Alumni profile - Bryna Teli
“I was looking for a course that would help me explore global markets and development of international business and was particularly interested in the world economy and the dynamics of development. I figured understanding this would go a long way in building my foundation of working abroad.”
What made you choose to study for an MSc in Development & International Business at Queen Mary? I explored my options with other universities in the UK and Queen Mary offered what I was looking for and matched with my expectations of what I wanted to achieve by the end of the masters. I was looking for a course that would help me explore global markets and development of international business and was particularly interested in the world economy and the dynamics of development. I figured understanding this would go a long way in building my foundation of working abroad. Queen Mary was a great choice especially because it’s in the city and London is an exciting place to find yourself.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable? What modules did you enjoy learning about and was there anything that surprised you in your studies? I enjoyed all modules as they resonated with my expectations from the course. I found the combination of Geography and Business very useful especially in understanding world economies. I specifically enjoyed World Economy and Development as it focused on multinationals and the trends in the world economy. It was very instrumental to compare perspectives of international business, international trade policies and regulation, and aspects of global supply chains using examples from across the world. This was critical for me as I was looking to work for a multinational company.
Can you describe your career path up to date and your current role? My first ever serious job was an internship with Syngenta Foundation for sustainable agriculture. I worked there as an intern to successfully complete my undergraduate studies. I enjoyed this role as it allowed me to interact with different players in the industry. After my undergraduate degree, I started my internship with Swiss Reinsurance, a world leading reinsurer. This was a great change as I moved from the agriculture sector to the world of finance. While it was an adjustment, it was a great challenge to take up. I have been in reinsurance ever since and while I haven’t left the company, I have been lucky to experience different departments in the company and not only find my passion but have a great understanding of how different departments contribute wholly to the business. Currently I am a quality assurance specialist, a role I applied for after graduating from my master’s degree; I thought this would be a step up as I had a better understanding of international business paired with experience in the insurance industry.
Can you describe what a typical working day looks like for you? I honestly don’t have a typical day; every day is a new day. I mainly carry out premium validations to help track the profitability of our business, ensure the right premiums are paid and to ensure we are pricing our products accurately. This looks different every other day as I have different clients and their accounts are very different despite being in the same industry. But on a lighter note, my work day starts at nine am and ends at five pm. I have a couple of meetings during the day and some hours blocked to focus on my main job description and, of course, like in any other company, I have ad hoc tasks here and there. I enjoy my everyday at work as tomorrow is guaranteed to be different to yesterday and that adds to the excitement of a new challenge every morning.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development? I was lucky to study and work at the same time. While this was challenging, it really helped me to apply my learning from class almost immediately to my workplace. I had so many 'I just learnt this in University, and I can apply it in this situation' moments. My professors were very instrumental in advice and mentorship. My thesis was focused on my industry and my supervisor really helped me to find the balance between the industry and academics. In the same spirit, Queen Mary alumni facilitated my data collection process as I applied for funding. All this played a greater role in setting me up for the role I have now.
What is the most exciting thing about what you do? I would say the most exciting thing is the process of learning and understanding how my clients in the insurance industry work. The beauty of how similar companies do things very differently and still achieve their objectives at the end of the day is mind blowing and having to experience that and still find a way to make their differences work is exciting.
What was special about your time at Queen Mary? Can you give one or two examples of your most memorable moments? My very supportive friends, students in the faculty and teachers. All these people played a very important role in creating a conducive and healthy environment to study. I most importantly appreciated the mental health awareness emails that were sent my way, just to ensure I was in a safe place mentally. Graduation was a memorable day, with everyone smiling and happy for their accomplishments. Nothing screams memorable more than summer chills by the canal, reflecting on learning and taking in the sites. Looking over London from the seventh floor of the Graduate Centre cannot be missed off the list of memorable moments!
Did you enjoy any extra-curricular activities whilst at university? I was not involved in any sport activities on campus, but I was a student representative for the school of Geography, a role that I enjoyed so much as it allowed me to interact with my peers but also to help influence decisions that were beneficial to students and help facilitate a better learning environment. I enjoyed being a part of the student union and meeting different people with different leadership skills that I borrowed one way or another and even just having conversations that challenged peoples thought processes and, as a result, learning so much from these interactions.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? Nothing should stop you from chasing your career dreams, not even your course choice. When all is said and done, you can only learn your job when you get to doing it. Chase your career dreams no matter how far away they seem to be. Apply and do those internships - they really help you understand if a career path is what you want to pursue. Most importantly, go out of your way and ask for those opportunities, the worst that could happen is they will say 'no'.
Do you have any role models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field? My line manager; he is the youngest manager in the company and this inspires me to chase my managerial dreams. Especially because I still have a couple years to live before I am his age.
This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Nathalie Grey. If you would like to get in touch with Bryna or engage her in your work, please contact Nathalie at firstname.lastname@example.org.