Rory Ryan

Rory RyanNationality: British

Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: University of Leeds, Mechanical Engineering

Work experience/internship(s): I am a mechanical engineer and have had a variety of internships with engineering firms across the UK. I previously worked as a Mechanical Design Engineer at OneSubsea, an oil and gas production services company owned by Schlumberger where I completed a graduate scheme rotating through offices in the UK, Germany and US.

Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: As President of a student society I increased members from 60 to 500 people in six months, daily managing 12 committee members. Under my leadership the society was shortlisted for the first time, for an award from the Leeds Student Union. I won an award for my individual efforts and I did this without any extensive management or business training. At the same time I obtained a strong First Class Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. My committee and the people I grew the society with taught me lessons I’ll never forget and made our vision possible.

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Programme

Why did you decide to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
After gaining some valuable experience as a professional mechanical engineer, I felt I was ready to take the next step towards starting my own technology business. The modules, Management of Design, Innovation Management, Venture Capital and Growth Finance and Strategic Management seemed particularly relevant. Many of my close friends started businesses straight after their first degrees but I felt that this course would accelerate my learning and allow me to utilise some of the most cutting-edge business strategies from around the world directly in my start-up. Imperial is known for its world-class engineering and science research, thus my quest to recruit the best ‘techies’ and business minds to join my start-up would be that much easier at Imperial. The College is based in one of the largest financial centres of the world with one of the fastest growing start-up communities. I knew it was the best place to be!

What makes the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management at Imperial College Business School unique?
Imperial Business is known for its pioneering work on Innovation Management. Our lecturers are some of the best in the world and so whether you’re a student looking to form your own business or inspired to bring innovative change within an organisation, the sessions on Innovation Management, Management of Design and the Entrepreneurial Journey will particularly help you. The International Marketing module completely opened my eyes to the power of Marketing strategies and branding, which I had previously underestimated.

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
The small year group size means that all students are able to interact and learn from staff in a much more engaging way. The course has been hugely relevant to starting up my business and trips to London incubator spaces and the study trip to India this year all provide exciting ways to learn more about entrepreneurialism. The Entrepreneurial Journey modules are fun and a really practical way of applying the theory learned from lectures.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Balancing workload of the course with extra-curricular activities has been very challenging. Many students are on the committee for various societies or are building their own businesses in their free time. It’s important to prioritise a healthy work-life balance.
Working in teams can be challenging. People have different objectives and expectations and managing these can be challenging when under time pressures.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
Implementing cutting-edge academic research directly in my startup strategy has been hugely useful. I have been applying the frameworks codified from the academic observation of thousands of other businesses around the world. Learning from the failure of others will reduce my chances of failure. In particular some frameworks from the Innovation Management and Management of Design modules have shaped my plan from something quite naïve to something plausible.

People

Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
Hearing from and meeting with the CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown was hugely inspiring. Also the UK MD of Facebook, Steve Hatch gave some brilliant tips on how to come up with new ideas. There are guest lectures or events at Imperial almost every week for much of the term. The Imperial ecosystem is hugely active and is one of the main reasons why I applied to the university.

How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
Innovative, networked, motivated to make a difference.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Dr Illeana Stigliani is hugely passionate about the future role of Design and Design Thinking as a competitive advantage – I found her very inspiring. Also Professor Andreas Eisingerich gave me a new found respect for marketing and branding.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?
My cohort has 34 different nationalities representing it. Working in teams with many different cultures and personalities is inspiring. I now have a much larger international network because of this.

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Fun, outgoing, creative and motivated.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
– Bioversity, a platform for Biotech and Medtech networking based at Imperial College
– Developing my own startup. My team won a place on the Venture Catalyst Challenge Imperial incubator for startups
– I work freelance as an engineer and product designer on Upwork.com
– I’m a panel member at the Youth Health Parliament
– Member of the Imperial College Robotics Society
– Member of the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace
– The business school football tournament

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
Most business schools don’t have a world-class engineering, medicine and science community attached to it. This brings not just a great networking opportunity but also the opportunity to learn more about upcoming technology and even how to use some (e.g. learn how to code and how to 3D print)! Most other business schools don’t give you these opportunities!

How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
I had a one-to-one session very early on with a careers adviser. It was good to build a career strategy in September when I arrived. The presentation skills lectures and other careers skills lectures have been helpful. The numerous careers events have been very helpful in connecting me with Imperial alumni and others.

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
Yes. There are many events for entrepreneurs in London. Friends in Oxford, Cambridge and other universities outside of London find it more difficult to get to. Many events I hear of last minute and within 20 minutes I am there! There are a huge number of incubators in London and many competitions for startup financing.

Career

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I want to build new and exciting technologies for the healthcare industry. I have been able to network with scientists working in fields I am interested in and I have successfully recruited for my startup. The skills and frameworks learned from lectures I am able to apply to my own business.

Where do you see yourself upon completing the programme?
I am hoping to continue building my client base for my product design and engineering freelance services and work on my startup in my free time until we raise our first round of serious funding. After which I shall hopefully have small salary to live off until our business begins to generate revenue.

Location

Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
Clapham North, which is 35 minutes from Imperial. It’s difficult to get on the Northern line during rush hour but mostly lectures are later so it’s okay. I have a lot of other friends in London in this area and it is very good for restaurants and bars.

What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
Many go on holiday to Europe or around England. I tend to be involved with my startup, freelance work and see friends.

In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
Go to the V&A room of Casts and see the two massive columns on your morning walk from South Kensington tube to Imperial. You feel tiny and it helps to put your life into perspective!
Go to the top floor for the Science museum and see the inventors of the first flying machines. These inventors were passionate about flight and spent tireless years exploring their technology and risking their lives. It inspires me to find a passion I have that level of commitment for!
Cycle around Richmond Park and see the deer or pick some mushrooms.
Most importantly: go to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club Late Late show. Dress smart and a student ID gets you £6 entry.

Tips

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
Speak to a student ambassador. Everyone has different queries in their mind and it’s best to get specific advice once you have explained your situation.

Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online or on campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
Yes the online talk session was very useful. Ask questions to student ambassadors.

Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier!
Get a healthy life balance preventively: eat well and keep your mind healthy; try the app called Headspace.
Connect with people; when you first arrive go to every event possible, speak to everyone and get some business cards before you start the course (the course provides some but don’t wait for them). As you hone in your ideas and interests you find you don’t need to go to so many but it’s important to know all that Imperial has to offer at the start.
Learn how to 3D print and do woodwork.
Join Imperial College Advanced Hackspace.
Think about your plans after the course and maybe even get an internship or work experience or build a startup while on the course.
Learn how to speed-read. I use http://www.readsy.co/ a lot.