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This month we welcome our latest cohort to the Weekend MBA class of 2021-22. Embarking on their Imperial journey while continuing in their impressive careers, this exceptional group have much to look forward to over the next 21 months.

The Weekend MBA is designed so that students can continue to accelerate their career trajectory without stepping away from work. The part-time format of the Weekend MBA allows students to study on-campus in London one weekend a month as they balance a full-time workload.

The programme provides a thorough grounding in essential business disciplines and strategic leadership skills, as well as opportunities to specialise in areas of expertise and experiences to develop their global perspective on business.

For the new class, choosing to study in an unusual year solidifies their incredible commitment to furthering their careers in pursuit of becoming the world’s future.

Students’ path to the Weekend MBA at Imperial meant hours spent crafting their application, interviews, and engaging with pre-study modules - all before the first day even began.

This ability to balance priorities and push on in pursuit of even greater accomplishments is a defining feature of the Weekend MBA class of 2021-22, and is testament to the already impressive achievements of this year’s class. Find out more about this inspiring group, and hear from them directly on their work history, as well as what drove them to study the Weekend MBA.

The class at a glance: ambitious professionals combining full-time work and studying

Weekend MBA Meet the Class Stats 2021

For the 86 students who’ve joined this year’s programme, extracting the most out of their time on the MBA without taking their foot off the pedal of their career will be of the utmost importance. With an average of seven years' work experience (and counting), they’ll be applying their MBA learnings in real-time to their roles.

Diversity is key to creating rich, valuable in-class discussions on the programme. Not only do the 30 nationalities that make up the cohort contribute to this, but also the diversity of thought, skillset and backgrounds they bring, help to facilitate the thought-provoking debates and revealing discussions that make the Imperial MBA experience unique.

This is reflected in both the geographical spread and employment industries of this year’s class. While the majority hail from the UK and Europe (33% and 34% respectively), one third of this year’s class are from further afield, choosing to commit to the Weekend MBA from Asia/Pacific (15%), Africa & the Middle East (15%), and the Americas (3%).

Similarly, while the three biggest sectors of banking/finance (27%), engineering (22%) and IT/tech/telecoms (17%) account for a large number of students, the remaining 44% come from a range of areas such as consulting, energy, government/public sector, and pharma/biotech/healthcare, all of which should help tremendously in giving the cohort a broad base of experience to learn from.

What lies in the years ahead?

Having already completed a range of foundation-building online pre-study modules in areas such as mathematics, accounting and professional development, the Weekend MBA 2021-22 cohort have officially started with an induction week. Through a series of introductory lectures and activities to facilitate networking, the class are now fully prepared to begin working on their first set of core modules.

The core modules cover the general functions of management, explore essential business topics and equip students with the skills to be an effective and inspiring leader in their field. Each module provides a solid grounding in business theory and practice, with an emphasis on applied learning, providing opportunities to test understanding through case studies and simulations.

Following this is a range of electives, of which candidates can choose six, to tailor their programme in more specialist areas such as Advanced Corporate Finance, Brand Management and Pricing Strategy, to name but a few.

For those with a keen interest in entrepreneurship, one of the most unique elective modules is the Entrepreneurial Journey, a live entrepreneurial project that explores the key challenges of introducing products and services to market. This team-based venture startup programme sees students develop a value proposition, carry out customer discovery research, validate the product or service, and create a fully-fledged business proposition. At the end of this journey is an opportunity to pitch to a panel of investors and compete for a monetary prize.

The programme culminates with the individual final project, in which students have an opportunity to create value for their employers at the highest strategic level in a tangible and measurable way as a culmination of their learning experience.

By the end of their programme, the cohort will have a comprehensive toolkit that is tailored to their future careers and will enable them to deliver impactful outcomes in their future leadership roles.

Meet Weekend MBA students in the class of 2021-22

Ebru Bircan WMBA 2021-22

Ebru Bircan

Nationality: German

Role: Head of Marketing Activation, Grohe AG

How did you come to the decision of studying an MBA, and why did you choose Imperial? 

Coming from a multicultural background and already having had nine years of extensive international work experience, I wanted to hone my broader business and commercial understanding. In those nine years, I lived and worked in multiple countries. Everywhere I stayed longer than a few months, I looked at universities and the programmes they offered. I always had it in the back of my mind, I was simply waiting for the right time and institution for this journey.

In a world that is constantly changing with businesses having to adapt to these changes both culturally and technologically, Imperial’s strong connection to STEM and offerings on business, technology and entrepreneurship made the decision easy for me. The Weekend MBA is a great setup that allows me to continue working full time while developing my holistic business understanding. It’s perfect because it allows you to learn and apply the knowledge directly at work from day one.  

What aspects of the programme are you most looking forward to?

There are so many aspects I am looking forward to. Coming from a marketing and communications background, I am really looking forward to challenging myself with classes such as Corporate Finance and getting out of my comfort zone.

I’m also looking forward to developing an entrepreneurial mindset to leverage new technologies and tools to be successful in the new economy, while also creating my own leadership style and progressing faster and more efficiently in my profession.

Last but not least, I am really looking forward to learning  from the other students who come from different backgrounds. I believe the diversity in the class will be a significant asset and provide insights into different industries, professions, and cultures.

Robbie Johnston WMBA 2021-22

Robbie Johnston

Nationality: British

Role: COO, Stone

Can you describe your career up until now?

Unconventional for an MBA candidate! I have mainly worked in health and fitness, across a variety of roles from training to management, operations, and innovation roles. I also have experience in other areas; working in the lotteries sector and doing talent management for athletes.

I have been lucky enough to be part of startups in the past, some of which were fairly recently conceived, which has afforded me some great exposure and experience. I love working with people, helping a team grow and seeing it develop to best-in-class as well as taking on new projects.

How did you come to the decision of studying an MBA, and why did you choose Imperial?

I wanted to broaden and deepen my knowledge across a few areas, mainly around developing business plans, accounting and some practical applications for strategy and building businesses.

Studying an MBA is certainly going to round off a few of those skills!  Imperial's focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as well as having access to The Imperial Enterprise Lab was a big draw too. It does feel as if you are in a creative melting pot, there’s such a diverse network to engage with! Separately, the structure of the Weekend MBA and having access to the campus resources both in person and online works very well for me as I live and work in London.

Samer Zahr WMBA 2021-22

Samer Zahr

Nationality: Australian/Lebanese

Role: Corporate Finance Assurance, Siemens AG

How did you come to the decision of studying an MBA, and why did you choose Imperial?

Throughout my career I have accumulated experience in both the private and public sectors, with the target of broadening my perspective on business and transitioning into leadership. I decided to pursue an MBA to capitalise on my technical skills and improve my critical thinking and management capabilities.

I chose Imperial’s Weekend MBA because together with my employer's support, the programme format allows me to continue my full-time career alongside learning from an incredibly diverse cohort at one of the world's top institutions. In addition, as a recipient of the Business School's Dean's Excellence Award, I was humbled to be recognised for my achievements to date and motivated to build on those with Imperial.

What aspects of the programme are you most looking forward to?

I'm looking forward to getting to know the cohort better and to continue learning from everyone's unique and diverse perspectives on business. I am passionate about technology and the idea of "profit with purpose" which makes me particularly excited about the Global Experience Week and the second year's flexibility in choosing from a wide array of electives and a potential international exchange opportunity.

Aqsa Meer WMBA 2021-22

Aqsa Meer

Nationality: British

Role: Senior Product Manager, Abcam


Can you describe your career up until now?

I originally trained as a scientist and decided to leave the lab for the corporate world seven years ago. After working for Eli Lilly and Pivotal Scientific Limited I joined Abcam plc in 2016.  Since joining I have been involved in delivering many exhilarating projects ranging from M&A projects, reviving a declining product range and the launch of a completely new portfolio – all have tested my ability to lead, collaborate with stakeholders and become creative when problem-solving.

I am now a Senior Product Manager for Abcam’s new cell engineering portfolio, where I lead a cross-functional team to deliver a commercial strategy that is profitable for the company, and enables global researchers to answer discovery questions faster by giving them access to the right tools.

How did you come to the decision of studying an MBA, and why did you choose Imperial?

An MBA is a crucial step in the next part of my career journey to become a successful business leader – to help me make an impact on the life science community and society as a whole. Having always been dedicated to self-improvement, I wanted to expand my knowledge around finance and accounting, advance my leadership skills and gain fresh perspectives from peers from diverse backgrounds and sectors.

Coming from a science background, I was already aware of Imperial’s reputation as a leader in the STEM fields, and quickly became impressed by the MBA programme content and the flexibility to tailor the programme to my interests through electives in innovation and strategy. It was also important for me to be able to do the MBA part-time while also having in-person interactions with my peers – the Weekend MBA provided a perfect blend of the two.

We’d like to extend a huge welcome to the Weekend MBA class of 2021-22 and wish them every success as they develop themselves and their careers with the help of Imperial College Business School.

Find out more about the Weekend MBA