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Gisela Abbam

Chair of the British Science Association and Director and Company Officer at Abt Associates

Master of Business Admin, 1996

What made you choose Middlesex University?:

It was due to the diversity of both the students and subjects. There were quite a number of lecturers who worked in the City thereby providing useful practical business skills and expertise.

What course did you study and what attracted you to that course?:

I decided to study Master of Business Administration (MBA) because it promised to equip me with broad skills necessary for running a business, including leadership. I am pleased to say that it did!

What aspects of your course did you enjoy the most?:

The networking and team project work with fellow students. I enjoyed my International Law optional course as it offered me a good basis for my global executive career.

What is your fondest memory of Middlesex?:

The lifelong friends and networks I made. I loved the atmosphere at Middlesex. The lecturers and students were from diverse backgrounds which encouraged us to think outside the box.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?:

As Middlesex University grows its diversity every year, I advise you to demonstrate during your application process what you can personally contribute to the institution’s community.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?:

My dissertation strongly contributed to my successful career development. I chose a topic that helped my organisation at the time and the analysis and results required the need for change. I was then asked to lead a working group to develop new policies and procedures and also train all staff members.This would never have happened if I hadn't done an MBA.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?:

As this was my second degree, I was already working before my course. In addition to my main job, I started to do some freelance Management Consultancy work for the Legal and Education sectors to develop my skills and abilities.

What has been your defining career break of highlight to date?:

One of them was when I was appointed as the inaugural Global Executive Director for Government Affairs and Policy for GE Healthcare, the $18 billion division of GE which operates in over 100 countries. I was then asked to lead the strategy and set up the global function. My team and I developed relations with the World Health Organisation, UN, World Bank and governments around the world. I have written over 45 white papers for governments.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?:

1. Find a mentor in the field of work you are most interested in to support you in your career development.
2. Determine your passion and devote some of your free time to charity work. It enriches your CV and teaches you new skills.
3. Whatever role you are in, ensure you familiarise yourself with the overall vision and mission of the organisation you are working for. Then develop a personal plan as to what you need to do to contribute to it.

What skills have been most valuable in your career so far and how have you developed these?:

Leadership, creativity, being results driven and expertise in health. I had to determine what motivated me and find a career that I could be passionate about. I am passionate about improving people's lives and so that was my starting point. I handpicked mentors to guide and challenge me. One of my first mentors was a Vice Chairman of GE, which was ranked the number one company globally at the time.

Are there any tips you can give international students looking to move abroad to study?:

Make friends and build networks broader than the people from your own country. This will enhance your knowledge and experience whilst challenging you to think differently. Fully utilise the opportunity to engage in student activities and broaden your horizon. Middlesex prepares you to be a leader!

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