Kiki Paddy

Country: Nigeria
Sector: Commercial Banking & Credit
Job title: Strategy Manager
Subject of study: Law with International Study
Year of graduation: 2011
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Lloyds Banking Group

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Over the last decade, I’ve been developing and delivering business strategy across various industries including Legal, Housing, Social Enterprise, and Technology. I currently work within Financial Services.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

Doing strategy and consultancy challenges me in an enjoyable way. I love creative problem solving and innovation; using new ideas to solve old problems that positively impact the lives of people and communities.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

I took part in a few extracurricular activities at Exeter, but I will probably struggle to remember them all. I was a student mentor and lived in student halls with first year students when I was in my second year. I think I was a member of the Law Society because I ran for a position at one point.

Were you part of the Exeter Student Ambassador Scheme at any point during your studies?

Yes

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

The biggest highlight and most enjoyable experience about studying law at Exeter was the opportunity to study abroad as part of my law degree. First, to qualify for the study abroad programme, I had to focus and work hard in my first year to achieve the qualifying score which helped me stay disciplined with my time. Second, the study abroad experience at University of Connecticut, USA was life changing for me because it exposed me to litigation and advocacy in a way that I had not been in the UK. It was there that I realised that there was a difference between the role of solicitors and barristers and that my desire was to take the barrister route in the UK.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I really enjoyed my lectures, even for the courses I was not very interested in or good at. I disliked Employment Law but because of how well it was taught, I still understood it and did passed the course. My recollection of the lectures is that they were like storytelling which made it easier to remember the content, visualise and put into context during essay exams. I loved English Legal History and Trusts and Estates – the lecturers were just brilliant. I remember one female lecturer, Hazel (I think), she made time to discuss the subject with students one on one and I valued that so much!

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

I chose Exeter mainly because I already had a friend studying there. But after I arrived, it became clear that I had made the right choice because Exeter even 16 years ago was very inclusive, diverse and completely welcoming of international students. I will always refer to Exeter as my first home in the UK because of how looked after and welcomed I felt; from the staff, to students, to the facilities, being away from home for the first time at the tender age of 18 suddenly didn’t seem so scary after all. It was clear that careful consideration was given to making students feel at home.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

One of the most valuable skills I gained from studying law is the ability to think outside the box, to consider all angles and to make intelligent informed decisions. This is in a nutshell what I do today as a Strategy Manager and what I have done in various roles for the past decade. Studying and practicing the law has helped me expand the breadth of my mind to think of what might not be obvious to the standard observer. That’s an invaluable skill that leads to creativity and innovation.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Studying law is challenging, so come prepared for that. Practicing law is even more challenging, so you’ll need to be resilient. But note that studying law does not mean that you must practice law. There are so many jobs you can do with a law degree. My view is that the benefit of studying law really lies in ‘the way of thinking’ you learn from it which can take you anywhere.

Do you have a piece of wisdom or general advice you’d like to offer?

There are two general pieces of wisdom that spring to mind in this moment. This wisdom I offer comes from my own personal experience so only take it if it fits for you and ignore it if it does not. The first is that you should study a course you’re interested in. Choose something you’ll enjoy learning about and don’t put too much pressure on yourself about picking a course with strong career potential. Your university education is only 3 – 5 years long, but your career could be 30+ years long, so there’s plenty of time to get your career right. At university, focus on learning to be disciplined with your time and energy, understand who you are now that you have full autonomy, find yourself and enjoy all that comes with experiencing that independence.

The second piece of wisdom I have to offer is that when choosing your career think about the kind of lifestyle you’ll like to have to live a full enjoyable life so that when applying for jobs you can consider whether the job/career path you have chosen helps or hinders that lifestyle. Your career plays an important role in your quality of life, so make sure to choose something you enjoy. Life is too long to spend it doing things that don’t light you up!

The reason I offer these pieces of wisdom is because I decided at the age of 5 that I wanted to be a barrister without obviously knowing what that meant. But I pursued this career relentlessly until I was called to the bar. It took working in a law firm handling my own cases and doing litigation in court for 2 years before I realised that the lifestyle of a barrister didn’t quite align with the lifestyle that I desired for myself. So, at the age of 28, I changed my career and now I am much happier and completely satisfied with the lifestyle I have.

As an international alumna, could you share any advice you’d like to offer to international students considering studying at Exeter?

If my experience at Exeter university is anything to go by, then you’ll have a wonderful time and be well taken care of. During my time, Exeter uni had services dedicated specifically to international students to support with visas, career and settling into life in your new country. Welcome week was invaluable, don’t miss it. I know it can be scary but get out there and mingle with home students; volunteer, join clubs and integrate yourself in your new country and community. Don’t limit yourself to joining societies that relate to your home country; it’s great to find comfort in the familiar but understanding the UK culture is important to help you integrate better, so step outside your comfort zone. Remember to ask for help, there is a lot of support available to international students both in and outside the university. Also, I know the UK weather can be ‘rubbish’ sometimes, but you get used to it after some time, I promise.  Finally, be patient with yourself. I know a lot of international students come to the UK with great ambitions to work hard, excel, be the best, get a sponsored job etc., and that’s great, but be patient with yourself because you have additional challenges to contend with here in the UK – the language, culture, weather, visa issues, working part time/limited hours whilst studying, the high exchange rate, worrying about and missing your family thousands of miles away. It’s a lot. So be patient with yourself.

What are your plans for the future?

To keep using my natural talents to make a positive impact in people’s lives.

 

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