Sunny Pahal: Distance learning and getting a Masters.

Sunny Pahal

This month we had a chat with Sunny Pahal, who tells us about her fascinating career which started with her graduating from a Broadcast Journalism degree to now seeing her working with Sarah Davies who you might know from ‘Dragon’s Den’. She has recently completed a Masters Degree during lockdown and we got in touch to find out what’s next.

What course did you choose, why did you choose it and why York?

I was really keen to find a course that would help me build on the skills that I had developed over the years through work in business. When looking around the Online Masters in International Business, Leadership and Management at York really stood out for me and ticked the boxes on the knowledge I wanted to develop. Living in York really added to the experience further as I was able to visit the campus so helped build a stronger connection.

Describe your experience in 3 words.

Insightful, Challenging, Empowering

How easy/hard was remote learning? 

Studying remotely was easier to adapt to than I would have thought, which could have been down to having such a big gap between my undergraduate and master’s degrees. I liked how I could work my study schedule around my job and my life and at the same time build a great connection with others especially internationally that enriched the experience. What makes it even better is that we are still connected today!

What was it like returning to education whilst also having other commitments? 

It took a lot of discipline to navigate a career, an education and a personal life in one go. Then when covid was thrown into the mix, it added an additional layer. The greatest outcome from multi-tasking was that I was able to implement some of my learnings with real-life experiences. This took the studying to another level as being able to implement whilst learning, really helped to develop my mindset. 

Returning to education after many years really highlighted to me how feedback is given to help people progress. I found the education realm really helped me to fully appreciate constructive feedback again, leaving you with guidance on how you could improve even when you have done well. This is definitely something I have taken back into my working world. 

Returning to education after many years really highlighted to me how feedback is given to help people progress…This is definitley something I have taken back into my working world.

Tell us about a normal day in your life and job from getting up to going to bed. What do you do?

I am really lucky that I have been able to take all my experience and learnings and now get to help others learn and develop in their businesses on a daily basis. Working as a business development consultant and coach my day revolves around maintaining relations, meeting with prospective clients and working with a range of entrepreneurs in multiple sectors on their business strategies. When I am not working (even though I am always thinking), walking my dog Milo and enjoying nice food is how I like to spend my time.

How did you get into your current career?

I have been very fortunate throughout my career to meet and work with some amazing people. One of those has been Sara Davies, who you may know as an investor on Dragons’ Den but also a University of York business graduate too. I have worked with Sara for the last 7 years on growth areas within her own business and was very honoured when she asked me to help with her investment management. Through these experiences, I have been able to get hands-on with a number of projects and work with a range of businesses. Teaming this with my recent Master’s I have been able to put the further foundation to my experience.

What do you love about your current role?

People development! I really enjoy seeing entrepreneurs and teams going on their journey. Working closely with them, I experience the highs and lows with them that all businesses face, however how you overcome the challenges are the biggest win. I will never stop thriving on the good news calls and messages that make all their hard work worthwhile.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Now that’s quite a contrast to where I have ended up! I am an avid football fan so as a teenager I wanted to go into football commentary – I even put on my personal statement for my undergraduate degree my desire was to be the female John Motson! So when I got accepted onto a Broadcast Journalism degree, I’m sure you will understand my joy. I did start my career in TV after I graduated and then when opportunities arose, I went with them to end up where I am today.

Keep alive your thirst and openess to learn.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field? 

Keep alive your thirst and openness to learn. Every day I look for opportunities to keep developing; whether through reading or asking questions. Never be afraid to say you don’t know, I have learnt so much from peers and mentors over the years from just asking and listening to their experiences. There isn’t just one solution to everything so keep exploring and push those boundaries!

What’s next for you? 

I’m taking the plunge and becoming an entrepreneur myself whilst retaining all the things I have been doing over the last few years. I’m very lucky to have developed a great network to support and continue working with and looking forward to developing the new partnerships that are starting.

You are working on some exciting projects with the University, can you tell us more about that and how and why you got involved? 

It’s been really exciting to get to know more of the work going on in development at the university in the last 6 months, which goes beyond the lecturer theatre. Aligning with the work I do, I’ve been working with the university on some exciting developments coming this year to help people with their businesses and those wanting to get started. I’ve also popped up in a few sessions with business students to share my experiences as for me it’s always important to offer the opportunities that I have benefited from myself.

I’m looking forward to joining the Management School’s Advisory Board in 2022 and continuing to be part of an organisation that has really helped to shape my journey.

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