Resilient, confident, inspiring – just some of the qualities that make a great leader. They’re also apt descriptors of the Global Online MBA’s first Future Leader Award winner. Introducing Tallulah Smith, Future Leader Award recipient.
Why did you choose to study an MBA at Imperial?
My company was willing to sponsor my MBA but said I had to keep working a full-time job. So I wanted to study an MBA that was really flexible and part-time.
When I looked at the course content, some of the electives in the second year were really relevant – I want to progress my career; move to a bigger company; become a CFO, and I thought the course would help build the skill-set that I’d need to take the next step.
Imperial College Business School is a fantastic university and the Global Online MBA programme offers all the flexibility I was looking for.
Could you please tell us a bit about your current role?
I recently got promoted to Head of Finance at Viasat, where I’ve worked my way up over the past five years. It’s an all-encompassing finance role which is what I really wanted in order to progress my career.
I work for a media company that has international offices around the world, selling TV channels, mainly in Central Eastern Europe and Russia. This role has given me more exposure to the Russian side of business – we have 80 people in the UK and 80 In Russia and I’m heading up finance across both regions and reporting into the CFO.
You speak to groups about overcoming adversity, based on your own experience. Could you please tell us about that, and what your message to them is?
I experienced a set-back during my gap year while in Bolivia. At that point I was due to start a new role in two months’ time in the Virgin Media graduate scheme. While travelling I was run over by a double decker bus as I was standing on the footpath, which resulted in the amputation of my lower left leg.
Now I’m an ambassador for London Prosthetic Centre. I mostly speak to people who have been through something similar.
After my incident I was determined to start my career as planned, which gave me approximately two months to learn how to walk again. With a lot of hard work and perseverance I managed to, and began the Virgin Media graduate scheme on time as planned. So, I tell people to set themselves goals. Speaking from experience, I can tell them that if you work hard and remain positive then it’s going to be fine. You can go back and live a normal life and achieve everything you want to achieve.
What I try to get across is that despite experiencing such a huge set back, you can push through it.
Congratulations on being awarded the Future leader Award. What do you think your key strengths as a leader are?
Having such a big setback and overcoming it has given me a really good basis to become a resilient leader. Coming from a place where everything is so dark, but being able to come out the other side has made me so much more determined and ambitious.
My work experience has also helped develop the required communication and social skills. Working in the media industry, I’m able to talk to creatives about financial matters in a way that doesn’t bore them to death but still helps lead them in the right direction! Heading up finance teams in two countries has also given me confidence to talk to people with different cultural backgrounds, and to be able to bring people together to work on the same outcome.
I appreciate being recognised as having leadership potential. I’m a manager at the moment but I’d like to be a leader in the future, where I’m able to inspire and make impactful decisions.