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Continuing on from Part 2 of her MBA Diary, Ekaterina Li, gives an insight into her experiences on the Full-Time MBA. Ekaterina joins Imperial from Russia, following her role as a Business Analyst at AB InBev and six years at PwC Russia.

In the third part of her MBA Diary series, Ekaterina shares her musings on the third and fourth on the MBA including her learnings in Organisational Behaviour, personal branding and becoming a student ambassador.

Day 23

How to change your opinion on something you believed in for the last (for now equals first) 25 years of your life?

I was never completely satisfied with any period in my life. I was always thinking “well, if this would be different then I could be happy.” Then I thought that people just can’t be happy without pushing themselves to be. I mean, if you concentrate on enjoying a moment, then you can feel happiness while you’re concentrating (for a moment as well). I also thought happiness can’t be now, it’s either in the past or in the invented future. After that I saw some people who considered themselves happy in general, and I decided that it’s just me. Now I see it differently. Happiness doesn’t come when you think about it. If you just live your life, enjoy the moment, don’t analyse it and don’t ask yourself if you’re happy or not, then you probably are.

Today during the lecture on Organisational Behavior, Professor Mark Kennedy took out a £20 note and said he will take our bids for his £20, and the person with the highest bid will give him the amount of money they bid in return for his £20, and the person with the second highest bid with also give him the amount they bid, but will receive nothing. The bidding stopped at £31 pounds, so one person gave £31 pounds for £20 and the runner-up bid gave £30 for nothing, because no one wanted to lose – nicely, the professor promised to buy snacks for everyone for these £61.

What he was teaching us is, when you’re considering a decision, don’t go for the chance to win by all means – accept and cut your losses while you can. But they speak to us not only about money, which is maybe not the first thing to expect from a Business School (when business’ purpose is actually to make money), but it’s more about making something good instead of making profit. If you can also make “something good” profitable – then you’ve nailed it!

This is called “social entrepreneurship”, and it really matters at Imperial. To change the attitude towards business and values (create them if you had none whatsoever), to make yourself a better person and develop on many levels. When you understand it and you get that everyone else is in the same boat with you and you swim in the same direction, accepting how difficult it is but are still enjoying the process, then it is happiness.

Yesterday we spent three hours in our syndicate team trying to figure out what the mistake was in our Accounting assessment. When we finally did, all we felt was enthusiasm and gratefulness to each other – never mind those three hours we had just spent. We figured it out together, by ourselves and we can be proud!  You can have no idea what it is, but the important thing is you can feel it. And that’s a beautiful feeling.

Day 24

Today, guest speaker Joseph Liu delivered tips on personal branding, networking, CV and cover letters. Do you know how usually during presentations people get bored, or distracted or bored and distracted? Well, doesn’t happen while Joseph’s presenting. I know that it is his job to be professional at playing with slides and making them pop up on the screen at the right time, but still it’s never about what you do, but how you do it. Remember when you were a child, and you saw beautiful actresses in TV shows or flamboyant boxers fighting in the ring and you wanted to become actresses and boxers when you grew up. Not because you understood what the profession is or were particularly interested in it, but because you liked them so much, you actually wanted to be them.

Well, Joseph Liu makes you think that you just have to become a professional presenter and personal brand consultant. A pint of humour, a cup of dried really useful information and a pinch of brainteasing quotes and voila, that’s the recipe for a perfect presentation.

The most important thing I learnt is it’s not theory. It comes down to:

  • What kind of person you are and how you should use not something you can pretend to be, but your own self as a foundation for your brand
  • Networking and how to use your time at the Business School more effectively
  • Social platforms and which of them are more useful for your career and why. It comes to your profile pictures on those platforms (here is a teaser – nice advice we got: add photos which demonstrate how you create value at work and in life – e.g. if you’re a presenter, it should be a picture of how you’re doing a speech etc.)

We all know that the devil is in the details, but you could never imagine how much these teeny tiny things really matter for your personal branding. Well, I’ve been dreaming of being a brand manager for several years now but had no experience in marketing. So after today’s presentation, at least I can become my own brand manager, where the result will be finding a dream job (fingers have never been crossed so tightly).

Quoting Joseph, “It’s not easy and it’s not meant to be easy. Otherwise, everyone could do that”. And you know what? I like it this way, because it brings satisfaction.

Day 25

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, we’re going to Copenhagen! In an earlier post I mentioned the Full-Time MBA class have two trips during the coming year. The one in January will be to Denmark – as the destination was revealed today. Since it was already on my ‘to visit’ list, I was very happy about this announcement, and I know the feeling was genuine and not a result of the sugar rush from eating a donut from Krispy Kreme that our Organisational Behaviour professor brought us today. Remember he promised snacks for everyone for those £61 pounds he ‘won’ in a little ‘I’m taking your bets for my £20 pound note’ game? Well, he kept his word with 10 boxes of donuts.

One classmate told me recently ‘Kate, you’re unbelievably full of surprises’, so today I added one more to the list and signed the Student Ambassador agreement. “I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good”. Frankly, it’s just the opposite and I am up to a lot of good, but I couldn’t resist to use a Harry Potter quote while writing this in London on a double-decker bus. Mostly the student ambassador’s job is to help prospective students to get inside information judging from your own experience, which means taking part in Imperial events, getting in touch with people over specialised social networks, writing blog posts from time to time (don’t know how I am going to manage this) and generate other interesting ideas.

You can imagine with my whingeing about me loving advertising and marketing so much that I couldn’t have been more excited! There are around 20 student ambassadors on the MBA because people really do care. When you propose any idea in a WhatsApp group chat, you’ll definitely get those ‘+1’ notifications coming fast to you. And that’s great.

‘Mischief managed’.