By studying the MSc Management programme, you expect doors to be opened. This certainly happens a lot, but there’s so much more that goes on during your time at Imperial College Business School that can’t be squeezed into a line of your CV.
In the case of Di Zhou, Di Fan, Prakruthi Jagadish, and myself, Alex Reed, it was the small things that were learned along the way that later translated into our outstanding and notable achievements.
In April this year, four of us MSc Management students flew from London to Zurich, later taking a train to St.Gallen, to compete in one of the most highly respected competitions curated by the Alliance of European Business Games.
Following a rigorous process of CV screening and lengthy online testing, we were part of the 100 successful students invited to participate in Business Game St.Gallen 2018. Simply making it to this stage was a success within itself.
Upon arrival and following a warm introduction by the hosts, we were instantly tasked with solving some of the most pressing business problems faced by companies such as Daimler, Swarovski, and BDO. These challenges came in the form of reinventing after-sales business to increase customer retention rates, identifying new forms of investment products, and developing plans to anchor new offerings into a company’s product portfolio.
Being put into separate teams comprising of two pairs, we communicated with complete strangers from the get-go, analysed data provided by the various corporations, and consequently communicated our pragmatic solutions during presentations directly in front of Vice Presidents, Managing Directors, and Heads of Departments from the respective companies.
With a time-frame of just four hours per case, effective communication, confidence, and time-efficiency was the bare minimum required to perform well in St.Gallen. When you consider that students came from all over the world to compete here, and each individual had made it through the extensive application process, it was clear that we were rallying with some of the best talent on offer.
All four of us Imperial College Business School students were recognised for our tremendous efforts. Prakruthi was part of the team that won the Swarovski Challenge, whilst Di Zhou and Di Fan were awarded 2nd-prize for their input during the Leonteq Challenge.
My teammate, Terence from St.Gallen and I earned first prize for both the Daimler Challenge and the Covestro Challenge. We were the only pair in the entire competition to have been awarded two first-place prizes from the five business challenges.
It should be stated that the time at St.Gallen was not solely dedicated to intense work. In the evenings, there were ample opportunities to mingle and network with other participants, the organising committee, and also professionals from the partnering companies. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to have intelligent conversations with Partners or Directors during dinner, or even at a bar in town.
The environment at the venue encouraged friendly approaches to be made with absolutely everyone that you walk past, and during the late evening you’d likely go to a student bar with participants that you’d only just met, to see what St.Gallen has to offer. On a side note, if you do attend, make sure to bring business cards.
So, how did studying MSc Management help with the experience at St.Gallen? You might think it was by chance that the students representing Imperial College Business School won four awards, however, I truly believe otherwise.
Over the past ten months, we’ve been able to develop strong business acumen, force ourselves to permanently overcome any nerves that we may have regarding presentations and public speaking, and ultimately compete within the Imperial classroom since we’re surrounded by an incredibly intelligent cohort.
One module in particular that impacted my ability to perform in St.Gallen was Leadership Skills. Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi taught us how to entice audiences during presentations, deliver stories that stick, and develop ourselves into leaders. More specifically, his personal input and commitment to improving his students’ public speaking abilities was incredible, providing immediate and personalised feedback following assessed presentations, and offering a platform from which we could augment ourselves. Taking his advice and applying the learned principles clearly worked – thank you Sankalp!
Additionally, other modules and electives that we have studied during the year have provided such a solid foundation and understanding of business, meaning that we were all able to approach Business Game St.Gallen with confidence.
It was by the efforts of the programme team, faculty members, and teaching assistants that all of this was possible. For the four MSc Management students that travelled the small distance to Switzerland, Imperial provided us with the necessary skills required to compete successfully on a global scale.