A majority of my pre-MBA career was with Verizon, an American telecommunications company, for just over eight years. Prior to that I owned my own business importing automotive parts into the U.S. With Verizon, I was particularly proud of moving through various roles and advancing my career with them quite rapidly. I had the chance to lead Lean Six Sigma teams and produce savings for Verizon of $21M on one project, increase the Verizon customer base by 70% in key markets, and, most proudly, develop and promote 18 direct reports to the next level in their careers.
With Verizon, I was fortunate enough to work in various channels of the organisation at different levels of seniority and this led me to really enjoy understanding how different parts of a business operate. I realised that I could help have a really positive impact with my leadership skills and strategic thought process and I wanted to do an MBA to gain more finance and international experience to further develop my strengths.
I chose Imperial College Business School as one of my key drivers to do an MBA was to utilise it as a chance to gain more international experience and London is arguably the most international city in the world. I was drawn to Imperial specifically due to the strong brand recognition and reputation for innovative thinking. I attended an offer holder event and interacted with alumni during the recruitment process, which helped me gain a good feel for some of the potential peers I’d be working with as well as a general vibe for how the School and programme team were. This solidified Imperial as my choice.
It’s been quite rewarding to see my progress and improved ability in courses and areas I wasn’t that confident in or didn’t have much experience in. The faculty have been very good and always mindful of everyone taking away something tangible from each course. I’ve really enjoyed the Corporate Finance and Investment and Risk Management courses as I gained a lot of exposure to different cases of how finance techniques are used and, along with Accounting, proper insight on how to utilise them myself going forward.
Networking to a dream job
The Career and Professional Development Service and my Careers Consultant have been a great support system to keep me on track towards my post-MBA career goals. With all that is thrown at you on an MBA in general, and certainly with the pace of a one year MBA, it really helped to have a solid, dedicated careers team to support me. The Personal Leadership Journey has provided a great path of progress along this line.
With the range of business experience I had pre-MBA, I wanted to move into a somewhat consultative role while doing something a bit more quantitative. I wasn’t set on returning to something telecoms related but thought I’d lean on that experience as much as I could if it would give me an advantage. Learning more about various management consultancies through recruitment presentations and coffee chats really helped me understand how these goals might manifest themselves and what was realistic. I was able to secure a (nearly) dream job offer through networking which was something I’d always heard being done but never thought I’d be able to myself!
The Business School, and specifically the Careers team and my Careers Consultant, gave me the push to constantly network and reach out to people in various companies or sectors I was interested in. I would go through a list of potential companies I wanted to work for and we’d do a sort of ‘status check’ on the progress I’d made with making good, new contacts. The careers seminars were also useful for gaining additional networking skills and a better understanding of how I think and operate.
London provided more networking opportunities than other cities would have without a doubt. Part of the reason I was so set on doing an MBA in London is to be able to be in contact with any type of firm I wanted to during the programme. I knew I would aim to land a job in London post-MBA and that a fair amount of networking would be necessary to achieve that goal. I feel that if I went to a school with a less stellar reputation without the prime location as Imperial, I wouldn’t have been able to make such great contacts and set myself up going forward.
The London start up culture
The involvement I’ve had with some of the London start up scene, particularly with MassChallenge, has been useful in gaining knowledge on the amazing things going on around London and truly realising the power of new ideas. I took part in various pitch and awards events through MassChallenge in the autumn, which was a great opportunity to speak with entrepreneurs to understand the challenges they’re facing but also to provide a fresh perspective with how innovation is actually happening. I’m looking forward to taking on a mentor role with MassChallenge as I feel it’s a great way to reinforce some of the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from the MBA programme, to help ambitious start-ups, and to stay close to fresh ideas.
A diverse cohort
The numerous group projects we’ve undertaken so far have been truly useful in further developing the way I work with small groups and different types of personalities. Naturally, some have been more challenging than others, but they have also offered a great opportunity to strengthen my leadership skills. I wouldn’t take as much value from the group projects without the high level of diversity in the cohort.
The number one adjective to describe my cohort would definitely be diverse. Our cohort has 37 countries represented and it’s amazing to think of where everyone comes from, the stories they have to tell, and what we can learn from each other. When networking and speaking with potential employers, this is a fact I’m proud to share and it always gets an impressed reaction. I’m not sure of another MBA programme that can share this same characteristic.
Working with different personalities through various levels of coursework on varying degree of timeframes was a great learning experience. Some courses required more group work than others but regardless it was a constant theme through the programme that, in hindsight, I’ve found to be one of my biggest gains.
Adjectives to describe the cohort other than diverse include social, fun, interesting, and motivating. I’ve learned equally as much from our courses as I have from interacting and learning side-by-side with the various groups I’ve been a part of.
I plan to use my MBA to always carry a big picture perspective now that I have an enhanced perspective of many areas of how a business operates, but still employ the strong attention to detail I’ve always had. Through the diversity of the cohort and the many small group projects, I will also make better use of the different strengths everyone brings to the table in collaborative environments.
Relocating to London
I moved to London from Chicago and live north in Finsbury Park. I chose to live there as I wanted something close to areas that my fiancée and I like (Angel and Hackney) but not too difficult for our daily commutes. The commute via the Piccadilly or Victoria/District is really simple.
The definite challenge of moving to London for the MBA has been staying in good contact with those I was close with in Chicago and the U.S. but on the flip side the benefit has been the ability to make new contacts as well.
My favourite thing about London is absolutely the range of things you can do. Whatever type of food, music, museums, shops, etc. you’re after, you can almost certainly find it in London. I’ve really enjoyed Soho for the cool coffee shops, brunch spots, and different shops.
My advice for prospective MBA students?
Be relatively clear on what goals you want to achieve after an MBA. Regardless of rankings and a school’s reputation, there are many other factors that come into play in achieving post-MBA goals. Ensure that you are aware of what it might take to achieve your goals and that you are willing to put in whatever effort it takes to achieve them.