LGTBQ Club

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Ivan Kovynyov, a student on the Weekend MBA, has launched the Business School’s first LGBTQ+ Business Club. With the tagline Imperial means Inclusive Business, this new club highlights our commitment to diversity at Imperial.

The Business School careers clubs are student-led clubs which bring together MBA and MSc students with similar areas of career interest and/or professional backgrounds. The LGBTQ+ Business Club joins a sleuth of other careers clubs which focus on the finance, consulting, FMCG, luxury good and retail, healthcare and many more sectors.

Rather than focusing on a particular sector, the role of the LGBTQ+ Business Club is to provide a platform to connect Imperial business students with leading companies and institutions who want to hire inclusively.

Ivan Kovynyov founded the club with the Business School. He identified the need for an LGBTQ+ Business Club through his Personal Leadership Journey module on the Weekend MBA. He says:

The idea for the club came from my Interview a Leader project on the MBA Personal Leadership Journey module. I interviewed European senior business executives, entrepreneurs and public officials who have successfully developed their careers being openly LGBTQ+. Recently, I have come to realise that companies, such as McKinsey, Bain, Amazon, Google, Goldman, JPMorgan, PwC, have discovered LGBTQ+ as a new source of talent. Therefore, the number of targeted recruiting events has significantly risen over the last years.

Echoing Ivan’s comments, the Financial Times published a piece titled “Doors open for gay MBA graduates”. In the article, journalist Della Bradshaw discusses the focus on diversity in the workplace and the commitment from top companies to recruit from the LGBTQ+ talent pool.

Sarah Ranchev-Hale, Assistant Director of Careers, Employer Relations, discusses how she has seen this trend in the Business School. She says:

More and more companies have recognised the benefits of a diverse workforce, many have put strategies in place to target diverse candidates, including LGBTQ+. We regularly get requests from companies to support them in recruiting LGBTQ+ candidates, and the club is an integral part of this process.

Members and allies

The club currently has members from the Weekend MBA, Full-Time MBA, Global Online MBA and the Master’s suite of programmes. They also encourage allies/advocates of the LGBTQ+ community to join.

Ivan says, “It is all about inclusion. If we created a business club for LGBTQ+ members only, it would totally miss the point. We welcome everyone to the club who wants to promote inclusion and diversity and stands for these values. Currently, around a third of our members are straight allies.”

On the club’s agenda

Over the past couple of months, Ivan has been busy connecting with people from top companies to engage with the LGBTQ+ Business Club.

He says, “We were able to establish first corporate partnerships and engage with companies in the UK, Germany and Switzerland. We added Director of Corporate Partnerships to our executive committee and appointed Jerry Chen to this position.”

First on the agenda is a speaker series in conjunction with LinkedIn. The first speaker will be Josh Graff, the UK Country Manager and Vice-President, EMEA at LinkedIn, who is a role model for top senior executives being openly gay. He also made the 2016 OUTstanding and FT rankings list.

LGTBQ Committee

The Executive Committee

The club maintains a small, focused executive committee which is made up of:

  • Ivan Kovynyov, President and Founder (Weekend MBA)
  • Umberto Kone, Vice President, (MSc Management)
  • Daniel Chew, CFO (Weekend MBA)
  • Julia Yu, Marketing Director (Weekend MBA)
  • Sthephany van Oordt, Director of Programmes & Services (Weekend MBA)
  • Jerry Chen, Director of Corporate Partnerships (MSc Investment & Wealth Management)
  • Izak Nel, Master’s Programmes Ambassador (MSc Business Analytics)

From left to right: Umberto Kone, Izak Nel, Ivan Kovynyov and Daniel Chew

We speak to some of the members of the executive committee on why they joined the club and what they are hoping to achieve in its first year.

Umberto Kone, Vice President, (MSc Management)

Why did you join the Imperial College Business School LGBTQ+ Careers Club?

When I was deciding to join Imperial, I was wondering whether Imperial College Business School had an LGBTQ+ club and had a student look into it for me. Then I found out in May that Ivan was setting up the LGBTQ+ Business Club. Now that the whole September cohort has arrived, it is really exciting.

What are the benefits and challenges of starting a new society?

The benefit is that you can structure it the way that you want. I feel a lot of pressure because the first event will set the precedent of how the society will be. The downside is that all the eyes are going to be on you and there is pressure. I founded the LGBTQ+ club at my last university, so I done this before and I like the challenge. This time I have the Imperial platform and brand – companies are really attracted to working with us. I think we can do something really big and nice for the LGBTQ+ society.

What are you hoping to achieve as Vice President?

Since I’m doing my MSc Management, I have more exposure to the Master’s students and I’m trying to get more MSc students involved. That’s something that I’m aiming to achieve. I also want to set the level for the next years to come so that more students are eager to join in the future.

Jerry Chen, Director of Corporate Partnerships (MSc International Health Management)

Why did you join the Imperial College Business School LGBTQ+ Careers Club?

I have always been very involved with LGBTQ+ initiatives in both academic and professional settings – I chaired the Boston College LGBTQ Leadership Council and was involved with the LGBTQ Affinity Network while working at Goldman Sachs. I believe people, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve to feel comfortable and confident being who they are whether in school or at work.

What are you hoping to achieve in your role as Director of Corporate Partnerships?

I hope to promote awareness around workplace inclusivity. As well as promoting opportunities of corporate-level recruiting initiatives to identifying members.

Izak Nel, Master’s Programmes Ambassador (MSc Business Analytics)

Why did you join the Imperial College Business School LGBTQ+ Careers Club?

I want to be actively involved in creating a space where LGBTQ+ and allied students can connect with diverse and inclusive prospective employers. Inclusivity is non-negotiable and while many companies are already embracing diversity, we need to ensure that this is the standard across all industries, and in all companies. I want to make sure no LGBTQ+ student feels unsupported in building their career!

What are you hoping to achieve as Master’s Programmes Ambassador?

The club originated within the MBA cohorts, so we wanted to have a dedicated ambassador to the MSc programmes. As more Master’s students are first-time job seekers, we want to give them, as well as returning job-seekers access to employers where their careers will excel and their diversity will be celebrated.

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Nicole Pires

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Nicole is the Content Marketing Manager for Programmes Marketing.