William Makant

Why did you choose to study the Full time MBA and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?

I was looking for a truly entrepreneurial programme because I was determined to start my own business after the MBA. One of the reasons for doing a full-time MBA instead of a part-time programme was to allow me to start breaking free from my job at the time. I was initially sceptical of MBA programmes in general since I wasn’t convinced that they would enable me to do that, but after talking to a couple of alumni and attending the information session I decided to apply to the Imperial MBA immediately.

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

Make sure you know what you want from the MBA. I saw that many of my classmates expected the programme to give them a direction in life, expecting to obtain vocational support or self-discovery. The issue with that is that the MBA is so intense that you barely have time to think about career options during your studies. To get the most from your MBA this has to be done in advance so that the analysis and choice of business school and programme can be done according to your needs.

What is your fondest memory from your time at the Business School? / What do you miss most from your days at the Business School?

Without a doubt my fondest memory was when we won the Business Plan Challenge. It was a significant personal achievement for me – an external validation of my objective to transition from a mostly technical background to a more rounded profile with added business skills.

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

I saw that the Business School gave me all the tools and opportunities I needed to achieve the goals I had set when starting the programme, and I contributed only with focus and a ton of dedication to reach them. The MBA was a lot of hard work but it was very rewarding once I finished and looked back at my accomplishments.

How has the Business School helped develop your career?

The Business School changed my career completely. I was an engineer with a management role at Ford but in search of the skills to start my own business – skills which I was sure I did not have. I graduated as the Managing Director of a start-up company which was incubated at Imperial College Business School, and I am still with this company today. I would not have had the skills, credibility or self-confidence to tackle this challenge without the MBA.

How did you benefit from the services provided by the Business School’s Career and Professional Development Services Team?

Once I made it clear that I wanted to become an entrepreneur, I had all the support from my career advisor in terms of contacts, events and clubs that could help me in this search.

How has the Business School helped you to become an entrepreneur / start your own company? (if applicable)

The Business School not only trained me in the critical skills required to adequately run a business, such as marketing and accounting, but also in specific knowledge such as the modus operandi of the angel/Venture Capital industry and Intellectual Property protection. Most importantly, the commercial feasibility project, now IED, allowed us to exercise intensively the critical analysis required to develop a business model. Finally, the Business School set up the natural second step for these ideas through the Design London incubator in which I had the privilege of participating. In conclusion, the Imperial MBA helped with everything I have used to date in my business.

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

I was surprised to see how dynamic life in a start-up is. Mistakes can be made but you have to correct your path very quickly as only a very margin of error is available due to the loss-making nature of a start-up during the first years. Although it is very demanding, you see the consequences of every effort and decision you make very quickly in the market place. It is exciting to be in the driver’s seat of such a fast moving entity.

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

We keep connected both virtually and physically, through the formal LinkedIn network and the informal Facebook network and we organise a get-together for drinks every month in London. It is nearly three years since we completed our MBA, yet we still have a steady attendance at this monthly event and classmates living abroad know when and where to meet us.

Which book would you recommend alumni read and why?

For people interested in getting involved with a start-up I would recommend ‘4 Steps to Epiphany’ by Steven Blank. We struggled to find a market for our product, Automist, and we eventually found it through an early customer approach which we did not prioritise. Had I read this book before, we would have nailed the correct segment much faster and more effectively. We learnt it the hard way so I would certainly recommend it to others in order to shortcut this process.

Nationality: Brazilian / British

Undergraduate education: Mechanical Engineering, USP Brazil

Employment prior to studying at the Business School: Engine Engineering Supervisor, Ford Motor Company

Current employment: Managing Director and Co-Founder, Plumis Ltd