Natasha Lakhani

My Full-Time MBA experience video diary

Professional Background

Prior to studying the Full-Time MBA I was working for the Oil & Energy major Royal Dutch Shell PLC in a variety of finance, credit and treasury focused roles.  Most recently I was a Treasury Manager for the EMEA region, where my key responsibilities included formulating financing strategies for Shell OpCos, JV interests, new business development and Merger and Acquisition and Divestiture projects across downstream functions. Before this, I was based in Malaysia as the Credit Operations Manager for Singapore and Indonesia, leading a team of 19 subordinates.

I have a BSc in Management from The London School of Economics and Political Science and I am a part qualified accountant. Since my teens I’ve always been interested by the Energy Challenge and the impact that it will have on my generation and beyond. Based on this, I’ve pursued a career in the energy sector which I find fulfilling and personally motivating.

Deciding to study an MBA

It’s always been a personal ambition of mine to return to university and pursue an MBA. Having only ever worked in the energy sector and for one company since I graduated, I wanted to explore what other functional areas I found interesting and where I could take the next stage of my career.

Why Imperial

I chose to pursue the Imperial MBA as the degree covers a breath of business concepts relevant to today’s business world, but also supports candidates to grow in practical skills such as leadership, communication, negotiation, networking and career progression. I felt the Full-Time MBA would equip me with new experiences that would make me feel more confident making a career change and applying myself in a new setting.

Imperial is a prestigious university, acknowledged globally with a great reputation. I looked at rankings, details of the MBA programme in the prospectus and spoke with previous alumni. I liked that the Full-Time MBA was a one-year programme and that the cohort size was more intimate than at other business schools. What sold it for me was attending the Business School campus and meeting the faculty and students. I could see myself studying here. Every MBA and every school is different, it’s so important you find the right one for you that fits and feels right. For me, that was Imperial.

A typical day as a Full-Time MBA student

I am usually at the Business School every day during working hours either in lectures, working on assignments, attending career events or doing extra curriculum activities. Typically I would have three to five hours of lectures a day, mixed with team meetings to complete group assignments. I try to find some time during the day to work on my individual assignments too, which are due weekly. The week is usually pretty full and you need to be organised with your time. Having said that, it’s a ‘good busy’ and I am honestly having the best time so far. There’s always time for socialising and we often find ourselves at the university bar after a hard day’s work or socialising together over weekends. It’s a lot of hard work but hugely rewarding and fun too.

Getting involved

I am the MBA President of the Energy Club at Imperial College Business School. The club is run to promote the energy sector to students and career opportunities in the industry. I’m also a Student Ambassador, helping recruitment teams to recruit prospective MBA students. Recently, I have been chosen to attend the World Government Summit in Dubai as an Ambassador for Imperial College Business School. I’ll be taking part in the university challenge at the summit alongside five other students. I’m very excited about that!

Gender diversity at Imperial

My cohort at Imperial is almost equally split between men and women, and in my class 44% of us are female. I am really proud to say that they are incredibly inspirational and smart women from such varied professional and personal backgrounds, from whom I’m learning a lot from. We find ourselves often discussing our previous experiences in the workplace, unconscious biases and challenges we face as ambitious women and hopeful leaders of the future. I find everyone to be immensely supportive of one another which is great to see and experience. Click here to download the class profile book.

Funding my MBA

I am fortunate that I was awarded with a Forté Foundation Scholarship and Fellowship from the Forté Foundation which finances half of my tuition fees. The Forté Foundation is a non-profit consortium on companies and business schools which work together to give more women opportunities to go the Business School and high potential career opportunities.

What’s next?

Once I finish my MBA I wish to return to the energy sector as I am passionate about the industry and the move from conventional oil products to renewables. Ideally, I would love to pursue a Business Development role in Renewables and New Energies.

I am also passionate about getting the best out of people and have really enjoyed my previous experience leading a team. I hope that in 10 years’ time I can be a successful female leader in an energy multinational, contributing to society’s energy needs. I’d love to have travelled and worked in a few new and exotic places between now and then, and have the opportunity to mentor young talent in the energy sector and female talent too.

My advice for future MBA students

You’re never going to feel completely ready to apply, but if you’re passionate about pursuing an MBA and if you want to make a change in your career, now is probably a good a time as any. Give yourself enough time to research the different programmes but also to complete GMAT tests, which is an entry requirement for the Full-Time MBA at Imperial.

You’re going to spend a lot of your time at the Business School (trust me), so you need to like and enjoy the environment your school is in. Secondly, while MBA programmes are widely similar in content, I found there were some schools which had more of a finance focus, whereas others, such as Imperial, really showcased an entrepreneurial and innovative focus.

The people on your course will become one of the biggest assets you take away from the MBA. Get a flavour of past cohorts’ backgrounds. Are these the type of people and networks you want to gain from the MBA? What business areas do alumni go into after the MBA? You should ask yourself whether this resonates with your ambitions and post-MBA goals.

Natasha Lakhani

Nationality: British

Undergraduate education: Bachelor of Science in Management, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Treasury Manager, Shell

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