Sam Hou, MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management

Nationality: Chinese/Canadian

Education: BA Economics, McGill University

About you

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

Pre-Imperial, my time was divided quite evenly between navigating the corporate world and learning the ins and outs of startups. From working as an investment analyst at CSOP — an asset management firm based in Hong Kong — to scaling a venture capital-backed entrepreneurial community in the business hub Next Gen HQ, my early work experiences are quite diverse.

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

There are multiple reasons, but I'll keep it concise and share three. First, I had my eyes set on being in London. Before applying, I spoke with several of my buddies who had studied here before, and they shared incredibly inspiring stories about how vibrant the startup ecosystem is. So, I naturally thought, okay, why not experience it for myself (and it has lived up to the hype). Second, I didn't feel a desire to enter the workforce straight away; with a one-year Master's, I saw an opportunity to develop relevant entrepreneurial skills and learn more about industries that I'm fascinated by (e.g. venture capital and the digital economy). Thirdly, given Imperial's reputation for being one of the most diverse institutions in the world, I couldn't think of a better place to build a network of future business leaders that spanned across the globe.


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

With zero hesitation, the people. I’m sure alumni would agree that when you look at each respective cohort in terms of ethnicity, culture, and academic background, everyone brings something unique to the table. In this year’s class, we have somehow managed to bring together renowned TEDx speakers, management consultants, tech enthusiasts, startup founders, social entrepreneurs, art majors, you name it, all under one umbrella. Being able to interact with these folks day in and day out has by far been the biggest ‘win’ during my time at Imperial.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Massive shout out to Dr Miguel Meuleman, lecturer for the Venture Capital and Growth Finance module. He covered everything from cap tables and term sheets to founder dilemmas and how venture capitalists evaluate investments. As someone who intends to start a business one day, these sessions were invaluable.

During the module, one of my favourite moments was when he invited one of his previous students (who underwent an exit) to walk us through various founder dilemmas that arise throughout the venture-building journey. It was awesome getting to listen in on some of the early mistakes the founder made and apply all the concepts taught in class to a real business.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

Across a variety of modules, our professors often invite industry experts to class to share their individual stories, insights and opinions on relevant topics. I always look forward to these talks as it is a nice deviation from what we are typically accustomed to. It is also a great way to network with individuals who have ties to social enterprises, leading accelerators and Fortune 500 companies.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

Due to COVID, many students were unable to physically be in London. With group assignments being an integral part of the programme, this created many challenges, especially when it came to scheduling meetings since most were living in entirely different time zones.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Diverse, open-minded, social and ambitious.


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

The networking opportunities here are unreal. While it's ultimately up to you to take full advantage, leveraging the Imperial brand has paid off for me in more ways than I can count. Whether it's finding an internship at an Imperial startup or collaborating with students outside the Business School on hackathons, there are so many brilliant minds that you can tap into. For incoming students, I'd highly recommend going out of your comfort zone to expand your network beyond the scope of the Business School; I can guarantee that you won't regret it.

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

While the guest lectures, workshops at the Imperial Enterprise Lab, and events led by student clubs are beneficial, I find the recruitment sessions facilitated by Careers to be the most valuable. Imperial’s global reputation attracts companies like Bain, Google, Uber, Uniqlo, Bloomberg, McKinsey and more. Hearing recruiters and existing employees speak about company culture, recruitment processes, and their personal experiences is a huge competitive advantage.

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

One of the biggest challenges that I faced early on was deciding how to get involved within the student community. With so many opportunities available, choosing where to allocate your time is far from a straightforward decision. In the end, my appreciation for the Imperial brand coupled with my passion for supporting founders led me to take on roles such as Student Ambassador, Head of Community at the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club, and Digital Marketing Manager at Imperial Launch.

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

Yes! Piggybacking off my last point, I found that getting involved in different clubs and societies was an excellent way to meet students outside the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management cohort. Also, before London shut down late last year, I was a part of the Men’s Basketball team, where I met some amazing people that I have continued to stay in touch with throughout the programme. Whenever restrictions allowed for it, we’d always try to get an outdoor hoop session in.

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

I participated in one of the Imperial Enterprise Lab Pitch and Mix events which I thought was fantastic. Not only do you get to meet students from outside the programme, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to receive feedback and refine your pitching abilities.


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

A few weeks ago, I struggled with deciding whether to accept an offer at a large corporate or continue the job hunt for a role within a fast-paced startup. Having no clue what to do, I decided to schedule a career planning meeting with Sophie Davis — one of the career consultants at the Business School. From listing out the pros and cons to providing actionable tips, she ensured that I left the meeting having a clear understanding regarding what to do next. Huge shout out to Sophie!


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

Definitely. When it comes to ‘booming’ startup hubs, I still find London severely underrated. There are so many fellowships, accelerators, programmes and communities out there that are designed to bring entrepreneurial-minded folks together. For example, through channels such as Founders of the Future, I have met and collaborated on side-projects with some amazing startup founders.

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

I can’t think of many, but perhaps one positive outcome related to the pandemic was finding an apartment in South Kensington for well below the market average. I chose this area because of its proximity to campus (10-minute walk), the university gym and parks (Hyde Park is a local treasure).

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

You can either find me shooting hoops at a nearby court or enjoying London’s food scene (the food trucks here are severely underrated).

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

Don’t feel inclined to stay in South Kensington! I wish I had known this sooner, but London is a lot smaller than it seems. As long as you live relatively close to a tube station, travelling anywhere within the city is pretty convenient.


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

Yes. I attended one online webinar and an on-campus information session hosted at my alma mater (McGill University). These sessions were very useful as it gave me a chance to network and learn more about the programmes available, application requirements, timelines and current students. I would definitely recommend it.

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

As a Student Ambassador, one question that I get asked often is 'how can I make my application stand out?'. Showing signs of academic potential, international experience and extra-curricular involvement are vital. Still, I'd advise anyone interested in applying to also focus on clearly articulating why the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management programme makes sense. In other words, if you can convince the admissions committee that this programme is the missing piece that would enable you to achieve your goals, then you're in a great place.

Additionally, before you apply, reach out to a few of the Student Ambassadors via UniBuddy. Ask questions about the programmes, student life, London or anything else that comes to your mind. The conversations that I had with past Student Ambassadors played a huge part in my decision to study MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management.

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme: MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management

Nationality: Chinese/Canadian

Education: BA Economics, McGill University