specific modules especially) were held in interactive learning spaces with round tables that allowed us to work and study in groups which is a key development process for a project manager. The round table set up allowed us to interact with each other as much as possible in every lecture. This allowed me to gradually become comfortable and more confident working and interacting with others, which is a dominant skill a project manager must possess because our usual line of work which involves interacting and managing people.

Another interesting highlight was the support that was available to me. My course lecturers were very available, accessible, and patient to answer my every question and concerns whether academic or not.

What were your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences)?

My best experience would always be the opportunity I had to participate in the APM Wessex Challenge. Given the contacts and association of my course lecturers to external professional bodies, I was privileged to have been part of the Winning Team (Eudemonia) of the APM Wessex Challenge 2019.

As requirement from the challenge, we were tasked to initiate, plan, and execute a project on the theme; ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace”. This challenge gave us a platform to apply PM knowledge from our lectures to practical real-life situations and trained us to come up with innovative ways to deal with problems that arise in the delivery of projects. This also taught us how knowledge and skills gained and developed from the project management course could be transferrable to any project regardless of the industry you work in.

I can proudly say that, even though the PM course I studied in UoS sits in the domain of the Business school, I am successfully applying knowledge and skilled gained to the Construction Industry where I currently work. I have also successfully introduced and implemented the “Wellbeing on Site” initiative as part of the Health and Safety commitment of my organization to its employees and stakeholders.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The enjoyable part about the MSc PM course in the University of Southampton Business School is the diverse backgrounds it brings together which enriches your learning experience. While studying I engaged with other students from a wide range of academic backgrounds from politics, economics, and finance to engineering, IT and construction.

Group course works taught me how to bring different perspectives and ways of thinking together to be able to achieve a common goal. I enjoyed some of the conflicting thoughts and resolving these conflicts were interesting challenges to deal with and overcome.

Did any exposure to employer opportunities (such as work experience, company presentations, career mentoring) or research led learning during your course help you achieve your ambition? If so, how?

The research led learning of my course helped me greatly. Most of my assessments were not very abstract and theoretical but very practical and situational based. This made the PM knowledge more applicable to real life situations.

A presentation from an alumnus during one of my lectures also helped a great deal. She shared her experience as a student of the PM course and how she had used her knowledge in one of the course modules to write up her CV as part of her relevant job experience.

Assistance from the UoS careers and employability also helped me write up a good CV by providing a good structure and also reviewed my CV and gave me very helpful feedback to improve upon it.

How has your degree helped develop your career?

I currently work as a Project Manager for a Construction and Development Consultancy in London. Thanks to my MSc degree in Project Management, I apply every knowledge and skills learnt from my degree in my workplace. As part of my job, I manage risks to projects, I am responsible for the successful delivery of my projects on time, on budget and at the at most quality. I work and manage people from different cultural and academic backgrounds on my projects. Aligning every individual’s goal, understanding and expectations to achieve a common project goal is something I learnt while in UoS. Researching on the relationship management skills of the project manager in the successful delivery of projects (my dissertation) as well as modules such as “Project Management - People and Organizations” and “Managing in a Global context” go a long way to help me achieve this.

What interesting projects have you been involved in that you would like to tell us about since graduating?

I am currently involved with the delivery of Sustainable Future Homes in London. I find this project very interesting because it is aimed to meet the RIBA 2030 Sustainability Challenge. A successful delivery of this project would greatly contribute to the reduction of the carbon footprint of the UK and helps achieve one of the UN Sustainable development Goals (Goal 11-Sustainable Cities and Communities)

I remember having to discuss the contribution of a project to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in one of my module assessments and to be working with one in a real-life situation is very interesting and satisfying.

What have been the highlights of your career to date?

Since I graduated from the university, I have had the opportunity to mentor Enactus Southampton to develop and implement a project management framework in the delivery of their projects and their society activities (I did this alongside another alumni). I also had the chance to work as a peer advisor for Post Graduate students who joined the University of Southampton in January 2021. Following on I landed my current job as Project Manager for a construction consultancy. All these different roles I have been involved with and still involved in have been extremely relevant to my career development. I look forward to becoming a lecturer and a project practitioner in the very never future and I believe all these different exposures are leading me to my dream.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate?

Embrace every little opportunity the course brings your way. I was very shy and timid when I initially joined the University, but I decided to volunteer and try anything relating to my course and this transformed me a lot over the 12-month period as a student.  I put myself up for most opportunities presented in the course such as presentations of behalf of my group for course works, volunteering activities including the APM Challenge, participating in activities during lecturers and seminars. Some important skills you may not directly be taught as part of your modules.

Travelling to a foreign country can sometimes be daunting but also comes with very great opportunities and lessons. Do not only stick to people from a common nationality as you because of the fear of being misunderstood (language barrier or cultural differences). I had the most fantastic learning experiences by interacting and engaging with my closest course mates who were from different parts of the globe from me (Russia, Greece, and Mexico). The best students and the help you may need may not always speak the same language as you.

Completing a master’s degree amid a pandemic helped me build resilience. Deciding to surge on and do my best even in the most difficult times was very necessary. And taking advantage of support systems provided by the university helped a lot.

The process of job searching required a great deal of resilience to push through several rejections especially given my immigration status as an international student. There is always a great lesson in the direst situation, hence, look out for that lesson in whatever challenges you may face in your university journey.

Do you have any future ambitions?

Future ambitions. That is an interesting one. I do in the short term want to see myself very settled in my profession and I am working hard towards getting the relevant professional certifications in my field alongside the experience. And in the long term I look to pass on the knowledge and experiences gained to up and coming generations either by form of lecturing or mentoring.

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