Business studies: a degree providing endless opportunities

Anna Luise Laycock, 25, is an advocacy coordinator at Oxfam, and tells us why she chose to study business
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The Independent Online

I decided to do business because I wanted to see the way the world worked, which I felt was based on business. The reason I wanted to do tourism business management is that it broadened it all out - I could learn about the core content of business but with an international scope. Tourism by its nature also brought in a lot of the other issues I was interested in, such as the environment, economic development, social and cultural issues, and globalisation.

Every year we did core business modules, subjects such as accounts and finance, marketing management, media work, human resources management and strategic management. Then, on top of that, we also did tourism-specific modules. The first year involved understanding how the whole global tourism system works. The second year was looking at the impacts on a local to national level, rather than on a global scale. The third year was a case of looking at the environmental, cultural and social impacts of tourism. I also did a specialism in year two in interpretation and animation, which was about communicating heritage to tourists in the form of panels at museums which give tours - basically making information accessible and enjoyable.

After that I did a Masters in global ethics, which was a crash course in philosophy that we then applied to global issues and ethics - how right and wrong can be applied globally.

I did modules in bioethics, human rights and development ethics, plus a placement module at Oxfam. The idea was to do three weeks at a Non-Governmental Organisation and apply the theory I'd learnt to analyse how it operated. I was placed in Oxfam's development education department, which just happens to be where I work now!

Once I finished my Masters I worked at a fair trade company, because it was such a natural link between what I did in my business degree and what I did in my Masters. The company was called Day Chocolate, a social enterprise that makes Divine and Dubble, two of the major fair trade chocolate brands. It's a business but it's not run for profit - it's run for the good of the farmers who make the chocolate. I worked as the PA to the managing director, and I was getting involved in all aspects of the business, so it was a really good introduction to how the fair trade system works. After six months, the job of promotions and programme assistant came up in the development education department at Oxfam. I've been here over a year now, and recently I've been on secondment as advocacy coordinator. My role is to show teachers across the country why education for global citizenship is important, and market the resources we produce to them.

Multi-nationals are large organisations and Oxfam in particular is a massive organisation - both of them have to do certain things to be good organisations, so there are certain ways of working. While they are very different cultures and have very different aims, I think there are similarities, because the skills you need to work in Oxfam are the skills you'd need to work well anywhere in business, such as teamwork and communication. Having a lot of business savvy is important because Oxfam is a very professional organisation, so you have to be able to act professionally and understand how the organisation works. I've got friends who work in the private sector and when I talk to them it's not like we're on completely different planets. We face the same issues in our jobs and can talk about the same things.

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