Rhea Singhla Full-Time MBA

Programme: Full-Time MBA

Nationality: United States, U.S., American

Education: BSc Biochemistry, Virginia Tech

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Senior Consultant, Virtusa

Consulting: my pre-MBA career

Before the Full-Time MBA, I worked as a Consultant in business development, strategy, marketing, and management across multiple industries including healthcare, technology, non-profits, and fashion. I worked for myself which was really rewarding and helped me build an extensive network that I could leverage when needed.

One thing I’m proud of is that I co-founded a charity that teaches children in Africa coding, robotics, programming, and entrepreneurial skills needed to succeed in the new industrial revolution that is currently underway. Though this initiative starts this year, we’ve been partnering with other companies and charities to help children get ahead with access to books and online resources. We are in the process of having our own education platform that families can access.

Choosing the Full-Time MBA at Imperial College Business School

I wanted to pursue an MBA to learn a foundation in finance, sharpen my leadership skills, and build a strong network with like-minded peers in an international setting. I love London, it’s my favourite city next to New York. I choose Imperial because it is in the centre of London and has an intensive one year Full-Time MBA programme that would let me get back into the real-world faster with a new set of skills. 

Having a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, I admire the sciences and technology. Imperial is a leading institute in innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship, which aligned perfectly with my background. I would say the Imperial Full-Time MBA is not a very traditional MBA programme that’s only focused on finance and consulting, which is exactly what I wanted.  Not only that, but the name itself also gives you an advantage. Anyone who knows Imperial knows what a great school it is and that you must be smart and talented to get in and do this rigorous programme. 

My international cohort

What makes Imperial’s Full-Time MBA unique is the international cohort. It’s amazing to have over 25 nationalities all in one room. Everyone is so smart and talented in their own way, and super easy going. By the end of the first two weeks, I had gotten to know a little bit about almost every single one of the 69 other students. When you are away from your family and most of your friends, they are the ones you turn to for help – you become a little family. Everyone is happy to lend a helping hand any way they can. I feel really lucky that I got to be with such an amazing group. From what I hear, not many programmes are that close. 
We don’t compete against each other because we understand we are competing against the rest of the world. So instead, we help each other out. Being able to learn and grow with each other has been so rewarding. I would love to run an international business in the future and its really important to be able to work with people from all over the world that may have a different way of thinking or doing things.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

My favourite module so far is the core module Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I loved the professor, Dr Michelle Rogan. She was so interesting and insightful and made the module really fun. I also want to get into innovation consulting and start up my own company in the future, so the module gave me some good tips as well as knowledge from great guest speakers.

A newfound interest in finance

I didn’t see myself ever liking finance or do anything finance related, but now I’m looking to potentially work for a financial institute! I never thought I could understand it or conceptualise financial concepts, but now I find it kind of interesting. I would still never work as an analyst or a role deep into finance but more or the marketing, communications side of it. 

Global experiences: Copenhagen and Zambia

Our European trip to Copenhagen was an amazing experience. To be with all 70 of your classmates in a completely new city was so fun. During the day we went to visit different companies on sustainability and the Copenhagen Business School. At night we would go for dinner and drinks. We were already pretty close as a cohort before, but Copenhagen bonded us even further. An experience I definitely will never forget. For the upcoming Global Experience Week to Zambia, a lot of us are planning a trip to South Africa to do a safari so I think that will also be an unforgettable trip.

Juggling everything on the Full-Time MBA

The most challenging part of the programme has been keeping up with everything. Classes, coursework, friends, networking events, jobs searches – there’s always so much going on and FOMO is a big thing! Prioritising your time can definitely be a bit of a challenge in the beginning when you are figuring out how the university system works and getting adjusted to a new country. The first month feels like you’re drowning but it’s nice to know everyone else is in the same boat as you and together you will overcome it. 

Being involved in Career Clubs

I’m President of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Career Club at the Business School which has been a great opportunity. As MBAs, we don’t really have much time or interaction with other parts of the Business School. My committee is made up of other MSc programmes and it’s been fun being able to get to know them.

The Club is also a great networking opportunity. People are really open to coming in and talking about their journey with us. We throw monthly events or workshops for students and have gotten great feedback. One of my favourite events was when we had fireside chat with Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba, authors of the book ‘The Unfair Advantage’. It was really insightful and a great opportunity to have them come in to speak. I also try to collaborate with the Entrepreneurial Society of Imperial College London to bridge the gap between the Business School and the wider College. Imperial has so much going on and it’s hard to find all that when you’re just sitting in the Business School.

My career goals

When I was coming into Imperial I was set on setting up my own company with classmates, I just hadn’t found that idea yet. I realised this is still something I want to do however maybe a few more years down the line. I still want to do something with entrepreneurship and innovation – maybe work as an innovation consultant. Or perhaps work at a VC in their business development side. Regardless, Imperial has helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses that will make me a better leader for any industry I choose.

London life: never boring

I live in Chelsea which is about a 20-minute walk from campus. I love living here because it’s close to School, the shops, and my friends. I would definitely stay here again if I were to choose again. I like that London is big and that there is so much to do. Each neighbourhood has its own little charm. I like going to the markets on Sunday, museums and art galleries, trying out new restaurants, and going to the park when it’s nice out or during Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. London is quite comparable to New York which is one of the things I love. You can’t ever get bored!

The challenges of moving to London

I moved here alone for the MBA. I’ve never lived in another country outside of the US or this far away from my family before, so it was definitely a bit tough in the beginning. Even though there’s a lot of similarities between US and UK, certain things are quite different, like how most of the flats here don’t have air conditioning! That was a big shocker. 

Some of the benefits of moving though is that London is quite big and there are lots of things going on. When you’re at School every day, you’re surrounded by great people and can easily make friends and find things to do together. My advice would be to make the most out of the opportunity because it goes by so quickly. Try new places and explore London with new people. Just get out there so you never get bored or lonely. And always stay in touch with your family and friends back home, sometimes it’s nice to just hear a familiar voice and to know they are cheering you on from the side-lines.

My advice to prospective students

I get this question a lot as a Student Ambassador. My biggest piece of advice would be to know why you are applying for an MBA and to find out what you can get out of it. It may not be worth the time and money for some just to put another degree on their resume. You need to make the most out of this opportunity regardless of which university to go to and to do that, you need to ask yourself where you see yourself in the future and if this MBA can take you a step closer to getting there. For me it was important to gain basic business foundations as my previous degree was completely unrelated. Even though I worked in business for over five years, I still needed those core competencies which is useful for any industry or if you start your own company. 

Talk to current students and recent graduates about their experience. Find out their likes and dislikes. Everyone is different, what worked for some might not work for others. Look at the modules and the professors, see if the topics interest you. Not only that but to look at reports and statistics of where students have been employed after. Maybe your dream employer is a close contact of the Business School and you can position yourself for your perfect job with the help of the MBA and the School.  If you are interested in a particular industry and only a small percentage of the students go into it after their MBA, then that university might not be right for you. 

Programme: Full-Time MBA

Nationality: United States, U.S., American

Education: BSc Biochemistry, Virginia Tech

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Senior Consultant, Virtusa