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I Left KPMG To Launch A Career In Tech

Sophia Withers decided to switch careers during her Online MSc International Business. She's using the skills she learned in business school to drive a career in tech


By  Thomas Nugent

Wed Oct 9 2019

It wasn’t that long ago that Sophia Withers was travelling around Australia and Asia after her undergraduate degree. After a stint working on farms and in brunch cafes, she moved to Melbourne and joined KPMG Australia. 

While working as a coordinator for their audit division, she began studying the University of Birmingham's part-time Online MSc International Business, in 2018. It was during the program that she deep dived into her passion for blockchain and emerging technology. A career in tech was on the cards. 

Her degree research project—How will Blockchain 3.0 facilitate social and economic impact? A study on social enterprises in Melbourne, Australia—diverted her career path to infuse disruptive technologies with innovative solutions to global problems.

She left KPMG in the middle of 2018 and began work as a freelance strategy consultant. Shortly after that, she added an executive assistant role to her bow, for sports technology firm, Catapult Sports. Her career in tech blossomed further in November 2019, when she moved into her current role at Catapult, as people & culture operations specialist. 

The Online MSc, she explains, has provided her with a holistic, executive-level set of skills and knowledge to succeed in her career. She adds that frequent group work has enhanced her communication skills, and factual case study work has augmented her ability to put theory into practice to solve real-world problems. 

BusinessBecause caught up with Sophia to find out more.

Why did you decide to study an Online MSc International Business?

As a traveler and somebody who intends to live around the globe, I was attracted to the idea that by studying an online MSc, I could study anywhere in the world. 

With advanced technologies coupled with the inter-connectedness of communication today, I knew that studying an online MSc would be efficient and give me the flexibility that I required.

Why did the University of Birmingham stand out for you?

The University of Birmingham was one of the few universities that offered my course online. I initially researched a variety of courses and selected the University of Birmingham due to it being a leading global university. 

Moreover, my friends who have been enrolled in previous years spoke highly of the teaching and thoroughly enjoyed their time, which positively reinforced the university’s reputation for me. 

How did you balance work and study?

What worked for me was setting specific days of the week in which I would study. For example, three nights a week I would visit the library and always give myself Friday nights off! 

Around specific deadlines, it was a matter of clearing my diary and planning my assignments weeks in advance. Meditation, regular exercise, and rewarding yourself for hard work are critical for keeping momentum, motivation, and drive.

What major challenges are you facing in your current role?

Being a freelance consultant and co-founder, challenges consist of entering into unchartered territory such as new markets and being faced with unprecedented change. 

Therefore, an understanding of international business theory and being able to apply such knowledge in a practical sense is pivotal for thriving.

The study of my dissertation equipped me with theoretical knowledge that I can apply to a contemporary phenomenon which will be affecting almost every industry at some level. 

On a micro scale, I was able to understand and inspect how such technology is having a profound effect on smaller to medium sized businesses. My dissertation also taught me how to properly research, plan, and orchestrate a large project autonomously. 

What advice do you have for prospective Online MSc students?

Consider and review your long-term goals and whether this aligns with them and engage in lots of research. If you are unsure, ask as many questions as possible to the staff as they are there to guide and help you.

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