Aaron Tang
Programme:
Global Online MBA
Nationality:
Malaysian
Education:

MEng Mechanical Engineering, University of Birmingham

Studying an MBA without disrupting my career

I started my career in management consulting and eventually moved on to the retail industry. I have had the opportunity to undertake marketing and strategy roles both regionally and in-market. I come from an engineering background, but I have always desired to learn more about business. For me, an MBA goes beyond knowledge acquisition; it is about tapping into a diverse, life-long global network.

I chose to study the Global Online MBA at Imperial College Business School as I did not want to take a year or two out from work given the opportunity cost. Indeed, it can be challenging juggling studies and a full-time job, but that was a worthy trade-off for me from the onset. In terms of school selection, Imperial’s programme was my first choice as it is ranked among the top ten online MBA programmes in the world. I feel honoured and privileged to have received a scholarship from the Business School to fund my MBA.

My favourite module

I thoroughly enjoyed Organisational Behaviour as that was a departure from the usual quantitative topics I am used to. It was refreshing to take a deep dive into leadership, teams, culture, change management and other themes as it has helped me understand innate human behaviours and how best to navigate them. That was also one of the first modules involving group assignments where I had the opportunity to work with cohort members from different parts of the world.

Exploring key topics

I have gained a fuller understanding of accounting and finance. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, but the programme has helped me grasp key concepts relevant to business management, thereby fulfilling one of my personal objectives for pursuing an MBA.

Studying online from the other side of the world

I do an average of about 15 hours of remote study per week. I prefer spreading it out evenly over the week, i.e. three hours after work each day, and I try to take a day off during the weekend to recharge. The time difference between the UK and Asia works well for me as live lectures fit perfectly into my work schedule. During particularly busy periods I’ve had to spend the entire weekend catching up on the week’s progress, which is where the versatile nature of the programme becomes a huge plus for me. I think The Hub is true to Imperial’s innovative roots.

You can tell that the Edtech team at Imperial has invested much time and resources to make the learning experience as versatile and engaging as possible. The Hub facilitates learning through a combination of interactive exercises, assignments, recorded lessons, live lectures, and interaction with other students. These are all packaged to deliver extensive learning within a 10-week window per semester per module.

With The Hub, I am able to plan my commitments around my schedule, be it packing 15-20 hours of study over a weekend or spreading it out across the week. One of my favourite features is the progress tracker, it shows my progress relative to my fellow students, and I find that helps to keep me on my toes.

Working with students from around the globe

I think what stood out for me was how bright and diverse the student body is, in terms of nationalities, age, gender and industry backgrounds. I fully appreciated the diversity of my cohort when I realised there were over 45 other nationalities in the group.

As part of the exchange programme, I’ve had the opportunity to undertake electives at a partner institution – Tsinghua School of Economics and Management, Beijing. The idea for me was to gain exposure from a different region – one I was particularly interested in for its leading role in digital innovation in Asia. It is an absolute privilege for me to be able to exchange views and learn alongside some of the brightest students from around the world.

Group projects

I’ve always preferred working on individual projects as I have full control and am better able to manage my schedule around it. However, I’ve realised that group projects spur conversations and learnings beyond coursework. The time differences across countries may be inconvenient at times but I suppose that is part and parcel of honing teamwork and time management skills. That said, I’m glad I’ve worked with some incredible people on group projects, and I’m sure these relationships will outlast our time at Imperial.

Learning from the experts

The Business School faculty are leaders in their respective fields, and more importantly their approachability makes them an excellent source of deep knowledge and expertise that is just an email away.

Be ready to challenge yourself

You should only consider applying if you’re prepared to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. It will be a challenging experience, especially if you are going to juggle studies alongside work and personal commitments. But you can be sure that this journey will be filled with tremendous learning, personal development and networking opportunities.

Much of the challenge comes from time management and communication. I’m glad I have a support system that is very understanding and supportive. I really admire the commitment and discipline of those who have kids and households to manage. I’m sure all would agree that studying the Global Online MBA involves sacrifices, but good time management and a supportive family make it much easier.

Practical advice

Firstly, there will be multiple priorities thrown at you from every angle and it’s not going to be possible to achieve 100% perfection on everything, so it’s important to optimise for performance with the limited time you have. Secondly, pace yourself and try not to get too far behind as it will not be enjoyable trying to catch up. Lastly, communicate effectively and manage expectations with your stakeholders, be it bosses, family members or friends. Promise to return 25 hours per day of your time post-MBA and you should be fine!

Programme:
Global Online MBA
Nationality:
Malaysian
Education:

MEng Mechanical Engineering, University of Birmingham

Is the Global Online MBA right for you?