BSC Economics and Management Studies, University of the West Indies
Senior Revenue and Capital Accountant, Transport for London
Financial Planning & Analysis Manager (Capital Projects), Transport for London
Mitra was keen to pursue an MBA to get a broader understanding of what it takes to lead a large organisation, specifically how to go about defining and implementing personal strategy and how to be an effective leader. As a qualified accountant, his academic history and work experience had been dominated by numbers and less focused on leadership. And so as he moved up the corporate ladder, he felt the need to develop his leadership skills and the Executive MBA gave him this chance.
Your time at Imperial College Business School
Why did you choose to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
One of the main reasons I wanted to pursue an MBA was to get a broader understanding of what it takes to lead a large organisation and how to be an effective leaders. My career was progressing and I felt this was an area I needed to develop. I firmly believe that people are the most important asset in any organisation. If led effectively with a productive culture, the sky is the limit to what the organisation can achieve.
The reason I choose Imperial is because of its STEM credentials. The future will be data and technology-driven, and I needed to understand how technologies evolve and their impact on business models. Imperial is known worldwide for its focus on STEM subjects, and that knowledge filters through to the Business School. I learned what technologies are currently in development and, more importantly, how to spot where technologies are likely to develop in the future and the impact they could have on organisations and society.
What was the most important learning point you took with you from the Business School? And the most surprising thing about the programme?
The programme is well rounded, and I achieved the objectives I set out at the beginning (better strategic thinking, developing effective leadership and technology awareness). Still, for me, one of the surprising outcomes at the end of the programme was how confident I felt about overcoming the challenges in business today. I no longer feel like an understudy; I can put forward my opinions and have productive debates with anyone. To a large extent, the 'Executive Leadership Journey' helped me with this outcome. There were no exams on this course; instead, the focus was on the challenges leaders face at an executive level and the practical ways to deal with them. It also taught me how to think like an executive leader.
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying the same programme as you?
The Executive MBA is very much tailored to people who already have a fair amount of experience and are looking towards being an executive in the near future. However, you still have to come to the programme with an open mind. You need to pass exams and course work, but the real learning comes from cohort discussions because you gain perspective from experienced people with very different backgrounds. Don't miss the opportunity to contribute to those debates, and certainly don't miss the classes. The networking sessions are also essential; make an effort to attend and make an effort to engage, especially with people you don't know.
Tell us about your current job
How do you plan to use the skills and knowledge you gained during the programme within your career going forward?
I intended to change roles and move into a more strategic finance role in the near future. I am now more confident in making strategic decisions because I have a better understanding of the business environment, and I know how to get a better understanding where I fall short. I am also considering being an entrepreneur. This was not something I first set out to do at the beginning of the MBA, but now I am more aware of how to increase my chances of success as an entrepreneur and how to structure my entrepreneurial journey. Corporate Innovation and Intrapreneurship was undoubtedly one of the more interesting courses on the programme.
What do you enjoy most about your current work?
I enjoy the leadership challenge the most. Transport for London (TfL) is probably more challenging than most organisations because of the heavy political influence, but leadership is about people regardless of the environment. As previously mentioned, I firmly believe that people are the most important resource of any organisation and helping my team develop professionally has been really rewarding. I also have several apprentices whose first work experience is with my team; helping to shape the organisation's future leaders is also a pretty satisfying experience.
What are the most exciting/difficult challenges facing your sector currently?
Coronavirus has had a significant impact on the passenger transport sector. We also expect a long-term impact with many firms introducing a hybrid home working/office working model. For TfL in particular, the Major's Transport Strategy aims to have at least 80% of all journeys in London made by either walking or cycling by 2041. However, while this target has increased the revenue challenge for TfL, it seeks to advance progress on reducing pollution within the city and tackle the broader global challenge of climate change and sustainability, another major challenge facing the sector.
What is your proudest achievement in the job so far?
My proudest achievement so far is overhauling TfL's revenue accounting function. This area is particularly complicated because we share revenue with national rail, and the calculations and financial models can be quite technical. This area has been neglected in the past because of its complexity and prominence within TfL's finances. However, my time in the role has brought greater clarity and understanding of revenue to TfL's senior leaders, which has helped them make more informed strategic decisions regarding revenue. Part of the overhaul also included educating the revenue team on both the technical elements of revenue and the broader strategic impact on TfL's finances.
In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?
The 2019 Executive MBA cohort has bonded well with each other, and there will be lasting friendships from the group. I think as alumni, we will continue to be close, and I look forward to that. As an alumnus of Imperial and the Business School, I am particularly proud to have studied at such a prestigious institution. I think that feeling is shared among the alumni. Imperial also produces top-quality graduates, which means the alumni tend to be relatively senior and influential in their respective fields and organisations. That makes doing business with organisations with Imperial graduates more pleasurable and fruitful. An alumnus's willingness and ability to help is invaluable. Still, I look forward to building more than just professional relationships with the alumni. I hope the cohesion among the alumni grow for the rest of my career and beyond.
Have you volunteered at the Business School since you graduated? If so, why do you feel it's important to volunteer your time and experience?
Yes, I have volunteered on a few occasions on recruiting events, and I enjoyed sharing my experiences. I feel it is important to volunteer my time and experience to give something back to the College. While I very much hope to gain career advancement from my programme, I think Imperial has also given me a lot personally, and volunteering helps in some way to give back. I also feel that it is essential to help promote the reputation of the College. This not only helps the institution to be more prestigious but also help to put a spotlight on some of the genuine world-leading research and development occurring at Imperial.