Student Talk is a series of interviews with students that have developed their thesis under my supervision at IUBH University of Applied Sciences on projects we have designed for and that have achieved an outstanding performance.

The main purpose of Student Talk is to showcase talented students, support their professional digital trace, highlight their ideas and hopefully inspire new students.

This time the light shines at Basant Shenouda. She developed an exiting project investigating diversity in advertising. An extremely important topic in our current times!

Basant, the stage is yours!


1. Tell us a bit about your life story, where you come from, what study program you attended, what are your passions and what are you doing at this stage in life.

I am originally from Egypt but have lived my entire life in Saudi Arabia. It’s an extremely diverse place with people from all walks of life and with all interests imaginable. It definitely made me a really good communicator and open-minded to different perspectives from all over the world. Regardless, I wanted more from life than just the desert.

Almost four years ago, I decided to move to Germany and study International Marketing Management at the International University of Bad Honnef (IUBH). I have loved the experience so much and would definitely not change a thing. I have gotten to really learn the value of staying true to one’s values and relationship building. I have gotten to travel around to countless places (Latvia, Iceland, Hungary, etc) and experience things I wouldn’t have back home, like snow, rain, and greenery!

Having graduated from IUBH a few months ago, I am looking to go towards a more sales direction because of my love of working with people. For this reason, I just started an internship in Berlin with Collabary by Zalando in account management. I work with some incredible clients on their influencer campaigns. I aim to become more skillful in sales, digital marketing, and negotiation and Collabary is the perfect place to be as the company has proven to have such an incredible culture, work ethic, and fun work.

One of my current passions is content creation on Linkedin. The platform is still relatively new to content creation but provides great reach for young professionals. I love creating motivational and career content in order to help other professionals in becoming more resourceful and less fearful individuals. The platform has really opened me up to countless personal and career opportunities and I truly love the community I have built there. My other hobbies include reading, traveling, and creative campaign planning.

Basant Shenouda at Zalando.

2. You have developed a research thesis of exceptional quality. How would you describe your study (Please include research aim, when it took place, method (s), data collection process and sample sizes)?

My thesis aimed to investigate the influence of racially inclusive advertising practices on the brand perception of female consumers in the makeup industry. The study took place between January 2019 until March 2019. The first research method involved a quantitative research design and analyzed 301 makeup print advertisements in terms of diversity and inclusion. The second research method involved an experiment that tested 78 female participants who were split into two groups depending on their skin-tone.

3. What are the main application (s) of your research findings for society or the industry? And how would you suggest for researchers to advance in this topic?

My findings contributed to the existing literature on how one’s image affects their perception of brands, especially in the context of diversity and inclusion. The main applications consisted of the importance of showcasing models or individuals in campaigns as who they really are, this is because of the lack of proper representation of certain racial groups. Campaigns and advertising needs to focus on inclusion, not just diversity.

I hope more researchers advance in the topic by conducting large-scale research on the effect of inclusion in advertising, this could be in the areas of race, sexuality, or age. There is so much potential for this in so many fields and industries and research would really aid marketers in creating advertisements that really resonate with as many people as possible.

4. If you were to start all over again, what would you have done differently in your study?

I honestly don’t think I have anything in mind that I would change.. I am so incredibly proud of the thesis! I do, however, wish I had involved a lot more participants than just 78. Furthermore, I would have loved to interview them after them filling out the survey question-set. Both these changes would have brought up even more interesting data and information for the study.

5. As you have achieved an exceptional performance writing your thesis, what are the main suggestions you would give to any student that is about to start or is already writing their thesis?

The number one suggestion I would give others is to really build connections with professors throughout your studies. Relationships make the world go round and its important to write a thesis with a professor with your same interests and one that you’ve developed a long-term relationship. This is key to a fun and interesting research.

Really start as early as possible and always be at work when you can. This way, slower days and holidays are not stressful.

Finally, pick a topic that is interesting, creates impact into the world, and means a lot to you. Otherwise, finishing the thesis will definitely be more difficult than it already is.

6. How important is music in your life and what does it mean to you?

Music has always been a way for me to let out my energy into the world. Having lived in Saudi Arabia, I have always wanted to attend concerts. Since then, being able to see some amazing artists live like Pentatonix, Macklemore, Martin Garrix, and many more has been an incredible experience. Music lets me bring my happiness and fun into life. Nothing beats the energy you experience in a concert, that same energy and memories really last, especially when I am motivating myself with a song I heard at a concert at my desk.

7. What were you listening to while writing your thesis? In addition, what would suggest for anyone to listen while writing his or her research?

My music taste has always been extremely varied. I am a firm believer in using music to influence your mood. When I needed a calm atmosphere, I listened to jazz, my favorite genre. When I needed more motivation and a pick-me up, I listened to K-pop, a genre I have enjoyed since middle school. I would encourage students writing their thesis to really be mindful of their mood and how music can contribute to making it more positive and productive.

8. Finally, what are your next professional plans and how can employers find you?

I am going to definitely make the absolute best of my current internship at Collabary by Zalando. The internship is sure to really make me better skilled at negotiation, client management, and digital marketing. I am REALLY looking forward to the impact I make there. After my internship in the new year, I am looking to start a full-time role in a sales and digital marketing role, somewhere I can really impact the Middle East and its economy. Regardless of my plans, I am really going with the flow! The best comes from a bit of uncertainty and a lot of hard work. You can find me and my content on LinkedIn, looking forward to connecting.

To contact Basant Shenouda: