I completed my undergraduate studies in Accounting and following this I worked for almost four years in MUFG bank as a Relationship Manager. I then moved to a start-up called Grab, which is like Uber but only available in South-East Asia. I joined two and a half years after their establishment in Indonesia. I was the Partner Engagement Lead but being a startup it was a very dynamic team, so I also acted as Product Lead as well.
Deciding to study an MBA
After working in banking for four years, I was ready to switch careers and move into technology because that’s what really interests me. It’s quite difficult to move from the banking to the technology sector because they are really different, in addition to me not having an engineering background. My solution was to study an MBA, and one that is specifically great for innovation and technology.
After researching and talking to people, I found out that Imperial is one of the best MBA for innovation, entrepreneurship and technology. Also, Imperial is located in London which is a city where there is a lot of startups, a space that I am very interested in. So I put in my application to Imperial and was accepted onto the programme.
The cost of the MBA is expensive, so after I received my acceptance from Imperial I applied for a Chevening scholarship. The application required me to write four different essays and also to explain how I can contribute to the UK and Indonesia if I have an education from Imperial. I discussed my long term goal of working in technology and how I can bring these skills to improve technology in Indonesia. The process was around six months and I got accepted in early June.
It would have been really difficult to fund the MBA without the scholarship. There is a huge gap in the earnings in Indonesia vs. the cost of living in London. It would be really hard for me to do my degree here without Chevening. On top of that, I got a scholarship from Imperial. Together, they have helped me accommodate myself.
Takeaways and opportunities
My key takeaway from the MBA is to optimise any opportunity as much as possible. On the MBA you study your core modules and electives, but you have to go beyond that. At Imperial, there is a lot of company activity for example presentations on campus. You have to be proactive and attend these career events. Utilise or maximise all opportunities that have been offered to you.
The knowledge that I learnt on the MBA would have been difficult for me to get if I hadn’t studied it, especially in regards to technology innovation. At Imperial, you have a lot of competitions around technology with different departments. Technology isn’t just about software, but it in can be related to finance, healthcare and even energy. Studying at Imperial made me realise that technology is even bigger than I thought before.
The most challenging part of the programme is managing your time. Especially during the core modules. During this time, we had classes almost every day and tasks and assignments for each module. At the same time we needed to focus on our CVs because a lot of companies start to hire people early in the academic year. So we had to juggle between classes, assignments and job applications. This was even harder as an international student because I was new to London and I had to adjust myself to a new environment on top of classes and finding a job.
Aside from the classes, the most rewarding part of the programme was the group work. For each class you work in different groups – either in our syndicate groups or with other team members. In our groups, everyone has different backgrounds and perspectives. It has really helped me to learn more about other industries. Coming into the MBA I thought I only wanted to learn about technology. Now I know about energy, healthcare, family business and much more from my classmates.
The students in my cohort are very collaborative. Competition can sometimes be a good thing but if you collaborate it’s much better. We want to move forward together and we don’t want to leave anyone behind. The cohort is also very helpful to each other and shares our connections when people are trying to get into a specific sector or company. I wanted to do an internship in a startup and they were really willing to put me in connection with people they know. We really support each other.
However, it’s not only about the studying and careers, we also have a lot of fun. Whenever someone in the cohort has a birthday, we organise a birthday card and all sign it. This is something small but really thoughtful. The cohort is always there if you have any difficulties. In particular, international students help each other when we have questions on opening a bank account and registering for the NHS.
The faculty are very experienced and practical. It’s different to the faculty in Indonesia, here the professors all have their own books published, research papers or companies. I think that shows their capability which is really great. Being taught by a really good professor boosts your motivation and makes you want to study more and work more. Practically speaking, most of the professors are not only good at instructing, but they also invite guest speakers in the industry. It’s not only about teaching but how they enable us to discuss and know more beyond their knowledge.
Franklin Allen, who teaches Corporate Finance, was my favourite professor. First of all, he’s really smart and secondly the way he teaches is easy to understand. Even if we didn’t have a finance background, surprisingly we understood what he talked about because he’s great at explaining things. He’s very humble and knows how to intact with us, he’s the perfect instructor.
Global Experience Week to Chile
The Chile trip was excellent and very well organised. We were exposed to a lot of different industry sectors from wineries to manufacturing and transportation companies. We learnt a lot about those sectors in Chile and how we can implement our learnings from them in the UK. We learnt a lot about Chile, the culture and the country as a whole. The whole trip was well-balanced between education and fun. It was a really great experience for me. As a cohort, we became really tight from this trip. Prior to going to Chile, a group of us went to Peru where we visited Machu Picchu. If it wasn’t for the global week, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to visit South America.
Career goals realised through the Imperial MBA
My goal was to work in technology, at Google actually, and thanks to the Imperial MBA I have secured my dream job there. I think it would have been hard to get the job without the Imperial College Business School Careers because the career preparation and mock interview process helped me a lot to shape my interviews.
After meeting Google at an APAC MBA gathering at their offices in London, I told them I wanted to work in Sales, they looked at my CV and I was invited for an interview. The Careers service runs drop-in sessions where they can check your CV, so I got it checked by my coach and also another consultant in the team who is an expert in technology sector companies. Both of them really helped me how to shape and state my best experience into a one-page CV. Once my CV had been qualified by Google to progress to the first stage, I worked with my Careers Coach on interview prep. My mock interviews got better each time.
My new position will be an Account Manager in Strategy for Large Customer Sales at Google Advertising in Jakarta, Indonesia. Google is one of the biggest companies in technology and is still growing. Also, their innovation is mind-blowing. At the moment they also have a lot of innovative new products and they will continue to do so. By joining the team, I will be able to be part of a company that changes the world so that will be very satisfying.
Moving to London
Moving to London is not that hard because transportation here is really easy, it’s easy to set-up a bank account and find accommodation. People here are really helpful, especially after travelling Europe, I found that people in London are the most friendly and welcoming. Every time I have an issue or find myself lost, I ask people and they will happily help me. If you are a student, the most important thing is to find the right area for your accommodation. London is huge and you spend most of your time at the Business School. Make sure you find accommodation that has easy access to Imperial, whether it’s a tube or a bus. If you’re at school late and you want to get home as soon as possible, it won’t take as long to commute. Also, you will be spending a whole year in London, make sure you’re happy with the area you live in.
Living in London
I live in Maida Vale. I chose to live in that area because I could rent a house as a whole, not just a room. It’s much cheaper compared to graduate accommodation and renting a room in a flat and I could find much better accommodation options. It only takes me around 40 minutes to get to Imperial by bus. If I were to choose again, I would choose the same location, Maida Vale is a residential area so it’s not too crowded and there are a lot of grocery stores around so it’s ideal.
Even though I have been here for 10 months, there is always something new to explore in London. I love to eat, it’s my favourite thing in this world, so I like to try new restaurants in London. I haven’t finished exploring everything because there are so many restaurants in London! Thai food is one of my favourites and my favourite restaurant is Spicy Basil in Kilburn. Out of all the Thai restaurants in London, I find it to be the most authentic.
Advice for prospective students
Firstly, you have to know why you want to do an MBA. Is it for a career switch or do you want to build your own business? Make sure you know what you want to do. Based on that plan, begin searching for the right school. After you filter those schools, you will also need to reflect on your capability and whether you have a good chance to be accepted on the programme. Pick your three top schools, focus on the essay and learn about the school as much as possible from the alumni and the programmes team. When you learn about the programme, you might decide that the school is or isn’t for you.