Honours Economics (BSc) with minor in Public Health, DePaul University
Operations Engagement Manager, Elder HQ
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Following my graduation from DePaul University in Chicago, I moved to North Carolina and took on the role as Human Resources Manager at Givens Highland Farms, a non-profit retirement community nestled in the mountains of Western NC. After 18 months in that role, I decided to move to London to pursue my next adventure. I partnered with an employment agency (Michael Page) that helped me secure an interim role with the Green Party of England and Wales, where I acted as their HR Manager for a short period of three months before kicking off my studies at Imperial. I’ve worked since I was 16 and held various internships throughout undergrad, I have always found challenging endeavours (particularly ones that pay!) to be worth pursuing.
Why did you decide to study MSc International Health Management at Imperial College Business School?
I learned a lot about myself while working at Givens. I’ve always been drawn to the urban environment and wanted to better understand the social care sector on a global scale – which models work well, and which don’t. I decided to move to London from North Carolina before I had been accepted to Imperial because I knew I wanted a change of scenery. I had been eyeballing the International Health Management programme for a few years (since undergrad) and decided it was finally time to pursue it after 18 months of working in HR. The programme offered a global perspective, acting as a vessel for me to discover practical solutions to real-world challenges (my focus being our ageing societies) with peers from a variety of backgrounds.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
The international exposure, hands down. Our cohort is made up of 70 individuals, representing more than 26 nationalities. From a small town in America, this has been the most valuable offering of Imperial. Learning from others’ experiences – their upbringing, beliefs and culture – has certainly spiced up my way of thinking! It has also been fascinating to follow everyone’s reality (particularly from a healthcare perspective) during the COVID-19 pandemic, as most of us have headed back home to be with family.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
I enjoyed the Health Systems, Policy and Financing module, led by Professor Pedro Rosa Dias. He brought energy to the classroom and always questioned students, without instilling anxiety. I found our cohort to be quite shy, but he was able to bring life to the classroom!
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
Establishing life-long relationships has been the most rewarding aspect of the programme for me. Healthcare is a unique sector – it’s often we’re lucky enough to surround ourselves with people that genuinely care about improving health and wellbeing for the vulnerable. Those are the people I’ve always wanted to attract into my life, and I feel as though I’ve helped people connect by supporting our Student Staff Committee social leaders in hosting various events and gatherings.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
With most of us sharing similar beliefs, it has been tricky to challenge the status quo. We learned about the ‘comfortable clone syndrome’ in Organisational Behaviour with Dr Maria Farkas (another excellent module), which suggests that people tend to gravitate towards individuals that share similar beliefs and values (it’s like looking in the mirror), which doesn’t exactly brew creativity. We didn’t challenge each other too much and may have missed out on some quality enhancing dialogue.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
We’re a group of 70 students – some experienced, but mostly fresh out of undergrad – that seek harmony in work and life. As I mentioned, we’re a quiet bunch, but extremely supportive of one another.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Professor Pedro Rosa Dias, because he questioned us and challenged us to speak up, and then reflect on why we think, what we think. Critical thinking is essential, particularly in the realm of health and healthcare - he brought this out of us.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Leading my International Health Management cohort as the Student Staff Committee (SSC) Chair has been exceptionally rewarding and an absolute pleasure. I’ve enjoyed drawing on my past experiences to best understand what drives others and have been fortunate enough to establish lasting relationships with my fellow SSC leaders, the programme team and wider Business School.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The case studies organised by the Careers team have been very helpful and eye-opening. I highly recommend keeping your profile up to date so you can access the plethora of resources provided to help you succeed. I also enjoyed the ‘Day in the Life’ series hosted by the Healthcare Careers Club, where external leaders shared their insights with us. These events were always followed with networking, which were excellent opportunities to pitch yourself and connect with others. Overall, the events hosted by the Careers Clubs are worthwhile.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?
As Student Staff Committee Chair, I also sit on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, which has been a fascinating journey. I’ve liaised quite a bit with the Social Impact and Responsible Business (SIRB) Careers Club to help promote my volunteer work with Aging2.0 – I recently hosted an event that explored the “Silver Economy and Ageism in Marketing” at Imperial, which blended my volunteer work with my studies. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a successful event if I hadn’t been supported by the SIRB crew. I’ve found that you get what you put in, and it’s best to leverage your programme team and wider Business School connections in order to take full advantage of Imperial’s offerings.
Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?
Yes, loads! I’ve most recently coordinated with the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management and MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance Programme Chairs to organise a remote pub quiz, which featured DJ Money (our Accounting Professor who’s also a fantastic DJ) to help keep us connected while in quarantine. I’ve met students from other programmes through clubs and by sitting on Dean’s Student Advisory Council. I highly recommend reaching for leadership positions, even though you’ll apply before knowing your fellow classmates. The programme is only a year and flies by, so it’s essential that every opportunity you’re presented with is taken (within reason, of course).
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London STEM community?
Since I graduated from a Business School in undergrad and worked in HR, I hadn’t been exposed to STEM before Imperial, and really appreciated being welcomed into that community.
How did you find the unprecedented switch to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
With any change, it can be difficult to pivot, but I felt it was relatively easy to embrace the new platform. The pandemic hit right as our spring term came to an end, so we first experienced the transition to remote learning when we took our exams a month later. It was a bit challenging because I took exams in the middle of the night, but there was plenty of time to adjust my sleep schedule, and other students were in a similar situation. The Exams team walked us through the mitigating circumstances process, just in case the outcomes were suboptimal, so all was well. Imperial also implemented a Safety Net policy. We’ve just begun our summer term, which has so far been a breeze. I do miss my cohort and the face-to-face interactions, but that will return with time.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
As mentioned earlier, I had been seeking a career change. For years, it has been my mission to redefine and clarify the meaning of care, but I understood that I needed knowledge and experience before taking the initiative to transform and improve broken systems. During my time with Givens, I gleaned a unique perspective, and sense of hope on issues of active ageing and caretaking in America. I was eager to be a leader in this field and believed Imperial would provide the support and resources needed for my quest to better navigate this often overlooked, yet critical market. This programme exposed diverse mindsets and experiences, which has allowed me to investigate successful international models, breaking them down in order to rebuild for places in need.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
Yes, I’ve recently accepted the role as Operations Manager with Elder HQ in Shoreditch, London. Elder is a matchmaking platform that connects live-in carers with families seeking ‘round the clock care. The team currently has more than 3,000 carers across the UK, and I’ll be managing the Engagement team, ultimately ensuring that our carers are happy with their placements, successfully utilising our platform and feel connected to the Elder community. Harnessing a sense of belonging has always been my passion, so I’m thrilled to have this offer with an organisation that shares similar values. This will be my first official role with a tech company, so I’m looking forward to the new challenge. I’ll begin in June and simultaneously work and study full-time, which seems doable with the summer term workload and the implementation of a ‘Work Placement’ which was introduced as a response to COVID-19.
How did the services from Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?
Funny enough, I connected with the Chief Operating Officer of Elder HQ as I was leaving the Business School after a lecture. Toby Emmerson (a superstar on the Careers team) had just wrapped up a panel event for the MBA cohort where Elder’s COO had spoken. He knew I was keen on the ‘Longevity Economy’ and stopped me in the hall, introduced me to the COO, and a few months later I interviewed for the role. Connections are everything, and the Careers team will cater their services to meet your needs, you just need to make them known.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Yes, absolutely. As my alma matter always boasted – “the city is your campus”, and that rings true for Imperial as well. With this programme, I found time to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Society and Aging2.0, where I was able to network with industry experts, entrepreneurs, and accelerators, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t moved to London. I highly recommend new students adopt that same mentality by taking advantage of the opportunities an urban environment offers.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
When I first moved to London I lived in Shoreditch, which I loved. A few weeks into my studies I relocated to a flat near Victoria Station because the commute was too long for me. Now that my lease has ended and I’ve secured the role with Elder HQ, I’ll be returning to Shoreditch.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I really enjoy volunteering, but beyond that I love to travel and eat (devour) good food. There are some great spots across London and several food markets that are worth exploring – Victoria Market Hall, Seven Dials Market and Borough Market, just to name a few.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
Yes! I attended a few events, mostly the webinars with the Programmes team, where I asked questions about the application process. I wasn’t entirely sure what career path I’d want to pursue next (Operations vs. Policy), but I knew it wasn’t HR. I highly recommend attending the prospective student webinars, just to have some interaction with the team and seek clarity on any questions you may have.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Try to understand yourself – your life goals and what motivates you. Where would you like to live in five years’ time? How do you motivate yourself? What skills do you need to acquire? I believe it’s just as important for us to consider what we don’t enjoy. If you’re interested in the healthcare sector and have a desire to lead, but seek that extra push and international exposure, go for it. This may not be the best programme for people with business degrees (I found a lot of the content to be redundant to my undergrad) but would recommend MSc International Health Management to anyone from a science-based background looking for exposure to business.