Nikolaos Demiridis
Global Online MBA

PhD in Civil Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Role beginning at Imperial College Business School:

Associate, Arcadis

Global Online MBA 2019-21

My professional career

I come from an engineering background and have had quite a diverse career so far in terms of roles and experience. My career highlights span from design and engineering to niche consulting and management roles in large-scale capital programmes, transformational change and high-risk R&D initiatives.

What I have always found staggering is that the career experiences that define you, both as a professional as well as a person, are not as much related to the scale of the undertaking itself as one would think. But rather it’s the extent of the personal challenge involved, which is what ultimately builds a lasting experience and a story worth telling. In this regard, it is a six-month experience on a research programme, within a nearly 20-year career, that I led for the French Railways that still comes to mind when I recall my achievements. That project was characterised by lots of hard work, resilience and innovative thinking that led to my research results being commended and finally adopted at a pan-European level.

The Imperial MBA: interconnectivity, a professional network and an opportunity for re-invention

What sparked my interest in an MBA programme was my curiosity and my constant strive for growth, learning and self-improvement. Although highly entrepreneurial already, I considered at the time that more structure in my business thinking would largely assist me in several aspects of my everyday work. But, besides that, other reasons drove my choice; first of all, the disruptive and increasingly interconnected nature of the world we live in; second, the need to rejuvenate my professional network to be able to thrive in such a new reality; and last, but not least, a personal aspiration to reinvent myself, having already been on a constantly growing career curve centred around engineering for about 20 years, which had started to flatten out.

Imperial’s Global Online MBA has been eye-opening in this respect and I do not regret my decision so far; both as an educational experience as well as an opportunity to delve into myself and build my leadership capabilities in a comprehensive and structured way, the programme and everything around it is top-notch.

Funding my MBA

I have deliberately opted to fund the programme on my own; with such low returns on investment anywhere out there, Imperial’s MBA represented at the time a highly attractive investment opportunity; particularly, if you consider it as investing in yourself! At the time, this strategy had the best potential for payoff maximisation at the end of the programme, as it allows me to maintain flexibility when looking into future career opportunities.

A memorable induction week

The Global Online MBA induction week is my most memorable moment ever in the lifetime of the programme. This is not just an opportunity to discover the School, the Programme team or most importantly, my future classmates. It is a pure energy blow; a rejuvenating immersion in the high-paced two-year lifestyle that is to follow; and a highly rewarding experience where you get the opportunity to share common goals and aspirations with ambitious and diverse individuals from around the world. It’s an experience that puts a smile on your face as you kickstart the new you.

Becoming ‘future you’

When thinking about takeaways prior to joining the programme, you mainly think about the knowledge and experience gaps you would be filling through the programme modules. What all of us seem to collectively not apprehend is the unique opportunity and emphasis the programme and Imperial College Business School places on building your leadership abilities. It’s not far from saying that it is all about yourself; the ‘future you’. This approach underpins the entire curriculum; it transpires through the entire programme, and it is truly transformational.

Core modules

I am currently on my second term and my favourite module so far has been Managerial Economics. Coming from an engineering background, and although already deeply involved in commercial engineering and management operations, this module has transformed the way I have been looking at the world as a whole. As engineers, we are largely accustomed to deductive thinking; economics and the whole business curriculum provides you with a new take on the world that embraces ambiguity and forces you to start thinking in a largely abductive and far more creative way.

Time management and balance

Time management is in my experience the hardest challenge on the programme, no matter what your background is, and you need to carefully plan how you allocate their time to be able to honour all sorts of commitments whilst still maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Being a full-time father of three and in full-time employment is already a challenge. An MBA on top of it is certainly not the cherry on the cake – rather a cake on its own! I was mentally prepared from the outset and knew I had to make the most of my day. Happily, the Global Online MBA programme with its flexible structure, delivery and learning mix delivered through The Hub’s truly world-class environment offers a unique experience that supports busy professionals like myself.

Studying on The Hub

When opting to study the Global Online MBA, despite having tested The Hub online and being satisfied, I was still hesitant given the maturity of online education globally. On the other hand, I was fascinated to be pioneering on a new form of learning and considered myself to be provided with an opportunity to actively help shape this evolutionary step in higher education.

The newly configured Hub is a wonderfully designed educational platform where everything happens online; from recorded sessions to interactive quizzes and live classes. There is so much leeway built into your learning journey and you can tailor the experience to suit your constraints and lifestyle. I opt to download the instructional videos for watching on my mobile device during my daily train commute to work as it helps me make the best of my non-work time.  

The people: my cohort and faculty

My cohort is a diverse group of ambitious, like-minded people. Imperial is doing a fantastic job trying to match people to the Business School’s high standards. We are all so different, but so much alike; and what brings us together is our aspiration to change the world we live in for the better and increase our impact. 

Having been already in higher education in two European countries before undertaking my MBA programme, I feel extremely fortunate to be taught by the Imperial College Business School faculty. Academic staff are top in their fields; but what really makes a difference is how approachable, supportive and reliable all staff is across the entire board. It does feel ‘homely’ as you are provided with an environment that supports personal growth.  

Syndicate group life

An essential part of Global Online MBA life is syndicate groups; as you would expect, diversity rules in this case as well. My colleagues come from the services, healthcare, NGO and oil & gas industries. We all take a different view on problems and business cases we are faced with as part of our curriculum; and there is always something to learn, something to give and something to take.

Of course, group work does not come without its challenges; especially as we are all in full-time jobs and therefore have our own schedules and constraints – not to mention time zone differences! Nevertheless, it is exactly these challenges that are very common to an interconnected, global business ecosystem. We have the opportunity to learn how to tackle this by experimenting in the safe environment of the MBA, whilst preparing for or further advancing our existing view on collaborative working to address the world’s most pressing problems.

Getting involved outside of the MBA programme

Opportunities to get involved in the Business School are limitless. There are various options, depending on your interests and aspirations, to get involved and make a difference to yourself and others. From participating in or leading workstreams and extracurricular activities that create impact to clubs and societies and leadership roles within Imperial’s Student Investment Fund.

I have opted to chair my cohort’s Student-Staff Committee (SSC) and represent Imperial College Business School as a Student Ambassador. I believe that allows me to positively contribute to the learning experience of my fellow colleagues, whilst helping recruit the best students. My involvement in these roles has contributed to building my confidence, enhancing my communications skills and extending my professional network.  I have also chosen to join the Consulting, Finance and TMT Career Clubs as they are of most interest to me. Whatever the nature of the events organised, you always get the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and build your network from both inside and outside the Business School. 

My career goals

My aspiration and personal goal through the Global Online MBA is to maximise my impact on the world and infuse positive change through my future career. I believe the programme is a game-changer for anyone who wants to update their understanding of the global business landscape and seeks to enhance their arsenal with insightful frameworks and ideas that help tackle the challenges of today. Although quite early in the programme, I feel confident that I will get there. 

I am happy that first of all, the ‘future me’ will be a far better self. I am a great believer in people and although I have already drafted my future career plans, I maintain a flexible attitude, and opted not to focus all my energy on a single initiative, hitting the tree, but missing the forest.    

Leadership journey

The Global Online MBA, through its leadership development curriculum, whether part of the Personal Leadership Journey or specialist modules such as Organisational Behaviour, has helped me better understand myself and provided me with the confidence I was lacking in getting more involved in extracurricular activities.

Imperial College Business School Careers is a great feature of the programme and the Careers team are very supportive throughout one’s Personal Leadership Journey and job hunting. Each student is allocated a personal Careers Consultant and receives one-to-one coaching and support. Feedback underpins leadership development and so far, I have received some great pieces of advice from my Careers Consultant that helped me critically review my leadership style and better apprehend my impact on others.

The London factor

London is a brand on its own and a metropole that effectively incarnates several of Imperial’s unique attributes together with a vibrant lifestyle. It was indeed a catalyst in opting for Imperial College Business School and the Global Online MBA programme. Being already based in London prior to starting my MBA, Imperial’s MBA was an incontestable opportunity to have the best of both worlds: a global, highly-ranked, online MBA programme that fits in my busy lifestyle whilst still maintaining the option to attend a number of second-year electives on campus together with other MBA programme students.

Advice to prospective students

It is great to see how takeaways from the MBA programme positively affect one’s everyday work since the very start; unsurprisingly, it all revolves around two axes mainly. The first, around us all, as future leaders; and the second, around the greater picture, rather than a close-up lens view of the world one might have been accustomed to.

In my experience, and being already in higher education before both in Master’s and PhD programmes, an MBA is an experience like no other. The multi-dimensional, experiential learning of Imperial’s Global Online MBA programme is one of a kind and a truly transformational experience no one can actually appreciate before diving in. Be prepared to stretch yourself, but most importantly, be open to change. 

Global Online MBA

PhD in Civil Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Role beginning at Imperial College Business School:

Associate, Arcadis

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