MSc Electrical and Computer Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Principal Data Science Intern, Expedia Ltd.
Academic and industry experience before Imperial
What work experience/internships (if any) did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
During the third year of my undergraduate studies, I worked as Research Associate for 8 months in the Hellenic Institute of Transport. During these months, I designed and implemented a complicated database and helped on the creation of its monitoring system. I then joined, and still remain part of, a small freelancing team of students and professionals, working on small or large scale programming projects for clients worldwide. Some of the projects we worked on included image and video processing, machine learning and algorithm development.
Studying MSc Business Analytics
Why did you decide to study an MSc in Business Analytics and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
I decided to study an MSc in Business Analytics because I believe that it would give me the right data analytical skills and the right experience using sophisticated software tools in order to help in the development of the next generation of product and services, as Big Data is becoming an effective basis of competition in almost every industry. What fascinated me more is that big data applies to almost all industries, from health care and the ability to provide personalized medicine to logistics and operations trying to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. Also, the reason I applied for Msc Business Analytics in Business School of Imperial is not only the high knowledge level it provides, being ranked amongst the top 10 universities in the world, but mostly its cosmopolitan atmosphere and its anthropocentric research programs which deliver analysis that addresses the major challenges facing humanity.
What makes MSc Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School unique?
I believe that MSc Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School provides the right balance between technical and business courses and it teaches you how to combine your technical knowledge with your business acumen to become a successful professional. Finally, working with real world datasets gives you the benefit to face business challenges in an academic environment, giving you a competitive advantage in your future career.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
Elective modules were the most rewarding and interesting part of the programme, as you can apply all the knowledge that you learned during the year to specific industries and realise which industries suit you more. The assignments are more demanding and difficult; however, they are more rewarding as they include theory and techniques that a Business Analytics professional will need in the future.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Personally, I feel that one of the most challenging parts of the programme is the amount of coursework the students need to follow through. Every module includes a significant number of individual and group assignments and sometimes the amount of time given seems overwhelming. Without properly organizing your time, some of the assignments will be not sufficiently implemented. Therefore, finding the balance regarding the amount of time that you should devote in each assignment is the key to succeed in each one of them.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
All modules were extremely helpful for my future career, but one module stood out from the rest and this was Statistics and Econometrics. Even if it was one of the most difficult modules of the year, it provided me knowledge that I used in almost all of the following modules from Digital Marketing Analytics to Logistics and Supply Chain analytics or Retail Analytics. Also, Econometrics knowledge was a mandatory skill in every Data Science job interview and Professor Jiahua Wo, who was teaching it was the right person to explain the difficult and demanding theory.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The majority of seminars, events and guest lectures were extremely helpful to better understand the modules covered throughout the year or their business application. However, if I were to choose the most useful one, it would be the guest lecture of Giles Pavey, who is the Chief Data Scientist at dunnhumby and covers work on price & promotions, personal recommendation, simulation, prediction and analytical computer sciences. During that time, I was very unsure about my future career goals and if I should follow a business or a more technical career path. He made me realise how I can combine my previous technical knowledge, with the business acumen that I would gain from the MSc Business Analytics and why it is very important for all data driven companies.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
I and the majority of the cohort believe that Professor Wolfram Wiesemann is one of the most talented lecturers we have ever met. He teaches Machine Learning and Optimisation and Decision Models, which are both demanding modules because they include complicated mathematics. Professor Wiesermann is able to explain a difficult theory in a very easy and structured way, but the main reason he is one of our most favourite professors is the fact that he is very approachable and is willing to help every student outside the class with questions inside and outside his academic research.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment, whether it be group assignments or class discussions?
Given that my group work experience was limited in my undergraduate studies, I was very anxious about group assignments with such a diverse cohort. Initially, I had difficulty in finding my preferred role within each group but after the first few assignments, I realized the importance of group work and my strengths and weaknesses. I learned how important it is to express your opinion in the right way, hear other peoples points and be able to take advantage of everybody’s knowledge inside a group. Finally, the skills gained from group assignments will definitely be used each and every single day of my future career and the university environment is the best place to gather these skills.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
My cohort at Imperial was a mix of talented and friendly people, who shared the same passion for Business Analytics and Data Science. Even if MSc Business Analytics was one of the most “geeky” masters of the Business School, as a cohort we were enjoying our life. When finishing demanding assignments or exams, we were organizing parties and nights out, which nobody could miss. Cultural and degree diversity was clear but this was one of the most enjoying parts of the year, as all of us created strong and international friendships that will definitely last for years.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
Unfortunately, due to my work obligations, I did not have the time to be involved with clubs, societies or other activities, which is something I definitely regret.
Opportunities from studying at Imperial
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
One of the greatest opportunities I had at Imperial is being involved with Imperial Business Analytics Centre’s Data Spark teams. Before the start date of the MSc, I was accepted as a KPMG intern to lead small student teams that were involved in 5 week projects. I had the opportunity to work in a professional and business environment, applying all the knowledge I gained from the MSc Business Analytics to real business problems and present the findings to clients. Therefore, I would strongly encourage every student to take part in the Data Spark projects, as you have the privilege to learn how to deal with Big Data challenges in a business environment.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
One of the main benefits of studying at Imperial College London are the career opportunities you are provided with, as it is one of the universities most targeted by graduate employers. Furthermore, career clubs and business speakers give you the benefit to expand your network and challenge yourself. Finally, Imperial is included among the top 10 global universities, which attracts the best students and this competition can give you extra motivation for distinction.
Career goals and jobs
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
Career and Professional Development Service is an exceptional service that the Business School provides that any student should take advantage of. It not only helped me to improve my CV and Cover Letter, but it also helped me organize my future career goals. Lastly, I have also learned how to prepare and tailor for different interviews.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
After working three to four years in one or more industries on different projects, I will reach a pivotal turning point where I can choose the next step in my business analyst career. I believe that a business analyst consultant career is a very pretentious choice but offers a variety of challenging work.
What fascinates me more is the fact that every project represents a new “puzzle to solve” and the opportunity to make a big difference for the better. Interviewing key stakeholders in each company, gathering and organizing information, analyzing data and preparing reports that summarize findings constitute a dynamic and challenging job. After 5 to 10 years of experience in various business analysis positions, I can advance to coaching and mentoring within my entire organization to build up the overall business analysis competency.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme? (please give details of roles you have accepted, what you will be doing and how you secured it).
I will work as a Principal Data Science Intern in Expedia.com Ltd for 6 months, which is a role that requires many of the skills I gained throughout the year in MSc Business Analytics. Machine Learning, Statistics and Econometrics, Marketing Analytics are some of the modules that provided me the right knowledge for this role and most importantly R, Python and SQL which have been taught throughout the year will be extensively used.
Life as a student in London
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
London’s status as a world city means employers choose to locate their headquarters in London. Many of them provide opportunities like networking events, interview training, internships and graduate schemes that are not available to such an extent in any other European city. Finally, a London degree is highly recognised around the world, so regardless of your specialty, you are sure to be in high demand.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in a 3 bedroom flat in West Brompton, which is a very quiet and residential area near South Kensington. One of the main reasons I chose to live there is the feeling of safety it provides and also the fact that it is 30 minutes away from Imperial College on foot.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
A one year MSc, especially in Imperial is a very demanding task and therefore most of the weekends seem like normal weekdays. Usually, you can start your day a little bit later enjoying your sleep for some more hours and then you will spend an important amount of time in the library or home, trying to finish group or individual assignments or study for exams. However, the most relaxing time was during the evening over weekends, when the cohort would often meet up for drinks at a variety of different places in London.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
I believe that London is an exciting city to live and study in. Firstly, London gives you the chance to meet people from all over the world, making it a global, vibrant and a diverse city. Secondly, what impressed me most when I visited London the first time was the cultural offering that the city provides, with more than 1000 museums and galleries which are totally free. Therefore, studying in London can give you the chance to culturally enrich your study experience. Last but not least, one of the greatest benefits of London is the power to connect people. London’s status as a world city means employers including banks, media companies and every kind of business in-between, choose to locate their headquarters to London. Many of these employers provide opportunities that can fully prepare a student to prepare himself as a professional employee.
Advice for future students
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the programme?
I would suggest to anybody who is thinking about applying for the MSc business analytics to spend a significant amount of time during summer to learn the basics of programming. R, Python and SQL are the core languages that someone needs throughout the year and there are many online tutorials that provide free lessons. Spending time learning these programming languages will give any student a competitive advantage especially at the beginning of the academic year and while applying for jobs.
Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
Campus and online information sessions were extremely helpful to both cope with the requirements of the programme and job applications. In more detail, information sessions on interview preparation, CV and cover letter tailoring proved to be very important as someone should definitely prepare and be aware of every aspect of a job application process before the start of the academic year. Students that have already spent time on these could find a better balance between coursework and job applications.