Amin Siala

Amin Siala

About you

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

Before my Master’s I started a corporate training management consultancy where I was facilitating international training for clients from the Oil & Gas industry across the MENA region. This spanned across the year between 2016 and 2017 and was an extremely enriching experience that allowed me to see the business world first-hand. I was interacting directly with senior managers and CEOs as well as attending multiple local and international conferences and exhibitions. Apart from my other entrepreneurial adventures, such as running a digital marketing agency through my undergraduate degree, I interned with the Venture Capital arm of BBH in London, which is one of the leading advertising agencies in the world.

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

The truth is I never had it in mind to do a Master’s all together as I was in the midst of running my consultancy business with my co-founder. However, on a sunny day in July 2017, I came across this Master’s programme at Imperial College Business School and as I read the description and the profile of people they’re looking for, I felt like I fit the description perfectly. What I learned during the year of running my business is that people and knowledge are the keys to success – thus pursuing a Master’s in London will give me access to build powerful relationships, connections and even better, get a solid education from one of the top institutions in the world. It was a simple case of right time, right place, and right university.

Did you receive a scholarship? 

Yes! Having received an offer two weeks before the start date of the programme, I was extremely surprised to receive an email detailing a £5,000 scholarship for the strength of my application and interview performance. It felt as if the Business School appreciated my passion for the programme and how serious I was about succeeding and making the most out of my time there. The scholarship had a powerful symbolic meaning to me and it certainly had a positive effect on my attitude throughout the year.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?

Given that I’ve immersed myself into the exciting and uncertain world of entrepreneurship before joining the Business School, many of the modules delivered had content which I related to or may have even gone through myself before! It might sound dull but I absolutely loved the lectures. The quality of teaching and story telling was phenomenal. Even better was how when I would challenge a lecturer on a certain topic or ask a question, the dialogue that would occur as a result would produce extremely interesting discussions.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

It would have to be Technology and Innovation Management delivered by Dr Paola Criscuolo. If my eyes were wide open to all the other modules, they were open much, much wider on this. The content of the module is just fascinating. The module focused on the various types of innovations and was rich with examples from history and modern times. What made this interesting also was Dr Criscuolo’s strong stances on points which created heated debates and discussions in class which I enjoy very much!

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

I enjoyed the programme as a whole but what I found challenging is probably quite specific to my profile as I previously studied electrical engineering, which consisted of mathematics and physics. Transitioning to a business school and studying a subject which is not black and white was quite tough. Engineering is a very logical discipline, its black and white, right or wrong, but the world of business is many times in the grey area, as such there isn’t always a specific answer to a problem. During my exams and assignments I had to adjust to this difference in approach.

People

How do you describe your cohort at imperial?

Very international! There are 35 nationalities in my cohort, I can’t believe it! I’ve always believed in looking beyond just one’s upbringing, parents and local community, so to have that many nationalities with me as my peers is extremely enriching. My cohort was a varied mix of previous entrepreneurs, engineers, business students, journalists and many other backgrounds.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Professor Erkko Autio. In his first ever lecture he congratulated my class for having our net worth’s increased by five million USD based on all the exits his previous students have generated. Professior Autio showed all the companies started by his previous students throughout the years of his teaching in his own unique way and divided their exit values in dollars by the number of students he taught. I love his sense of humour and his unique character. Best of all, despite his accomplishments through the years, he’s very humble when it comes to challenging him on concepts and ideas and he is always making an effort to stay ahead of the times and keep his frameworks up to date. He is simply very passionate about his field of study and you could sense that when he is teaching.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?

This was by far the most surprising element of the programme that although I read about previously, I didn’t expect it to be this much. Coming from an engineering background which is more solo in nature, I found myself immersed into a lot of teamwork which has taught me a lot as well as made me build life long relationships!

Opportunities

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?

I was a Student Ambassador for my programme.

Can you tell us about your podcast – how did this begin and what have you done over the year?

When I first received my offer at Imperial, I decided to download the Imperial College app to my iPhone. The first thing I saw when I launched the app was a radio icon with the title “IC Radio”, bingo, the idea was generated there and then. I did some research to find who manages the radio station and ended up being shown around the studio one day before the start date of my programme. I remember being amazed by the facilities available at the studio, there were six microphones and a complete professional radio set. After seeing the studio in-person and knowing I was going to be at Imperial for a year, I knew what I wanted to do with it.

From my perspective I had one year ahead of me in a world leading institution, a professional recording studio, some of the smartest brains in the world just a few minutes’ walk away and next door to the Royal Albert Hall (not too bad of a location) – and obviously, my love for media, business and communication!

I bought the domain name “businesspodcast.co” – the least ambiguous name out there. I designed the site and formally introduced it as THE “Imperial College Business Podcast”. I detailed the goals, missions, format, aims, guidelines etc. and sent it to my programme team to let them know that I’ll be doing this. On the same day I received a very positive response and a credit line for any podcast expenses for the first few episodes.

My strategy was simple, I wanted the podcast to speak for itself first before approaching the wider business school community or the marketing department itself. After the fifth episode someone from the marketing department got in touch with me and offered to give me a producer for every episode which would include setting up the cameras, microphones as well as editing the video at the end (a time-consuming task!). Today there are over 20 episodes all in all and the support I’ve received from the Business School community as a whole has been phenomenal.

There have been many amazing podcast episodes I’ve enjoyed but the one that stands out to me was the one I did with Professor Jonathan Haskel who at the time just released his book ‘Capitalism Without Capital’. Not only did I find (and still find) his research absolutely fascinating, but his book ended up being one of the top recommended books in both the Financial Times and The Economist, add to that him being awarded – a well-deserved – CBE in 2018.

My aim with the podcast was to ultimately communicate brilliance and achievement to the world. I’d invite entrepreneurs, professors and students who have had an experience that is worthy of sharing and we’d record the discussion in both video and audio.

You can listen to the episodes on iTunes or Youtube.

Career

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

I create only broad goals for myself for the future as I prefer to keep myself nimble and open to a variety of opportunities and experiences. However, I intend to continuously produce content for people to consume, deliver speeches around the world and ultimately inspire as many people as I can and bring positive change in whichever way that may be.

During my time at Imperial I’ve produced over 20 episodes of The Imperial College Business Podcast which is roughly over 1000 minutes of original content, built relationships with people from all kinds of industries, delivered 40 presentations to my cohort of 90 people and had eight TV features commenting on technology. Imperial is a place that gives you as much as you give it, and I can certainly attest to the truthfulness of that as faculty, staff and students make for an extremely innovative and supportive community.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I will be working for Apple as a Channel Sales Associate covering Western Europe. The role includes business development, marketing, partner development, managing new product introductions and more.

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

Careers at Imperial ensures that world leading companies such as Apple provide direct opportunities to students. The careers team also provided me with as many interview practice sessions as I wanted and were extremely helpful at that.

London location

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

Can I say 1000%? Not only is Imperial in London, it’s in South Kensington, right next to the Royal Albert Hall, next to the Natural History Museum and walking distance to Knightsbridge. As much as we put emphasis on how the digital world connects us and makes the world a smaller place, geography and location still makes a massive difference. Being an avid networker within London as a whole, I’ve been fortunate in that the vast majority of meetings I’ve set up have always been at Imperial.

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

I live in Earl’s Court which is roughly a 20 minutes’ walk to Imperial. I decide to live walking distance as I wanted to avoid taking the underground every day. I enjoy walking in general and use the opportunity to kick start my day by either listening to podcasts or just planning my day and week. In fact, I can’t emphasise enough the value of that 15-20 minute walk in terms of it being a great opportunity to collect your thoughts and reflect.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London?

I exercise five days a week at a gym that is also walking distance from Earl’s Court. Working out is part of my daily routine and I attribute a lot of what I’ve been able to do this year to having exercised regularly and consistently. A surprise new hobby for me has been cooking, and I must admit it started in tandem with my first week at Imperial. I never thought I’d enjoy chopping onions and peppers, but I soon figured it was a relaxing de-stresser after a long day of work. Am I going to create a cooking podcast? You never know.

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

I have two pieces of advice. The first is to live walking distance from Imperial. The second is that you need to fully understand and appreciate that the value of pursuing a Master’s in London is not only the academic content but the people and opportunities around you. These opportunities need to be pursued and it’s down to you to make the most of it.

Tips

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

If you like to create your own opportunities, this is the programme for you.

Amin Siala

MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management 2017- 18

Nationality: British 

Undergraduate Education: Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Manchester

Job after Imperial College Business School: Channel Sales Associate, Apple

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