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Brunel degrees prepare alumna for success in the business world

Brunel degrees prepare alumna for success in the business world

Sabina Mohammed

Brunel was my first-choice university and I was thrilled to be accepted. I decided to go with Brunel because of the Business School and I wanted to be at a university which was within London but not in the City of London. Therefore, it provided the perfect combination.

Sabina, Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Alumni

Chief Risk Officer, CNA Hardy Insurance

International Business MSc - 2008

From UK

Previous Institution

Brunel University London - Business and Management (Accounting) BSc

Which country do you currently live in?

Luxembourg

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

I graduated from Brunel in 2005 with my BSc in Business and Management with Accounting and started to work for a local accountancy firm. I felt I needed to study further and decided to return to Brunel to pursue a MSc in International Business. This was a stepping stone for my career, as immediately after, I landed a job in the Insurance London Market. I started my career with a large non-life insurance corporate as an Assistant Accountant and after few years I changed my career to Risk Management. I decided to study for CIMA, and having a degree in Business and Management helped with some exemptions, allowing me to fast-track through some exams. I was fortunate to land a job with the prestigious Lloyd’s of London and from here I moved to Singapore and then to Hong Kong. After spending five years in the insurance sector in Asia, I moved to Continental Europe, and am currently residing in Luxembourg working for an American insurer, CNAH Insurance.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

I work closely with all seven branches across Europe and the UK, ensuring we are aligned on our risk framework, governance, assessments, quantifications and reporting on all key exposures as an insurance business. The reporting varies from operational matters to number crunching. I report directly to the Board and Executive Committees on all risk matters. Currently there is a huge focus on sustainable finance, ESG, climate change, inflation and the changing political environment. There is never a ‘typical day’ in risk, and conversations vary across teams from Actuarial, Investment, HR, and IT to Compliance, Audit and office admin. There is never a dull day… as a CRO you have a finger in every pie.

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

I feel like I have been very fortunate to have worked for large corporates, including Lloyd's of London and also at the same time, I have been fortunate to work in the Asian insurance market which was developing at the time I moved. In the last 10-12 years of my working life, I have gained a vast variety of experience within the insurance market in London, Asia and Continental Europe. This has truly been a highlight of my career.

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

My Brunel experience helped me in two ways. Firstly, studying Business and Management with Accounting helped me to purse a CIMA qualification and gain an insight into the financial and strategic element of the business world. This helped me to secure a job in the financial sector and was the key element to the entry. It also helped to escalate my CIMA exams and I reflected back to my BSc notes for some CIMA exams. Secondly, taking the MSc in International Business helped me progress and understand the impact of internationalisation, which further helped me when I moved from country to country and had to adapt to the different customs, business ethics, and values.

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

Brunel was my first-choice university and I was thrilled to be accepted for the BSc. I decided to go with Brunel because of the Business School and I wanted to be at a university which was within London but not in the City of London. Therefore, it provided the perfect combination. I was so satisfied with my time at Brunel as an undergraduate that I returned as a postgraduate. I enjoyed the campus life and the tutors were always supportive; for that reason, I will always recommend Brunel.

What is your best memory of studying here?

The campus life and the canteen - my favourite was the chocolate sponge cake and custard! That was a treat I waited for all week!

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

Enjoy your time at Brunel, build on your network at uni, ask for a mentor outside of your course and gain some internship / work placement experience when you are out of term time.

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

It can be tough, I remember it was for me as I had never had a corporate job. But do not give up, keep trying, use LinkedIn, attend networking fairs, contact companies directly rather than just doing the online applications, get a specialist or someone professional to help with your CV and covering letter, and do other activities outside of your studies. I also strongly suggest taking some time to work or study abroad, it will change your life in many ways.

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