Jan Yi Ling Ong
Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: King’s College London, BSc Business Management
Work experience/internship(s): Before coming to Imperial College Business School, I had an amazing internship experience helping out at the Singapore Formula One Race 2014 with Singapore Tourism Board. My role was to provide a unique experience for the VVIPs such as foreign ministers and dignitaries and the F1 team. I focused on curating the content of the suite and ensured that operations ran smoothly over the race weekend. Prior to that, I also did a six month overseas internship in Shanghai which was a valuable experience which broadened my mind-set in terms of the cultural differences and the way business was being transacted. In China, I learnt the importance of “guanxi”, where forging networks with the locals was very nurturing to me. Not only has it taught me about businesses, it also gave me a deeper insight to their lifestyles and values.
Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: My proudest achievement is completing an internship for the 2014 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix. It was by far the most challenging internship I have experienced but also one which provided immense satisfaction. It involved countless nights of hard work and determination to ensure that a high quality of work was accomplished. To pull off this mega-scale event, it stretched me to my limits in terms of emotional and physical demands. In order to deliver an exceptional experience for the F1 VVIP guests, I collaborated with many governmental as well as non-governmental organisations to ensure that the corporate and hospitality suites for VVIPs were tailored to suit the highly distinguished guest profiles. “Embrace the struggle” was our slogan to keep it going, because it ain’t over till it’s over. It was an unforgettable moment meeting the Singapore Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong and he was very satisfied with the novelty of experience provided to the guests. This internship experience taught me so many life lessons and further motivates me to work even harder to strive for excellence.
Why did you decide to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
As today’s global business environment is so dynamic and interlinked, fluctuations in one economy has a great impact on other economies. This has a direct impact on organisations, which leads to changes in organisational strategies. This explains my desire to study Economics in combination with Strategy which stems primarily from my interest in these fields but also from the fact that these two disciplines complement each other exceptionally well.
I chose Imperial College Business School because of its high quality provision and teaching by academics and leading scholars in the areas which I would like to further deepen my knowledge, particularly in strategy and organisational theory and technological innovation. Additionally, as an independent college of its own, it has many key resources. In particular it has a strong career services team, which provide great support to students including networking events and interview preparation. Presently, as a career leader of the ESB programme, I have worked closely with the careers team and I feel they not only care, but also excel at what they do. They have a wide pool of career resources and a strong network with the alumni, which presents many opportunities for students.
What makes the MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School unique?
What makes this course unique is that it incorporates a consulting project, which provides the opportunity of handling a client and offering advice to a business problem. This approach makes it very relevant in the workforce and the practical learning more interesting and meaningful. It bridges the gap between the concepts and practice, allowing these theories to come to life.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
We have an extremely dedicated programme team who really care about the students. They not only listen to our feedback, but also incorporate it to improve our learning, which is amazing. I also enjoy that we have a lot of social activities going on throughout the term that allows us to work hard and play hard!
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The most challenging part of the programme is the deadline-driven environment. With many projects, quizzes and job applications going on at the same time, it pushes us really hard to juggle all these different commitments. It really boils down to our time management skills, and ability to work as a team. We not only have to work well, but more importantly, efficiently without compromising quality.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
Coming from the tiny country of Singapore, the most rewarding part of the programme is making a pool of diverse and international friends!
I think this quote from Friends sums this up very nicely: “Friends was about a finite period of time in your life, like after college and before your life really gets started. That’s sort of where you’re away from home and you’re away from college, and your friends are your family.”
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My favourite module is Macroeconomics! At the end of every lecture, our professor Alexander Michaelides takes time to discuss real-life economic issues. As one of the heavyweights in the field of economics, he draws on his experiences and passionately shares with us these interesting happenings. He even recommended we watch The Big Short movie about the housing bubble collapse in 2008, which was so interesting that I watched it thrice. Overall, I truly enjoyed this module because it not just teaches us the concepts of economics but also relates so closely to the real world.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The networking events at the school have been very useful. It allows us to get down to the ground and know the employees of the firm at these events. It gives us a feel of the corporate culture and interact with the employees and have a better understanding of the firm.
How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
It is very well organised and has excellent services! At the beginning of the course we had a warm reception by the Associate Dean Diane Morgan. Following which we had a nice induction that eased us nicely into the new environment. We also had free welcome drinks at the Science Museum, which allowed us to meet people from other postgrad courses. It was all very well thought and organised. The Business School even conducts professional photo shoot sessions for students and provides us with our very own personal business cards – and it’s free!
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?
The most inspiring thing about group work is to getting to work with people from different cultures and working styles. I think this is the most interesting yet challenging aspect as we have to learn how to work with different people and adapt our styles to suit the dynamics of the team. It is an important soft skill, which is not taught but learnt along the way. I have learnt to become a better leader which is a key skill in the workplace where great teams are formed through good communication skills. Additionally, the ability to work with different teams allows me to tap on the strengths and competencies of my teammates.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
I’d describe my cohort like a slingshot bungee ride. We are a fun, enthusiastic and motivated lot!
Whilst being on a tight rope, we know when to work hard and when to play hard.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I play competitively for the Imperial College Badminton Club (Premier League). It is an intense sport game which requires a combination of game strategies and keen reflexes.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
The greatest opportunity I have had at Imperial was the sheer coincidence that one of my interviewers was previously from the Imperial College Business School as well. Because we had a common topic of shared experiences at ICBC, we hit off really well (and I got the job! Whoohoo!). The Business School’s strong alumni network is extremely advantageous for us students as we get to meet professionals from various industries and it opens so many doors.
Also, because I was a scholar at Imperial I received an exclusive invitation to visit Bain’s London Office. It provided me a greater insight to Bain’s culture, their True North values and working styles. Because of that visit, I was so inspired to become one of the “Bainees” someday.
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
I have conducted several rounds of CV and Cover Letter checks with the Career Services. Also, before my case study and final round interviews, I made appointments for Skype and face-to-face interviews with the career consultants. I highly recommend everyone to use the Career Services as it is extremely beneficial. The career consultants not only prepared me for my interviews, they taught me how to apply different frameworks in case studies, and advised me on the mistakes I made. It made me feel more prepared and boosted my confidence, which reflects really well in the interviews.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
The recognition and prestige. People recognise that Imperial College London produces high quality students because of its rigor and strong research facilities. When I say I am from Imperial College, people recognise that we work very hard to get to where we are and where we want to be.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Yes. Studying in a central location such as London is very beneficial for networking and career opportunities. It gives me many opportunities to meet up with influential speakers and leaders.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My future goal is to be a leading consultant at one of the Big Three Consultancy Firms (E.g Bain, BCG, McKinsey). Whilst at Imperial, I have managed to clinch a job offer in the role of Consultancy at MasterCard. This means I am one step closer to my future goal. That said, who knows what the future holds. I may end up staying at MasterCard for an extended period if I really enjoy it there! The world is my oyster – there are endless possibilities!
Where do you see yourself after completing the programme?
My role as a consultant requires me to travel around Asia. My main goal is to have a better understanding of the different markets in South East Asia and the way business is done. With the strong multi-cultural experience I have gained from my four years in London and previous internship experiences, I aim to apply what I’ve learnt and excel in my job.
Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
Wood Lane Studios – Gradpad. I chose to live there because it has a tie-up with Imperial College London and I knew that I would meet many other postgrads from my course. It was a great choice as that is where I found my core group of friends and we go to school, exams and parties together.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
In the library doing group work. Sorry, but that is the ugly truth. And occasionally, taking a day trip out of London to Brighton, Bath, Scotland, etc.
In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
Go-karting at Heathrow. Not many have been, or know about it, but it is really fun and exciting!
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?
Benefits: multiculturalism. It is a melting pot with so many different nationalities and cultures. Everyone is so different and you will fit right in. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, London is very open and accepting of everyone. It is a cosmopolitan city and very similar to where I came from. I did not have to adjust much in terms of the way of living.
Right in the heart of England, there is so much to see and do in London. It is impossible that you will ever run out of activities. I am sure you have heard this phrase: “if a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. Even if you do get tired of London, you can always runaway on a train to Scotland, Oxford or even Paris.
Cons: the infamous gloomy London weather can be depressing at times, especially in the cold winter.
London can be very expensive to live in and it can also be cheap to live in. Knowing the right place to get your items is important. Do your research and compare prices before handing out a big note. If you have a senior, or someone you know who has been living in London for quite some time, it will be good to seek advice on where you can get your items at an affordable price. Based on personal experiences, cooking your own meals is more economic compared to eating out! Also, it is a healthier choice and provides you a chance to show off your Michelin chef skills when you return home!
Coming a long way from Singapore to London, it can be terrifying to adapt to a different academic learning approach. However, what I found out is that independent learning is strongly encouraged and it allows us to take charge and be responsible for our own learning. With that being said, if you feel that you are struggling, Imperial does provide an extensive academic support system to assist students in every possible way. Ask for help and it will arrive.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
This course is inclined towards consultancy, and if this is what you want, this is the place to be. That said, this course also covers finance related modules so some of my course mates also ended up doing finance related jobs. Ultimately, this course provides you with a multitude of skill sets, which is an added advantage for you to switch industries if you like. Also, it is a course that has a lot of group work and is a deadline-driven environment. If you want to be in this course you must be prepared to work hard and work well in teams.
Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier! Make a bunch of friends who know how to work hard and play hard. They will be your happy pill and support network. Leave all your home country expectations behind and more importantly, keep an open mind. Set goals on what you want to achieve at the beginning of the term and aim to stick to the plan!