George Ponirakis
Programme:
MSc Business Analytics (on campus, full-time)
Nationality:
Greek
Undergraduate education:

BSc Management Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business

Job after Imperial College Business School:

Data Science Graduate, Lloyds Banking Group

MSc Business Analytics (on campus, full-time) 2019

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

Before starting my Master’s I had a three-month internship with PwC in Athens, Greece. I was working as an advisory intern within the risk assurance services department. I also completed a nine-month compulsory military service as a signal corps lance corporal.

Why did you decide to study an MSc Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School?

Given that I aspired to start my career as a Data Scientist, the MSc Business Analytics programme was the right move for me. My background in operational research and management science provided me with the quantitative skills and foundations to be successful at this programme.

Imperial was undoubtedly my first choice. The combination of core modules that aim to build the analytics skills required with the electives, which focus on a specific business sector, made it lucrative for me. Furthermore, Imperial’s reputation of being one of the best business schools, in constantly looking into innovative ways to merge technology with business was a big factor in my choice.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?

The aspect I enjoy the most about this programme is the hands-on philosophy. From the first days of September, there were multiple workshops every week to get everyone up to speed with using specific programming languages.  During the whole duration of the programme, I couldn’t find a period of time where I wasn’t programming. Each module had at least one hands-on component (usually projects), and thus, enabled us to not only expand our theoretical subject knowledge, but also our programming skills. This made the programme modules very relevant for our future careers and was also appreciated in by interviewees in technical job interviews.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I would rank two modules as equal favourites. The first one is Machine Learning, and the second is Big Data in Finance. Machine Learning provided me with new knowledge and the skills which were required for almost all electives. Big Data in Finance further built on this knowledge, enhanced it with relevant techniques, and gave me the opportunity to apply it into a field that is highly interesting to me.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

I would say that getting to work with many different teams consisting of different people was a very rewarding experience. Through this process I was able to gain insight into working with people from different backgrounds, which I would not have been able to do otherwise. Though it may not seem as special to someone else, it was the first time I had the opportunity to work with so many people in a small amount of time.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

I would say the most challenging part was the programme workload during certain periods. Given the freedom of choice with electives, one can get a bit overwhelmed. I chose most of the electives which took part in early spring. In order to complete all relevant projects, I had to work long hours, cooperate with many different teams and produce high-quality results. By doing this I was able to expand my time management skills and build resilience.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

In a few words, I would describe the cohort as diverse, very friendly and supportive, and comprising of highly driven individuals. Simply put, the best cohort I’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

My favourite professor is Dr Wolfram Wiesemann. A module like Machine Learning can be hard to teach to people with no previous knowledge of the subject. However, Dr Wiesemann paid great attention to make the admittedly complex principles behind it easy to understand. He put great emphasis on the students understanding each concept and would not hesitate to take as much time as needed to achieve this. Furthermore, the programme structure was excellent, comprising of a project for each major algorithm, as well as weekly mini quizzes which encouraged us all to revise and understand each topic.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

The greatest opportunity comprises of all the perks (barring academics) of being able to study at the Business School. The Careers service has been excellent, being there for me with all their related services whenever I needed them. Furthermore, the career fairs organised by the Business School have surpassed my expectations, attracting numerous companies, especially in the consulting, banking and technology sectors. Finally, the guest lectures and talks have been a great opportunity - I am writing this just after attending a speech by the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, conducted here at Imperial. All of these are opportunities which I would never have had, if I wasn’t a student at Imperial.

Do you hold a student leadership position?

I am a Student Ambassador for the MSc Business Analytics programme, helping prospective students gain insights into what the programme has to offer and the Business School as a whole.

Career

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

From my very first years as an undergraduate student, I realised that I wanted to get involved in the more technical side of business. That’s why I chose to take this Master’s programme, as well as why I aspire to become a successful data scientist. Imperial, and specifically MSc Business Analytics, brought me one step closer to this goal by providing me with the theoretical knowledge that is used in data science, as well as the programming experience that is crucial for a career as a data scientist.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

Yes, I have been offered a role as part of the Data Science graduate scheme at Lloyds Banking Group.

How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?

The Careers services have been invaluable. The workshops organised by the team during the first months of the programme have been very helpful in getting everyone up to speed with the job-hunting process.  Appointments were very simple to make. These included, but were not limited to: interview preparation, assessment centre preparation, CV check, LinkedIn profile checks and more.

Personally, the most helpful aspect of the Careers services was the general career planning appointments. These helped me not only narrow down the opportunities I wanted to pursue, but also provided me with general support throughout the job-hunting process.

London Location

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I live in Hammersmith. I chose to live here mainly because of the excellent commute options it provides, and of course the close proximity to the Business School’s South Kensington campus. Hammersmith is just a few stops away from South Kensington via the tube (with the option of two lines), half an hour by bus (more than two buses pass through both Hammersmith and South Kensington) and less than half an hour by bicycle. Hammersmith is one of West London’s public transportation hubs, with four tube lines passing through it and a central bus station, with many routes starting here.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

When I’m not studying you will probably find me out with friends, watching my favourite TV shows or doing anything sports related (I love to play basketball).

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?

With good knowledge of the English language, I don’t see any challenges in moving to London. It is truly an international city, and I could feel it from the moment I set foot here. I’ve lived abroad for six months before I moved to London and could not wait to go back to Athens. However, London felt like home from the very first week. The amenities are amazing, and the city is constantly on the move and, in a sense, “alive”.

Tips

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

The most important thing to think about is what you want your career to look like after the programme. This programme gave me a competitive advantage for almost every position, which revolved around technology and analytics. This includes positions like Business Analyst, Data Scientist, Technology Consultant, Analytics Consultant etc. Additionally, this programme does not limit you to a specific industry like marketing or finance programmes tend to do. Therefore, it goes without saying that if you aspire to have an analytics related career, you should definitely apply!

Finally, don’t be daunted by the application process. Having had numerous interviews this year and recalling back on it, Imperial’s interview and general application process is very smooth and candidate friendly. The whole point is to get to know you, so be yourself!

Programme:
MSc Business Analytics (on campus, full-time)
Nationality:
Greek
Undergraduate education:

BSc Management Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business

Job after Imperial College Business School:

Data Science Graduate, Lloyds Banking Group