Anna is currently a strategy manager at Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets), a non-ministerial government department which protects the interests of existing and future electricity and gas consumers. Anna completed her part-time MBA at Sussex in 2016.
What made you want to take the Sussex MBA?
When I was looking for an MBA in 2014, I emailed Sussex and asked if I could talk to someone about doing the Sussex MBA; they happily agreed. I turned up a couple of days later dressed very casually and expecting an informal chat about the course, but instead I attended a full-scale interview. I was asked what I would bring to the course, not having the usual five years of management experience already behind me. Luckily, I must have made a good impression as I was offered a place.
I had also been offered a place to study Environmental Assessment and Management MSc full time at the University of Brighton, as well as working there as an Environmental Project Manager. I didn’t really stop to think about how I would manage time-wise, I just said yes to everything. Luckily, the Sussex MBA was part-time and taught during the weekends, so I was able to fit it around my other commitments. I was highly organised and planned my time very carefully. Whatever task I was doing, I put 100 per cent into it. However, it also helped that I didn’t sleep much!
In my second year, I only had the MBA to focus on, having gained the MSc. I found that I managed my time a lot better when I had more on rather than when I had less. Having a full schedule pushed me to be extra organised, even my social life was carefully planned, and everything had its place. I finally completed my MBA in two years by taking extra modules.
Many of my MBA peers were already very experienced professionals, and they continue to provide peer-to-peer support, mentoring and advice.” Anna Stefanaki
What skills from your MBA are you now using in your current job?
I started at Ofgem as a Strategic Programme Manager in my final few months of the MBA. My role is focused on corporate strategy and I am based in Canary Wharf. I also travel to our Glasgow office and work from home as we have flexible working.
I deliver transformation and change programmes, work in developing and implementing strategy and manage relationships with stakeholders and partners. The MBA has helped me with budgeting, business planning, and negotiation. Managing people and organisations was my favorite MBA module and I use this skill every day. A big part of my job is about change, and it’s interesting to observe how people react to change in the workplace. The MBA also gave me skills in how to get staff buy-in and how to communicate change.
The MBA was super fun and interesting. I was with a great peer group and the MBA network has been useful. Many of my peers were already very experienced professionals, and they continue to provide peer-to-peer support, mentoring and advice. I do reach out to my MBA alumni; we still keep in touch and meet up at social events.
Where would like to be in five years’ time?
To develop my career further in the long term, I’d like to gain private sector experience. I enjoy working for Ofgem as its subject matter is energy and the environment. I definitely want to stay working within strategy.
What are your memories of studying at Sussex?
Sussex is a beautiful campus but studying at weekends means you have a different experience of campus than during the week. It’s much quieter for a start. My memories are of my fellow students on the MBA and the course faculty, who were all very sociable, joining us for a drink on campus.
What was your first ever job? My undergraduate degree was in engineering, but my first job was working at a Greek newspaper for a year. I got the job by reaching out to my network, and talking to the chief editor. An opportunity came up working on the international pages because I could speak several languages. I would scan foreign language papers for stories and then select international stories of interest. I had to write four pages ready daily by 6pm as mine had to go to print first. I learned lots about newspaper production.
What is your top career tips for new graduates?
Get loads of work experience, and don’t be afraid to go for jobs that will stretch you. Even if you don’t have all the skills, push yourself, and make sure you make a good impression. It's a shock when you first come out of Uni - you think the world is yours and you realise that it's not! You have to be prepared to work hard to prove yourself, but don’t get disheartened, and don’t give up at any setbacks. Things never go exactly to plan so it's good to be flexible.
Who is your role model?
Definitely my dad, as clichéd as its sounds! He took me to my first day of school and my first day at Uni. My dad would help me study and we would make career plans together. He always believes in me, even when I don’t believe in myself.
Who or what could you not live without?
My family. We speak regularly and they are always there for me.