Shahriar Soudian, 25, is currently in pursuit of an MSc in Strategic Marketing Management at BI Norwegian Business School. Soudian is originally from Iran, before his family migrated to Canada in 2012. It was a move that turned out fruitful, opening possibilities that he snatched to enrol in Ontario’s Brock University and go on exchange programmes around the world,
In 2017, he headed to BI Norwegian Business School for a summer programme. Next, he completed an exchange programme at Austria’s University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, studying economics and how business decisions can affect living standards. In 2019, he headed East to Minjiang University in Fuzhou, China for a two-week exchange course.
Upon returning to Canada and graduating, he decided his next step is to study abroad long-term. His next destination? Norway. It was his most memorable trip so it made sense for him to pursue his MSc in Strategic Marketing Management there.
We caught up with Soudian to learn more about his degree and what life’s like in Norway these days:
What have been your most memorable, non-academic experiences in Norway thus far?
My most memorable experience in Norway has been my travel up north, seeing the Northern lights. That was a dream come true!
Another unique experience was being part of the Graduate Students’ Society (GSS) as the Deputy Manager. I was in charge of welcoming new incoming students during orientation week. This experience made me learn many things outside the academic aspects, and I got to know these students so well.
I have also developed a big interest in the Norwegian language.
What’s one thing you miss from home, and how do you substitute it?
I miss my car and driving it on an occasional basis. However, the public transportation system is fantastic in Norway. I use the city bike all summer, and in winter, the metro and the tram are generous and warm for going around the city. It’s also a reasonable price for students.
What made you choose to study strategic marketing management?
Before pursuing my master’s in strategic marketing management, I studied for my bachelor’s in business administration with a focus on marketing. This allowed me to understand all aspects of the business through various background courses.
I realised I am more interested in international marketing through my elective class. Another reason was the downgrading of marketing in the industry at the current time.
The strategic marketing management programme has put me on a pathway to understand the importance of marketing and deliver it on any level — from entrepreneurship to the corporate level. Also having lived in four different countries, I find the relationship between culture and the business world fascinating, including marketing at the heart of it.
Why did you choose to pursue strategic marketing management at BI Norwegian Business School in Norway?
During my exchange to BI Norwegian Business School, I had the pleasure of learning from a particular professor. She was head of the marketing department at the time, and her level of knowledge and communication put no doubt in my choice of studying.
Combined with my experience of Norway, I was certain in choosing BI Norwegian Business School to pursue my academic future.
Do you think it would have made a difference if you studied at a local institution in your home country?
Definitely, I had many talks with my professors in Canada before applying abroad. In my research and their consultation, I found out that most North American business schools take the master’s degree in business on a more practice level.
However, in Europe and at BI, programmes are designed as a Master of Science, including a thesis that develops a new idea. This is a standard that leaves your mark, in my opinion, in both the academic world and for pursuing jobs in the future.
An MSc programme keeps the door open for a future in academia and enables individuals to improve their thesis in a practical industry scenario.
What has been your most memorable class so far and why?
I think all classes have been very memorable at BI as I have learned many new theories and increased my knowledge. However, I found the pricing strategy class particularly interesting as we were introduced to a taxonomy of all theory and practice prices.
We also got a chance to apply our understanding of the chosen pricing strategy through a project, including a fictive product and how we can place it in the market at the right price.
Do you have any fond memories with teachers at your university that stood out for you?
Most of the professors have helped me out alot. The one that stood out for me was Professor Carlos Velasco, and the many hours put into discussing the importance of Multisensory topics in marketing which led me to working on my thesis on a related topic. The passion and willingness to help is one key common factor of all BI professors.
What are the practical learning elements in your course? Do you get to apply the theories you gained in lecture halls and classrooms to the real world?
In my course of strategic marketing management, I have noticed all the theories and research papers we learn are all industry-relevant or will be in the future. As BI professors have very close contact with the industry, most lectures have identified the core theories and how they can be applied in practice.
I have used many simple core theories in my internship for a marketing internationalisation strategy.
What are your academic goals in this course? What skills have you gained thus far?
My academic goals have always been to study and learn the core theories for my future in the industry. This has helped me a lot in my internship. Also, as most classes are interrelated, I feel knowing most theories can be applied between courses in different aspects of a business.
What do you plan to do with this degree after graduating?
I have always been tempted to pursue a PhD. In fact, I took steps during my master’s degree at BI to work as a part-time research assistant.
This allowed me to build a resume relevant for a PhD in the future should I want to apply. However, after my internship at BI, I have decided to use all the knowledge I have learned and apply them in the workforce and realise the practical side and its techniques.
For now, I look forward to finishing my degree and continuing to construct a future in Norway.