North Carolina State University, B.S. in Computer Science/University of North Carolina, J.D. in Law
Attorney/Senior Partner – Sumrell Sugg Carmichael Hicks & Hart, P.A.
I am an Attorney and Senior Partner in private practice, with 26+ years’ experience primarily in business/corporate law, and commercial and financial transactions; and serve as General Counsel for 11 local governments. My proudest achievement in my personal life was assisting a low wealth county in financing and constructing its first new high school in over 50 years, using various sources of public and private funds and financing; a process that took years to achieve including amending state law. In my work life, my proudest achievement was being recognised by the North Carolina State Bar for service and volunteerism to my community.
Choosing Imperial and the Global Online MBA
I initially planned to obtain my MBA rather than my JD, so pursuing an MBA was always a life-long goal that I hoped to eventually achieve, to both accelerate my career and to learn new skills, primarily in finance.
I had not planned on applying to Imperial, as I was not familiar with it. But a friend in London recommended that I look into Imperial, and when I did, there was no doubt that Imperial was the only school I would apply to. Its history, stature and quality were overwhelming. Plus, based on my undergraduate degree in computer science, I was most impressed that Imperial is a public research university, founded in science and focused on technology.
I decided to study the Global Online MBA based upon my work schedule, as it would be impossible for me to obtain my MBA through any method other than online.
Experiences of the Global Online MBA
In addition to the information learned in the modules, I have become more aware of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and evaluation, and leadership in business. Although I was aware of these concepts and understood them, the programme has brought them front and centre in my daily life, with more clarity and better appreciation.
The Induction Week to begin the programme was both exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. The faculty and staff of Imperial were extremely helpful and professional.
The most rewarding part of the programme has been meeting and working with so many diverse, intelligent, driven and professional people from all over the world. Initially, the most challenging part of the programme was learning how to learn again at this point in my career. Now I am further into the programme, it is general time management and the lack of being able to have face-to-face time with faculty and fellow students.
What makes the Global Online MBA and Imperial unique?
As someone from the US, being introduced to the programme’s modules in a non-US centred context makes the Global Online MBA unique. The global perspective is usually lost on most Americans, at a time when it is more important than ever.
Imperial is unique because of its history, and its foundation and underlying emphasis on science and technology being at its core. Most universities focus on many different disciplines across a wide-spectrum, and so their MBA programmes seem more generic as to their underlying foundation.
Career and skill development
The programme has been extremely beneficial in so many ways. From the Personal Leadership Journey wherein we undertook many self-assessments, to the interaction and learning from other individuals’ experiences, to the materials taught, I believe I have made great strides professionally and personally. I believe that my skills (especially in finance) have greatly improved and expanded, and that my management and leadership skills have also improved.
The Careers & Professional Development Service has also been extremely helpful and beneficial, especially their webinars. Unfortunately, due to no fault of Imperial, I have not availed myself to all it has to offer – but I plan to rectify this in the coming months.
Organising the work-life balance has been difficult to say the least. But after a short period of adjustment, you learn how to deal with it. Make a schedule for work, the programme and life – and stick to it.
Flexible learning with The Hub
The Hub is very convenient and straightforward. It took a while to get used to its structure and how to utilise it to the fullest. Outside The Hub, I primarily use Google Drive and Appear-In.
The flexibility allows me to study at my own pace, which is essential given that my work schedule is very unstructured. I also like being able to repeat the video lectures as often as I need when a concept is initially difficult to understand. I prefer to study at my home and work offices. I find the structured environment keeps me focused better than in an informal setting.
Cohort and network
Wonderful. Vibrant. Energetic. Intelligent. Driven. The relationships and interactions with my cohort are invaluable. I have learned so much from each and every one of them, not only as to ideas but perspective as well. I keep in touch with my cohort and the teaching staff through email, phone and various tools such as Appear-In and Skype.
The networking opportunities are invaluable. To not only have contacts with people from around the world, but to know and work with them on such a personal level, is extremely beneficial. My cohort members are not just contacts – they are friends. We rely on each other, work together, and seek advice from each other constantly.
Advice from prospective students
First, be sure that you have the buy-in of those people in your life who will also be impacted by the commitment – family and job. Second, do not put yourself in a position where you need to set aside time to catch up – it’s often hard to just keep up. That means setting a schedule and sticking with it. Third, do not move on to a new session or topic until you have fully understood and completed the current session. Early on, I found myself understanding 90% of a session, but moved on with the plan to come back to it. Then the next session I understood 80% and again I thought I will come back to it. Before I knew it, I was at the end of the module but had so much behind me to still fully learn. Finally, use the three week revision period to its fullest. It’s easy to say with three weeks, I will take a week off and use the last two. But that would be a mistake.