Xinran Liu MSc Economics and Strategy for Business 2020-21

Programme: MSc Economics and Strategy for Business 2020-21

Nationality: Chinese

University and subject studied for undergraduate degree: BSc (Hons) Economics, University of Brighton

Company and role secured after programme: Assurance, PwC

About you

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

During my undergraduate studies, I committed to a list of professional internships in banking, finance and accounting. Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to work as a student ambassador, organising different social events to enhance the student experience. Outside of university, I supported a variety of charity events to make a positive impact in our community and helping those in need. Those experiences allowed me to sharpen my soft skills as an aspiring global business leader, as well as strengthening my professional skills and knowledge as a business specialist.

Why did you decide to study MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School?

My main objective in choosing MSc Economics & Strategy for Business was to learn how businesses and entrepreneurs solve real-world problems, and to navigate in the world that seems increasingly hostile to ‘constructive destruction’ and ‘globalisation’. Also, I wanted to learn how businesses work in synergy with liberal values and wider social impacts. That means creative thinking is essential to solve any issues and challenges. And of course, Imperial shows diversity and innovation at its heart, which is why I chose the Business School.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I received two scholarships. One is from Imperial College Business School and the other one is an external scholarship from Lamert Trust Fund. Generally speaking, each scholarship is looking for different personal characteristics, so it is important to apply early and take time to go through the application guidance. Make sure you tailor your statement to cover all the relevant aspects. Your application needs to showcase your passion and commitment in improving yourself as an individual - what is the extra 20% that you have been doing, who are you, what are you aiming to achieve, and most importantly, what you can offer to give back to our society.

For some scholarships at Imperial College Business School, you will be automatically considered if you apply before the deadline and receive an offer. It’s also a great idea reach out to previous scholarship holders if you can to find out how they handled their applications.


What aspects of the programme do you enjoy the most?

The programme structure itself is the highlight. The first two semesters help us to build a theoretical framework and develop a deep understanding in economics, finance and strategy. This means we are able to evaluate a business decision from different perspectives and also challenges us to think from a broader perspective, taking into account the long-term impact of each decision made. These knowledge bases will be executed in a real consulting project during summer term, so we will have the opportunity to work as consultants and help our clients in achieving their business goals and objectives.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module so far has been Economics and Strategy for Innovation taught by Dr Gianluigi Viscusi and Simone Vannuccini. Undoubtedly, innovation drives the future growth of a business, which also needs to be effectively managed in order to exploit its long-term potential. By understanding innovation from both the economic and the strategic perspectives, we can model the general innovation pattern to help businesses with their strategic planning. Personally, it helped me understand why some businesses make certain investments and what are the tools available to help them become future market leaders. This module is heavily focused on in-depth discussions of case studies and evaluations of our business simulations, which further prompted us to critically assess the possible contexts of theoretical failures in the real world.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

In addition to the in-depth knowledge that we have been gaining, I would say the most rewarding aspect has been developing myself both personally and professionally. By working as a team, having discussions with guest speakers and attending different workshop sessions, I have been constantly challenged, inspired and motivated. These opportunities have been encouraging me to take initiative in everything I do and developing valuable relationships that will help me to cultivate a successful career in the future.  

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Not only for our programme but also for many other programmes as well, I think the most challenging aspect is the mindset transition from being an undergraduate student to a postgraduate student. That means taking accountability for our own education and future, as well as time management between social and academic life. Of course, there are many events, workshops and networking sessions happening all the time, and it is easy to lose track of time and let the work pile up. However, there are many professional development courses (time management, creative thinking etc.) designed specifically for Master’s students to help us overcome challenges and achieve our full potential.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort can be described as ‘a group of passionate and determined future leaders’. It has been a pleasure to work with many talented people and learn from them. Needless to say, 2020 has been very challenging for everyone, but my cohort has demonstrated an exceptional ability to show support and understanding towards one another.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

My favourite professor was Dr Dimitry Sharapov. Our classes both online and on-campus have been very interactive, and include a lot of discussions over business cases. Moreover, he challenged us to think critically and look at issues from different perspectives. The clear and precise explanations allowed us to understand better and grasp difficult concepts easily throughout the module. All of this made the process of learning enjoyable while developing a high level of understanding about corporate strategy.  


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

My passion over the last few years has been around globalisation, capitalism, and the free market, which are under threat from Brexit, trade wars and economic cynicism. In order to learn more about these topics, I had the opportunity to attend a global outlook conference online discussing current economic situations, and global outlook in the next five to 10 years. It allowed me to gain a deeper insight on the impact of black swan events in general and challenged me to think like a policymaker.

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

For each module, at least one guest lecture is scheduled. For instance, the guest lecture hosted by Nick De Blasio from Nestlé was very enlightening. We were able to learn about Nestlé’s innovation history and the main challenges they are facing in innovation, this valuable lesson helped give more context to the theories we had learned in class.

In terms of workshops, there are many individual and group workshops as well as professional development courses online, which allowed me to further improve my soft skills and learn more about companies from different industries (FMCG and healthcare etc).

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

Being part of many societies like the Finance Society and Women in Business Society has allowed me to make new connections outside of my programme, which is something I thoroughly enjoyed. Although there are many government restrictions currently that prevent us meeting in person, we have had many successful networking sessions and online quizzes to meet new people, not only across programmes but also from different departments.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

This year we have been divided into different teaching groups, which means the class size for each on-campus lecture has become smaller. For every online lecture, a teaching assistant is assigned to monitor questions and responses raised by students. Lecturers have come up with more innovative ways to engage with students both in-person and online, so our classes have been very interesting. As a postgraduate student, I would say thanks to the efforts of all the lecturers and teaching assistants, the multi-mode teaching has not in any way negatively affected the teaching quality or learning experience.


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

I am excited to start my career in financial services. I have been using the Imperial Alumni Network to connect with people in the same industry, attending coffee chats and pitch presentations to learn about their career progression and things they wish they had known before working full time.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

After graduation, I will be joining PwC working in Assurance while completing my ACA qualifications. I will be focusing on audit engagements from planning to completion, ensuring the financial positions of our clients are being accurately reflected.

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

The Careers team is super dedicated to supporting students with their career development. They provided many career workshops even before the start of the academic year, so we could practice interview techniques at our own pace. During the term, there are many networking sessions with alumni from different industries, for instance global markets, consulting, banking and finance. I also had a one-to-one session with a Career Consultant to talk about my career plans.

London Location

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

There is no doubt London has the best opportunities in terms of job opportunities. Being in the centre of many economic and finance activities, there are countless opportunities to network with professionals from various industries with diverse backgrounds. For me, working in a fast-paced environment alongside many talented individuals, I am constantly inspired and motivated to challenge myself.

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

I live in Kensington, which is around 15 minutes’ walk from campus. The location is really convenient. Everything is in close proximity: the gym, campus, Hyde Park and many pubs and bars. It is great to be able to take a walk in Hyde Park with my friends after lectures.

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

Apart from spending time with my friends and family. In the past couple of years, I have been dedicating some of my free time doing volunteering work once a week with my friends to support those in need in our community. Recently I started tutoring AS Maths to support the younger generation with their impacted learning at school. It really is a rewarding and enjoyable process to witness other people’s progress and achievements.

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

I was living in Brighton before moving here for the programme. Overall, I would say the benefits definitely outweigh the challenges. Although this year is slightly different (understandably), generally speaking you can never run out things to do in London: museums and galleries, festivals, nightlife – the list is endless. The most important and challenging thing to consider is budgeting, so I would advise anyone thinking of moving to London to make sure you know your budgets for housing, transports and all the essentials. I would also encourage you to attend an open day and walk around the area if possible. If that’s not an option, make sure you talk to current students from UniBuddy and visit the Imperial College Business School website to obtain accurate information.


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

I attended the Women in Finance breakfast session on campus before I applied to Imperial. I have always considered myself to be an ambitious individual, but it was the guest speakers and their amazing career stories that made me rethink my career goals and self-imposed limits. I would highly recommend prospective students to regularly check upcoming events on the website. Active participation will expand your network and will give you a chance to learn more about your future professors and colleagues. Most importantly, reach out to current students if you have more specific questions throughout the year.

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

From an academic perspective, take time to understand the skillsets that you have been developing and how can those help you to stand out from the rest of the applicants. Moreover, figure out what your passion is, and relate back to your previous experiences to demonstrate your commitment to the programme.

From a career perspective, identify your specific career goal(s). Create a five-year development plan and acknowledge the skills that you still need to improve in order to achieve your goals. In addition, demonstrate how the skill gap can be filled by joining the programme and Imperial. A clear understanding of your future plan will help you to create a competitive personal statement and succeed in your video interview later on in the process. Good luck!

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme: MSc Economics and Strategy for Business 2020-21

Nationality: Chinese

University and subject studied for undergraduate degree: BSc (Hons) Economics, University of Brighton

Company and role secured after programme: Assurance, PwC