Rima Suppan, IEM 2021

Programme: MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management

Nationality: Austrian

Education: BSc International Business Administration, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Company and role secured after programme: Business Intern, Google // Market Specialist, Facebook // Co-Founder, Cleanest

About you

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

Prior to starting my Master’s, I worked as a management consultant in BDO Austria’s specialised strategy consulting division, where I developed the firm‘s go-to-market approach to sustainability strategy consulting, gained insights into various high-tech industries and accompanied a growth funding round. Prior to this, I interned as a Finance & R&D Controller at a MedTech firm in Zurich and at Kobza Media, a creative agency, I worked as a marketing and design intern creating online marketing strategies for B2B and B2C brands. Earlier still, I led the digital transformation at our family business by redesigning our digital marketing strategy and establishing key strategic partnerships across the globe.

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

Working in our family business triggered a desire to become an entrepreneur myself. This programme provides the ideal environment to boost creativity and innovative thinking, but also hands-on experience and the right set of skills to successfully cultivate and manage innovation under dynamic circumstances.

I am expecting this programme to equip me with the required competencies to convert a business idea into a marketable product, unlock business opportunities, connect me with prospective employers and establish a network of like-minded people who are eager to make a difference. I want to specialise and learn more about entrepreneurship and connected disciplines such as venture capital, growth finance and technology innovation management.


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

Due to the international nature and diversity of the cohort, every student is unique in their own way and is highly ambitious to be entrepreneurial — either with their own ventures or within companies.

Having time to work on side projects/build our own ventures, getting involved in different clubs and developing on a personal level have been further unique aspects of the programme. I have also enjoyed tapping into different disciplines of entrepreneurship, such as venture capital, technology management and the entrepreneurial journey.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Two modules have stood out to me. Venture Capital and Growth Finance was very practical, incorporating real-life case studies. It empowered us to understand the perspective of both the entrepreneur and venture capitalist, opening up interesting career paths.

Entrepreneurship was another favourite as it gave me the opportunity to develop and invest in my own idea. It provided structure, guidance and equipped me with the necessary skillset.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

Meeting most of my cohort in person after spending months in zoom lectures, and meeting my co-founder, who turned out to be as passionate as I am about solving the pressing environmental problems of our society.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

Time management, as I have had to manage completing coursework and exams, growing my own startup, applying, and interviewing for jobs, managing and growing a 200-people strong club (Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club) and building my own network in London as well as spending time with other students/friends.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

It was an interesting experience that has prepared me well for conducting interviews via Zoom and working in a future hybrid work environment. The key ingredients were the engaging and interactive online lectures/events.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

A unique composition of individuals with different backgrounds from all around the globe. It is inspiring to listen to people’s different passions, whether that’s aeronautics, artificial intelligence, consumer products, horse-riding or literally anything else that you can think of. Seeing other people work on projects that excite them certainly fuelled my own entrepreneurial fire.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Dr Miguel Meuleman, my lecturer for Venture Capital and Growth Finance, delivered very inspiring and engaging lectures with real-life case studies, and brought in interesting guest speakers such as a Harvard professor and founder who raised millions for own startup.


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

Being part of the Imperial Enterprise Lab’s Venture Catalyst Challenge, Imperial’s flagship entrepreneurship competition. This was a seven-week programme where we accelerated our idea of transforming the environmental footprint of the nappy industry by combining the latest innovations in circular product design, materials technology, and direct-to-consumer e-commerce service. The great advisor and expert network helped us understand key focus areas and guided us into the right direction to get closer to our vision of becoming the most trusted and sustainable nappy and nesting brand in the market that does not lose sight of what matters most to carers: raising healthy, happy children. It was an incredible experience growing together and competing against the most innovative and outstanding startups of Imperial.

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

Personal branding experts provided us with valuable tips on how to build our own brand and stand out in the job market, while personal coaching allowed us to identify where our true passions lie, and which future career path would be most suitable. The Imperial Enterprise Lab’s experts-in-residence is a unique opportunity to consult advisors from different fields that are important when building a venture. These experts were drawn from fields such as law, strategy, marketing, operations, and more.

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

Together with my co-founder, Morgan Mixon (Full-Time MBA), I run the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club as the Vice President. Within the first semester we built a diverse and powerful committee team, grew the club by 270%, conducted a full rebranding, built valuable industry partnerships, held several engaging events with top speakers including entrepreneurs, VCs, personal growth coaches and much more. We also launched our club’s own home page and bi-weekly newsletters and introduced the Innovation & Entrepreneurship podcast where we interviewed successful innovators, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

Apart from that, I am a Student Ambassador representing the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management cohort.

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

Due to my leadership position in the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club and our own club’s committee, I got involved with many other degree programmes such as the MBAs, MSc Finance, MSc Strategic Marketing, MSc Management, MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance, etc. One of our main goals was to break the silo between the Business School and the wider Imperial College London as a lot of innovative potential lies in bringing together smart individuals from business and technical backgrounds.

Our own venture, cleannest, can be seen as a proof for this: ending nappy waste requires an understanding of materials science for a unique materials formulation but also circular systems design to ensure that the materials we choose and the design we bring to life doesn't exacerbate the existing problem of nappies rotting in landfills for over 500 years.

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

Imperial College London is a unique place of bright and ambitious students from different disciplines. The connection of science, technology and business holds and unlocks incredible opportunities that other business schools might lack. Being able to connect to materials scientists and product designers allowed me to find our own design engineer who subsequently became a valuable team member and also allowed me to immerse myself in the entrepreneurial endeavour of finding solutions to pressing environmental problems.


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

Growing up in an entrepreneurial environment certainly shaped my mindset and desire to become an entrepreneur myself. My motivation to create, impact and develop strategies and solutions to our society’s most pressing challenges was a major driver to apply to the Business School.

My key realisation has been that entrepreneurship is a tangible and powerful vehicle through which I can effect systems change on a global scale. Being part of Imperial’s unique ecosystem helped me to grasp the vast amounts of innovations and solutions that are created within research institutions, which, with the right ways of commercialisation, support for scientists, engineers and other innovators and an entrepreneurial skillset have the potential to create substantial benefit for both society and the planet.

For instance, my team and I founded our startup, cleannest, as a part of Imperial’s Entrepreneurial Journey programme. We bring a blend of experiences, skills, and perspectives to the project that could only be created at a global research institution like Imperial. Our project is tackling the 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal — which aims for ‘responsible consumption and production’ — by taking a more sustainable and circular approach to the $70B global nappy industry. Joining forces across the Business School and the Dyson School of Engineering allowed us to form a unique team with experience spanning retail, business strategy, product design, engineering and waste-to-energy with which we aim to bring an end to nappy waste.

However, entrepreneurship is not just about building new solutions, but scaling them as well. To that end, I have always been fascinated by companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon which have all grown from ideas to global superpowers in just a couple of decades and define people’s daily lives across the globe. Receiving offers from all three of these companies is a testament to Imperial’s incredible network, brand and practical approach to business education.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I have recently joined Google in London for a three month internship. In this role, I have the opportunity to be part of the GCS Agency Team where I am redesigning existing organisational processes, supporting clients to reach their full business potential and develop crucial e-commerce and digital marketing and sales skills.

I have also accepted a role as a market specialist at Facebook which I will commence upon graduation from Imperial. I will be working in global operations with a focus on supporting users through both direct support interactions as well as scalable solutions, and on improving Facebook’s products.

Apart from that, I will continue to ambitiously pursue my own entrepreneurial journey by building, launching and scaling cleannest to become the most loved, trusted and sustainable baby and family care company.

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

They provide interesting career workshops that have helped develop my personal brand, identify key strengths, optimise my CV and cover letters and understand what certain companies’ value.


Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

Studying in London was a unique chance as this metropolis brings together people from all around the globe with different career aspirations. Also, London’s impressive startup scene opened opportunities for us to pitch our startup in front of VCs and different accelerator programmes as well as participate in entrepreneurship competitions such as the Venture Catalyst Challenge, the London Mayor’s Entrepreneurship programme and the Queen Mary investment fund. This community was also incredibly valuable for managing the Innovation & Entrepreneurship club, for instance, by allowing us to organise events together with renowned speakers and successful founders and by cooperating with other entrepreneurship organisations such as Entrepreneur First, Founders Factory or Almost Founders.

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

South Kensington, as living within walking distance from Imperial’s campus was my top priority when selecting my accommodation.

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

Apart from studying, I pursue my own entrepreneurial endeavour. Furthermore, I am a coffee lover and passionate Yogi and runner. I am extremely excited by entrepreneurship and tech podcasts such as ‘How I built this’ with Guy Raz or ‘Second Life’ by Hillary Kerr, as well as the FemTech industry, interior design and scuba diving.

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

Finding the right flat from abroad is difficult, it is easier when you are able to visit the place. I would advise that you get in contact with current students and ask all pressing questions. London is a vibrant metropolis that never sleeps, with great restaurants and bars, lots of museums and exciting events. You will never be bored here.


Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?

I attended online webinars and I got in contact current MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management students. This provided me with honest and detailed insights into the programme and the Business School, which certainly helped me in my decision-making.

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

Really understand where your true passion lies and what gets you out of bed in the morning, never be afraid to ask too many questions and believe in yourself — we are capable of so much more than we think we are. If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.

Interested in applying for a scholarship for this programme?

Programme: MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management

Nationality: Austrian

Education: BSc International Business Administration, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Company and role secured after programme: Business Intern, Google // Market Specialist, Facebook // Co-Founder, Cleanest