Ricardo Grandas Vargas, MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance, student at Imperial College Business School
MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance

MSc Chemical Engineering, Universidad Industrial de Santander

About you

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

Before joining the programme, I was working for the city hall of my hometown in Colombia. There, I managed several environmental projects, including recycling, reforestation and environmental education projects with students and farmers. I also worked as a part-time lecturer in a Colombian university teaching a module on natural resources management.

In addition, I was involved in a research project with the Petroleum Institute – part of Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates. The project aimed to propose a process design and techno-economic analysis for sweetening ultra-sour natural gas common in the Middle East Region. I joined this project in 2015, did an internship there and worked remotely then. A paper of this work was published in 2017 and this project was my greatest motivation to apply to the programme.

Why did you decide to study MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance at Imperial College Business School?

The programme’s interdisciplinary approach offered me a unique opportunity to couple my knowledge of engineering principles with an understanding of the latest climate change science and policy. I felt that certain modules, such as those focusing on finance, economics and clean technology innovation could strengthen my understanding of the challenges faced by the power system and heavy industry (cement, steel, chemicals) in implementing low-carbon processes and technologies. I was sure this mixed skillset would enhance my professional profile and would help me to formulate mitigation strategies that are financially viable and aligned with climate change mitigation narratives.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

Imperial College Business School is diverse by nature. Listening to the insights that people bring to discussions, either from their education or backgrounds is amazing. Together with the expertise of lecturers, the experiences of different people contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the topics being discussed, particularly when it comes to global challenges like climate change.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

I really enjoyed the Mitigating Climate Change module. As an engineer, I found it interesting how decomposition analysis is used to identify opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the industry and power sectors. Likewise, I was able to associate some mitigation strategies in hard-to-abate sectors with chemical process synthesis, design and optimisation.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

Being able to join conversations with experts from leading organisations through the external speaker seminar and Climate X Change student-led initiative. I also joined Imperial Green Minds which is a student-led initiative aiming to educate future generations about climate change. We prepared some material to help teachers introduce climate change to their primary school students. The positive response from teachers and children has been very rewarding.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

The programme explores many different topics, from science and technology to governance and economics, policy and finance. Finance modules are highly interesting but really challenging. This is because I have not got any background in finance. Nevertheless, I have had huge support from my colleagues and lecturers to understand the module’s content and relate the concepts we learn with daily life affairs shaping the discussions on climate change.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

The School has done great work in helping us to get through the programme and the multi-mode teaching is proof of their efforts. There were some issues that needed to be improved, but the staff were approachable and tried to provide solutions as soon as possible. Lecturers were attentive to the needs of students on campus as well as those who, like me, were attending the lecture remotely. They managed to provide as much support in the least time possible to address any doubt about the module’s content or the coursework.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

We are very diverse, coming from several countries and backgrounds; therefore, we have different views on certain issues. Yet, we have in common our desire to contribute to the fight against climate change! Our cohort is so passionate about what we are learning and highly aware of the challenges ahead but also keen to propose solutions.


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

I have enjoyed hearing from experts not only from Imperial and the Grantham Institute but also from other British universities that have joined us as guest lecturers in some modules. I have also enjoyed the freedom to propose topics to discuss in our coursework or lectures. I love being able to discuss the governance challenges of the Amazon rainforest, the importance of the conservation efforts of indigenous communities and other regional issues of Latin America.

Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

I have participated in seminars with experts from integrated energy companies and consultancy firms in the energy sector. These seminars have been a source of insights about the industry trends, challenges and opportunities that have triggered my self-motivated research and readings to expand my understanding of the industry.

How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community, and the programme’s connection to the Grantham Institute?

Grantham Institute experts have been so supportive and engaging during our lectures on climate change mitigation, science and governance modules. We also received huge support from Grantham experts to plan Green Minds projects for schools. Their contributions and feedback were valuable when developing high-quality materials that communicate complex topics such as climate change to primary school children. I have learned from them the importance of how science ought to be communicated to different audiences!


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

I am looking to start my career as an analyst, particularly in the field of hydrogen, liquified natural gas and carbon capture. I have a keen interest in supporting integrated energy companies and chemical industries in their efforts to embed low carbon solutions into their business models. I have the curiosity and transferable skills to be part of a sustainability and climate change consultancy between these sectors.

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

Careers has been amazing. They have provided advice for understanding the job market in the UK and tailoring my CV and cover letter and have helped me identify my transferrable skills. Also, they have shared valuable insights about industry trends and the skills being demanded by companies in my target sectors.

London Location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

The UK is a world leader in climate change action. Most industry leaders in sustainability and climate change action are based here. Additionally, there is a close relationship between Imperial College Business School, the government and the private sector, particularly the financial services sector. Because of this, we have been able to hold interesting talks with experts from prestigious institutions. As a result, the content of our modules and the coursework reflect the challenges and opportunities that companies face when they try to embrace sustainability.

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

I live in Earl’s Court in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is a very convenient area close to the South Kensington campus but also to the new Business School space at the White City campus. It is a central area close to Hyde Park and other interesting spots in London.

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

I enjoy cycling and I use the public bikes available across the city. It is a very convenient way to explore London now that some restrictions have been lifted. I am loving the spring vibes and the blossoming of the trees as the city comes back to life.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?

London is a very expensive city and moving here can pose financial challenges. Yet, if you move here, you will have more direct contact not only with your cohort but with the with the job market. Your networking possibilities will increase, and you will get to know people from other programmes at the Business School working in the sector you may want to work. Also, London is a beautiful city which offers plenty of activities to enjoy as a student.


Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?

I took time to attend seminars scheduled by the Business School. I think is very useful to understand more about the programme you want to study, how the admission process works and how to prepare your application. They can also provide pertinent information about student life at Imperial and the city! It is worthwhile to attend.

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

MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance covers a wide range of topics and the modules’ content is useful for a variety of professionals. Try to keep well informed about the recent developments in climate change by reviewing news, articles and reports from reliable sources. Check the Net Zero commitments done by governments and companies and try to understand what they are about. It will give you an idea of the exciting and complex topics that we discuss in our lectures and coursework.

Finally, don’t hesitate to contact the Student Ambassadors or to reach out to people from the programme on LinkedIn. They are very keen to answer any questions and share their experiences! Submit the application as soon as possible – getting the acceptance letter from one of the top universities in the world for an exceptional programme is priceless!

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance

MSc Chemical Engineering, Universidad Industrial de Santander