Lucas de Sarrau
Academic and industry experience before Imperial
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Before joining Imperial College, I was on a sandwich course at the University of Bath, where I alternated one year of study, with six months of work experience. This allowed me to fulfil three main internships.
First, I worked for a life insurance company, Friends Provident International, in Hong Kong and Singapore, where I joined the marketing division.
Subsequently, I worked at the BMW Group in Austria, in the sales divisions for Eastern Europe. More specifically, I was part of the task force team, who would help resolve urgent issues arising with dealers.
Finally, I joined Nestlé in Business development at the R&D centre for the group in Switzerland. As an analyst, I helped built the business case for three new potential products.
Studying MSc Economics & Strategy for Business
Why did you decide to study an MSc in Economics & Strategy for Business and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
Having fulfilled a generalist degree in business, I saw this programme as a unique opportunity to refine my knowledge of a topic I have had a growing interest for: economics. More specifically, this Master’s not only covered a wide range of areas, within this broad discipline (including Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Energy Economics…), but also offered a unique blend with strategy. This allows the programme to have a very practical feel, as opposed to solely focusing on academia. Overall, I believed this programme offers a unique blend of rigorous economics, with business strategy.
Beyond the Master’s itself, Imperial College Business School was also particularly attractive for three main reasons. Firstly, its international reputation and a brand name is widely recognised by employers. Secondly, the extensive use of case-study learning, allows students to see the real life-implications of the models taught. Finally, Imperial gives you the opportunity to be taught by leading experts in their field.
What makes the MSc Economics & Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School unique?
As eluded above and as the programme name indicates, this programme offers a unique blend of economics and strategy. These two disciplines, even though they can seem different, are in reality extremely connected. By studying both, students are able to gain a strong understanding of the studied topics, whereby you learn not only the rigorous and theoretical economics, but also the practical and strategical implications. Being able to analyse business problems using these two different “lenses”, makes this Master’s particularly unique, and useful for a future career in consulting.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
A key aspect that I enjoyed about this programme is the variety of areas you get exposure to. Within the field of economics, you have the opportunity to follow theoretical electives in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, but also more applied ones including Digital economics and Economics of innovation. Whilst this Master’s specialises in economics and strategy, you still get the opportunity to study a range of business related topics including risk management, corporate finance or strategic marketing for example.
Another aspect that I found particularly rewarding on the Economics & Strategy for Business programme was how most programme work, was based on case studies. This allows students to really understand the practical implications of the models taught, whilst allowing you to see how the content you know can help solve real-life business problems.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Having studied a business degree, and not economics for my undergraduate, some modules/electives had a steep learning curve, in particular those involving macroeconomics and econometrics. These topics were particularly challenging, but not impossible, thanks to the extensive support available through the university and a great cohort, where students are always keen on helping each other. People come from such a broad range of background, that you will always be able to find some help.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
It is very difficult to only select one, however Strategic Marketing was a particular highlight for several reasons. Firstly, this module has a very original syllabus, as it is centred around the book written by the lecturer, Andreas Eisingerich, on how to create “brand admiration”. This allows students to really go in depth and to truly understand the model developed in the book. This has the added benefit of making the programme challenging even for students who have studied marketing before. Secondly, Dr Eisingerich is a really excellent lecturer, very passionate about his topic and always keen on encouraging the participation of students. Finally, the programme work is very practical and is a good representation of the philosophy of this module, whereby in a team of five students you need to create your own campaign to raise “brand admiration” of an existing brand. Ultimately, this allows students to really see how to apply the knowledge gained on this module.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
There are a variety of guest lectures, which I found particularly useful and interesting. The Business School, thanks to its reputation, attracts some world leading experts, which offers a unique opportunity for students to not only listen, but also interact with them. A particularly memorable guest lecture was with Ben Broadbent, who is Deputy Governor for Monetary policy at the Bank of England. This talk really gave a practical feel to the theories we were studying in Macroeconomics, as he discussed the impact of Brexit on key metrics such as interest rates. This not only makes the theories taught more memorable, but also allows students to better understand key mechanisms of the business world.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
One of my favourite lecturers during my Master’s was Dr. Pedro Rosa Dias, who teaches Business Economics (a Microeconomics elecyive). Indeed, throughout the semester he managed to make an apparently dry and theoretical topic into something relatable. This was thanks to the use of real-world example to illustrate the theories taught and the use of innovative teaching methods. For example, to increase the engagement of all students during the lectures, he would conduct small experiments/exercises using voting clickers. His strong interest for the topic taught was also apparent, making the class very interesting and engaging.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
“A large emphasis” is almost an understatement since all programme work (besides your final Economics & Strategy for Business report), is done within your syndicate team (a team of five to six students, with whom you have to work with during the year). Given the wide diversity of the students enrolled in this programme, the assigned group work is a unique opportunity to share ideas and views. While in some instances tensions may occur, they are a great way to learn how to best collaborate, which is what most careers, including consulting or general management, are about.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
The cohort of this MSc is very diverse as students come from over 35 countries. The student body is diverse not only in terms of nationality, but also in terms of background. More specifically, a range of bachelor’s degree are represented, as well as a range of previous work experiences.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
While I was involved in several clubs and societies, my main role was to be a student representative for my programme. More specifically I was elected to become Academic Leader for the ESB course, whereby I would help students with academic related issues and represent the Economics & Strategy for Business progamme on various university committees. This was a time consuming, but a very enjoyable role as you have a real impact for your cohort (and also future ones!) Besides this role, I was also part of several sports and career related societies, including the Consulting Club. In general, there are numerous ways for students to get involved and make their year even more memorable, so take the step and sign up to the clubs and societies that interest you!
Opportunities from studying at Imperial
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
I believe that what truly sets Imperial apart are the people within the Business School. First of all, there are the lecturers, who are not only internationally recognised experts, but also provide high quality teaching. Secondly, as mentioned previously, there is also a great cohort of students who come from diverse backgrounds and are always keen on helping one another. There is also the programme team, who are always available and keen to help. Finally, there is a great alumni network. Altogether, it is this combination of people that makes Imperial unique and which creates numerous opportunities for the students who study there.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
One of Imperial’s greatest asset is its very large alumni network, with individuals working in a broad range of industries and present in multiple geographical areas. They are an invaluable resource when you have specific questions regarding your future career. Throughout my time at Imperial, I contacted several alumni who were always keen to help.
Career goals and jobs
How have you benefited from the services provided by Careers?
When I was looking for employment the career service was particularly useful at various stages of the recruitment process. At the very start, when you are just starting to think where to apply, they organise large career fairs and invite prospective employers on campus to present their company. These sessions are particularly useful in order to learn more about the company and what you should put in your application. Once you have decided to apply to a specific company, it is possible to book 1:1 appointments to fine tune your application and to prepare for the next stages of the process through mock interviews (crucial especially in consulting with its dreaded “case study interview”).
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My main career goal when starting Imperial was to quick-start a career in management consulting, ideally in the big three (McKinsey, BCG or Bain). Thanks to Imperial’s career service, as well as the Business School’s reputation, I have now achieved this goal. Going-forward, I aim to stay in consulting for three-five years, as it represents a unique learning curve whereby you are exposed to a variety of business problems.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
Since commencing the programme I have received a job offer from the Boston Consulting Group in Dubai, as an Associate. I will be joining this prestigious management consulting firm at the end of my Master’s. Given my junior level, I will be joining a general pool of associates, to help on a variety of projects. As the office location will be in the United Arab Emirates, I will likely be working on projects related to the government, financial or oil and gas sector.
To secure this position, I attended an information session organised by Boston Consulting Group in their London Office. After attending the event and speaking to various associates and partners of the Dubai office, the opportunity to work in the Middle East appeared to be particularly appealing. I thus sent my application, in on the Boston Consulting Group website, with Dubai as my office choice.
Life as a student in London
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Studying in London has definitely been very beneficial, since London is really a business hub. This not only facilitates networking, but also ensures that all major companies come to advertise/present at the university. For my area of interest, consulting, all major players came to present on campus, whether it was prestigious firms such as McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group or more specialised ones including Accenture, OC&C and PA.
Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
Personally, I lived near the university in South Kensington. If you can afford the rent there, it is ideal since you are only a short walk away from the university, while also being in one of the nicest neighbourhoods of London. The area is surrounded by many shops and is very safe.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
While the workload is pretty high on the programme, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy London during the weekend. Usually, I would study hard on the Saturday, to ensure I was fully up to date. This would allow me to have an enjoyable and stress-free Sunday to enjoy London. In this huge capital, there is always something to do or to discover. Personally, in the nice season (Spring semester) I would really enjoy walking in one of the numerous parks.
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 main benefit of moving to London is clearly that it is a unique opportunity to discover Europe’s largest business hubs, which is very beneficial from a career perspective. From a more cultural perspective, it also offers the possibility, to discover a truly beautiful and mostly safe city. The main challenge when moving to London, might be finding decent accommodation at a reasonable price. However, thanks to various online platforms, including grad pad for example, it is definitely manageable.
Advice for future students
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
My main advice would be of course to carefully fill in your application. While the process can appear to be slightly long, with a personal statement and three mini essays, it is really the opportunity for you to showcase who you are and why you really want to join the programme. The university is very keen on having a diverse cohort, so do showcase why you are special!
For the interview, while the format can seem uncommon it is important to not “over think it” and over-prepare. The main aim is to see whether you can express yourself in a proper and structured manner, whilst also seeing how you are able to think on your feet.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online or on campus information sessions?
When applying, I attended an online information session and it was definitely very useful. In particular, they allow you to answer any remaining questions you may have, as both staff and student ambassadors (who are selected peers from the current cohort) are present and very happy to answer anything on your mind. While the online system works well, if you can, do attend the campus information sessions as it is a great opportunity to visit the Business School campus and to casually chat with current students, allowing you to best see if Imperial is the right fit for you.
MSc Economics & Strategy for Business 2016-17
Undergraduate education: BSc (Hons) Business Administration at University of Bath
Job after Imperial College Business School: Associate at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Dubai