Giulia Macagno, Global Online MBA 2019-21, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: Global Online MBA

Nationality: Italian

Programme: Global Online MBA

Education: PhD Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics Università ca Foscari, MA International Affairs, Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, BA International Relations and Affairs, Università degli Studi di Tonrino.

Role: Sector Economist, European Investment Bank

My career journey

There are several achievements in my career journey that I’m proud of, such as obtaining my PhD and securing a role at the European Investment Bank, where I currently work, an institution whose mission and values are very much in line with my own. Working on sustainable and resilient urban development projects allows me to see the impact of my work on improving the quality of life of people.

The path to an Imperial Global Online MBA

Having a background in political science and environmental economics, and working for an international financial institution, I had been thinking about pursuing an MBA for quite some time prior to applying to Imperial College Business School. However, I was looking for the right programme that would allow me to maintain my current job and commitments, while still providing me with the highest quality of teachings and networking opportunities.

During the application process, I applied for a scholarship and was lucky enough to receive the Dean’s Excellence Award scholarship and funded the remainder of the fees from my savings.

Complementary learning

I truly enjoyed the modules that were most different from my previous training, such as Marketing Management and Corporate Finance. I also appreciated the insights derived from the association of the programme’s modules across the different terms, as the structure of the Global Online MBA is such that the teachings from different modules complement each other quite effectively.

One of my key takeaways from the programme so far is keeping an open mind and learning to look at the same problem from different perspectives to find innovative and practical solutions. I’ve also managed to let go of my doubts and have found out first hand that we are generally capable of more than we think.

Exploring new perspectives from classmates

In addition to the learning experience, the diversity of professional experiences and backgrounds among my fellow classmates has been a real eye-opener. It has allowed me to see both the topics discussed during the modules and the challenges brought forward by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis from different perspectives.

When I think about my cohort, three adjectives come to mind: diverse, engaging and supportive. Despite only meeting once during the Induction Week, a very open and fun climate was established, thanks to the fantastic work of Imperial’s leadership team. We exchanged regularly on the modules and coursework, provided constructive comments to the teaching team for various modules and we had a lot of good laughs.

Applying theory in practice

The programme offers a wide variety of seminars and events, many of which are available online and recorded. I found this very helpful as it allowed me to listen to them even though I could not always participate. I very much enjoyed those on topics like sustainable investments as well as personal branding to managing difficult conversations in a professional setting. They provided a broad range of very practical tips that I have applied in my work environment on several occasions.

Soon after embarking on my MBA journey, I started working on a new initiative at work that involved setting up governance arrangements, marketing and communication strategy, implementation mechanisms and budget from scratch. The combined learnings from several MBA modules are very helpful in carrying out this work.

Navigating The Hub

I really think that The Hub is one of the key benefits of the online programme. Having always been used to studying in a “traditional” classroom way, I must admit I was not sure what to expect when I started. However, I found The Hub intuitive to use and the videos clear and generally engaging, all completed by a very responsive support team who address issues as quickly as possible. The Hub’s functionalities are well thought through with the aim to facilitate online learning. For instance, I watch some of the videos during my commuting and carry out the readings in the evening or the following morning before going to work. Studying online is really the best solution for me to combine work and study.

A hard-working syndicate group

I am extremely lucky with my syndicate group. We work very hard together and we manage to split the work in an equitable manner. We make sure that all the voices are heard and try to help each other out when coping with family and work commitments. We agreed from the start to be respectful and transparent and we hold weekly calls even though sometimes it was just to catch up and see how everyone was doing.

Maintaining a work-life balance

My husband, family, friends and colleagues have been extraordinarily supportive while I have been studying on the Global Online MBA. I set up a routine with regular study time in the morning and in the evening and, although it means I do not have a lot of spare time, I still manage to keep all the plates spinning. Overall, the MBA has taught me to be more organised and efficient and I managed to keep all of my commitments.

Aside from studying, I joined the Social Impact and Responsible Business club and I help the team by managing the club’s agenda, which is very rich and interesting, although I did not manage to participate as much as I would have liked.

A knowledgeable faculty

The faculty is very knowledgeable and the quality of the teaching and guest lectures are outstanding. I have been impressed by how approachable and responsive the professors and teaching assistants are and found the live lectures most interesting and engaging.

Career goals

The most important thing for me is that my work contributes to improving the quality of life of people. That can take many forms, from financing sustainable urban infrastructure to improving the resilience of local communities in the face of climate change or other shocks, to fighting extreme poverty and social exclusion. I would like to keep working in public sector institutions in the immediate future and possibly move to the not-for-profit sector or social entrepreneurship. Since sustainability and business are closely interlinked in Imperial’s MBA teachings, I have already managed to apply quite a few of the things I learned about marketing, leadership and strategy in my current job.

The Personal Leadership Journey

As part of the Personal Leadership Journey, we were asked to interview a leader in our sector of work. This proved to be a very interesting experience that put my networking skills to test and led to insightful conversations about what it means to be a leader in the public sector at national and international level.

Links to London

I live and work in Luxembourg which is very well connected to London, therefore choosing to study at Imperial allows me to attend two elective modules on campus and events for students and alumni.

Advice for prospective Imperial students

Going back to school after a long time can be quite scary. Be prepared for people questioning your choice and a lot of second-guessing when you think about the workload and the energy it is going to take. However, with a bit of careful planning, support from my colleagues and family and a lot of determination, I found it possible to pursue an MBA and continue working full-time. My advice would be to always remember why you are doing an MBA in the first place, even if you feel overwhelmed.

Programme: Global Online MBA

Nationality: Italian

Programme: Global Online MBA

Education: PhD Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics Università ca Foscari, MA International Affairs, Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale, BA International Relations and Affairs, Università degli Studi di Tonrino.

Role: Sector Economist, European Investment Bank

Is the Global Online MBA the right fit for you?