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Bhavna Sharma

MA Luxury Brand Management, 2020

Bhavna Sharma, Luxury Brand Management MA, 2020

What made you select the University of Southampton?

There were a lot of reasons why I chose to study at the University of Southampton- I spent almost a year researching different universities in the UK offering the Masters course of my choice.

One of the foremost reasons has to be that it is a Russell Group University, and has been consistently ranked among the top 100 universities globally.

The other reason influencing my choice was the transparency of the university- as an international student, it was not possible for me to visit the university and get all the information possible about my course and student life; and the International Office at the university had been extremely helpful throughout, both in terms of providing as much information as possible but also assisting me in addressing any issues during the admissions process.

Another reason why I chose UoS was because of the specific modules in my Masters course- they were not being offered in the other universities that I was considering.

What was it like studying here?

It was an incredible experience to be studying here! Though it was cut short because of the pandemic, the time I spent on the campus was beyond what I had expected!

The lectures were always so engrossing and inspiring- I would almost never come to know when they would end! One of my optional modules was my favourite class to attend, because our professor would always use very interesting cultural examples- which really got me interested in the subject. And I think the biggest factor was the difference in the type of study that UK universities follow compared to what I had experienced before. Students are encouraged to follow independent study, and I think that encourages creativity and has really helped me broaden my academic horizons.

While I lived in Winchester, at Riverside Way; it was extremely convenient for me to get to the Highfield and Avenue campuses in Southampton, because of the WSA Shuttle Bus!

The student community at UoS is just so welcoming- it is so easy to interact with so many different students, and it truly is a very global campus. I’ve had the pleasure of making new friends from all corners of the world, and I think that has taught me so much.

What were your Southampton ‘highlights’?

It might sound a little over-the-top, but I’d say that all my time spent at university was the biggest highlight! It was full of so many new and amazing experiences, both within and outside of my course.

I really enjoyed interacting with so many students from across the world, learning so much more about different cultures. I especially enjoyed Welcome Week at Highfield- the entire week was packed with so many interesting activities to help us meet new students, to learn more about the city and the different societies and activities to do around the campus. I loved spending my time at Hartfield library-it is one of the best academic libraries that I’ve been to.

I attended a lot of events organised by a charity group called Friends International, in collaboration with the Students’ Union. Through these events I learnt a lot about British culture, we visited a lot of nearby places such as Romsey, the New Forest; we explored Southampton through the ‘Titanic Trail’- and even after the pandemic began, we stayed connected through Zoom, taking virtual trips together!

As a part of my course, we took a class trip to London for 4 days, which was so great! Aside from our practical learning, we had so much fun together, with our highlights being ‘Champagne on the London Eye’ and ‘Hi-tea at Harrods’. Our second class trip to Paris was unfortunately cancelled because of the lockdown.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The thing that I most enjoyed about my course was how much we were encouraged to explore more about the topics we had learned, and to think outside the box.

Coupled with guest lectures and brand interactions, there was so much knowledge to gain!

Another thing that I liked was that we were a small cohort of about 20 students, and from different countries; so we learned so much from each other.
Alongside my course, I also had the opportunity to study new languages (Italian and German) through the Language Learning Opportunities at the Avenue campus- which really helped me in building a strong professional profile.

During my course, I also had the amazing opportunity to work on a live brand consultancy project in collaboration with the British luxury automaker, Aston Martin; which was so incredible! However, we could not present the project to the brand as was intended due to Covid-19.

Did any exposure to employer opportunities or research led learning during your course help you achieve your ambition? If so, how?

I had the opportunity to work part-time with SUSU WSA while I was studying. It was a really great learning experience, and was really fun too; because I had the chance to interact with students from different programs across the campus.

I would also regularly consult Career Services for guidance and advise related to job applications and careers opportunities

.I also attended several job fairs at the campus, and sessions at Career Services.

While I did apply for several other internships and work opportunities, the initial lockdowns led to the cancellation of my interviews. However, I did continue working with SUSU WSA from home.

All of these different experiences really helped me refine my profile with a more global perspective, and also pushed me to try harder.

How has your degree helped develop your career?

My reason to choose to pursue my degree was to diversify and to specialise in luxury; and completing my degree has helped me build a more specialist profile and a refined professional acumen.

While the pandemic has hindered the pursuit of some of my goals, but I am certain that my degree has equipped me with the skills and knowledge essential to be successful in this industry.

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

I have been working as a feature writer with an American luxury website- I have been spearheading the brand interaction and video interviews initiative for them.

Aside from that, I have also begun a personal entrepreneurial venture out of a special hobby- I have begun selling watercolour paintings of birds worldwide and have been accepting special commissions as well.

And I am continuing to look for a position in brand strategy in a leading luxury brand!

What have been the highlights of your career to date?

To be honest, I am yet to begin a full-fledged career in luxury after completing my degree. But so far, one of the highlights after graduation has been that I had the opportunity to interview the Chief Design Officer of one of India’s leading luxury jewellery and watches brand.

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?

An important piece of advice which has stuck with me since my undergraduate days, which I personally feel is crucial for an individual’s growth, both personal and professional, is that once you stop learning, you stop growing. So keeping your mind open to new things and the willingness to learn something new each day is something that would help in any sector.

Focusing on my sector, I would say that keeping up with the current and ever evolving consumer trends, and brand initiatives and strategies in response to them,, is something that would help make them more employable when they graduate.

Putting in the hours of honing imperative skills such as communication and management skills can help make your professional profile extremely impressive.

And always taking the time to analyse what you have learnt from every work opportunity, both paid or unpaid, and academic and professional.

Do you have any future ambitions?

I have a long list of future ambitions which I strongly hope I can achieve!

In the immediate future, I am aiming at building a global career in brand strategy or consumer insight, as these fields in my sector interest me the most.


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