Sonia Liu
MSc Business Analytics (online delivery, part-time)

About you

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

Before I started at Imperial, I worked as a Corporate Bond Trader at Westpac Banking Corporation in Sydney, Australia.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you enjoy the most?

The subjects delivered are practical. My colleagues in algorithmic trading looked at my programme notes and agreed that Imperial is covering the most relevant topics in Data Science. It contains the right mix of theory and practical aspects to prepare students for a successful career in data analytics.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Network Analytics is my favourite subject so far. Professor Kalyan Talluri prepared some very creative assignments in topics such as stock market correlations, social network diffusions and travel salesman problems. The topics were fascinating, and I spent plenty of nights to debug my code. Some days I would be up until the early hours working on the code, before I realised how late it actually was!

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The most rewarding part of the programme is being confident that your acquired knowledge will prepare you for a bright career in the data analysis.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Time management has been the most challenging part of the programme. We are currently going through the most intense period ever with eight assignments due in four weeks and exams for another three subjects taking place in early July. I try to fit it all into my weekends, and it hasn't been easy.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My classmates are very committed and extremely helpful to each other. We come from different countries and may work in different industries, but we are all in the same boat juggling work, life and study all at once, so we always try to help each other when it’s needed.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Professor Wolfram Wiesemann is the most concise lecturer I have seen. He has a gifted talent of distilling and explaining some very advanced concepts in a way that we can all understand. Whether it is linear programming, machine learning, nothing is ambiguous out of his mouth.

Professor Kalyan Talluri and Professor Martin Haugh are both great lecturers and two of the smartest lecturers I’ve come across. I must admit that their programme materials are not easy to follow, as they cover a lot of material. However, I’m a big picture person, I perform under stress, prefer being challenged and I hate micro-management. I’d rather know upfront that there is a steep learning curve and knowledge gap and I will work my way towards the goal.

Opportunities

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

The greatest opportunity I have had at Imperial has been my overall learning experience.

Career

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

Since I started on the MSc Business Analytics programme, I have managed to hold more meaningful conversations with our in-house data scientist. I can feel myself beginning to understand and be able to contribute to data science topics at work.

Studying online

What have been the benefits and challenges of studying part-time and online?

The benefit of doing the programme part-time is to have an income stream while I study. I also don't have to worry about re-entering the job market once I graduate. As a result, I can focus on learning and applying the knowledge I’m gaining at work. I don't have to rush to an evening lecture class, and I can arrange my work and social life around it.

The challenge is also fairly obvious. Treating the part-time programme as a part-time job, and you can quickly see how it takes up most of your weekends. There are many topics we cover over the 22-month period. Imperial delivers the course in four terms rather than semesters, so there are no semester breaks in-between.

How do you find using the programme’s purpose built learning platform, The Hub?

I find The Hub easy to use and follow. Although we used Slack for the forum, and it is not the most user-friendly platform when there is so much on. We have more than 30 channels open simultaneously.

The programme includes two on campus sessions. How did you find coming on campus to London?

It was great to meet the programme team, my lecturers, tutors and my classmates. Putting faces to names has helped us connect more as a cohort.

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

When I’m not studying, I enjoy dancing and singing. I manage to fit three 90-minute dance sessions into my weekly schedule. I perform at local concerts every few months. It is a great way to stay fit, meditate and tune out from work and study.

Tips

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

Think carefully about whether you can manage the workload. As a student ambassador, the most common question I get on UniBuddy is about my workload. It is a minimum of 15 hours per week, and it can easily be stretched to 25-30 hours if you want to understand the concepts well, or if you are less familiar with programming or maths and stats concepts.

You will never regret taking this programme and Imperial as a highly reputable university will bring you some of the most advanced concepts in data science. However, it means giving up on most of your holiday plans and weekend socials for two years. This is the opportunity cost, so think carefully before you apply.

Role
MSc Business Analytics (online delivery, part-time)
Nationality
New Zealand
Undergraduate education :

Bachelor of Actuarial Studies & Quantitative Finance, The Australian National University

Role beginning at Imperial College Business School :

Bond Trader, Westpac Banking Corp