Nele Wessels, MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management

Nationality: German

Education: International Business, Cooperative State University Mannheim (Germany)

Company and role secured after programme: Founder, Skinutri

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

I undertook a dual study programme in Germany, which meant that I was working while studying, in order to apply the theoretical knowledge learned at university straight onto practical cases for my company. For one year I was thereby working in banking at Targobank Germany followed by a three-year rotational programme in marketing, sales, HR and logistics with Mattel Inc. in Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Warsaw. After finishing my Bachelor’s, I then did a gap year at Estée Lauder Companies in Munich working in online marketing.

Why did you decide to study MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management at Imperial College Business School? 

I chose the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management mainly because I wanted to accelerate my entrepreneurial journey without sacrificing an elite management education. I really feel that the programme gives you the right tools to go out and change the world. It is just the right combination of evolving your creativity and sharpening your business acumen underlined by cutting edge business insights and teaching methods.

Furthermore, surrounding myself with people from diverse cultural, geographic and ideological backgrounds really helps me see the world from different angles and adapt new ways of thinking. Since Imperial College has a great reputation for its diversity, I felt it is the right environment to immerse myself in. Also, I wanted to make use of the endless possibilities that London and Imperial College Business School have to offer as hubs for entrepreneurship, like the Imperial Enterprise lab which already prior to my programme start helped me with my entrepreneurial aspirations.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I received a scholarship which meant that I could finance my studies completely with my own money. I am very grateful to have received the opportunity, especially in a time of economic crisis. The fact that Imperial offers this kind of scholarship demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit present throughout the School and the programme. Many students I have talked to said that they were sure that they were not going to get the scholarship and hence didn’t apply. In my mind you should always give it a go. I was also very positively surprised when I was selected, as there are many talented people applying.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

I really enjoy that the faculty does its best to give us the same experience as if there was no COVID. This includes the multi-mode teaching, such as in-person classes, virtual simulations, online lectures and additional learning material, Zoom meetings and bonding activities via Zoom. One of the things I enjoy the most is that we can be very creative and develop many new ideas and projects from scratch.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module so far has been Strategic Management as we had many real-life examples and insights into many interesting industries. In particular, I liked how we approached the many different business cases and thereby learned to analyse these from a consulting viewpoint, which was new to me at that point.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

I feel the most rewarding part of the programme has been to get all group work, extra-curricular work and startup things done in time. At times it can seem very overwhelming to manage everything simultaneously, but once you have mastered it you will feel very rewarded. Apart from that, the opportunity to develop many ideas and projects from scratch, seeing actual changes and improvements being caused as a result was very rewarding too.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

Coordinating and aligning all the different group work and extra-curricular activities with the daily university activities and lectures. The Master’s is a very intense programme that requires a lot of self-organisation and time management. If you didn’t have it until now, you’re going to learn it here very quickly!

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

I was very positively surprised by the multi-mode teaching delivery as it really does its best to give us the same experience as if there was no COVID. While having most of our lectures online with loads of additional study materials, we still enjoy around two days per week on campus. This gives the perfect balance between in-class experience and remote learning, which has its benefits too. I have learned to embrace the benefits of remote learning, such as avoiding going to campus in the pouring rain or watching the lectures out of bed.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Very, very caring. I was very surprised how helpful everybody was with everyone. Compared to my previous university I feel that the cohort here works more like a team to achieve a common goal rather than being competitors who won’t grant each other something. We had people offering their expertise in certain subjects (due to previous studies or work experiences) by giving revision lectures to other students or sharing their revision notes so that everybody could benefit from them. I feel that this is something very special and doesn’t happen at every university. Also due to the diversity of people in our studies and the mixed working groups we are in daily contact with new and different influences that enrich our study life.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

My favourite lecturer this year must have been Mr Jeremy Fernando from Accounting. Not only was the lecture well-structured and easy to follow, but he also entertained us regularly with his musical talent. It’s a shame that he couldn’t show his DJ skills at our Business School party this year!


What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

I think some of the greatest opportunities at Imperial come from embracing extra-curricular activities, particularly through entrepreneurial clubs such as the Imperial Launch Club, the ICE Accelerator or the Discovery Fund. All of these give you the opportunities to meet other inspiring founders, mentors and investors that you would otherwise not meet and that help you to accelerate your entrepreneurial journey at the school. Other than that, it would be meeting so many alumni who have gone through a similar path as you and can therefore assist you on your journey.

Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

I have really enjoyed the mix of simulations, case studies and guest lectures. In particular, I really liked the Harvard Simulations as they asked you to think strategically in a difficult context under various constraints. This really helped in team building and decision making.

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

I am a Student Ambassador, a Student Content Creator and a Director of Content and Social Media for the Imperial Launch Club. Other than I am involved in the Consulting Club, the FMCG, Luxury Goods and Retail Club and the Entrepreneurship Club. Although the duties can appear quite overwhelming at times, all the positions and activities give you the opportunity to meet inspiring people and develop a lot of hard and soft skills.

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

Although the networking and socialising activities this year are a bit limited due to COVID restrictions, that doesn’t mean that we don’t get to know each other. The best opportunities have come from the clubs and societies where people from many different programmes come together.

How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?

The connection to the Imperial College London community has been very helpful. The vast alumni network has been especially beneficial in helping with job applications and experiences regarding founding a startup. I am very grateful for the opportunities that this has given me.

Did you get involved in any initiatives hosted by the Imperial Enterprise Lab?

Prior to commencing my Master’s I took part in the Pitch n’ Mix sessions offered by the Enterprise Lab in which you can pitch your idea to fellow students and mentors. I really appreciated it as I felt directly involved with, and warmly welcomed to the Business School. Other than that, I have participated in several talks and workshops which have helped to foster my startup acumen. This includes the Experts in Residence scheme where you are able to meet legal or business experts in a one-to-one call to discuss your startup journey for free.


What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

I am planning on continuing my startup, Skinutri, full-time after my Master’s. Skinutri is the first European snack brand that offers a skin-friendly chocolate for people with sensitive skin who are looking for a carefree way of sustainable snacking without sacrificing on taste. The Enterprise Lab as well as extra-curricular activities such as the Imperial Launch Club, the Discovery Fund and the Imperial College Summer Accelerator thereby help you very much along the way to make this happen.

How did the services from Careers help in your professional development?

There are many workshops offered, as well as one-to-one consulting sessions on any aspect of your learning you want to practice further. This really helps to identify what field you want to go in and also how to get into it.


Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I live in South Kensington around a 12-minute walk to Imperial. I chose this location as I wanted to be close to campus and also in one of the most beautiful areas in London. During our days on campus I therefore enjoy a beautiful morning walk through the South Kensington neighbourhood with its beautiful houses and the Natural History Museum.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

Although free-time activities are a bit limited this year due to COVID restrictions, there are still plenty of things I can do. In particular, I have the option of exploring the neighbourhood during long walks with a coffee through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?

One benefit has been exploring a new city and environment which is much larger than my previous one. I have also met a lot of interesting and very diverse people that have become true friends. A major challenge was finding a flat remotely, as many landlords required in person visits. My advice would therefore be to start searching far in advance to commencing your studies and, if possible, send a relative or friend to check the apartment before you sign a lease.


What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

Apply as early as possible to take advantage of any events or scholarship applications prior to the start of the programme and well ahead of the deadline.

Interested in applying for a scholarship for this programme?

Programme: MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management

Nationality: German

Education: International Business, Cooperative State University Mannheim (Germany)

Company and role secured after programme: Founder, Skinutri