Barbara Tam

Professional background

I’m a full time ophthalmologist, I have my own private practice and generally work 6 days a week. I’m also married and my husband and I have three children. So I’m a full time professional and a full time Mum, it can make for a busy life!

Change in direction

I came to the point where I didn’t feel I could advance a lot more in my profession. While there are still new techniques and products that come into the market, I found the learning curve to be very simple. I continue to attend meetings and conferences for my profession to learn about updates and improvements in both techniques and equipment so in that sense it continues to develop but I was looking for something else as well.

Ideally I’d like to do less clinical work and move into charity work and help large charities reduce their administrative costs. To get into the charity industry I need to prove that I am more than solely an eye surgeon. I need some more business and administration skills to get a foot in the door. I may still stay in the health industry, but I’m also interested in children and animals so I would look at charities in those areas as well. To make real changes within an organisation you need to be in a position of power so I’d like to ultimately end up as CEO of a charity.

Imperial’s entrepreneurial focus has also lead me to look at other self-starting pursuits. I’ve recently thought of setting up a platform to make it easier for people to donate to charities that they are interested in and that support an area they want to support. The IED project has been a great process to help me look at different ideas like this and also allow me to take the time to work on potentially viable projects and nurture these ideas.

Modules of interest

All six modules from the last year were totally new to me, I’ve never learnt anything like that so everything was interesting!
Learning about accounting, corporate finance and economics is very interesting but also difficult. While it is good to have an understanding of I’m not sure it’s exactly where I want to end up, I’m more interested in marketing, branding and strategy.

Why Imperial?

I love London, Imperial is a well-known brand, and my husband has also done a MBA course 10 years ago. The global aspect was very important for me, especially considering I come from Hong Kong.

Fitting in study and work

As a full time mum and full time ophthalmologist I couldn’t give the face-to-face time that would be needed for a Full-Time on-campus MBA. The Global Online MBA works so well for me because I can study when I have the time, I can fit in study around work and family. For me, everyone in my family is studying so every night after dinner we all sit down to study for an hour or two until around 9:30pm and then we relax. However during exam time I’m spending a lot more time studying!

The flexibility of the course is great but it can be hard to meet all the assessment deadlines while still working at my practice. For example one week during August I had six emergency operations that I had to perform which meant my study was pushed aside for that week. Being diligent from the beginning is a good plan so that if unforeseen issues arrives you won’t be too disadvantaged. There were definitely times where I was struggling but I continued to apply myself and did my best.

The Hub, the School’s online support platform, has been very useful, which is very important in an online programme. I can always find what I want to know and people are always helpful, answering questions within one or two days.

Working with other students

I’ve become closest with the other students in my syndicate which has been great. It can be hard to interact with other students that you don’t have direct course work to do together. The School has been good by putting us in syndicate groups that have similar time zones. This makes it easier to communicate with people from other parts of the world.

Who would you recommend the Global Online MBA to?

Anyone who is looking for a change should think about doing the Global Online MBA. It’s also a good option for people who can’t take time out from their job but still want to do an MBA.

Advice for future students

If you want to get the most out of the programme it’s really crucial that your job is flexible enough to allow you to study and work.

Undergraduate Education: BSc Hons in Pharmacology, MBChB; University of Bristol

Nationality: British

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: OphthalmologistPrince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong

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