Technology has always been a passion for Sandro Stark. The MSc Management alumnus first made his mark on the digital world at the age of 15, when he offered to build websites for local companies in his hometown in Germany to help them increase their visibility.
Since then, his journey into the technology industry took him through a BA degree in Humanities from the Universität Konstanz, before he joined Imperial College Business School in 2011. Since graduating from Imperial in 2012 he joined Microsoft Munich, Germany where he works as an Account Technology Strategist in the media and communications division.
How did his role at Microsoft come about? “I was working with a German speaking careers consultant at the Business School to narrow down positions which involved interfacing business and technological challenges. I came across an exciting opportunity with Microsoft that really appealed to me. I was then invited to attend an Assessment Centre with several other applicants. This was the ideal opportunity to put into practice the key skills I’d gained from my Masters degree such as coming up with hands-on solutions in an interdisciplinary team and presenting a plan on how to further evolve Microsoft’s technological footprint.
Did his experience of studying at Imperial increase his chances of landing the job? “Being a native German, I already met their criteria for language skills, but my experience of studying on the MSc Management definitely helped. For example, I had done a student consulting project for a company in the telecommunications sector, which addressed a similar topic to the remit of my current job.”
As an Account Technology Strategist, Sandro is responsible for addressing the challenges facing the broadcasting and media industry in Germany. Sandro and his team are responsible for translating business challenges into technological solutions, leading discussions with customers and partners about digital transformation and Microsoft’s role as an enabler, platform and service provider.
How has the MSc Management helped him in his current role? “The practical, hands-on focus of the programme was the ideal preparation for the fast-paced, complex demands of a major technology company. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship module was particularly useful as it teaches you how to formulate a business plan, how to advise a company on how to make money and identifying problems facing customers.”
He also benefitted from learning about the softer skills needed to succeed in business. “Imperial really encourages you to think outside of the box by exposing you to new ideas and ways of working. You learn a lot about yourself and your ability to work alongside people with different styles of leadership and team working.”
What made him decide to study for an MSc in Management at Imperial? “I wanted to work on new ideas with people with different backgrounds and experiences. I wanted to add an academic stamp to my skills earned so far and there was no better institution than Imperial College Business School for its reputation and links to science and technology. He then talked about his inspiration for studying for a Management qualification. “As someone with a passion for technology, I was greatly motivated to apply for the programme after discovering the often hybrid academic profiles of silicon valley’s successful founders of leading companies and start-ups.”
What was the best part about studying at the Business School? “I enjoyed the challenging nature of the projects I was given and the sense of achievement that came from finishing each task. The Business Plan Competition was also a great experience and it was wonderful to work with so many passionate students and teachers. The careers consultants also did an excellent job in helping me reach my career goals.”
How has working at Microsoft fulfilled his career dreams? “I always wanted to work in an industry that would revolutionise society. The technology sector is constantly evolving and producing exciting results that have an impact on people’s lives. This was my main inspiration for pursuing a career in this industry. I feel I’ve really landed on my feet at Microsoft.
What advice would he give to current students looking to follow a similar career path? “Don’t just rely on applications, but network as much as possible. I forged lots of connections with visiting speakers on LinkedIn which helped build my network. For example, I attended an event hosted by Google and met a German company at the event, who I later contacted to find out about career opportunities. Most importantly, you need to have a good career strategy and try new ways of networking and approaching people.