Business Management and Client Strategy, Credit Suisse
My career journey
My career story is not what I had envisaged, as ever since I was a child I had always planned to be a lawyer. However, on graduation I decided that this wasn’t the right move for me at that time and having studied at the LSE I was attracted the world of finance. So into finance I went and it was a great decision for me. After 18 months at Goldman Sachs I moved to Credit Suisse where I spent 13 years working in a number of client strategy and business management roles across fixed income and equities. I recently moved to a leading investment bank where I am a business manager.
Choosing the Imperial Executive MBA
I was able to pivot away from law into banking through the transferable skills I had gained in my degree and internships. I spent 13 years in my last company and though I had grown and developed in my varied roles, I began to crave more structured personal and professional development. I had learned about strategy on the job; I wanted to complement that with learning about strategy from leaders drawing from their experience in consulting and other industries. I also wanted to study alongside people from different professional backgrounds and knew that the Imperial College Business School Executive MBA attracts diverse candidates, with backgrounds outside of finance. I was also particularly keen to study in an innovative and technologically driven environment.
Applying my Executive MBA learnings immediately
Learning directly applicable knowledge is the most rewarding part of the programme. The content that you learn through the Executive MBA builds and builds in layers, and by the second block (fourth month of the programme) I started to realise how my confidence in addressing business topics had grown.
The interconnectivity between modules studied also became more apparent. My cohort and I began to regularly link topics learned in one module and apply to another, for example, drawing upon marketing concepts when discussing innovation or strategy. You really do gain business acumen and fluency. I was most surprised by how much of the content I find genuinely interesting. It makes the learning process rewarding when you are enjoying it.
My talented cohort
As a cohort, we have never all been physically in the same room. Even my photo of the cohort which sits on my LinkedIn page is missing two members as we lost one poor person on route to the picture (we found them again later!) and one person has never managed to fly into London for induction. We have however all managed to connect virtually and we have a rotating networking call between members of the cohort so that we are building closer relationships.
The cohort is full of talented people, a real diverse mix of professional backgrounds, but mainly people who are doing very well at what they do. I love that we can approach a case and have the perspective of doctors, engineers, accountants, consultants and TV producers – we all have developed techniques in our professional lives and bring these together in class so that we can learn from each other. Everyone is very approachable and supportive of each other. There is never a “dumb” question in class and members of the cohort are always willing to help and support. We are a social bunch and enjoy meeting up when the COVID-19 rules allow!
The 30% Club scholarship
I applied for the 30% Club scholarship because I do a lot of work in my personal and work life around women and helping empower them in the business space. I participate with a couple of external organisations – Women in Banking and Finance and a much smaller organisation called ETW. And the premise is always to provide training support to help women achieve their dreams. That’s exactly what this scholarship has done for me. It’s really important in terms of helping and empowering more women to take this step in their personal development and their career their career development.
Before I signed up to the Executive MBA, I was warned over and over again about how challenging the programme is in terms of workload. I was told that I wouldn’t see my friends for two years and to give up hope of having any kind of social life. Forewarned is forearmed – if you plan you can get it all done and still see your friends and family, although in fairness not as much as previously. However there are some periods where there are just not enough hours in the day, and you are struggling to balance a demanding job, assignments, prep for the next class and family (and don’t forget to add a bit of home schooling to the mix too due to the pandemic). Everyone has had their own challenges with pressures during COVID, but everyone in the cohort has found a way to manage the demands.
The Executive MBA and my career
I use my programme learnings all the time. It’s also very easy to spot when a strategy or process has been implemented by someone who has an MBA. The Executive MBA changes your thought process – you are armed with frameworks that guide your approach to challenges and opportunities in the workplace. Also, because a lot of the teaching is case-based, you are able to apply your learnings to specific real-life scenarios. I have also been surprised by the extra detail that the Executive MBA goes into – so even with subjects that I thought I knew quite well, there was always a learning point to enhance my knowledge.
My future goals
The plan for doing my MBA was to strengthen my strategy skills and to gain a solid business acumen. I am choosing my electives so that they support my ambitions to grow my career in the strategy space, so that I am agile enough to be a positive force in this fast-changing world. I am hoping to continue my career development to achieve a position of leadership.
Advice to prospective students
1. Do it. You won’t regret it (as long as you do #2 and #3)
2. Research. Read about the programme, speak with people and understand what you want to gain from doing the Executive MBA as you need to be motivated.
3. Be prepared. The programme is challenging both in terms of content and time demands. Find a rhythm of studying that works for you and stick with it no matter what. It makes your life much easier in the long run. When you are prepared for the worst, you will be pleasantly surprised by how well you manage, and that you still manage to see your friends (occasionally!)