Afonso Oom Sousa
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I had two previous internships: one as part of the Sales team in a Portuguese start-up – Uniplaces, and another in the Logistics department of Sumol+Compal, the biggest soft drink producer in Portugal. I have also created my own personal project, Oomland, dedicated to organising sporting events.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School after completing your undergraduate studies?
I decided to study an MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School because, I was interested in this specific programme: the fact that it combined something I wanted to know more about (Economics) with something I had always been very fond of (Strategy). It also offered the opportunities and training it provided to pursuit a career in Consulting. It is also valuable to have the weight Imperial’s reputation would add on my CV. Also, as an engineer, the scientific and technological cutting edge at Imperial attracted me the most when compared to other Universities.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
There are two aspects I would like to mention:
The people. Imperial allows students to interact with people who are not only from diverse backgrounds, but also have high levels of understanding in various topics.
This makes debate in class more engaging, as one becomes aware of the different perspectives present. Different working methods also make group work more challenging, but that’s part of the learning opportunity as well.
Finally, the programme also has some exceptional academics worth mentioning.
The social gatherings. Outside of the class, the social events organised by the programme provide us a great opportunity to get to know each other better and celebrate in style – that’s definitely the aspect of the programme I enjoyed the most!
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Digital Economics and Digital Strategy. The professor was very knowledgeable about the topics covered, but that’s a given for any of Imperial’s professor. The thing that made this module special was how up to date it was, we were able to study recent phenomenon and technologies such as Two-Sided Markets (2SM), Blockchain, and new developments in Artificial Intelligence. This contrasts with most of the “traditional” learning of Economics, where there isn’t so much novelty.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Definitely the group work. The fact that we were assigned the syndicate groups, rather than picking our own colleagues, meant we had to work with people we didn’t know and who had completely different working methods and, sometimes, motivation and objectives. This was challenging – to say the least: coordinating people’s work, reaching consensus and making sure everything holds together is a time-consuming activity. However, this experience gave us a real perspective about the professional world, where one often doesn’t get to choose his own colleagues and must learn to work with them to achieve common goals.
How do you describe your cohort at imperial?
Diverse. People at Imperial come from all parts of the world and have all types of culture – and that’s one of the richest things about this University. You really do learn a lot from this. Intelligent. As expected, the demanding selection process at Imperial ensures that most of the students are highly intelligent and have a set of skills that elevates the standard level. This is a good thing: it raises expectations and allows students to learn from each other, rather than just from professors.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Yes I did. We’ve had a handful of exceptional professors, including some world renowned academics, however, there was one professor who was particularly remarkable for me: Pedro Rosa Dias. The reasons for this is simple: Pedro is not only very knowledgeable about the topics he teaches, but pedagogically is impressive. His teaching style keeps the whole class engaged in the discussions, and the fact that I have never heard one colleague dissatisfied with anything regarding the module he taught us (Business Economics) shows how professional Pedro is. If I’m allowed to mention other professors who I won’t forget so soon, I would also like to refer to Jonathan Haskel, Jeremy Fernando, Rajesh Bhargave and Dmitry Sharapov.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
Working with people who I would not have otherwise worked with and from whom I was able to learn a lot – specially when we had different skills.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Meeting outstanding people: either in class or in the several events Imperial organised.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
For me, coming from an engineering background, the events covering technology and science fields were the ones that interested me the most. These included areas such as Climate Change, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and RPA.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I was part of the Consulting, Energy, Entrepreneurs, and TedX clubs
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My goal is to start working at Google in January 2019. Imperial hasn’t yet helped me achieved this goal, however, it was fundamental in making me realise a career in consultancy would not be suited for me.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Studying in South Kensington is definitely a privilege, not only for the location in itself, but for how central it is and all the networking possibilities it opens. Imperial’s location has certainly got an impact in the amount of people who attend to events on campus, and almost every week we had companies going to events at The Business School.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I choose to live in Vauxhall as it was an area close to the centre and within a reasonable distance of the 3 faculties we were studying in: University of Arts London, University College London, and Imperial.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?
In my spare time in London I mostly played sports (football and squash) and went to museums. Regarding travelling, coming from Portugal, I was already acquainted with most of Europe, and as so, unlike many of my colleagues, I didn’t travel a lot during this year.
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?
The benefits of moving to London are the endless activities to do, the places to visit, and the people one can’t meet. The biggest challenge of moving to London is finding a house. My advice would be simple: start as soon as possible and give yourself sometime to settle in.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
I would strongly encourage prospective students to attend the events Imperial organises, as I didn’t and at the start of the year my colleagues who did were always one step ahead of me. These events are a great opportunity to learn more about the programme, make sure it matches you, and be prepared for the interviews and for the start of the programme.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
I’ve seen people who I thought to be brilliant getting rejected at Imperial, and people who I had never given so much attention to going through the selection process. This is to say: anyone has a chance, so my advice would simply be to apply without hesitation – and the admissions team will do the rest. Make sure you have a deep understanding of yourself, why you’re applying to this programme, to Imperial itself and how it relates to your long-term career strategy.