Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: UCL, BSc Mathematics with Economics
Work experience/internship(s): Before deciding to apply for the course, I worked both in finance and in startups. Straight after my graduation I secured an internship at Morgan Stanley in its sales and trading division and after that I worked as an off-cycle analyst at J.P. Morgan in their SPG Team. Although I enjoyed these experiences I also realised that banking and the corporate world weren’t for me. I decided to go work at a startup and managed to get an intern position in data analytics at an e-commerce startup, after which I helped my family business develop its digital media strategy and used my previous experience to help the business launch an e-commerce platform.
Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: I strongly believe that each achievement is a result of the sum of my previous experiences and with each step I make I get a clearer direction of where and who I want to be. My biggest achievement is being where I am today; it’s the sum of all my current and previous experiences and is a continuous process. More specifically, it’s realising that my aspiration is becoming a tech entrepreneur and working towards that.
Why did you decide to study an MSc in Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
First of all, I really liked the structure of the programme. I felt that this programme would give me real-world startup experience complemented by the essential knowledge required to run a startup. Second, coming from a non-business background, I wanted to build a solid base of business management skills and be updated on the latest startup practices, such as the Lean Startup model, agile development, etc., which I can later deploy in my entrepreneurial endeavors.
What makes the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management at Imperial College Business School unique?
The structure – going from theoretical to practical.
The Imperial ecosystem – not just the Business School, but also the entire College. We are the ‘visionaries’ of the Business school and this coupled with the University’s tech focus creates many opportunities in the startup environment. Just by being here we are exposed to so many interesting and high quality events, workshops and talks.
My cohort – one of the requirements of this programme is not having pursued a business undergraduate degree. Having people around me from so many different backgrounds, ranging from fine arts and design to finance and engineering, can be very stimulating and a source of new perspectives and ways of thinking.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
First of all, the Entrepreneurial Journey II: it’s very exciting working on a business idea you actually believe in and which you are planning to pursue after the completion of the course. Getting high quality feedback through the workshops genuinely helps push our startup idea further.
Then it’s the consulting project – we have some really exciting projects to choose from and thankfully the list is also full of interesting startups that are overseeing these projects.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Understanding early what you actually want to get out of this course. The programme introduces you to a breadth of topics and there are so many things going on outside the course that it can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning even if you came on this programme with a relatively clear idea of what you want to do after completing the course. Personally, I discovered I had an interest in design, something I haven’t really considered given my background in mathematics and finance.
You don’t have to decide anything, but I think having some direction at the end of the second term is important so you can focus your energy on what really sparks your interest.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
It’s a bit early to say, as we just started the summer term and I have a strong feeling that the projects I am currently involved in, namely, Entrepreneurial Journey II (EJII) and the Consulting Project, will be the most rewarding.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Aside from the EJ boot camp and the Consulting project, I really enjoyed the Management of Design module. Coming from a mathematics background, this module introduced concepts and ways of looking at businesses that I wasn’t really familiar with but I appreciated their value almost immediately. I’m quite quantitative in thinking, and the qualitative aspect of this module helped me see business issues and opportunities from a different perspective.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
My favourite are the workshops and seminars related to the business idea we have for the EJII project. I also liked the digital jobs market fair as it gave me the opportunity to explore job opportunities at some very interesting startups and understand their vision and path to success.
How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
An amazing source of support, from both an academic and professional perspective.
Always there to help and advise us on any issue we have.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Andreas, who ran the International Marketing module, was a favourite among many students. He taught the module with so much passion and was essentially was ‘selling’ it to us so naturally, which is essentially what marketing is all about. I really liked the critical thinking aspect of this module, which was reflected in the exam as well.
I also liked Ileana, who ran the Management of Design module, as she provided us with some great material and case studies, which we discussed and analysed extensively during class.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?
I found that exchanging ideas with like-minded individuals, from a diversity of backgrounds, both in terms and nationality and academic/professional experiences, can be very intellectually stimulating and great source of learning. In my current group, we balance and complement each other. Working in groups is like completing a big puzzle: when you’re missing some of the matching pieces, you have your team to help you find them.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Diverse, smart, curious, driven and eager to succeed.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
Unfortunately I haven’t had time to get involved in any clubs and societies. However, I participated at events that interested me. In terms of activities, my course mates and I set up a girls’ football team, which I joined even though I don’t really know how to play football. It was much more fun than I expected and strengthened our bond as well.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
The network that I established here is indeed unique, from cohort and alumni to professors and staff. Also Imperial College places a great deal of importance on entrepreneurship, especially in the tech world. It has an up-and-running incubator, Imperial Innovations, and many other related initiatives such as the IB Launchpad Accelerator Competition. The quality of teaching and reputation of the college also attracts many employers and recruiters, which makes the job-seeking process a bit easier and smoother.
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
I have indeed benefited of the Career and Professional Development Service and I was not disappointed. I needed to update my CV and cover letter, which had a heavy finance focus, as my interest has shifted to more creative and innovative industries such as design, web development and startups. I received genuinely valuable advice from the Careers Service and had follow-up meetings on career strategy, which proved to be very useful as well.
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.
I think it’s beneficial, but not essential. I think the location’s value more stands more in exposure. London is the hub in Europe for any industry one might be interested in, so if you are curious about many of them, like me, this is the place for you. Also, there are many events/meet-ups happening in London that you can attend them without much planning if you already live here.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
Imperial has helped me develop a better understanding of the startup ecosystem and has enabled me to find a better career direction that would suit my personality and interest. My aspiration is to go back at some point to my native country, Romania, and use all the knowledge that I have gained at that point and empower entrepreneurs to dive into the startup world. There are many talented entrepreneurs, programmers and engineers that have limited access to the tools they need to succeed, which is why there is an increasing number of talented individuals that move to the UK, US and other western countries. Unfortunately, Romania is currently not as startup friendly as the UK but I hope that this will change in the future and that I’ll have a say in this as well.
Where do you see yourself upon completing the programme?
Successful tech entrepreneur (short-term) and helping the startup ecosystem grow in native country (long-term).
Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live at the White City campus as I thought it would be close to Uni. While the accommodation, facilities and staff are great, it takes about 40 minutes to get to the Business School, unless you’re lucky enough to catch the free shuttle.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
It really depends on how you choose to manage your time. There is a lot of material that you’re required to read and analyse before each lecture and almost all modules have group projects involved. We usually organise small gatherings and house parties during the weekend but sometimes they happen during the week, if we’re not too busy, as it’s easier to get people together after an evening lecture, for instance. To sum up, you do have time to enjoy your weekends if you manage your time well.
In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
I’ve been living in London for 6 years now and there are many places I’ve discovered during this time. My recommendation to any newcomer is to just take a walk without an exact destination and you’ll discover many beautiful places along the way. A few things that spring to mind now are: Richmond Park, the graffiti tunnel under a bridge near Waterloo, the rainbow pastel-coloured houses at Portobello Road/Ladbroke Grove, or eclectic bars and venues in Old Street/ Shoreditch area. There are many more gems and the best way to find them is to go out and explore.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
My main piece of advice is to apply for this course if entrepreneurship and innovation is something that interests you more than finance, consulting and other related industries. Second, you should apply for this course irrespective of your background (except if you studied a business degree). I believe that about half of my cohort comes from arts or social sciences backgrounds.
Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier!
Use YoYo wallet – it’s so much easier to pay with!
Make sure you properly sync your calendar with the course’s timetable and events; locations and times of lectures change quite often so it’s important to make sure you have the most updated information all the time.