Joanne Long, Full-Time MBA 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School
Full-Time MBA

Business and English, Nanjing Normal University

My career journey: launching a successful cryptocurrency exchange

I co-founded DragonEx in 2017 and within six months we had built it to become a top 30 cryptocurrency trading platform. In the following two years I helped gain 350,000 loyal users as the Chief Operating Officer.

I have experienced great successes and some significant failures in the last three years. I managed over 50 employees across three countries, faced some tough challenges and used all of my management knowledge. All of my previous experiences prepared me for the fundamentals I needed to join Imperial College Business School. I will take this year as an opportunity to learn, meet great minds, and reflect my experience of success and failure, as well as to prepare for the future.

My proudest moment has been setting up an overseas operations centre for DragonEx from scratch. The centre was fully operational within two weeks, performing functions such as office rental, facility purchasing, employee recruitment and professional training. For the past three years, my work has been demanding; I am proud that I learned quickly and was adaptable under high pressure.

Recognising my need to develop my entrepreneurial capabilities

I applied to Imperial’s Full-Time MBA for the opportunity to make a leap in my career. I have been working in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry for the last three and a half years. I now want to improve and push myself further and I would like to use the Full-Time MBA to enrich my financial knowledge and management skills.

Studying for an MBA is not only a knowledge system upgrade process, it is also a process of self-exploration and perception expansion. It is an entrepreneurial journey that equips you with both hard and soft skills.

I always planned to return to my studies when the time was right. A mentor of mine suggested Imperial, which turned out to be a great recommendation.

The unique benefits of Imperial College Business School

Imperial produces ground-breaking technology and creates an innovative environment by encouraging openness, curiosity, diversified collaboration and the pursuit of perfection. Imperial College Business School is relatively young compared with other schools, but it has a very mature education system. Imperial’s Full-Time MBA programme is well-designed in both academic and practical aspects, focusing on finance and management. It is located in London, which means there are a tremendous amount of opportunities to explore the latest innovative technologies and business solutions.

Excelling in a challenging module and my favourite electives

I achieved 92% in Corporate Finance, which I have found to be one of the hardest modules so far and which I have devoted the most time to

We have very broad electives choices which have covered five different fields - finance, innovation & entrepreneurship, leadership & organisation, marketing & analytics, and strategy, to cater to different demands. My favourite elective is international business by Professor George Yip, who is very knowledgeable and intelligent. I have learnt practical international strategies and explicit frameworks for different topics. My second favourite is Alternative Investment by Professor Amit Goyal, who taught us different investment strategies and different asset classes in a very fascinating way.

An outstanding cohort

2020 was a tough year for everyone but I will never forget the brilliant people who I have worked with. We respect each other, cherish our friendships, enjoy the teamwork and innovative ideas created by the interactions of people from different backgrounds. When I finish my MBA I will miss our lovely cohort and the time we have spent together. 

My favourite lecturers

We have very experienced and prestigious professors. Professor Franklin Allen, one of my favourite lecturers, taught at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for 36 years and still holds emeritus status there. Professor Allen is considerate, always articulating concepts in a clear manner and always willing to answer our questions no matter how small in a patient and kind way. I enhanced my finance and investment knowledge from his Corporate Finance and Investments and Risk Management modules, and we are proudly studying from one of the books he has written.

Professor Celia Moore taught at London Business School for nine years. Professor Ian Mackenzie is an ex-professor at Harvard Business School and was a consultant and manager at Boston Consulting Group.

Dr Michelle Rogan is loved by all students and is another of my favourite lecturers. Her class, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, conveys a substantial amount of knowledge in a clear and engaging format that allows us to absorb the concepts easily. What I love the most is the last part of each lecture, during which we share our own takeaways and reflections.

Practical learning: the Imperial Innovation Challenge and Entrepreneurial Journey

During the Imperial Innovation Challenge week, we are exposed to innovative technology developed at Imperial and introduced to practice-oriented frameworks. Leveraging our knowledge, we develop prototype concepts and experimentation plans to test both the technological viability and economic feasibility for the assigned technology. The whole process is really fast-paced and challenges our quick-thinking ability. really enjoy the teamwork under pressure as it makes us build closer bonds and appreciate our individual efforts more.

The Entrepreneurial Journey is a unique opportunity for us to research and explore a business idea in-depth, working in teams and collaborating with students from other programmes. We receive substantial coaching sessions from experienced staff, support from the Imperial Enterprise Lab and various training workshops (including design thinking, innovative business models, customer discovery, legal essentials and financial modelling) to work on our own business ideas. The Entrepreneurial Journey equips us with almost all the skills required to start our own business.

Growing as an entrepreneur

I am an entrepreneurial person. I enjoy building companies and overcoming challenges and watching myself grow stronger in the process. I would love to stay in the asset management industry or become a professional trader. 

I find the Imperial Enterprise Lab to be very exciting. There are many great events to inspire student innovators and entrepreneurs, providing valuable opportunities for them to exchange ideas and find potential partners, such as Idea Challenge, Innovation Pitch and WE Inspire.

After finishing my MBA, I will work on my own startup, Entropy Capital, providing investment advice and asset management services.

The unparalleled opportunities present in London

London is an amazing city with great business opportunities and talented people from all over the world. I have participated in the London Blockchain Lab, which is led by a large community of passionate changemakers from Imperial, UCL, LSE and beyond. Studying in London is a great opportunity for me to further explore my own business opportunities in the blockchain and crypto technology industries.

My approach to applying to Imperial

In my personal statement, I illustrated how I am different from other applicants based on my unique experience, and how I can contribute to the learning of other MBA students. It is hard to differentiate between many applicants with high GMAT scores — that’s why I emphasised what personal qualities I can bring to the programme.

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Full-Time MBA

Business and English, Nanjing Normal University