Sarah Pascaru

Programme: Full-Time MBA

Undergraduate education: BA Hons in International Business

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Account Director, Bank Partnerships, Worldpay

Sarah Pascaru is a Full-Time MBA class of 2015-16 student. After graduating from Imperial College Business School, Sarah accepted a role as a Strategic Partnerships Manager at Clearsettle.

Professional background

I have ten years’ experience managing key strategic partnerships for financial institutions and technology companies including American Express and Worldpay. After a decade of working full-time, I felt it was the right time to complete an MBA. My International Business Bachelor’s degree was an ideal stepping-stone to work in the financial services industry, where I acquired extensive skills and industry knowledge.

In my most recent role at Worldpay, I was responsible for managing key strategic bank partners within the Streamline business. I developed and drove co-branded marketing plans for relationships and liaised with key internal stakeholders, external industry bodies and suppliers to ensure product performance targets were in line with contractual obligations.

Imperial’s global reputation

Imperial College Business School is world renowned for its MBA course and its reputation globally speaks for itself. I felt that it could equip me with the right tools that I require for my short-term and long-term career progression goals.

When choosing where to undertake my MBA, I attended an information session at Imperial College Business School, which was very insightful in demonstrating the Business School’s overall culture, diversity and strong professional networks. The Business School’s range of elective subjects have also been relevant to my own business endeavours. I was able to choose Venture Capital and Growth Finance in addition to Family Business, Pricing Strategy, Leading and Executing Strategic Change, Negotiation Skills and Brand Management. The opportunity to undertake these electives has been the most rewarding part of the programme. It has also been beneficial to choose subjects that were new to me as I have covered a lot of the core modules during my International Business Bachelor’s degree.

The MBA has taught me a number of things that I never thought I’d be able to do such as, analysing company accounts, corporate finance, managing risks, decision analytics, understanding how family businesses work, how to price strategically, and how to lead strategic and executive change. The Women in Business events and guest lectures for the Design and Innovative Thinking module with Tim Brown were also very useful for developing my skills and knowledge.

Preparing for a move to entrepreneurship

Post-MBA I would like to move into a more creative industry and ultimately set up my own business within the next few years. I was impressed with the Business School’s clear focus on personal career development but also on entrepreneurship and innovation, which would very beneficial for setting up my own business. The Careers and Professional Development Service have helped me focus on developing the skillsets I require to run my own business. They’ve also suggested LinkedIn groups, networking events and put me in touch with key influential figures.

The Personal Leadership Journey has been very beneficial. It has enabled me to be more self-aware of my key strengths and skills, which I have been able to put into practice and build my networks further. I have an amazing careers coach (Yasmina) and have definitely benefited from her advice and coaching throughout the year and during the Personal Leadership Journey. This has helped me to build a development plan and focus on the skills that I wanted to develop further during the MBA course. I have also attended career workshops throughout the year, which have been brilliant.

I am signed up for the Marketing and Digital Society and run the Business School Entrepreneurship Club. Running the club has been a big commitment but has also been really fun. The aim has been to build an entrepreneurial and start-up community for students at Imperial and help them build networks. The club organises talks, networking events and supports business plans and Venture Capital competitions. The club also partners with Create Lab, Imperial College’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Hub and Career Clubs.

Being part of the Imperial community will be useful for my future career plans as I will be able to actively take part in attending alumni and networking events. I also plan on staying in touch with the programme team and my cohort, the Entrepreneurship Club, Create Lab and Imperial Innovations & the Entrepreneurship Hub. There are so many networks available to tap into at Imperial that will be useful start-up resources when I want to set up my own business. My key takeaways from the programme will be mainly on the start-up and entrepreneurship ecosystems.

An impressive community

The Business School faculty is very professional and experienced. Our professors come from a variety of backgrounds and are recipients of a number of awards and prizes. The Full-Time MBA cohort is equally as impressive and are a group of young, bright, fun, sociable and friendly professionals.

Most of the modules within the programme are based on group work which has been really rewarding. It’s been great to have the chance to work alongside different groups of people from various professional backgrounds throughout the year. One of the greatest opportunities Imperial provides is being part of an amazing cohort with access to its impressive alumni network.

We also had chance to travel as a cohort to Brussels and China and learn about business at an international level. The best part about the European Networking Trip in Brussels was visiting the accelerator and learning about the Belgian start-up ecosystem. I was also really looking forward to the European Parliament trip and to see where decisions are made in Europe. The Global Experience Week in China was also brilliant. From the diverse company visits, to seeing the Ford manufacturing plant and visiting creative agency BBDO. The most rewarding part was spending one afternoon teaching English to migrant workers in a migrant school.

Juggling the MBA with a young family

I have a two-year-old who was 16-months when I started the Full-Time MBA. Balancing a young family and studying has been the biggest challenge overall. The MBA requires a lot of reading and work in evenings and at weekends. The best advice I could give to others with a family who want to undertake an MBA would be to make sure you have help to support you in caring for the little ones throughout the programme. I tried to commit to working all week and evenings and ensured weekends were free to spend quality time with my family.

We live in South-West London in Balham and love this suburb. In my spare time I love going to Borough Market and also Tooting Broadway and Brixton markets as they are just down the road. I would recommend that anyone studying here goes and visits not only London but other cities in the UK, especially if you are not from around London.

My final words of advice

If you have children, it is important to make sure you are very clear on what your family commitments are, and to discuss these with each new team you work in. Although the first six months are really intense with three sets of core modules, take part in as many clubs, events and activities as possible (not only internally but also outside of Imperial). Make the most of the year: it will go very quickly!

Programme: Full-Time MBA

Undergraduate education: BA Hons in International Business

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Account Director, Bank Partnerships, Worldpay