MBA graduate Taka Kpanja is a business development professional who graduated from the full-time MBA at Newcastle University Business School in the UK. She has been working for the last seven years in the cities of Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria in various leadership roles focusing on business growth, strategy, business service development and customer relationship management.

A commitment to equality and diversity

There's still a long way to go in advancing women achieving leadership positions. Newcastle University Business School MBA graduate Taka spoke about her recent experience of studying for an MBA in the UK.

Taka was the first recipient of the Women in Leadership Scholarship which celebrates the school’s commitment to equality and diversity, and to advancing women’s careers.

Taka believes universities and learning institutions have a key role to play in advocating for women in leadership and gender equality. She believes they can help shift people's mindsets, and enable them to provide opportunities to empower women.

I’ve come to realise that any restrictions I thought I had in life I’ve been putting on myself. In coming to Newcastle, I learnt to be creative and innovative in how I respond to any issue in front of me,” she said.

At Newcastle, I was encouraged to think outside the box; to really stretch myself.”

A life-changing decision

Taka was working for a financial services company in her home country of Nigeria when she decided to pursue an MBA.

She said: “It was a really hard decision for me to go back to being a student, but I had strong plans for my life – goals and dreams that I wanted to fulfil. I knew I wanted to study in the UK, so I shortlisted the top universities and Newcastle was in that mix right from the start.”

For Taka the outstanding aspect of her course has been the quality of teaching at Newcastle.

The experience and knowledge lecturers want to pass on to you has been attained over many years and the way they simply and clearly distil that knowledge, in the best way for you to understand, is inspiring.” Taka says that in one of the modules in particular the lecturer really brought learning to life, and showed how their tuition really reflected and connected with things that are going on in the world.

Building strong connections

She added: “I knew I wanted to be part of a business school where I could develop the personal relationships that would help me throughout my time away from home – relationships with my professors, with my cohort.

For me it had to be Newcastle; the people there are amazing.

For Taka there are no limitations to what she feels able to achieve now, as an alumnus of the MBA programme at Newcastle. Her commitment and value towards recognising the importance of women in leadership was reinforced through her dissertation in this area which examined gender diversity in industry and the barriers women face in attaining top management level positions.