Imperial College Business School has appointed a new Director of Careers, Lisa Umenyiora, who is leading the Careers & Professional Development Service (C&PDS) through a period of change.
Can you give a brief overview of your time at the Business School and your previous career?
Prior to joining the Careers Service, I oversaw the Finance suite of MSc programmes at the Business School, where I focused on strategy and managing change to build student numbers, double the portfolio of programmes and increase students’ career success. Through major programme restructures, I ensured students were prepared for early application deadlines and supported in their career goals. These initiatives led to a 10 per cent increase in the number of students being employed within three months, a 20 per cent increase in the number of students gaining internships, and saw the MSc Finance programme rank 12th in the world by the Financial Times in 2017. I previously supported MBA programmes and worked in other education institutions.
What are the biggest changes to the Careers team and why have they been introduced?
Career factors play a large part, if not the largest part, of many students’ decision to study at a business school. Students’ career outcomes, rightly or wrongly, also form a large part of published rankings. Taking this into account, we have implemented changes to C&PDS for two key reasons that align with feedback from students and alumni: 1) time is limited for students on a one-year programme, and some employment opportunities arise within the first month of the academic year; and 2) we need to ensure that advice and guidance we provide is specific, tailored and up-to-date, thereby maximising students’ chances of career success
As we build our relationships with key employers, we will advise specific candidates on the best way to apply
Can you tell us about the introduction of sector teams?
We have created sector-advisory teams to develop areas of expertise in key industries. We have focused on the major sectors favoured by Business School students: consulting; finance; FMCG, healthcare and energy; technology; and social impact and sustainability.
Members of both the externally-facing Employer Relations team and student-facing Careers Consultant team work together to focus on a particular sector, and the role of these sector teams is twofold: 1) to develop strong relationships with key employers to understand their evolving hiring plans, preferences, and recruitment processes, and agree how Business School students should engage with employers in their upcoming recruitment; and 2) to provide specific application and selection process advice to maximise students’ chances of success, based on knowledge of the individual employer.
Since creating the sector teams a few months ago we have increased our employer engagement significantly: C&PDS has met or spoken with over 70 employers, including Amazon, BP, Goldman Sachs and McKinsey to name but a few.
And what about online support pre-programme?
We are increasing the careers support we provide to students before their programme starts to help them become ready for the employment market as quickly and efficiently as possible. We have tapped into the School’s outstanding Edtech capabilities to develop an online Careers module that all admitted students have to work through to gain full access to C&PDS services. We have also created industry-specific career webinars. This has raised students’ level of awareness of the various industry sectors, their roles and recruitment cycles, and led to them starting their programme better prepared to meet employers and make early applications.
Time is limited for students on a 1-year programme, and some employment opportunities arise within the first month of the academic year
What about the impact on alumni – has the service changed? Will it make a difference to them?
The sector specialism will be available to all users of the Careers service, including alumni – this enables us to offer alumni up-to-date, relevant advice and support to maximise their chances of success in a given application.
We have also created a Working Professionals team who are dedicated to supporting part-time students and alumni. As we build our relationships with key employers, we will advise specific candidates on the best way to apply – recognising that the approach taken by masters’ students will be different from an alumnus with five years’ experience or an MBA with 15 years.
We enjoy working with our alumni and hope that, as their careers develop, they will engage with our Employer Relations team when looking to recruit.
What impact do you think these changes will have?
We are already starting to see the changes have an impact: students are more aware of the market at an earlier stage this academic year, which helps them be prepared for early employer networking sessions and to make early applications. We’ve seen over 1,000 students gain full access to C&PDS services by the end of September, a 10 per cent increase when compared to the end of October last year. Anecdotal feedback from employers early on campus indicates that they are impressed with our students and their level of preparedness.
Ultimately we are working towards increasing the careers success of our students and alumni. We are currently improving the way in which we track what our graduates are up to both in terms of their first position post-programme and beyond. We love hearing updates from alumni and encourage them to keep the Alumni team informed as their career progresses.