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I met Polly in London at a drinks reception at the Business School shortly before the programme started; a well-timed business trip to the city meant she could meet some of the new London- based cohort ahead of Induction Week on campus. Considering that she had arrived straight from the airport, her energy about starting the programme was intoxicating and I was keen to see how she was getting on in her first few months.

Originally from Hong Kong, Polly relocated to New York with EY five years ago to take a role with the global team in systemic implementation and process improvement. Shortly after, she progressed to be the global data and policy owner and now has another new role as Associate Director, Global Reporting & Analytics COE within the organisation.

Now is the time

The process from deciding to do an MBA to starting the programme often takes years with lots of factors to consider. Polly started our interview reflecting on her meeting with our Student Recruitment Manager, Amanda Payne-Danson, at an event in a hotel in New York during a snowstorm two years ago.

An MBA has always been on my list. I’d actually planned to start my studies before relocating to New York, but the move meant starting an MBA would have to go on hold. In fact, I had Amanda’s business card on my office desk for two years before I dropped her a line. Last year, I decided no matter what, I wanted to do it now. I was really lucky I got accepted and that it was a smooth admissions process. It’s commonly said that the only regret in starting is that you didn’t start sooner and I totally agree!

Immediate career impact

Alongside studying, Polly has already made a career transition within her company, EY, to undertake a global finance role covering reporting and analytics. Her manager is UK-based and has been very supportive with her studies. She also engaged with the Careers & Professional Development Service team during the first week of studies to help her choose between two roles offered by EY.

The MBA is already helping me in my new role. It’s been a refresher of the topics I learnt in my undergraduate (degree) and helped me develop my knowledge in analytics and business decisions. Last term I took the marketing module and the course fitted perfectly to what’s happening with EY as we have recently been transforming our image and undergoing a rebrand. I find the practicality of the materials and the ability to associate to things that are happening in the workplace to be good experiences in the last couple of months.

Choosing Imperial

 The main reason I chose Imperial was the flexibility the programme offers and the connections you make. Our class talks everyday through the chat group and The Hub, you don’t realise how much you communicate with each other, especially considering we are all over the world. You think when you do an online programme you’re at a disadvantage not being on campus but actually you constantly talk to each other!

 I wanted a School that is diverse. Imperial College is a combination of a medical, technology and science school. From information and interaction with other students you can gain a lot of insight from other fields and types of thinking, which is something I was attracted to.

 Learning together in groups

 Our syndicate team has a set meeting once a week to discuss our assignment or to discuss any questions about the material. It’s also a great way to update each other on our progress and check if individually we’re on track. Imperial is not only business focused, we have people from IT backgrounds, the automotive industry, from psychology backgrounds and finance. I’m from finance and accounting so it’s great to share information. Our conversations bridge each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We learn a lot from each other’s experiences and if we struggle someone will help, which really helps make the connections stronger. Cross-team we do the same, I feel like we are more engaged than being on campus.

 Induction Week was very useful as it’s the only chance to see each other before working together in The Business Capstone Game (which takes place in the second year of the programme). It helps the students to immediately connect with each other and also meet our syndicate team. There are a lot of activities and you acquire a lot of information. I appreciate a week on campus, because it’s an official start of the programme and everyone is on the same starting line. It gets us ready for the following week where we jump into the course materials. All the panel discussions and some of lectures were very inspiring and you immediately know that the MBA experience is very practical and applicable to your own situation. We are still talking about some of these discussions! It’s a strategic week with a lot of information.

The online study element

 I am pretty structured in terms of how I approach studying. Each week I plan every day what I need to achieve. This is really helpful when you get to mid-term and study becomes more demanding. If you’re behind you will be struggling, frustrated and immediately get into a panic . I’ve shared this mode of study with others so they can remain engaged too.

 A key part of the schedule is factoring in where I will be studying – sometimes I have to download the materials on my laptop so I can access them on the commute or study at lunch. When the materials are more demanding I use the New York Public Library – I’ve spent a lot of time there and what a location to study in – you often see a lot of students doing MBA or GMAT prep!

Advice – just choose Imperial

 The experience so far has been more than I expected in terms of the interaction, support and relevancy of the course materials to the current business world, challenges and politics of business. I have enjoyed access to materials shared on the side about the current business world – I really want to have a wide and relevant view about the world and not just the academic material. This was what’s been really impressive for me and I’m getting more from my Global Online MBA than I imagined.

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About Emily Troake