MSc Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology, National University of Singapore
Innovations Manager and Senior Research Engineer, JTC
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I worked as an Innovations Manager for the lead public agency in Singapore spearheading the planning, promotion, and development of a dynamic industrial landscape. My job-scope included strategic-level responsibilities, such as driving research and innovation initiatives among internal and external stakeholders, influencing national innovation policies, prioritising R&D resources, and piloting new approaches to address the various built environmental challenges.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management at Imperial College Business School?
Coming from a technical background, I wanted to gain insights from a business perspective without losing sight of my engineering interests. At the same time, I wanted to try my hand at creating and developing impactful industry solutions with a viable and sustainable business to support it.
I knew I needed to be in a college with a great innovation environment that was both inspiring and nurturing.
Imperial College Business School not only has the distinction of being at the forefront of innovation with its amazing support system, network and culture but its close proximity and access to talents and knowledge from the strong engineering, science and medicine faculties made it an easy and clear choice for me to make. Being able to tap into the blend of business and engineering expertise and network support enabled me to successfully develop and launch a community building and knowledge exchange platform for the construction and built environment industry called Buildsg , during the course of my time on the programme.
Did you receive a scholarship?
I received the Chevening Scholarship which covered my tuition fees and lifted a large financial burden off my shoulders. This enabled me to focus on developing my startup solution, acquire new skills and experience, and participate in activities around the Business School. I am grateful I could make the most of my time here without having to spend time working to sustain myself.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
The people! I am amazed at the diversity, vibrancy, level of drive, intellect, initiative and support within my cohort. Equally impressive is the strong culture of sharing, collaboration and support that we have cultivated as a class. Be it the sharing of knowledge and notes or cheering for classmates during startup competitions and sports tournaments - you know you can always rely on them for help/support. It is wonderful to be in an uplifting environment with people you trust.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I have two favourite modules and it’s difficult for me to choose between them. The first is Venture Capital and Growth Finance. It was by far the most useful module in the programme for me, in terms of navigating through the startup ecosystem and determining the suitability of various financing avenues available. The module provided clarity on how VCs and investors operate and corrected prior misconceptions I had about what VC does. Guest speakers had actual startup/entrepreneurial venture experiences and spoke about the real-life challenges they faced. I really appreciate how these sessions do not shy away from delving into details of misjudgements, failure and consequences that occurred during these entrepreneurial journeys, and the retrospective insights provided very valuable learning points. The second module that was in my top two was Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources Management. Learning about what makes an effective leader, especially the role of mindfulness in self and situation management, were both enlightening and introspective for me.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
The strong multinational friendships and camaraderie forged during my time at the Business School was the most rewarding part. Despite the differences in cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences, I made several strong friendships from having a shared common interest in wanting to broaden our perspectives and create positive impact for society. This enabled us to engage in intensive, earnest and constructive discourse and created a strong foundation for team bonding, facilitating our decision to form a team to participate in competitions. I thoroughly enjoy how we can all work and play hard together.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Honestly, there is just so much to do. Apart from the intensive workload from the programme curriculum, I had to put aside time to develop my startup solution, partake in useful events and workshops and of course, socialising. You must constantly prioritise what to focus on at any given time and balance between school, your startup and friends.
Another challenging part of the programme is that almost all our modules comprise of group work and having to work in teams with varying experience, perspectives, commitment levels, schedules and expectations can be exasperating and time consuming when you have a tight deadline and a million other things to do.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Fun, friendly, diverse, driven, intelligent and supportive. An amazing bunch of inspirational people. I couldn't have asked for a better cohort to be in. Everyone brought with them an interesting perspective or idea and I have learned so much from each of them.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Dr Miguel Meuleman was my favourite professor due to his down to earth insights and charisma. Hold on to every word he says like gold, because they can potentially help you avoid common but unpleasant situations during your startup ventures.
Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi was also another favourite of mine, due to his energetic delivery and keeping the class engaged throughout an entire two-hour lecture.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Being able to compete in startup competitions hosted by the Enterprise Lab and the Business School such as Launch Weekend, WE Innovate 2019, VCC 2019 and i2i challenge. Also, having access to the masterclasses, showcase opportunities and access to potential investors has been amazing!
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I have been involved in several societies, clubs and activities throughout my time at Imperial. These include the WE Innovate 2019, VCC 2019, member of DocSoc, cast member in the Singapore Society major event musical, competing in the Business School football tournament and finally, a member of Advanced Hackspace.
I am particularly fond of the programmes hosted by Imperial Enterprise Lab. My team was selected to be part of both WE Innovate 2019, and we got into the semi-finals for VCC 2019. The masterclasses, events, mentorship and resources by the Imperial Enterprise Labs are top notch and I would recommend anyone who is interested in building their startup or who wants to be part of an innovative student environment to participate in their activities. I have met and befriended many students who are now co-founders of exciting businesses through the lab. Plus, it is an energising environment that motivates and inspires you to do more for your business.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
I’ve benefited the most from knowledge exchange. I have learned so much about different industries and interesting projects, just by talking to students and alumni from other faculties within the Business School - even acquiring some basic skills in coding for AI in exchange for business advice.
The value and interest in meeting new people from a diverse range of expertise, within the wider Imperial College London is shared by many of my peers in the programme – particularly those who are interested in finding technical co-founders. Currently, many of these cross-faculty network sessions are organised by my programme mates. Having a more formalised programme/solutions will be beneficial not only for students from Business School but the wider Imperial College itself.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I’m planning to continue at my previous job as an Innovation Manager and I am excited to return and bring back fresh perspectives and ideas to curate more effectively within my team. I am also planning startup friendly programmes to attract and develop new innovative solutions within the company.
How did the services from Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?
Given the niche interests and expertise I have, the Careers services provided very useful advice on how to effectively identify and seek out alternative job opportunities and career paths.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Yes, just by being in London, I was able to easily attend a slew of industry-related and tech events. It is also a very convenient location to arrange coffee meet-ups with professionals in the industry.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I lived in Earls Court and was lucky enough to score a relatively cheap accommodation with a strong international community. It is a convenient location – only a 20-minute walk from the Business School and has great food places and amenities within its vicinity. Earls Court Station is part of both the District Line and Piccadilly line, which provides easy access to central London and London Heathrow Airport. It is also close to green spaces such as Holland Park, where the beautiful Kyoto gardens resides and Hyde Park, which are amazing places to unwind and de-stress.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not studying, you’ll find me travelling, exploring new cultures, hanging out with friends, meeting new people and trying the best I can to pick up new skills.
What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London for the programme?
A challenge I have faced during my time in London was the erratic weather. I once had the unique experience of experiencing sunshine, rain and hail all within an hour. Also, be aware that the Underground lines do not have 4G network. Make sure you fix a meeting location and time with your friends before you board the tube. Also, if you must travel far on the tube, I recommend reading a book or downloading documents so that they can be read offline.
Plan your accommodation before arriving to London. It is not easy to look for affordable and convenient places to live and the hassle to move can be burdensome, especially with the intensive workload of the programme.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
I would recommend for prospective students to speak with Imperial alumni, to get a more accurate and personalised review of the programme, where they are now and how this MSc can help you.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Entrepreneurs seek out and create their own opportunities. If you are genuinely keen to build your own startup, do not restrict yourself to the class curriculum, try to maximise your experience by attending external events, participating in startup competitions and tapping into the Imperial Enterprise Lab resources.