A Student View

Holly Cottingham

Research Executive at Kokoro

BA Business and Management Graduate


Holly, tell us why you chose to study Business and Management at Henley Business School?

I knew I wanted to get into business management, but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go to university, so I explored various options, including apprenticeships. I decided to visit Henley because I knew of its reputation for high-quality teaching, and I was really impressed. Everyone was so interesting and engaging, and the tutors had so much industry experience.

I did visit some other universities, but it felt like they dumbed down their courses, saying that I wouldn’t find them too challenging – but I wanted to be challenged and I realised that I’d be lucky to get a place at Henley. The Business and Management course seemed like it was exactly what I wanted, in the sense that it was flexible and gave a flavour of lots of different aspects of the business world. When I look back now, I really appreciate how beneficial that has been in giving me the foundations for the job I’m doing now, working for Kokoro (a market research agency), who use emotions to inspire big brands to connect with their customers.

What were the biggest challenges and highlights of the course for you?

It took me a while to find a learning style that was right for me. All the lectures were very interesting, but it was different from schoolwork. I had to adjust my approach so that I could not only learn, but really understand the subject. Once I’d done that, the next challenge was to decide where I might specialise, but that became clearer as the course progressed.

The highlight? We did a project, formulating a digital marketing and advertising plan for a local start-up company. It was so good to have a connection with a genuine business in that way. We met the founder and that brought everything to life. We have followed their progress since, so I know that some of our ideas were taken up. It showed the value of our learning as we applied our thinking to a real business.

You did a placement year as part of your course – how was that?

It was really useful! My first placement was just for one week in the HR team at Dell, which came about through a contact of my personal tutor. The whole Henley Careers and Professional Development team were great at helping me with preparing for my placements, through CV reviews and mock interviews. They really helped me to understand what skills employers are looking for, the importance of networking and having clear goals.

I then got a year-long placement working in the HR department of Computacenter (a big IT company) and that definitely helped me to decide on the topics I wanted to cover in my final year, including branding, marketing and organisational structure. It also highlighted some of my strengths and weaknesses and made me realise that my own skill set might be better utilised in areas outside HR; that helped to guide me towards the role I eventually took after graduating.

Having had a taste of the real world (with genuine responsibility), I felt well-prepared for my final year, but was eager to get through it and get back into work, confident that I had a solid understanding of various aspects of the business world.

What advice would you offer to anyone considering the Henley Business and Management course?

Try everything that’s on offer – learn, meet people, build your network, and use all those people to help you build your own, unique opportunities.