Alexander Melo

Programme: Full-Time MBA

Undergraduate education: BEng Civil Engineering, Universidad de La Salle

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Group Product Manager, Warmup PLC

Pre-MBA sector: Engineering

Alexander Rodriguez Melo is a Full-Time MBA class of 2015-16 student. After graduating from Imperial College Business School, Alexander accepted a role as a Senior Vendor Manager at Amazon.

Professional background

Before beginning the Full-Time MBA I was a Group Product Manager for Warmup PLC, a leader in underfloor heating technologies. I was responsible for the global research and development and product management operations and managed the development and integration of new products across different markets. I received the Employee of the Year Award in 2013; an honour only given to exceptional individuals who have driven growth for the company.

A Business School that matches my values, goals and aspirations

I decided to study an MBA because it seemed like the natural next step in order to continue the fast progression I’ve managed to achieve in my career so far and become a business leader. I also wanted to change industry and the size of organisation that I’m working for.

Imperial College Business School was the obvious choice for me given that it matched my values and personality. For instance, the Business School is focused on the development of business leaders for the benefit of society which is an area close to my own heart.

The Business School is also at the forefront of forward-looking initiatives (e.g. Imperial Business Analytics or the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis) that expand the close links to industry. Through established vital partnerships with industry, they develop tools that facilitate the exploitation of data to turn it into value for businesses. A prime example is the KPMG Data Observatory, which aims to address the aforementioned challenge by using visualisation techniques. This observatory is the largest in Europe; which clearly demonstrates the ambitions of the School.

As part of Imperial Business Analytics, a pioneering collaborative alliance set up by KPMG and Imperial Business Analytics, I worked on a project which entailed applying data analysis and business skills to find and explain patterns of association between sharing economy activity and public attitudes toward the sharing economy.

These partnerships make you realise that you are part of a community that is at the forefront of world business trends. As a student, you can see first-hand how those trends are likely to affect the business world – crucial when making decisions with regards to your career development.

A faculty of global influencers

I also chose to study my MBA at Imperial College Business School because the calibre of the faculty here is superb – one of the best in business education worldwide. To put it into context, some faculty members have been direct influencers on how country economies are run. Professor David Miles was a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee – his insight directly affected the way interest rates were set up in the UK. Professor Jonathan Haskel was a Member of the UK Competition Commission, serving on the panel investigation into the British Airports Authority, and Professor Franklin Allen was a Scientific Adviser to Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden) for over 10 years.

Hearing first-hand from such influencers is an exceptional opportunity to learn from the very best; in my view this makes Imperial College Business School a very special place.

Innovative funding

To help me fund the MBA I raised some money by crowdfunding. I created a public profile and a website telling my story and aspirations. These platforms enabled me to reach people in countries around the world. People were very generous and, thanks to their help and donations, I was able to pay for part of the programme fees.

Imperial College Business School also provides scholarships on merit of leadership potential and I was fortunate enough to receive one. The scholarship was extremely useful to put towards my tuition fees. The rest of my funding came in the form of savings and loans.

Practical projects that reflect career ambitions

After graduation, I hope to move into a well-known technology company. With a real focus on practical learning, I have been able to work on three consulting projects for very well-known tech organisations during the programme.

My Group Consulting Project saw me working for CISCO. The project wasn’t focused on theoretical work but entailed tackling real challenges for the organisation. In my view, this is crucial for business education. Firstly, it enables you to focus on real problems that companies face instead of merely hypothetical scenarios. Secondly, the magnitude of these projects are comparatively big and, given that they are completed for companies with the size and importance of CISCO, you get to feel like you’re making a real impact.

Imperial has also provided top notch activities to sharpen my tech skills. For instance, I have completed projects for Emerson Process Management and partners from Deloitte and EY, with expertise in technology, have acted as mentors during the consulting projects. In addition, the School has been very effective in putting me in touch with some of the best-known tech firms and has allowed me to work on pioneering initiatives such as the Imperial Business Analytics with KPMG. These efforts have resulted in me being interviewed by some of the top technology companies and have no doubt put me on course to attain my career goals.

Anything is possible

My key takeaway from the programme so far is that anything is possible. When I started the programme, I felt that it was going to be impossible to accomplish the required work each week; primarily because of the breadth of knowledge from different modules that you’re expected to acquire. You have to adapt very quickly to the pace at which the MBA runs.

There is a lot of reading to do prior to and after the lectures and, if you are interested in working for companies in consulting or banking, you have to start to apply for jobs from day one.

All this makes the pace of the MBA challenging, but at the end of it you end up with a truly rewarding experience. As time passed on, I not only managed to complete the required workload each week but also saw myself growing in confidence, self-awareness and technical business development.

Specialist guest lecturers

Outside of your required workload on the MBA, you will also undertake numerous group projects and have opportunities to participate in guest lectures and almost once in a lifetime events that you certainly do not want to miss. For example, we had Ben Bernanke visiting the school to launch his book and take us through the way he managed the US Federal Reserve during the worst financial crisis the world has seen for over 70 years.

Another important guest lecture that I had the chance to attend is the visit of Lord Nicholas Stern – who is one, if not the most, influential person when it comes to the economics of climate change. He came to the Business School to talk about the urgency and promise of tackling climate change; which is without a doubt one of the most important issues of the 21st century.

We also got to hear from Professor Van Ryzin, the Head of Dynamic Pricing at Uber, as he explained the logic behind Uber’s surge pricing practice, and how data has the potential to change pricing strategies in other industries.

In March we had an innovation Challenge through which we had to develop a product to tackle issues around sustainable mobility. Through this experience, we had the chance to hear from experts in the transport sectors, such as Professor John Polak, a specialist in transport demand and head of the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College. We also received lectures from Professor Ricardo Martinez-Botas, a scientific advisor for the UK’s Department for Transport. The exposure and easy access to the wider university is very valuable.

Being part of one of the most well-known educational institutions in the world is a tremendous asset. The Imperial College community is truly collaborative and you get access to a lot of the research and activities that are happening around the university.

A unique community

Imperial College Business School does a fantastic job of finding and selecting a really unique set of individuals who thrive in a collaborative culture. Some of my fellow students have had truly unique experiences, managing large divisions of well-known organisations in places such as South America, India and Turkey or working directly with the Presidents of countries like Colombia. This combination of backgrounds and experiences creates an inspiring atmosphere of learning which I believe makes the programme extremely rewarding.

The Full-Time MBA also gives you the opportunity to forge your own unique experiences. The international aspect is certainly one of the most stimulating parts of the programme. The trip to China was a superb opportunity to understand how companies do business in that part of the world.

We visited companies such as Carrefour, BBDO and went into the actual manufacturing facilities of Ford – which had recently installed state of the art machinery and robotics in their factory in Hangzhou. We also had presentations from Deutsche Bank, Alibaba and some SME Chinese companies.

Creating opportunities by partaking in career clubs

As well as being an Imperial College Business School ambassador, I’m involved in various clubs: the consulting and entrepreneur clubs and Marketing and Digital society as well as the data science societies.

Getting involved in some of the numerous clubs on offer gives you a great opportunity to network with lots of interesting people. The clubs also give you great exposure to big players in industry. Via the Marketing and Digital Society, I had the opportunity to meet Jeremy Waite, Head of Digital Strategy at Salesforce.  He is without doubt one of the most influential people in the UK when it comes to the domain of data. I also had the chance to undertake consulting work for KPMG as part of my involvement with the Pioneering Imperial Business Analytics initiative. All these opportunities wouldn’t be accessible to me if I didn’t take part in the extracurricular activities on offer.

How have I found the time to take part in everything on offer at the Business School?

Planning, discipline and organisation are key. Every morning I dedicate a few minutes to set out what I wanted to accomplish for the day. Also, about twice a week, I look at my monthly schedule and identify any spare capacity to do activities outside my studies. On the very few occasions that I have found myself with some free time I try to stay ahead of the game by doing work that I know I have to do later on but which is not urgent at present.

Yes, sometimes I underestimate the time requirement for some of the work/activities I have to do, but that is when discipline comes in. When you have to deliver, you have to deliver!

If you’re bored of London, you’re bored of life

I live in Greenwich, south east London. I have lived in the UK for over ten years and a year before I started my MBA I had the opportunity to move to a new place. At the time my priority was to move to a greener area with more available space and after doing some research I found Greenwich to be a good option.

Living in London gives you a never-ending list of places to go and things to do. The sheer variety of restaurants, museums, shops, theatres and people in London is immense and very few places in the world can match this. As some people say, if you’re bored of London, you’re bored of life!

Job prospects in London are also a massive attraction. London is not only one of the top financial centres in the world but is fast becoming one of the most important tech hubs. London also attracts some of the brightest people and, as one of my innovation and entrepreneurship professors said, London tends to be ahead of most of the world in terms of trends, fashion, technology and policymaking. All of this combined makes London a very unique city to study in.

Programme: Full-Time MBA

Undergraduate education: BEng Civil Engineering, Universidad de La Salle

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Group Product Manager, Warmup PLC

Pre-MBA sector: Engineering