Sally Si Nok Kuok
Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: Double Bachelor programme:
1. University of Manchester – BA (Hons) Linguistics & Sociology
2. Beijing Language & Culture University – BA Translation & Interpreting
Angel Investment Due Diligence Coordinator at Wild Blue Cohort, London
Perfocal – Co-founder
Hack Partners – Cofounder and Marketing Lead of Hacktrain
Beijing Language and Culture University – Head of Academic Union
China’s Food and Drug Administration – Assistant in Overseas Staff Training
Macau Statistics and Census Department – Census Supervisor
I have cofounded two startups and engaged in both government and small businesses in different sectors. I founded StartGround in 2015 and grew it into a team of ten community builders with the vision to connect tech startups with resources and investors in China. In 2014 I cofounded Perfocal, “an Uber for photography” service in Manchester and later worked as an Angel Investment Analyst at Peking University Incubator, one of the top incubators in China. In addition, I have also worked in the Macau Statistics and Census Department and China’s Food and Drug Administration.
Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: One of the highlights was co-founding Hacktrain, Europe’s first hackathon (technology competition) on a train and AMEEHacks, the world’s first medical education hackathon in Glasgow. As the co-organiser and marketing lead of Hacktrain, I have facilitated 40 talented developers and entrepreneurs to ideate, design, prototype and launch over seven rail related technology startups in 54 hours on a train travelling to four different cities. As for AMEEHacks, we have teamed up with the International Association of Medical Education, Google and Elsevier to innovate for medical training and education. These competitions have successfully built a close community of top-talent hackers and raised media attention and government support to innovate on both private and public sectors.
Why did you decide to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
My application for MSc IEM was built on my startup experience and curiosity about the potential for technology to add value to people’s lives. With prior entrepreneurial challenges and failures, I decided to gain systematic knowledge in innovation management and entrepreneurship. My high demands for international reputation and outstanding teaching standards soon brought me to Imperial College Business School, as no other business school offers an equivalent syllabus, taking an in-depth and practical approach to entrepreneurship, strategic management and venture capital investment.
Most importantly, I was recommend by several alumni to apply for Imperial College Business School because of the overall student experience. Indeed, the multicultural learning environment, global alumni network and careers development opportunity provided by the Business School are by far the best I have ever experienced. My classmates come from over 50 countries with academic and professional experience in a variety of industries. With the excellent support from our alumni and careers consultants, I was able to secure several offers from investment funds, consultant firms and technology startups.
What makes the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management at Imperial College Business School unique?
Most modules consist of hands-on knowledge, projects and examinations to build a complete skill set for innovators. The entrepreneurial journey module helps you to team up, ideate, and build a start-up with supports from practical workshops, a startup clinic and fundraising guidance.
Most lectures bring in well-known guest speakers and open doors to many opportunities.
The international tour allows us to visit and learn about the startup ecosystem of a country in depth.
The consulting project/ work placement module provides flexibility for us, with excellent consulting projects arranged by the school and the freedom to secure your own work placement.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
I particularly enjoyed the Entrepreneurial Journey module, in which I experienced a cohort based incubator at a very reputed business school and received constant support from other faculties with their technological breakthroughs.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
To balance my own business and the five examinations in a row by the end of every semester was by far the most challenging part of the programme.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
The cases studies and projects have empowered me to rebut entrepreneurial myths, challenge contemporary startup methods and ultimately establish a systematic understanding of how an innovative individual can best seize entrepreneurial opportunities.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Both Entrepreneurial Journey and International Marketing are by far my favourite modules. Entrepreneurial Journey helps and guides me to launch a startup with full support throughout the spring and summer semester, while International Marketing enlightens me to create, communicate and deliver values to customers, investors and other stakeholders, with global cases studies and a solid theoretical basis from consumer and business psychology.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The guest lecture from Anthony Catt, Managing Director from Oxygen Accelerator, during our Venture Capital and Growth module has broadened my knowledge of incubator as an industry and the potential entrepreneur support from different types of incubators and accelerators.
How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
Innovative, networked and motivated to make a difference.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Dr. Andreas Eisingerich from International Marketing has impressed me with his passion for teaching, a well-designed course, solid knowledge in consumer psychology and broad understanding in some of the latest development in the tech and startup scene in the globe. The theories he introduced were different from conventional marketing and were truly useful for entrepreneurs. Both his project assignment and examinations were fun and intellectually challenging.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?
Working in a group with my Imperial classmates has taught me to listen and be inspired by people from diverse backgrounds, to express my thoughts and inspire others in a humble way.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
My cohort comes from over 50 countries in the world, all with like-minded values and innovative ideas and constantly engaging in all sorts of exciting hobbies. They are the same people that I go to a hackathon, comedy show, pitch event, road trip, exam revision, pub crawl, or investment negotiation with.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I have joined the Dance Society and had a great time practicing anti-gravity yoga and engaging with more undergraduate students
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
Our school has always been actively collaborating with top universities and companies in China. As the student leader of MSc IEM, I was invited to welcome President Xi Jinping during his visit to Imperial College Business School. The feeling of welcoming the leader of your own country to the graduate school that you go to everyday was an unforgettable experience. Also, participating in a series of post-visit conferences has deepened my knowledge in the international trading and technological collaboration between China and the UK.
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
The Careers service has helped me to secure my dream job offer. My CV has been proofread and modified by several careers consultants since the start of the programme. For every interview round I booked a one-to-one session for mock interview and careers consulting. The Evisors service also linked me to several expert mentors, including the EMEA Marketing Head of Facebook and senior managers in investment funds and consultancy.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
The community supported my startup StartGround with a wider alumni network. Two of the startups we have connected with for investment opportunities are founded by Imperial students from other faculties.
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.
Choosing the right city and location for my postgraduate is one of my priorities and London is very beneficial for networking and career development. Most of my friends in Cambridge and Oxford have to travel to London on a bi-weekly basis to participate in some exciting events, while we have them every day after class at the Business School.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My career goal in five years is to lead my team with an open and flexible culture and build product/service in China, and ultimately set up an all-in-one incubator for entrepreneurs in China. The IEM course has provided me with a ‘jack of all trade’ set of skills in business development, communications, marketing, finance and fundraising. During my course, I have established StartGround Ltd, an exclusive community for introducing world startups to Chinese investment funds, and will continue to build a company team now consisting of 10 managers working internationally in six regions of the world.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I have received several job offers, from Alchemist Asia investment fund, Accenture and Alphasights. I decided to accept the job offer from AlphaSights, an international company that acts as a knowledge partner for decision-makers across private equity, asset management, consultancy and corporate strategy, helping them access the highly specific industry expertise they need to make better decisions, faster.
As one of the founding members of the Shanghai office, the associate role is more than just a member of the client consulting team. The challenges ahead include setting up of the new office, establishing the customer base and advisor network in Mainland China, as well as formulating marketing and localisation strategy.
Where do you see yourself upon completing the programme?
My career aspiration is to gain work experience in large international company in information technology and service sector, while continue with my own start-up on the side, and to ultimately become a successful community leader in the innovation ecosystem in China.
Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in Imperial Wharf near Chelsea Harbour because I prefer the safe neighbourhood and transportation network.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
For me, a perfect weekend will be as follows:
1. Start the day with a picnic brunch in Hyde Park
2. Museum exhibition (V&A, Tate Britain, Science Museum)
3. Reading/studying by the café with a view of the River Thames
4. Startup events in Shoreditch/Old Street (Google campus, Techstar, Hacktrain Accelerator)
5. Home – painting/guitar/yoga before bed
In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
As an entrepreneur, I love to go to co-working spaces for events – you will discover some of the most exciting technology and startup teams in town, and a friendly and open environment for a day of work.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
I have moved from Manchester to London for the IEM programme. The benefits are wider network platform, world-class exhibitions and musicals and career opportunities. The challenges are longer commuting times and high living expenses. My advice will be to search for your classmates and alumni before course and try to get as much information as possible to evaluate the best house location and transport method.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
Found/engage in at least one real-world startup to get the best out of this course.
Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier!
Spend time to build a comprehensive profile on LinkedIn, and connect with everyone you meet.