Lavishka Katwa

Programme: Full-Time MBA Student

Undergraduate education: BSc Psychology (Neuroscience), Yale University

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Progamme Manager & Educational Advisor, Fulbright Commission

Pre-MBA sector: Not-for-profit

Full-Time MBA Student 2017-18

Professional background

Before Imperial, I worked at the Fulbright Commission managing a programme to support talented low-income students to access higher education. It was an extremely rewarding job! Not many MBA students come from a non-profit background, so I felt that I was bringing some career diversity to the class.

Choosing an MBA at Imperial

I wanted to do an MBA because I was hoping to transition into a new sector and industry. I felt that the MBA would give me the opportunity to learn and explore all the different paths I could pursue. I was interested specifically in Imperial because I knew the smaller cohort size would help foster a sense of community amongst students and I was also impressed by the gender balance and resulting emphasis on supporting women leaders.

Funding my MBA

I was lucky enough to receive a partial scholarship from Imperial to fund my studies. I covered the remainder through a combination of loan, savings and family support. MBAs are expensive, but there is funding available. For me personally, I also saw it as an investment that I hoped would pay off in my subsequent career.

Entrepreneurship and innovative thinking

The focus on entrepreneurship is a hallmark of the Imperial MBA. While I don’t currently want to be an entrepreneur, I still feel that I got a lot out of the resources on offer. For instance, Imperial is one of the few business schools which has Design Thinking as a core class and I thoroughly enjoyed developing new ways of thinking about business problems. I’ve even continued to use some of those skills in other projects and I know that being able to have a different perspective will be important for any job in the future.

Key takeaways

This year at Imperial has given me a lot of self-belief and improved my ability to advocate for myself and the teams with whom I work. The MBA has taught me to not be afraid to challenge yourself and explore out of your comfort zone! Be your own biggest advocate. Be open to what you can learn from your peers – especially those that have a different background to you.

Favourite modules

My favourite module was Corporate Finance because Professor Franklin Allen is amazing. Before the MBA, I was really intimidated by classes such as Corporate Finance. But thanks to our amazing professor, I ended up really enjoying the class. He ensured that the material was extremely clear and took the time to answer student questions and concerns. Professor Allen is an expert in his field so it meant a lot that he invested (no pun intended) so much time into his students.

I also enjoyed Behavioural Finance because I loved seeing how Psychology (which I studied during my undergrad) could be applied to finance. Also the Marketing and Consumer Behaviour modules because I loved learning more about clever campaigns that companies have used for success and the principles behind them.

My cohort

Our small cohort size definitely makes us unique! I know everyone on the programme and I think it makes a real difference in terms of the network you get to build. We act as a team, whether it’s in a lecture watching each other’s’ group presentations or celebrating someone’s birthday on a night out in London. When there’s good news like a job offer, competition win, birthday or new baby (we’ve had two) we all celebrate. When someone needs help, advice or support, we’re there for each other. It makes a huge difference to the entire MBA experience.

Working in groups

We work a lot in groups throughout the MBA. It’s not always easy but it teaches you how to work with people who are very different from you, which is such a valuable skill. I’ve learnt a lot from my teammates and hope that I’ve been able to share my knowledge in return. I’ve ended up making great friends with some of the people with whom I was in a group. And not only does sharing the work generally help lead to a richer quality of work, but it can be enjoyable too! In my Consumer Behaviour class, my group did a presentation on changing public perceptions about traffic wardens and we had a lot of fun applying the principles we’d discussed in class to a slightly light-hearted topic.

The faculty

There are some fantastic professors and I really appreciate the time that many of them take to interact with students beyond just the lecture material. For instance, Professor David Miles who taught us Macroeconomics took the time to hold a discussion session with students about the economic implications of Brexit. For Investments and Risk Management, Professor Franklin Allen organised informal lunches with groups of students. Celia Moore who taught us Organisational Behaviour let my group interview her for a project in another class. Generally, I’ve found that the lecturers are passionate about their subjects and genuinely want to help students engage with the material and its real-world applications.

Global Experience Week in Chile

Our Global Experience Week in Chile was undoubtedly the highlight of our programme for me. It was an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in the business world of a place that was completely new to me and provide exposure to a variety of industries. It was also a fantastic bonding week for our class. You can read more about the trip in my post&nbsp.

Living in London

I was born and bred in London and I absolutely love this city. There are so many diverse areas and you can generally find something to suit any interest. I really like the South Kensington location of Imperial because it’s home to my favourite museum: The Natural History Museum. So of course, I was so excited to attend the Imperial College Business School Welcome Reception there last October. I’ve also recently taken up running and have loved going for runs in Hyde Park during the week.

Career goals

My goal was to find a new career where I could be challenged and have the opportunity to realise my potential. I originally thought I might pursue consulting. Once I heard about the Amazon Pathways programme, I shifted my interest because I saw that it was a dynamic and fast-paced job at a hugely successful company where I felt I would achieve my goals of working hard and being challenged, while exploring a range of different skillsets.

Careers and Professional Development

The Careers service has been instrumental in me securing my job at Amazon. They hosted Amazon reps on campus for an Information session and even organised a visit to see a real Fulfilment Centre in action. They also connected me with Imperial alumni who now work at Amazon to talk more about the role as well as conducting a mock interview with me to prepare. More broadly, I’ve really appreciated having a dedicated Career Coach who has helped me talk through my goals and refine my materials. Also, the Careers service has put on a number of valuable workshops giving an insight into different industries, providing access to employers and helping us to develop a variety of useful business skills.

What’s next?

I am excited to join Amazon on their MBA Operations Manager Pathways Programme. This will be a fast-paced and rewarding management programme based in the Fulfilment Centres, which make up the heart of Amazon’s operations. Not only will I use the technical knowledge and course material in my career, but I will definitely draw upon the soft skills that I developed during my time at Imperial. I furthered my ability to lead, work in diverse teams and have the confidence to tackle complex problems. Moreover, I plan to continue using the network I have built with my peers and alumni.

Advice for prospective students

Make sure you’ve thought about your goals and done your research to ensure that an MBA is the best path for you. After that, research different programmes to see which one fits best with your priorities. Don’t let doubts stop you from applying. During the application process, make sure you highlight not only what you want to get from the MBA but what you can contribute, whether that’s aiming to take on a leadership position, bringing a diverse perspective or being a good teammate.

Programme: Full-Time MBA Student

Undergraduate education: BSc Psychology (Neuroscience), Yale University

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Progamme Manager & Educational Advisor, Fulbright Commission

Pre-MBA sector: Not-for-profit