I started my career as a quality engineer at a pretty historic nuclear construction site (Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4). We were building the first two new nuclear reactors in the US in the last 30 years. It was there that I created the local site chapter of NAYGN (North American Young Generation in Nuclear) and grew the organization to over 100 active members within the first six months. I was then recruited by Duke Energy Corporation as an internal consultant within the audit department where I focused on process improvement and risk mitigation across all of operations.
Access to cross-disciplinary institutions
I came to Imperial looking to continue my career path in the energy sector with a focus on clean, renewable energy sources. Studying your MBA here gives you access to the world-class innovation and technology hub that is Imperial College London. The Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial has loads of guest lectures and events going on constantly. Within the first week of classes, I was already volunteering at an event with influential leaders in the energy sector.
Post-graduation, I have been able to leverage these networks to secure a business development and operations position with a clean tech start-up, Arborea. Arborea is an award-winning early stage start-up focused on combatting climate change with revolutionary biotechnologies and a member of the world-renowned Climate-KIC accelerator. In partnership with Imperial College London, Climate-KIC accelerator boasts the EU’s only acceleration programme focused on climate impact by clean tech commercialization.
Your network is your lifeline
My key takeaway from the MBA so far is that your network is your lifeline.
It was through my network at Imperial that I was able to obtain my position with Arborea. A PhD student I met in the Clean Technology Investment module reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in helping a fellow Imperial grad commercialize his business. I obviously immediately jumped on it.
At the moment, I am unable to solely devote myself to the company as they are surviving on grants until they (we) secure seed investment (i.e. my job is to create a paying job for myself). Miraculously enough, the same week I found out the CEO of Arborea was interested in hiring me, Lauren Dickerson (a 2015 Imperial MBA Alum) also reached out and recommended me for a short-term strategy position in a firm she was working with. Luckily, they were both flexible enough to allow me to work each job on a part-time basis. So now, just a week out of my MBA, I am working two amazing jobs that I didn’t even know existed, let alone applied for. Don’t let that distract you from using Career Services or exploring opportunities on your own, but never underestimate the power of your network.
Choosing a career path
If you’ve met me, you know 99% of my sentences start with “I love…”. Although I commend the power of positive thinking, loving everything also means picking one career path is extremely difficult. My career consultant has helped me focus my energy and unravel what exactly I want out of life and how my job can complement that. She has also helped me bring to light my strengths that I usually take for granted so I can use them to harness my potential and build confidence as a business leader.
I honestly believe this has helped me become aware of not only my true passion for driving disruptive social change, but how I can utilize my unique skillset to create the most impact in this space. This has allowed me to make intentional career decisions that I can 100% stand behind.
Leading positive social change and making sacrifices
Before joining Arborea, I was lucky enough to work with another award-winning start-up, mOm Incubators, throughout my MBA journey. mOm Incubators was established in 2014 to transform the global healthcare industry with the introduction of an inexpensive and robust inflatable incubator. One in 10 babies are born premature worldwide according to the World Health Organisation. 75% of those that die could be saved with low-cost treatment like mOm. With its award-winning innovative design, mOm aims to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all.
In addition to gaining entrepreneurial skills in a dynamic start-up environment, I provided strategic marketing expertise needed to grow the brand to maximize social impact.
I began working with mOm incubators shortly after I started the MBA, and I totally underestimated how much time and effort each one would take. One of the most difficult parts of the programme has been time management. I want to do everything possible, but when you have so many events going on constantly, you have to make some tough decisions and prioritise!
Words of wisdom—be prepared to make sacrifices. I love the company I helped, so I am undoubtedly happy with my decision to balance both but anticipate giving up a few parties and some sleep. Personally, I couldn’t imagine my journey any other way. If you have passion, you’ll make it work.
I really love the group projects. It’s a way to take the skills and knowledge from the classroom and apply them to real life situations. They are like mini-consulting projects that can even grow as far as launching a business from them. I know several students that are using these group projects as a foundation for their own start-ups. It’s a safe place to experiment and push the boundaries whilst getting real-time feedback from your peers and faculty.
The Global Experience Week in China was an amazing opportunity to bond with the cohort while being exposed to the world’s largest economy. From local family businesses to top-tier advertising agencies, we got to see China from so many interesting and unique perspectives. It’s one thing to read about China’s transformation in the news, but so vastly different when you get to become immersed in the culture and feel it for yourself.
Enjoy the ride
I am obsessed with my cohort family. Somehow, the teams leading the Full-Time MBA recruitment found a class of extremely diverse students from around the world that fit together so well. My fellow Imperial MBAs are nothing short of amazing and I seriously don’t know what I would have done without them. They have been there for some of the best moments of my life and some of the worst.
When I first moved to London, I was worried about having no support structure and not being able to create friendships like the ones I left back home. Looking back, that was the least of my concerns this year. The real concern was how can I hang out with these people all the time and also manage academics, careers, events, and networking with the end goal of getting a job.
I wish I could tell you there was an easy answer, but there isn’t one. You just have to manage your priorities. And above all, don’t forget to take a deep breath every now and then and enjoy the ride. That was my syndicate team’s motto at the beginning of our journey together and we stayed true to it throughout the entire ride.
I funded the MBA with loans – I used FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) US student loans to fund the vast majority. I do wish I had planned a bit better and saved more before starting the programme, but the timing was a now or never for me and I feel confident I will be able to comfortably pay back my loans and reap the benefits.
Moving away from home
I cannot speak for those with human children, but I do have a son, Walter. He is a beautiful, sweet, and cleverly stubborn Yorkshire Terrier, and he was a huge part of what made my decision to leave so tough. Thankfully he is in good care with my grandma back home, but I seriously cannot wait until we are reunited again. I am hoping to bring him across the pond to his motherland upon graduation. He is going to love Hyde Park!
Finding a home in London
I got extremely lucky when I moved to London and found myself in Shoreditch. It’s a cool, trendy neighbourhood in East London with loads of culture and soul. I was a bit sceptical of living in the east and commuting to the west for school, but I’ve come to love the area and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. With graffiti painted walls lining the streets and a vibrant beat that pulses through the atmosphere, it’s a great place to call home.
I love the diversity and energy that London radiates. There’s never a dull moment. I will say that London has spoiled me, though—from my lattes at Fix 126 in Shoreditch to dinners at the best Vietnamese in town, BúnBúnBún, my standards have definitely risen.
I came to London by myself, but luckily had a few friends and acquaintances that either had lived or currently live in London. I used them to help me paint a picture of London and understand where I would best fit (budget and lifestyle). I was really surprised by the vast differences in opinions of the various neighbourhoods they all had, telling me completely contrasting sentiments. I thought the west would be where I’d end up, but now I’m an east-ender. I would find something temporary while you figure out what works for you. For me, I had to feel and experience it myself to make the best decision.
I’m now looking to stay in the east and move in with 3-4 friends from my MBA family. Let the journey continue (with a little more spending money)!