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From Computer Science degree to a career as a Strategist and starting an agency

From Computer Science degree to a career as a Strategist and starting an agency

Takunda Chikuku

Brunel instilled in me a creative curiosity and an understanding of what's possible with technology and the power it has to shape culture and solve real human pain points

Takunda, Undergraduate, Alumni

Product Strategist, Rehab Studio

Computer Science (Software Engineering) BSc - 2012

From Zimbabwe

Previous Institution

Sydney Russell Sixth Form - A Levels

Which country do you currently live in?

UK

Tell us about your educational and/or career journey since you graduated from Brunel?

Since completing my degree, I started my career journey in the emerging start-up scene in London - Silicon Roundabout - and found my way into advertising as a Strategist by chance. Helping research markets, audiences and competitors for brands with my background in tech, I ended up in brand innovation and creative technology, which married my interest in culture and tech at a point when advertising was starting to embrace social media and emerging technologies. I moved to an innovation consultancy working with household brands to modernise with digital transformation. I then started an agency to help smaller brands think big whilst innovating, and this led me to my current role as a Product Strategist working at the intersection of business goals, user research and product ideation and design.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

There is no typical day really which is something I love. I work across multiple accounts at any time with varying needs at varying stages, from pitches to discovery definition and design phases. Connecting with business problems and goals, understanding consumer needs, prototyping and validating solutions, and then actually building digital products that excite users and produce tangible results for businesses and brands.

What’s been the highlight of your career journey so far?

One highlight that I'm fond of is helping an agri-tech start-up based in South Africa to win funding from the World Bank, winning an innovation award for the pitch we created. What makes this highlight special is the fact it was under my own company creative agency - WonderGang - where we help brands engage with fans.

How would you say your Brunel experience has helped you to get where you are today?

I think Brunel was an excellent foundation that helped me explore and open up possibilities in my practice with the guidance and encouragement from tutors. Brunel instilled in me a creative curiosity and an understanding of what's possible with technology and the power it has to shape culture and solve real human pain points.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I chose Brunel because of the world class stature in engineering and an excellent computer science department. The campus environment also played a part knowing there was a centralised campus community of peers and support to encourage and support you at every stage of the journey. The rich history and expertise of tutors and lecturers was another factor in my choice.

What is your best memory of studying here?

The best memory of studying at Brunel (there's so many it's hard to choose) was probably the elated feeling of handing in my dissertation and my tutor reviewing my work and marvelling at the output they helped me achieved. At the time, my final year project was based on the then nascent technology of augmented reality which had not taken the world by storm. He was so impressed it led to opportunities to do further research with Brunel which was amazing for me.

If you could give one piece of advice to current Brunel students, what would that be?

One piece of advice I would give is to cherish the moments as it goes by so quickly. To get the best out of your experience, lean in and always stay curious. Get involved and find out what's going on in the wider macro field outside your curriculum and how you can help shape the research and output from Brunel.

What would be your top tip or key advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey after leaving Brunel?

Top tip is to lean on your network of tutors, peers and alumni - there is so much support and knowledge that can help guide you to where you want/need to go. There is always help at Brunel for those who ask.

#IamBrunel

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