I had been interested in studying an MBA for a number of years before I reached a point in my career where I wanted to re-focus. Prior to studying the Imperial MBA, I spent a little over eight years working as a Private Investment Funds Lawyer. I represented general partners in the formation, raising, maintenance and ongoing operation and compliance of private equity funds. I also acted for institutional investors and funds of funds with respect to their investments into private equity and other alternative asset funds, as well as buyers and sellers of secondary fund interests. The skills that I had developed as a lawyer, and the experiences I had gained, gave me a strong foundation to build on, but I believed undertaking an MBA was fundamental for me to successfully transition into the business world.
An innovative community
I wanted a 12-month course in London and, having spent some time visiting different business schools, Imperial College Business School was the only one that I was interested in and the only one I applied to. I was hugely impressed by the Business School, including the strong social and international focus of the MBA programme.
I was excited about the opportunity to leverage off the reputation and expertise of the wider Imperial College community. The start-up community here is extremely active and, while I am not looking to start my own business (at least not yet!), it is great to have been given the opportunity to see how the community operates and the different players involved.
The Business School offers a really unique opportunity to learn from, and work with, innovative businesses. A great example of this has been the MassChallenge accelerator events. I attended a pitching competition and networking event for the London start-up space that came about through one of the other Full-Time MBA students who has been working with MassChallenge for a while. The organisation offers unique opportunities to witness, and potentially work with, really exciting and innovative start-ups in London, including judging real-life pitch presentations.
An inspiring cohort
One of the reasons I chose to study the MBA at Imperial was the size of the cohort. My personality suits a smaller group, where everyone knows everyone, and I have to say I have been hugely impressed with the quality of students here. I have met some really great people who I hope will be friends for life.
Working with so many different, bright, insightful people on a daily basis has been one of the most rewarding parts of the programme. My advice for anyone wanting to apply to an MBA is to try and attend open days and welcome events so you can meet prospective students. Your cohort is the most important aspect of your MBA.
The Global Experience Week in China was fantastic, and spending an afternoon working with the Stepping Stones NGO was a truly amazing experience. I feel very fortunate to have seen what is happening in China first-hand; it really is quite remarkable. It was also a huge amount of fun exploring a new country with 50 of your friends. Completely exhausting, but completely brilliant.
The quality of the faculty at the Business School is due, at least in part, to the reputation of Imperial College. There are some very serious people here, with stellar CVs, and having the opportunity to work with people like Franklin Allen across two modules has been pretty special. His stature, knowledge and ability to simplify complex financial concepts really made both Corporate Finance and Investments and Risk Management “must-not-miss” lectures.
There are also a large number of speaker events that go on throughout the year at Imperial that you can attend. The Design Thinking module had some excellent guest speakers, including Tim Brown (IDEO), Gian Zaccai (Continuum) and Ravi Chhatpar (Design Impact Group at Dalberg). I also really enjoyed Franklin Allen’s talk on Systemic Risk.
The IE&D project was also a highlight. We attended various workshops as a group and explored a number of different options, before finally deciding to work on the start-up that one of our team members was in the process of launching. This was great as it gave us the chance to work on a real business idea and, hopefully (!), provide some valuable insights.
The importance of building relationships
One of the key takeaways for me from the programme has been recognising the importance of networking and maintaining relationships. You never know where a simple coffee might lead. There have also been various opportunities to network with other Business School students and alumni, including football matches, the IESE Spring Games in Barcelona and various other drinks and social events, all of which have been great fun.
There are a lot of group activities during the MBA, both with your syndicate group and with other groups for one-off activities and the electives. I think working in a group, in what can often turn out to be a high-pressure situation, is an important life-skill and the MBA sets you up very well for this.
In addition to group activities, Imperial offers the opportunity to join student clubs and committees, which provide a number of benefits: you get to meet like-minded students, you get to network with both them and industry figures and, ultimately, you get to increase your knowledge and understanding of an industry and an area of interest. All of these will hopefully provide you with further opportunities when it comes to planning your future career.
I am a member of the Imperial College Private Equity and Venture Capital Club, where we have put on a number of successful speaker and recruitment events, which also have the added benefit of providing us with additional networking opportunities. The club aims to bring together students both from within the Business School and from the wider Imperial community who have an interest in Private Equity and/or Venture Capital.
Balancing the MBA
I have two young children aged six and three, and I think that in order to balance an MBA with your family you need to treat the MBA like a job. As long as you can do that, then it should not impact too much on your family life. I have always favoured working later during the week and having my weekends free, and I have continued this throughout the MBA.
As someone who is looking to change career, I would say that managing the workload, alongside the demands of researching and exploring career opportunities, has been the most challenging aspect for me.
As someone wanting to change career, the Careers service has been a really valuable resource. I spent a number of weeks and months at the beginning of the MBA exploring different opportunities and industry sectors. The Careers service helped me through this process and, ultimately, helped me focus on my goals. I have secured an internship for the summer in a private equity fund, and I am hopeful that this will be the first step towards a new career.