Programme: MSc Economics & Strategy for Business
Nationality: Sri Lankian
Education: BA (Hons) Economics & Geography, Trinity College Dublin
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Before starting at Imperial College Business School, I had previous experience in entrepreneurship, venture capital, economic consulting and public policy. Co-founding two startups and interning at an early stage venture capital fund have greatly increased my interest in business building and venture financing. This combined with the analytical skills from my experience in applied economics has encouraged a career in strategy consulting or venture capital.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School?
Studying economics during my undergraduate studies at Trinity College Dublin was highly theoretical and quantitative. The programme provided a useful introduction/development of these skills. Nevertheless, this programme lacked a detailed portrayal of the actual business landscape and a practical toolkit to navigate it. MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial bridges this skill gap through modules and extra-curricular opportunities that are both theoretical and extremely applied.
Did you receive a scholarship?
Yes, I did receive a scholarship from Imperial College Business School. My general advice regarding this would be to apply for as many scholarships as possible, but also take the time to record a meaningful application as you never know what may come through.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
Two aspects of the programme really stand out to me. First, getting to know an amazing group of people from a variety of backgrounds, both culturally but also with regard to jobs. Even though it has been a few months, it seems like many of us have known each other for years. Second, the interesting balance this programme provides regarding economics and its applicability to business through a variety of streams.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My favourite module thus far has been “Corporate Strategy” with Dr Dmitry Sharapov, as it provided a perfect balance of theoretical concepts with in-depth case study discussion in each class. Beyond this, Dr Sharapov’s lecture style incorporated a lot of in-class discussions which contributed to a wider and more fluid learning of the material.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
Each module in the programme consists of group assignments that make up the bulk of the continuous assessment. During my undergraduate, the majority of my coursework was individual and rarely in self-selected groups. Most of my team experiences were from extracurricular activities or work experience. Working in our syndicate teams constantly teaches you the importance of teamwork, but additionally how to work with your group members to effectively tackle the course requirements. Despite being somewhat new to this, these experiences have much better equipped me to the workforce.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
I would say the most challenging part of this programme has been balancing group assignments, learning course materials, careers work and finding time to meet up with friends. Balancing all of these aspects of postgraduate life is much more achievable, as you have a cohort of really amazing people who are going through it with you, and are always more than happy to help you if in need.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
If I had to describe my course in three short words it would be: hard-working, multi-cultural and friendly.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
One of my favourite lecturers this semester was Dr Rajesh Bhargave and his module, Strategic Marketing. I really enjoyed his ‘flipped classroom’ technique wherein the class revolved around active discussion of the materials and case-studies with little lecturing of concepts.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
The greatest opportunity I have had while at Imperial is being fortunate to represent the university and the Business School at the LVMH DARE Competition in London. The competition had students partner with current employees of LVMH to ideate and build a venture over the three days of the competition, culminating in a final investment pitch to seasoned veterans of both LVMH and other luxury brands. My experience proved even more amazing as our team was one of the three winners. This competition provided a very unique entrance to the luxury brand but also honed the entrepreneurial skills I had already developed.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the variety of guest speakers we have presented in our modules as they provide a fresh, industry applicable perspective to the materials we are taught. For example, this semester for our Corporate Finance module we were given a guest lecture on M&A and Valuations by Daniel Stillit who has had 23 years of experience in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and UBS.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
This year in my spare time I am a member of the Film Society and Sri Lankan Society and attend their events. Alongside this, I am also a Student Ambassador for my programme. This role is very interesting as it allows me to not only represent the Business School, but additionally contribute to recruiting the best students from around the world. This includes attending a variety of online and on-campus recruitment events, calling campaigns and actively speaking with prospective/admitted students to answer any questions they may have regarding the programme or application process.
How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?
I would say that the Imperial College London and Business School community has been extremely helpful to me from all manner of perspectives. A very good example of this was even prior to beginning the programme when current students were willing to take the time to discuss any questions I had regarding their programme. I feel this extremely open and friendly community allows students to grow closer together and to the Business School as well.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I want to break into a full-time role in either early-stage venture capital or strategy consulting. The variety of workshops and seminars that Imperial provides has been extremely helpful in learning about the opportunities and skills required to break into all manner of industries.
How did the services from Careers help in your professional development?
Imperial College Business School Careers was unlike any other and proved extremely helpful in not only providing a variety of employer events but additionally ways to navigate the recruitment process. A technique I had not learnt before was the task of setting up a clear career trajectory to target specific firms and preparing the various items for each.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
One of the reasons I choose to study at Imperial is the chance to live in London at the centre of everything. Having lived here for now for almost six months, it puts you in close proximity to individuals and firms who can help progress your own career. An example of this is being referred into an invite-only event organised by BCG as I met one of their recent graduate associates for coffee.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in Earl’s Court which has been an excellent location. I choose this location primarily as it is a very short walk to campus but also has many other students living in the area. An added benefit turned out that a large number of people from my own programme also live in this area.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not studying, I enjoy trying new foods, reading, watching films and hanging out with friends. London, being a large and busy city offers many ways for me to do this and can often surprise you in the number of new things you can discover.
What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
Moving from Dublin, I would say the biggest benefit has been the rise in the number of cultures in London alongside the sheer breadth of activities available here. The possibilities for a night out in London are pretty much endless and you often have a unique night each time. This is perfect for any person who enjoys trying new food, going to a play or listening to new music. I think the main challenge of this would be the size of London may overwhelm someone who hasn’t lived in a large city before. I would say the best way to overcome this issue would be to either keep in contact with a friend who already knows London well, or use this as an opportunity to explore London with some other students who are in the same boat.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
The main advice I would give a prospective applicant is to carefully work out how this programme will best benefit your career progression. Once you have figured this out, you can work out exactly how to achieve your targeted career goals in unison with the programme content. MSc Economics & Strategy for Business will provide an unparalleled education in bridging theoretical economics with business strategy. However, like many things it does represent a significant time and monetary cost, so be mindful of that.