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Alumni Testimonials: Natalia Ukulova

 

testimonial_natalia

I learned about the Second Edition of the program accidentally, and my first reaction was – “Hmmm, interesting! Kraft, Unilever, Mars, Nestle, Danone, other leaders of the world food industry…… Sounds like a miracle. But is it really possible for people from Russia to get there? ”. I took a careful look at the brochure and application form and realised that this was the programme that would give the biggest boost to my professional life, so I would be there! From the very first day this programme really became a challenge for me. Most of all cultural. I had a fantastic experience to study in 5 different countries, to learn to live and to communicate with people of 9 different nationalities, who were a great support to me throughout the whole course. Believe me, when Russian, Turkish and Danish are trying to find the way out, this can be really fun! The programme begins with a week of Team Building and I have to say special thanks to its leader Geoff Morris, who helped me personally a lot to smooth the fist shock of cultural differences and taught us to deal with human relations issues through the course of the whole programme.

Being an Engineer in Food Science and Technology by background, I was also very curious to get knowledge in other fields like marketing, food economics, business structure and dynamics, project management – topics that are really important for modern managers to contribute to a successful and steadily growing business. The programme fully completed my expectations in those areas.

Certainly one the most exciting parts was, of course, visiting the leading players in the food and other Industries. Where else would you get an opportunity to visit more then 40 companies in Europe and US, to speak to their leaders and top managers and to get a direct feedback on a modern Consumer Goods Market? I very much appreciate the experience I received during my Industrial placement. I did it in the Confectionery Department in the R&D Centre of Kraft Foods in Munich. It really gave me experience and techniques to handle development projects efficiently. The phrase my supervisor told me on the very first day I took as a slogan for my further career – “You are completely responsible for the part you are in charge of, but please, know that you are never alone. We will always support you.” It was sooo different from what I used to hear from my previous employers in Russia and I always offer it as a welcoming word to my team members.

Personally I find the unique part of the programme in the Idea of business case of a Study Tour, that came to our group from the Executive Board as a very provocative suggestion – “Food Innovations in different Global Regions….. If you want to go you have to find a way to do it”. It did lead the group and every individual through the whole range of emotions from frustration to confidence before we learnt to have effective meetings, to build and follow precise planning, distribute roles and share responsibilities, defend our proposals to receive and efficiently spend budget. We managed to get 70k€, organize fruitful field visits and summarise our findings in a successful seminar for our Sponsors together with tremendous personal development experience each of us received through this task. Quite a lot of alumni are now being employed as managers with the leading producers of the international FMCG market and, for sure, most of my useful professional contacts came to me through this programme. At the moment I am working in R&D Danone Russia and I have to mention that I joined the team that was led by Konrad Korczak – a graduate of the First Edition of European Masters degree in Food Studies.

During the time of study we were having an inspiring joke, that in fact I carry out through my day to day professional life “European Master, Innovation Master – no one can do it faster”. If any individual would like to diversify their professional and personal experience, to boost their carrier in the changing world of the Global Food industry and catch this magic spirit of “The Master” I could only recommend to join European Masters degree in Food Studies and to take this wonderful Educational Journey.

Natalia Ukolova, Graduation year: 2000, Nationality: Russian