My name is Aakriti Jhunjhunwala and I am currently studying the Global Online MBA programme at Imperial College Business School.
When I applied for an online programme, I had many reservations about what my experience would be. Among my reservations, primary were the doubts that I would lose out on valuable opportunities like being part of Imperial’s many extra-curricular Career Clubs and leadership committees, and also that I would not be able to foster meaningful relationships with my classmates.
However, when I started the programme, I realised that online students are offered each and every prospect as the in-person students and the only obstacle is to select which of the hundreds of amazing roles and events you devote your time and energy to!
After a week of being tempted to sign myself up for everything that came my way. I hunkered down and focused mainly on two organisations– the Student-Staff Committee (SSC) and the Imperial College Business School Student Investment Fund.
In this blog I will share my application process, experience thus far and the benefits I have reaped from both these roles.
At the beginning of each programme intake year, the students are given the opportunity to democratically elect their representatives to form the cohort’s SSC, which you can think of as a mini student council or student government for each programme. The goal of the SSC is to create an interface between the students, the Programme team and the faculty, to promote the highest standards of education, in a cooperative and constructive environment.
There are four different leadership roles within each SSC – the Chair, Social Leader, Academic Leader and Careers Leader. I applied for the role of Social Leader as I really enjoy planning events and meeting new people and thus, I thought I would be able to contribute the most in this role.
The application process required me to write a statement covering my motivation to take on the role, the skills and qualities that would help me succeed and examples of initiatives I would plan for my peers as Social Leader. Applicant statements were then anonymised and circulated among the cohort for students to vote on. Fortunately, my classmates supported my candidacy and I was elected!
As Social Leader, I have the responsibility to encourage, plan and support events and activities that foster relationships and builds connections between my classmates. Imperial even extends a social budget every term that I can allocate towards different community building events. The SSC not only allows me to connect with my cohort, but also provides occasions to liaise with Social Leaders from other MBA cohorts and organise cross-programme social opportunities.
A core function of the role is to liaise with the programme team and faculty to communicate any doubts or needs that the class may have to them. This is a great opportunity to get facetime with the people behind the scenes at Imperial and actually tailor everyone’s educational experience.
So far, the experience of being Social Leader has been incredibly rewarding for me. I have organised five events – each with a different theme, different collaborators and different audience.
For example, I collaborated with the Imperial Enterprise Lab and hosted a custom startup pitch contest (think Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den) for my cohort. In doing so not only was I able to learn more about the Imperial Enterprise Lab and establish connections with its administrative team, but also converse with my classmates about their passion projects.
Another event was a Q&A panel with Global Online MBA student leaders from another cohort. This event gave me the chance to connect with an SSC Social Leader from that class and also hone my public speaking skills as I moderated the panel.
The SSC Social Leader role continues to challenge me. I have to be innovative with event planning and creative with event promotion. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, especially on days when I’m feeling lazy or on days when networking is low priority in a long list of to-dos!
Imperial College Business School Student Investment Fund
The fund was established in 2018 and is the College’s first student-led investment fund, with £100,000 in assets under management. It is divided into fundamental and quantitative departments.
Since I am an Equity Trader and Investor by profession, I was instantly attracted to this Imperial organisation and keen to be a part of it from day one. My motivation to join was that I wanted to expand my knowledge of European and American Equity Markets, so I applied for the role of Junior Equity Research Analyst in the Consumer Staples department.
The application process was quite comprehensive with a qualitative component requiring applicants to discuss their background, motivation and skill set, and also a technical component requiring applicants to put together a stock-pitch and present it to the interviewer. The application process itself was very educational for me.
To my surprise, I was selected to be the Senior Equity Research Analyst for the role, a promotion from the Junior Equity Research Analyst role I had applied for, due to my relevant and extensive work experience. That said, my team consists of students who did not have prior experience in Equity Research but demonstrated their keenness to learn and contribute, and hence they were selected into the organisation. So even if you don’t have a background in research but are curious about Equity Investment then I encourage you to apply!
As Senior Equity Research Analyst, I manage a team of six junior analysts that come from various places across the globe and study a variety of topics at Imperial. This role marked the first time I have managed such a diverse group! During our meetings for the Student Investment Fund, I learned as much about leadership, diversity and inclusion as I did about Equity Research.
For example, after a few meetings in the first term, I recognised that a simple thing like turning on the transcript feature when conducting video calls allows a team member to be able to cope with the gamete of different accents and at the same time feel empowered when communicating themselves.
As a team leader, it is my responsibility to encourage even my quietest team member to speak up and voice their thoughts. This realisation compelled the extrovert in me to step off the stage and instead facilitate the discussion amidst the group from behind the scenes.
I joined the fund to learn more about Equity Investments (which I most certainly did), however, I also got unexpected and valuable lessons in leadership!
Benefits of extra-curricular participation
The benefits of extra-curricular participation are extensive and often intangible to capture entirely. However, the top 10 key benefits I have personally experienced in the last six months are:
- Fostering deeper relationships with classmates
- Collaborating with students from different programmes in the wider Imperial community
- Connecting with faculty and the programme team
- Honing time management and boosting productivity
- Upgrading organisational process and tools
- Improving written and verbal communication
- Learning the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion and how to represent the interest of each member of the group as a team leader
- Mastering facilitation and hosting of events with a diverse group of people
- Practicing setting a direction for a team, mobilising the team in that direction and motivating teammates to overcome obstacles
- Exemplifying a range of managerial and leadership abilities to potential employers
In conclusion, my Imperial extra-curricular participation has been extremely fulfilling. I highly recommend all current and future students to significantly enhance their Imperial experience by getting involved in the Imperial community!