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Meet the MDX alumni with the skills of the future

Inspiring recent students in wide-ranging sectors are a model for competencies, which are being embedded into learning outcomes

Three young men and one young woman standing in a row. They are wearing black polo shirts and the two men in the middle are carrying DIY robotsGraduation Week 2023 follows the launch of a major MDX initiative to put a focus on learning outcomes for students across MDX campuses, disciplines and programmes.

A set of eight graduate competencies have been developed through extensive research and employer consultation around the nature of the future world of work. These competencies define behaviours and attitudes that are developed and nurtured through study at MDX, and are areas all students by the end of their programme will have knowledge, experience, capacity to reflect on and a confidence to articulate about. The competencies are: leadership and influence; entrepreneurship; communication, empathy and inclusion; curiosity and learning; collaborative innovation; resilience and adaptability; technological agility and problem solving and delivery.

MDX’s star alumni embody the competencies, bringing to life what these qualities look like in a person progressing their career and applying themselves to projects they are passionate about. As a new cohort takes their degrees, we profile graduates from different backgrounds and subject areas illustrating their attitudes and competencies, making them eminently employable or formidable solo operators, and their ability to create an impact.

MDX BEng Mechantronics and Engineering Management Masters graduate Muhammad Ali Hussain Javed has a zest to learn and an aptitude for making others feel included. He worked extensively to support fellow students during and after his time at MDX, through roles as a Student Learning Assistant, Student Voice Leader, Student Ambassador, engineering intern, and after graduation, Design Engineering Department Technician. A confident communicator, he was a mainstay of MDX’s public engagement squad at skills competition WorldSkills UK, volunteer with Barnet Multifaith Forum, taekwondo coach and more.

Muhammad was chosen to deliver a Graduation speech, taking inspiration from Malcolm X, and says the warmth and joy of the day are etched on his memory. A top MDX experience he picks out is reaching the final rounds of the Eurobot student robotics competition in Serbia and France, where MDX team’s Team Brainstorm – Muhammad, Artur Graczyk, Camille Croci, Chibuike Okpaluba, Szymon Klimek and Szymon Malecki – won an innovation award competing against more than 200 other sides.

“We dedicated countless hours to designing, building, and fine-tuning our robot,” says Muhammad.

“The highlight was not just the competition but our journey. We discovered the power of perseverance, and beauty of collective achievement. It was a transformative experience that broadened our horizons”.

After graduating from his Master’s in 2019, Muhammad fulfilled a lifelong ambition and continued his learning journey by earning his pilot’s licence. He has worked as a Project Management Officer and Logistics Co-ordinator at internet and guest broadband services provider Wifinity, then since January 2023 as UK Operations Manager of flight-sharing platform Wingly.

Muhammad says: “Drawing on organizational and problem-solving skills honed during my studies, I sought roles where I could apply my knowledge and contribute to the successful execution of diverse projects. This allowed me to gain practical experience in overseeing project lifecycles and ensuring timely and efficient delivery.

“MDX’s diverse environment enhanced my cultural intelligence: invaluable in aviation where I work in a global landscape.

Muhammad’s top advice to MDX students is “to pursue your passions. By seeking meaningful work that aligns with your values, you not only have a fulfilling career, it may allow you to make a positive impact”.

His other suggestions are to balance work and “life-enriching” extra-curricular activities – he personally loves sports and camping – to network and build relationships, and be proactive. “Don't wait for opportunities to come to you. Seek new opportunities, join professional organisations, take on leadership roles. Remember success often comes to those who are persistent and willing to step out of their comfort zones”.

A South Asian man with a light beard wearing a waistcoat and blue shirt smiles at the camera. His arms are folded2021 BA Accounting and Finance graduate Bharathvej “Thampi” Raveendran was unsure whether he wanted to leave family and friends behind in the middle of the pandemic and transfer to Hendon campus for his final year, after starting his studies at MDX Dubai. A chance conversation outside a cafeteria with his Advanced Financial Accounting lecturer persuaded him. “She said take it,” Thandi recalls. “It's always good to launch your financial career in London: it’s a financial hub, there are better opportunities there, and you’ll come across better”.

Now Thampi, who graduated with First Class Honours, has landed a dream job at Deloitte as an Audit Associate in Banking and Capital Markets. He’s still learning, working towards his ACA Accounting qualification (with a “huge chunk of work to do”), and he has ambitions to lead, hoping to reach senior manager level in just seven or eight years, with a possibility of transferring from audit to other departments such as transaction services or tackling financial crime. He values Deloitte’s supportive culture and his “nice, knowledgeable” colleagues. His journey to his role involved digging deep into reserves of resilience, as in the pandemic climate where firms were making few hires, he reached the third, fourth, then the final stage of companies' interview processes, and kept on missing out.

“I was very depressed [about it],” he says. “If you can’t make it to a Top 4 or Top 20 firm, you start questioning yourself.

“At my Deloitte interview, I incorporated what I learned from all my mistakes to make sure I didn't make them on the big one. If I stopped doing assessments, I’m pretty sure I wouldn't have got the job.

“I think students, especially international students need to be aware the setbacks are all fine, completely normal things”.

Thampi adds that his route also required being forward and uninhibited about networking and asking advice. A MDX graduate he happened to meet two years before put him in touch with another alumnus working at Deloitte who proved very helpful. In turn Thampi has been back to talk to MDX Business students. “It’s always good to have these interactions, they really help you out,” he says. He advises students to attend to the small things to prepare themselves for a successful job search – reaching out to people on LinkedIn, set a reminder to take part in a networking or alumni event, or “that little niche area” they want to break into.

“At MDX it's fair, the opportunities are there, but it's for you to go and seek it and have conversations,” Thampi says. He praises his third year lecturers for their industry knowledge and experience and was stimulated by a different teaching style he found in London, with more self-study and “a wider perspective” on the subject. He’s enjoyed a different culture living in London – outwardly friendlier and with more spontaneous conversations with strangers than in Dubai, he says; having taken part in desert and beach clean campaigns in the Gulf, he’s found a deeper engagement with sustainability here.

Two middle-age men in suit jackets stand either side of a young woman in a black dress/top and pink shirtJournalism alumna Evelyn Polacek Kery is deputy production editor on Guardian Media Group’s The Guardian Editions App (formerly called The Daily), and is in the final year of a PhD at the University of Sussex, examining the critical thinking habits of young YouTube viewers. She also lectures in Journalism at Middlesex, and assesses dissertations for King’s College London. While a student at MDX, she showed an entrepreneurial mindset by setting up the university’s first Journalism Society and creating Euron, a magazine for Europeans living in London which kept running for a few years after she graduated.

Evelyn is in a highly innovative environment at the Guardian’s Kings Place headquarters and her job calls for both dogged consistency, and quick resourcefulness with rafts of text. Day-to-day she is crafting headlines and subheadings, checking for typos and factual errors, ordering stories etc. “We want to make sure the reader is satisfied, both in terms of [the App’s] technical aspects, but also how they are experiencing and absorbing the daily news,” says Evelyn. “I work both day and night shifts (The Edition is published later on at night, so the readers can read their news first thing) and I have a number of managerial responsibilities”.

Juggling her editorial and teaching roles, Evelyn has an empathetic view of young people and the tumult of digital media they are surrounded by. She has volunteered for the Guardian Foundation’s NewsWise programme, talking about the media and her production editor role in front of classes of 7-11 year olds in London schools. “News literacy is something I am very passionate about, and it is also in line with the nature of my PhD research,” she says.

Networking features prominently in Evelyn’s advice to students: “I kept in touch with most of my lecturers when I graduated… They provided references for my MA course and also for my PhD and eventually I was able to get a job at Middlesex as a lecturer. All the connections I made at university are really valuable. Think about all the skills you learned as part of your modules. These are the same as if you [acquired] them while working - you should definitely use them at interviews and in jobs.

“And enjoy university! It was the best time of my life: lots of great friends made, great opportunities and I learned a lot about myself”.

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