Sofia de La Parra Saravia - MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance 2019-20
Programme:
MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance
Nationality:
Mexican
Education:

BBA International Business Management, Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de Mexico

Job after Imperial:

Naked Energy, Internship

About you

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

I was a Rating Analyst at S&P Global in the corporate ratings division, following companies across several industries. During my time at S&P I was an active member of the Women's Initiative for Networking and Success and led the Green Team of the Mexico City office. Before joining S&P, I did a six month internship at IBM as a Business Operations Analyst. I also did an internship in the accounting and office management area at the Mexican Embassy in Berlin, Germany.

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

After graduating from a BBA and some years of work experience, I wanted to specialise in an area I believed was having a momentum, sustainable finance, and felt I needed to gain in-depth knowledge mainly on the scientific foundations of climate change to understand how it impacts the financial sector. I found this programme which seemed the perfect combination of my previous experience and my personal passion for sustainability. Imperial’s unique programme interested me due to how it approaches the climate crisis in a practical and holistic way. I chose Imperial because of its reputation in science and technology, two areas I wanted to gain expertise in, as well as the Imperial College Business School and Grantham Institute partnership to deliver MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance, with experts from both as lecturers on the programme.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you enjoy the most?

I have really loved the connections and friendships I have made within the cohort, so that is very much one of my favourite things. Working in teams and sharing a classroom with such a diverse group of people, with the same ambition to become change makers, has really made this programme special. Also, the programme team have done an excellent job given the dynamism of 2020. Another highlight of the programme has been the external speakers series that both the programme leaders and some students have made possible, as it provides hands-on industry insights, examples of companies and organisations tackling the climate crisis from different perspectives as well as a chance to network.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Narrowing down to one is just too difficult. I really think this programme has been ideally curated, as there is a wide variety of modules with outstanding lecturers focusing on key aspects of climate finance. I think the enthusiasm and expertise of each of the lecturers has by far exceeded my expectations. As my background is not science, I found the modules of The Science of Climate Change and Mitigating Climate Change enlightening and very useful to understand relevant reports which are key in the industry, such as the IPCC publications. However, I really enjoyed and learned a lot from the financial side modules that focus on the risks and opportunities such as Clean Technology Investment, Risk Management and Climate Change, and Climate Finance.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The networking opportunities I have had, from events within the Business School to relevant industry players in London, the connections and exposure this programme has given me have lead to a lot of connections with people from the industry I want to work in after graduating. Also, I find priceless the ties I have developed with my cohort, both in terms of friendships as well as professional. 

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Time management, particularly having to decide among the many opportunities to take the experience beyond what is required. I found myself constantly having to make decisions on how to spend a limited amount of time among so many activities, projects, clubs, and events that interested me. Some examples I had the pleasure to take on were the opportunity to take an idea through the Imperial Enterprise Lab, being part of the Student Staff Committee, attending conferences and relevant events in London, such as the Finance for a Sustainable Future 2020 (organised by alumni from the programme). Furthermore, careers fairs and continual networking events, and mentoring sessions like the one I attended organized by TARA (linked to the 30% Club) with high profile women in the financial sector, or being part of the University Mentorship Programme of Women in ETFs where I had the pleasure of being matched with a mentor. Finally, super interesting talks at the Grantham Institute or Energy Futures Lab, I could really go on and on about how many exciting opportunities I had during this MSc to get involved in very exciting opportunities.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Group of change makers: a diverse group of people genuinely interested in how to make this world a better place from their own standpoint.

Ranging from some interested in making the most money in a sustainable way to some systems change thinkers looking for ways to redesign the way capital is allocated based on sustainable development. An extraordinary crowd that can easily be spotted in the Business School’s café with whom I have very much enjoyed working.

Opportunities

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

The opportunity to work in diverse teams and learn from academics, subject matter experts, as well as professionals in the industry. The network I built during my programme has resulted in an internship in the clean energy industry, an exciting key sector to achieve a low-carbon economy.

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

The workshop with the UNPD that enlightened me on social enterprises which incentivised me to make my own with two fellow students and participate in the Climate Investment Challenge.

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

I am the SSC Careers Leader, which has given me a lot of exposure with the Careers team and a great excuse to talk to most of my fellow students regarding their thoughts and plans. I am also a member of the Social Impact and Responsible Business Club and the Sustainability and Energy Club.

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

Through the Energy Futures Lab conferences I have  met some students, as well as during networking events with the MSc Environmental Technology and MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures. Through my position in the SSC I’ve connected with students from all the MScs at Imperial College Business School.

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

The Grantham institute organises interesting talks quite often, during their Tuesday coffee sessions I also got met some PhD students and hear about what they are working on. Imperial College is also a partner of the clean-tech start up I got an internship with.

Career

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

I aim to be a facilitator between the science of climate change and finance decision-makers in the transition to a sustainable future. My drive to achieve inclusive development, a low-carbon global economy, systemic change and mainstream sustainable business practices have led me to study MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance. I am interested in catalyst organisations, to share my culturally diverse background and enthusiasm, that are aligned with my belief on sustainable growth being achievable, as well as necessary.

Imperial has connected me with people working in such companies as well as informed me about the companies and organisations that are leaders in the field.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I got an internship offer at a clean tech start-up which makes an innovative solar heating called virtu®. I will be in the business development and commercial area, which is very exciting as the technology is currently ready for a wide-scale commercial deployment.  

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

I attended several 1:1 consultations with almost all the consultants, to help me improve my CV and LinkedIn profile, as well as give some careers pathway guidance. Also, some of the workshops were very helpful to pay attention to small details that can make the difference during interviews or applications.

London location

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

Absolutely! The mentorship sessions I’ve had with industry experts would have otherwise not been possible. Also, we have been invited to the offices of some companies in the sustainable finance and consulting sector to learn more about what they do. The valuable conferences and events happening in London all the time are key for networking and I really recommend getting involved in as many as you can, as there is always something going on.

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

Battersea/Clapham junction, I chose it as it is a 20 minute bike ride to the College and quite a nice area to live in.

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

Getting to know London and its surroundings, as well as spending time with friends. Exercising as well as meditation are things I like to do in my study breaks.

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 moved from Mexico City to London for my Master’s, so I had to go through the Tier 4 visa process as well as having to find a place to live from abroad. I must say it was quite a challenge being so far with a large time difference. Sending papers to the university, scheduling viewing appointments and packing for an entire year in one bag was not easy. However, I was very lucky and moved in with friends from my boarding school who helped me a lot in the transition.

Tips

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

I attended one online webinar with Mirabelle Muuls and Thanos Sofias, which was very helpful to understand the process and what the programme was about. I would definitely encourage prospective students to attend as many events as they can.

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

I would encourage them to speak to as many students and alumni as they can, as well as attending relevant events from the university.

Programme:
MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance
Nationality:
Mexican
Education:

BBA International Business Management, Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de Mexico

Job after Imperial:

Naked Energy, Internship