Benjamin Santucci

Benjamin-SantucciNationality: American, Italian

Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: Georgetown University, BSc Foreign Affairs

Work experience/internship(s): I did several internships in a variety of sectors while studying for my undergraduate degree and then worked at a corporate law firm in Paris for a year before starting at Imperial.

Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: Being part of a research trip to Rwanda looking at regulatory changes, investment incentives and their impacts on business growth and economic development. As part of the project, we did everything from interviewing senior government ministers, CEOs and other economic stakeholders to visiting new factories and coffee plantations.

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Programme

Why did you decide to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
I knew I wanted to do a postgraduate degree in economics but I was looking for a programme that focused as much on theory as on the application of principles in real-world business contexts, something the ESB course does very well. I was also really excited about studying at a university like Imperial College that is on the scientific and technological cutting-edge.

What makes the MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School unique?
The ESB programme is unique because it provides students with a holistic approach to business studies. The course includes both quantitative and qualitative modules and teaches a mix of hard analytical and softer managerial skills as well as subjects like marketing and contracting. The programme prepares students to tackle problems or projects from all angles, something which is useful no matter where you end up working after graduation.

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
The programme is still somewhat new which means that students have a lot of influence on how the course will change and evolve, which is great. Programme coordinators are always asking for our input and ideas, and several students have organised additional sessions and tutorials that I’m sure will become formal parts of the course in years to come.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I really enjoyed Macroeconomics for Business because it was a great balance between theory and practice. We derived systems of equations and replicated models but also spent significant amounts of time discussing recent events and global trends and examining case studies from financial crises in years and decades past.

People

Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I took a series of advanced Excel tutorials focusing on valuations that were organised for us by the Business School. The instructor took us through examples of enterprise valuations using different methods and gave us hints on using Excel and presenting our work that he had picked up from his time in investment banking.

How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
The great thing about the Imperial College Business School faculty members is that many are both academics and practitioners in their field. We were taught economics by a former central banker and global strategy by a professor who had worked for decades as a consultant. It makes a difference because professors with this kind of background can teach beyond the textbook and make the material a lot more interesting.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Professor Jonathan Haskel’s course looked at productivity and the role of intangible capital and innovation in economic growth. His lectures were packed with case studies, sometimes from his own research, and he also organised break-out sessions where he discussed topics with groups of around twenty students.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?
During our first week, we were assigned groups to work with for the entire year. I had never had to work with the same people on such a range of projects and for such a long time. It was a bit daunting at first but in the end it was a great lesson in how to coordinate tasks together, leverage each member’s strengths and work through team conflicts.

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
The cohort for the ESB programme this year is incredibly diverse, not just in terms of the countries we come but also in our interests and backgrounds, which definitely enriches the course. Outside of class, students in the cohort often organise events from their home countries, from huge Thanksgiving dinners to Chinese New Year parties.

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

I’m part of student government as a representative for the class on the Staff-Student Committee and also joined the Outdoor Club. There are hundreds of clubs and societies on campus so everyone finds at least a few things they’re interested in.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
The opportunity to attend guest lectures and hear world-class speakers on campus, especially those from technology and science fields, is probably unmatched in London. I’ve gone to lectures on the future of big data and on adapting to climate change as well as a panel discussion on the ABCs of starting a company that featured several prominent serial entrepreneurs.

How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
Students in the Business School are lucky because they get access to their own careers office and to advisers who can help at every stage of your job search, from deciding on an industry to researching opportunities, perfecting your CV and preparing for interviews. For me, the mock interview and assessment centre sessions were particularly useful.

How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
Being a student at Imperial plugs you into a personal and professional network of fellow students, professors, and alumni that is truly global. I’ve benefited from this network already while exploring work opportunities for after graduation. But I know from former students that Imperial makes it easy to stay connected even after you’ve left campus and no matter where you live, through active alumni associations around the world.

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
Absolutely, London is a global business hub and we have access to a huge range of professional networking events, conferences and forums. The fact that Imperial students live and study in the heart of the city makes it easier to take maximum advantage of these opportunities. Last semester, for example, I went to class in the morning, then a lunchtime FinTech industry networking event in Mayfair and then back to campus for an afternoon lecture.

Career

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
When I arrived at Imperial I had a range of career interests and started applying to jobs in a variety of industries, from construction and infrastructure to consulting. My future career goals are constantly changing as I learn new things and meet new people but the ESB programme has given me tools that can be applied to jobs in any of these sectors and more.

Location

Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I chose to live in Southbank because I wanted a more central location. The area is packed with things to do and is also close to the best neighbourhoods for hanging and going out, which makes up for a sometimes annoying morning commute to campus!

What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
The great (and sometimes intimidating) thing about London is that there are hundreds of things to do on a weekend: street festivals, concerts, exhibitions, theatre shows, dinner or just a simple pub night with friends – it’s honestly impossible to be bored in this city! Just make sure to take a bit of time to sleep as well.

In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
My favourite “undiscovered” place isn’t actually all that exciting but it’s perfect for when you need a break from the city. Epping Forest is just 30 minutes outside London by train and is a great place to spend a few hours hiking with friends.

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?
Settling into London isn’t too difficult as long as you give yourself a bit of time to get the admin done. Opening a bank account, registering with a local doctor, getting a student Underground card and locking in accommodation (if you haven’t done so before arriving) will probably take a couple of weeks. If you are looking to live with another student but haven’t found anyone, contact the Imperial Student Hub or use the Facebook group the programme coordinators create each year to find potential roommates.

Tips

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
If you have specific questions about the curriculum, assessments or student life, definitely reach out to programme staff, professors and current and former students!

Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier!
The main library is sometimes really crowded and, for me at least, isn’t always the place where I work best. But South Kensington has a lot of great coffee shops that are just a few minutes from campus, have free Wi-Fi, plenty of table space and big couches for reading. Scope out a few as a chill backup to the library!