Matthew Stafford

Why did you choose to study Weekend Executive MBA and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?

I needed a timetable that would fit in with work commitments (I had to take holiday for lectures) and I needed to be London-based. The innovation and entrepreneurship focus of the Business School was a huge factor in my decision as I was keen to explore the possibilities of entrepreneurship and/or Venture Capital during and after my MBA.

The strength of the academic staff was very apparent and the core modules and electives looked solid and interesting. I liked the staff and current students I met at the open days and when I attended a real lecture I saw that the professors were interesting and confident, so the ‘human’ side of the Business School just seemed a good fit for me too.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying the same Business School programme as you?

I would advise prospective students to visit lots of different business schools and to take the time to talk to current students and staff. Attend a real lecture if you can, and ask to be allowed to do this if it isn’t offered to you. Read student blogs/tweets from all over the world and don’t just fall for all the PR or the rankings bias. Think about what you can give to the cohort as well as what you’ll get out of the course. You shouldn’t expect an immediate pay-off upon graduation as an MBA is for the long-haul. Finally, trust your instinct and stick to your guns!

What do you miss most from your days at the Business School?

Learning from my diverse cohort was just superb. The variety of careers, experiences, learning styles, egos, ambitions, nationalities and emotions in class meant that I learned a lot more from them than I could have anticipated.

I miss the learning experience given via the top research done at Imperial College Business School by some of the best professors in their field – in particular macro economics when the credit crunch was beginning to take hold, strategy for tech firms and the research into entrepreneurship.

What was the most important learning you took away with you from the Business School?

The Imperial MBA validated the direction I wanted to head in, gave me the confidence and skills to go for it and showed that the power of my network will really pay-off. (I used to think the ‘networking’ was all just fluff before I figured it out and realised that you have to understand what you can give before you get anything out of it).

How has the Business School helped develop your career?

I would not have secured my current job without it – not that it was a requirement for the job but it gave me the edge, confidence, knowledge and skills to get it and to prove my worth from day one.

What do you enjoy most about your work and what are the main challenges that you face?

I love working with and helping early stage companies grow their shareholder value. Seeing the benefits that my knowledge from the MBA can give, together with my experience gained from meeting lots of companies, gives me great satisfaction. The challenges I face are around finding the really good early stage companies that can grow – there are lots of start-ups but many believe their own hype and not so many are truly innovative or disruptive.

How do you stay connected with others from your Business School alumni network?

We keep in touch via email and Facebook to arrange drinks every so often, and the alumni socials organised by the Business School are great

In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?

Staying connected with my alumni network is extremely important to me. Many alumni have business ideas that could evolve and prove to be good businesses, most are great company with whom I enjoy interesting, intelligent conversation, and a few act as a great sounding board for me. I hope there are alumni who will remain friends for life. Overall they’re all just really good fun.

Which book or website would you recommend alumni read/visit?

I’d recommend ‘A Book About Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned’ by the drinks company Innocent because it really is that simple! You should also take a look at www.humbledmba.com  and www.twitter.com  – use it as a news feed and get involved in the conversation.

Nationality: British

Undergraduate education: BSc (Hons) in Software Engineering, Durham University

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Business Architect, Bravura Solutions (Europe) Ltd

Employment after studying at the Business School: Project Leader, Pembridge Partnership Ltd

Current position: Co-founder at 9others.com