Zaid Mahmood

Business and Management

Every lecturer we had was an expert in their field – we had some of the best people teaching us.

Why did you choose to study Business and Management at Kent?

The programme appealed to me because it was a broad course and I wanted to have a wide range of skills and learn about all the different aspects of business.

Kent wasn’t one of my original choices – I came here through Clearing. But I think coming here was fate!

Originally my plan was to do Biochemistry and then go on to do Medicine – I’d done Biology and Chemistry at A level but I’d also done Business. But when it came to results day, I realised that sciences weren’t for me, and neither was Biochemistry. I wasn’t getting the best grades, because I wasn’t enjoying what I was learning. But with business, I was doing amazingly. 

So I decided to look for Business and Management courses though Clearing.

How was your experience of Clearing?

Results day was a stressful day. I cried quite a lot and was on the phone for most of the day.

I was on a train, on my way to look around another university, when I read about Kent and the business courses there. It was so interesting. I called my mother and she was very positive about Kent. She knew about it because we’d lived in Canterbury and she’d studied her Master’s there.

I applied online while I was on the train and got a call back five minutes later offering me a place. I didn’t even go to see the other university. I just got off the train and went back home. The Clearing process at Kent was one of the smoothest I experienced. Because I could apply online – I didn’t have to phone up, they phoned me. That was really lovely.

Preparing for life at Kent was easy. There was so much information available online and everyone was so helpful. I went to an applicant day at the Medway campus and fell in love with the architecture. I also had a tour of Liberty Quays accommodation [now called Pier Quays] and loved it.

What advice would you give other students for results day, and Clearing?

Whatever is meant to be, is meant to be. Trust the process and take your time choosing the right university for you. Your path isn’t determined by this – you determine your own path.

How did you find staying in student accommodation?

I’d recommend to everyone to stay in student accommodation. The independence you get is amazing. I stepped out of my comfort zone when I moved away from home and it built my confidence. I put myself out there, volunteered for societies and got involved. The people I ended up living with are some of my best friends.

What have been the highlights of your degree programme?

I’ve had an amazing experience on the course and have loved the way I’m taught. It’s helped me grow and develop the business intellect I aspire to have.

My programme included a wide range of modules – the foundations of everything in business. It has been really interesting getting to know different areas. Every lecturer we had was an expert in their field – we had some of the best people teaching us. One of the best modules we had was on entrepreneurship, with Adam Smith. He’s an amazing lecturer and person, and makes you think for yourself.

I’m so proud of KBS because they have been so helpful and good at communicating. I was a student rep in the first year – it was clear that the school is very focused on its students.

Why did you decide to be a student rep?

We all received an email one day asking for applications. I wasn’t sure about it, but no one else volunteered so I put myself forward. I’d done student voice jobs before, being a house ambassador at secondary school and on the student council. I’m quite vocal now – being a student rep was the beginning of that! It was also a good way of getting to know people – of networking.

You were in your second year when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. How did that change things for you?

I’m a visual and kinaesthetic learner, so I like being in the right environment to learn. Studying at home all of the time was a big shock to me. I was in denial for the first few months, but then it hit me. KBS supported us quite well, but it was still a tough year. I built a lot of resilience, though.

I had been in a shared house and all three of my housemates had gone home just before the lockdown. I was alone in the house which was quite strange, but then one of my friends moved in and we formed a little bubble.

Did you feel well supported personally?

At the beginning of 2021 I reached out to the university to get counselling. The wellbeing team responded really quickly and that was truly what I needed. That was a crucial moment in my university career. It changed my mindset a lot and helped me build myself back up again. That team is one of the best things Kent has to offer.

Your placement year was scuppered by the pandemic. What are your feelings about that?

I’d been planning to work as cabin crew for British Airways – and you can’t do that virtually! So I went straight through to the final year instead. I’m grateful to KBS for making it a smooth transition. I think it’s for the best now, and I’m adding on a Year in Data Analytics to my degree instead.

What attracted you to the Year in Data Analytics?

I’ve learned that the business world is going digital – and Data Analytics is a massive part of that. It’s crucial for businesses nowadays. When I saw that Kent was offering that, I applied for it straight away. So I’ll be moving to the Canterbury campus to do that next academic year.

You’ve been President of the Business Society at Medway for two years, and have just been re-elected. How have you adapted the society’s activities during the pandemic?

It’s been quite difficult to maintain engagement, but we tried our hardest. We organised a few online events, such as a quiz night and a games night. All our events have been free and open not just to business students but to anyone who wanted to be part of a community. I primarily wanted it to be a community for everyone at Medway, to make the best of the university experience.

In October 2020, when restrictions had eased a bit, we carried out an in-person Halloween night at the Deep End venue in Medway, with social distancing and safety measures in place. Everyone came in costumes, and we had a Kahoot! Quiz with prizes, so it was the highlight of the pandemic for a lot of people.

You’ve just taken on the role of host for Kent Business School’s Spill the B podcast. What have you got planned for that?

I love listening to podcasts, and I love to talk, so I thought it’d be a good role for me. It’ll be a monthly podcast for now, but might become more frequent.

I’ve already done the first episode and I’m really excited about it. It’s about how the pandemic has affected the economic environment, the student experience, our mental health and our lives. I interviewed Dr Catherine Robinson from KBS, the Deputy Dean. She’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, so knowledgeable. It was mind-blowing for me to have the opportunity to talk to her.

I’m also hosting KBS’s summer webinar series called Unfinished Business. Each episode has a specific topic and invites students, alumni, lectures and experts in their field for a really knowledgeable discussion. The first episode is about whether we’ll have the workforce to support a digital future. I enjoyed hosting it and took a lot from it.

What do you most like about being a student at Kent?

The community of students here. I’ve found some of the best people that I’ve met in my life at Kent. True, genuine and authentic people who exude the same values as me. It feels like a diverse, multicultural and educated place with people from all walks of life.

I’ve visited a lot of different universities – my friends went all over the country. And every time, I feel so glad that I’m at Kent. I’ve grown so much in my three years here. I even ran for Kent Union president because I wanted to represent the students, and that was an amazing experience in itself. I love it – it’s like home to me.

Do you have any career plans yet?

I’m not 100% sure yet, and that’s why I picked a broader degree programme. I’ve had advice and interview practice from the Careers and Employability Service at Kent. I want to go into a job that allows me to talk to people, because I like communicating and interacting with people. I want to be able to travel and do something that enhances business and makes me happy at the same time.

Any advice for someone thinking of coming to study at Kent?

My advice would be put yourself out there, step outside of your comfort zone and actually do things you wouldn’t normally do because that’s how you make the most of university. It goes by so fast. So you have to really make the most of it.