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Paulina Wojciak

Strategic Sourcing Marketing Intelligence at Cisco Systems  Paulina Wojciak profile picture

BSc Psychology, 2007   

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I had decided I wanted to study outside of Poland and I wanted a university that was welcoming and down-to-earth. Middlesex University's website showed a university that was personable and offered a welcoming environment in which people could focus on learning.

I looked at other universities as well which offered a similar student experience but ultimately, I decided that if I was going to study abroad, I would like to study in London.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

I had started studying for a Psychology degree in Poland and I was disappointed with the course and the way the subject matter was taught. I wanted to see if the learning experience would be different abroad, but also wanted a subject I was already familiar with given that I would be studying in English.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

When I started studying Psychology at Middlesex I finally started to enjoy my studies. I really liked the way the classes were organised as they were far more focused on knowledge exchange with other students and the practical application of what we learnt.

In Poland, you are basically told what to read and to learn it off-by-heart and there is no choice to adapt your course to your interest areas. In contrast, Middlesex offered a choice of modules which enabled students to tailor their course based on their interest areas. The international make-up of the students and their different cultural perspectives also made for fascinating debate.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

I think the fact that our class debates were often so interesting that when the lecture ended, we didn't want to stop our discussions. We would often relocate to the forum or cafe, sometimes with the lecturer, to continue our exchange of opinions.

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

Keep an open mind and make sure you try out different modules and types of classes. University is a great time to learn where your skills and interests lie and where you have natural talent. It's good to have an idea of what you would like your end goal to be, but university offers the opportunity to explore options.

Never be afraid to ask questions. It will save you time and show that you really want to do well both at uni and in your job, that you care about the results, you want to learn and you have initiative. People always value those who can admit what they don't know.

Network; you never know who you will meet on your career path and who can advance your career and in what way.

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

It made me realise that clinical psychology wasn't the only path open to me and that psychology can be applicable to many different professional fields. It really opened avenues and improved my observational skills. It also gave me the confidence to think independently, express my opinions and engage in debate, which I think helped me get where I am today.

Why did you choose the career you studied for?

I started off working in recruitment for a couple of years but was searching for a new opportunity that better suited my interests and allowed me to learn new things.

In-house consultancy allows me to link areas in which I have expertise and also offers development opportunities in areas in which I am interested. Cisco has an amazing culture and offers a number of opportunities.

What are the pros and cons of working within your professional field?

I cover EMEA so I like the exposure it gives me to a wide variety of countries and each project is different. My job is very varied. The recruitment challenges in each country are very different so I get to learn about different laws, cultures, political environments, behaviours, etc. This allows me to satisfy my natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

I also like the fact that when you work as an in-house consultant you have influence. High level decisions are often made on the back of the reports I produce and this gives me great career satisfaction. Additionally, technology is always evolving so by working at a technology company I get to learn about various changes that have a major impact around the globe.

The main con is the long hours required to try and fulfil all project requests that come in, as we are a small team. This said, I love the variety of the work I do and meeting the needs of a variety of stakeholders so this is a small price to pay.

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

After university I returned to Poland and took up an internship. The company where I interned was happy with me so after three months, they took me on and began paying me. The salary was quite low but it gave me the opportunity to learn about business standards, etc, so helped me get my foot on the career ladder.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

Joining Cisco and taking on my current role for all the reasons I have previously mentioned.

What does the future hold for you?

I would like to stay in consultancy and progress to a higher level. I am happy with the path I have chosen so I wouldn't want to change this!

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