Cynthia Wang MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance 2020-21

Programme: MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance

Nationality: United States

Education: Environmental Studies and Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

About you

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

For the last two years, I was a Princeton in Asia Fellow at the Beijing office of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a US-based climate NGO. I primarily conducted research and supported projects on sustainable cities and urban planning. I have also worked at various local non-profits and research institutions in capacities ranging from policy research to fundraising and development. 

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

As more data and information is being released daily about the climate, it has become very important to have the comprehensive analysis skills to understand these rapid changes. I identified weaknesses in my quantitative skills and wanted to find a programme with an applied focus. From my research at the time, MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance seemed to be one of the only programmes in this field to emphasise practise. In addition to being in London, a green finance capital, and being at the forefront of science and tech research, Imperial College Business School was immediately at the top of my list.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I received the Imperial Business Scholarship. It was very helpful as I was coming out of an NGO job and it helped provide more financial stability during a rather tumultuous and uncertain year. I spent many months applying to various scholarships, so receiving this one was a welcome surprise. To future students, just check that box! Imperial has made it very easy to make yourself eligible for some of their scholarships. 


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

I have really enjoyed getting to know my cohort. Everyone is enthusiastic, passionate, and interested in both our curriculum and in our changing world as a whole. It is an incredibly open and collaborative environment to be in; everyone is very supportive of each other.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

I’ve really liked Impacts and Adaptation! Alyssa Gilbert is a very engaging lecturer, and she has brought in multiple external experts to elaborate on case studies. Her class is dynamic and has been able to shed light on a broad and complex topic.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

Group projects. Being able to turn in an output resulting from weeks of hard work and time is very rewarding. The process itself is gruelling, but you learn a lot about yourself as a team player. With a team supporting you, it’s also a chance to embrace your weaknesses and exercise your strengths. The relationships you form too with your team are very satisfying and will take you far.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Also group projects! Coordinating times and delegating tasks between people is difficult, especially alongside balancing other coursework. But as mentioned before, the final result is also rewarding.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

It has been better than I thought it would be at the start of the programme. I’m mostly an optimistic, so from an optimist’s perspective, it is nice to be able to just roll out of bed and attend class virtually! You also have the option once or twice a week to go into class in staggered bubbles. Group work also adds more social/face-to-face time with peers. The chat function on Zoom during lectures also ends up serving as another form of engagement in some classes. While there certainly have been twists and turns along the way, I’ve found multi-modal to be not bad at all, though I would still recommend being based in London.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Engaging, passionate, outgoing, kind, supportive. We feel like a cohort; it feels like we’re all part of a team.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

We’ve only taken six moudles at the time of writing this, so I’m sure there is more to come! The lecturers so far have been great. I especially appreciate Dr Paulo Ceppi (Science of Climate Change) for his clarity and the way he makes climate science so accessible to so many people coming from different backgrounds and disciplines. He really takes the time to explain and re-explain complex processes so that you get it.


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

Getting to meet so many people from different walks of life, each with different perspectives and ideas on how to best combat the climate problem. Having the opportunity to draw upon this vast knowledge resource given to us by Imperial and our peers to collaborate on global issues.

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

Climate Xchange (a new initiative founded by peers in my cohort!) events have been a really fun way of getting to learn about and discuss climate issues not covered in our coursework.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?

I’m currently Events Co-Chair for Positive Investment Imperial. We’re a student-led group aiming to raise awareness of responsible investment in Imperial College and the UK by organising events and collaborating with other positive investment chapters at different universities. I’m also on Imperial’s LUSL club tennis team (briefly, before practices were cancelled due to COVID). A few peers from the programme also created a touch rugby team that plays in a league outside of School, so that’s been great fun!

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

 A few. Tennis helped me meet students from different Imperial College programmes, not just from the Business School. I have also been able to meet people from Positive Investment events.

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?

MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance is a great programme because we are so innately connected to the Grantham Institute. In both classes and our speaker series every Thursday, we hear from experts with connections to the Grantham Institute. These include academic researchers and practitioners, which makes for very well-rounded exposure to climate issues as well as an extensive network for further career explorations.


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

I originally thought that I’d like to combine my interests in non-profits/NGOs and policy with climate finance and work for a large philanthropic organisation to support nascent advocacy for critical climate justice movements. Since being at Imperial though, I’ve realised the plethora of careers and opportunities that exist and will continue to develop in this growing field, so it’s expanded my perspective quite a bit, particularly regarding private sector careers. So much so that I’m not quite sure what I want to do now, but am excited for any opportunity that may arise.

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

Careers have been very helpful. Booking an appointment with them is super easy, and they’ll run through your entire cover letter/resume/interview even when you’re short on time. It’s a very flexible and reliable service!

London location

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

I live in the Bayswater/Paddington area. I chose this area because we found a cute flat, and it is close to both Imperial and the university my flatmate attends.

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

I’ve been cooking a lot this year! I like throwing dinner parties. I love reading and going on walks in all the different London neighbourhoods.

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

I moved from the US to London. It’s a hard year to live far away from family, but being in the city for the in-person classes we have has made this learning experience better overall. A challenge this year is that sometimes there are random border closures and plans get diverted; plus, travel is hard because of increased COVID exposure. I do hope that next year’s cohort won’t have to deal with the pressures of COVID, but I’d recommend having this conversation with your family and trying to figure out what works best for all.


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

Do your due diligence and reach out to current students and alumni. Think about what you want to gain from a year of graduate studies. The MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance is very practise-oriented. You’ll be learning about the latest developments in a rapidly-changing field while building basic skills to enter this working environment. You’ll come across a wide range of people on the programme; some with thorough sustainability backgrounds, some who have no sustainability experience but extensive finance backgrounds, others from separate disciplines altogether.

If you’re looking for a deep dive into a specific climate topic, I wouldn’t recommend this programme. But if you’re looking for broad exposure and for the opportunity to meet, collaborate with, and learn from others across discipline, and value getting practice over simply theory, you should consider MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance at Imperial.

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme: MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance

Nationality: United States

Education: Environmental Studies and Political Science, University of Pennsylvania