Northeastern University – Boston, MA MSc Operations Research with a graduate certificate in Engineering Leadership BSc Industrial Engineering
Before beginning at Imperial, I had the opportunity to work full-time at three hospitals (Banner Health, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Veterans Health Administration Hospital Boston)
My greatest academic and professional achievement was completing the Gordon Engineering Leadership (GEL) Programme as a part of my MSc in Operations Research (and the successfully implemented project that was a part of it at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)
Why did you decide to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
I decided to study an MSc in International Health Management at Imperial College Business School to complement my current skills/experience and to expand my perspective. Coming into the programme I had good experience as a healthcare systems engineer but no formal business training. I had only studied and worked in the United States, so I wanted to learn about healthcare from the business side at an international level from a top international business school. Gaining a degree from a top university specialised in healthcare business combined with my previous systems engineering experience will give me more opportunities to improve healthcare at whatever level will make the biggest difference.
What makes the MSc International Health Management at Imperial College Business School unique?
The MSc International Health Management at Imperial College Business School is unique because of its course content, international cohort, and experienced lecturers. This MSc is one of the only Master’s courses which teaches core business principles, applies them to the international healthcare industry and then provides opportunities to directly apply the gained knowledge in a healthcare consultancy project.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
Being on the MSc course I have most enjoyed learning from my classmates. With a small cohort of people with different backgrounds representing so many countries it has been interesting to learn about the places they previously lived, worked, and plan to work. Additionally I have enjoyed learning from knowledgeable and experienced professors. Learning from professors who have significant real-world experience or are well-published in their area of expertise has made the lectures much more enjoyable.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Coming into the programme with an engineering background and minimal exposure to business principals was intimidating and challenging at first. The curriculum however is designed for students from all backgrounds and while this was challenging it was not as difficult as I expected. Also there is a major emphasis on group work throughout the programme which can be challenging at times, however learning how to work with a multi-disciplinary team successfully is one of best skills that can be learned on this course.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
The most rewarding part of the programme has been learning about many country’s health systems including the National Health Service (NHS). Being able to visit a couple of NHS hospitals and speak to NHS leaders about current issues they are facing has enhanced my classroom learning. Also now, looking back, it is rewarding to see how much I have learned about international healthcare business and to see how far my classmates have progressed. This is evident in looking at my syndicate group’s early coursework and comparing them to the end. We were able to figure out how best everyone could contribute to a successful piece of work and deliver a good product.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My two favourite modules so far have been accounting (surprisingly) and health systems, policy and financing. Coming into the programme I was dreading accounting as it required a whole new vocabulary and some counterintuitive principles. However, as an engineer I enjoy working with numbers and the more I worked on accounting the more I enjoyed it. Also health systems, policy, and financing was one of the reasons that I joined the MSc. In this module we learned about the inner workings of health systems in many different countries and the main components that can be changed or leavers that can be used to cause system wide change.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
Outside of the primary lecturers, there have been several guest lecturers that have been very interesting. From a career perspective, IHM alumni have come to speak to us about their experiences and also where they now work and many consulting companies have come to campus to discuss their graduate schemes. Additionally IHM alumni arranged an event with experts on the NHS accident and emergency (A&E) departments in all different roles who all spoke about challenges with A&E from their various perspectives. This showed how a complicated system such as A&E can be viewed differently depending on whether the speakers were representing the physicians, hospital administration or the patients. Finally, throughout the first term Claire Perry, a former NHS senior leader and NHS expert, spoke to us several times about the complexities of managing people and technology in healthcare, which was very helpful.
How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
The Business School faculty is not only knowledgeable in their area of expertise but bring real-world experience and research expertise to the classroom. Overall they are very up-to-date and able to help apply business concepts to current issues and to our areas of interest.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
It is difficult to select a favourite professor. My favourite professors are the ones that were able to incorporate activities into their lectures and encourage discussions. I also enjoyed professors that were experts in the topic they were teaching as they were able to bring in examples from their work or research to enhance the concepts.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?
I enjoyed the challenge of trying to get people with different experiences and backgrounds to all contribute according to their strengths to produce a good piece of work. At times this was the most challenging part of the course but at the end of the programme, it is rewarding to look back and see how far my group has come in terms of working together and the quality of output we are able to produce.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
My cohort is a diverse, interesting, and driven group of people who are all interested in improving healthcare in different ways. Whether they are interested in hospital management, healthcare consulting, entrepreneurship or larger healthcare bodies such as government agencies or international organisations, they are all motivated to make a difference. This diversity both in experiences and in future goals is one of the best and most enriching parts of the IHM course.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
Outside of the classroom I have attended seminars from the Consultancy Club, Biopharma and Healthcare Club, and from Career Services on consultancy roles (for example). Additionally I have been involved as a Student Ambassador for the IHM programme, which has allowed me to interact with ambassadors from MSc programmes, alumni, professors and prospective and incoming students. Finally, for a short time, I was a part of the medics rowing team with a few of my classmates from IHM.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
The greatest opportunity that I have had at Imperial from a healthcare perspective is exposure to the NHS. One of my goals when coming to London and joining this programme was to learn about the NHS and also to speak to NHS leaders and see some of the facilities. I have had the opportunity to visit and tour two different NHS hospitals and have spoken to several NHS senior leaders in both group and one-on-one settings. Additionally, specifically in the IHM programme, I have been able to not only learn about the U.K. healthcare system but have learned from professors and my classmates about their home healthcare system and the challenges they face.
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
Coming to Imperial I knew generally what I was interested in doing after the programme but not specifically. The careers services team met with me to help define my future career opportunities, connect me to alumni at those companies, and help me research companies where they had less experience. Additionally once I picked somewhere that I was interested in applying, the Career Services team helped me refine my CV and prepare for interviews and assessment centres. Overall the Career Services team has been very helpful in defining my career goals, identifying great companies and helping create a plan to get a job.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
The biggest benefit that I have realised being a part of the Imperial College London community is the connections and the strength of the alumni network. Whether searching for a job, wanting to learn about an industry or looking for a guest lecturer, the Imperial community is a network of engaged individuals who are interested in giving back to and helping students.
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, I think being in a central location especially one with lots of company headquarters such as London is advantageous. For example, Imperial had a career fair that I attended casually between classes to see which companies were on campus. At the fair I met a few people from a consultancy firm that I had not previously heard of. They invited me to go to their offices the next week to attend a networking and “get to know the company” event. I attended and met some consultants and got to speak to them about projects they were working on, their career goals and what life was like working at this firm. This event convinced me to apply to the firm and led to an interview. While this position was not the best fit for my skills or interests overall it was a very good experience.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
Prior to beginning the IHM programme I knew that I wanted to improve healthcare in a data analyst or process reengineering consultant-type role but I did not know at which scale I wanted to work (i.e. hospital, hospital network, government agency, national agency, international agency). As I have progressed through the programme I have realised that I think I am most interested at starting at the hospital level. From this Imperial programme, and the connections I have made, I could transition to another level much easier than I could have previously. After a few years of technical work I hope to progress into a management role with more decision making power.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
So far I have not received any job offers since commencing this programme, however I also have not applied to many jobs. I have made good connections while being in, and prior to, this programme who have recommended that I apply for experienced hire positions this summer.
Where do you see yourself upon completing the programme?
Upon completing this programme I hope to work for a hospital or healthcare system as an internal consultant specifically focusing on process improvement and systems reengineering. I hope to be able to apply my technical engineering abilities and newly acquired business skills to help improve hospital operations.
Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live near Earls Court tube stop. I chose this location because it is a great location that is more affordable than the South Kensington area but is still within walking distance of Imperial (I live about 1.4 miles away). Additionally Earls Court is a very safe area with many good dining and pub options.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
A weekend for an MSc student varies greatly. There may be a need to do some revision or coursework on the weekends, especially near deadlines, but overall with good time management most students do not need to work every weekend. London has endless options for weekend activities. Depending on your interests there are many cheap and free activities including historical buildings/neighbourhoods/sites, museums, outdoor markets, great restaurants and pubs, theatre shows and concerts, festivals, and much more. I enjoy exploring London’s many parks by going for a jog, exploring new pubs and restaurants with friends and traveling around England and Europe (on longer weekends).
In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
I think many of the most exciting places in London are the discovered ones. I really enjoy the Trafalgar Square area, walking along South Bank and eating near Tower Bridge at night. However one place that I really enjoy is walking or running around Battersea Park. I also have, somewhat unexpectedly, come to enjoy going to the theatre (also not undiscovered but the lesser known part is you can usually get very cheap, good tickets to major shows if you go to the ticket booth the day that you want to see a show as long as you are not too particular on which show you want to see).
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?
Overall moving to London from overseas has some challenges but they can be manageable. For anyone coming from oversees it is important to keep track of all of the necessary documentation and the deadlines for various payments and document submission. There are many deadlines but everything is easier with some organisation. The other major challenges were setting up an international student bank account and finding accommodation. I recommend reading about/learning about both of these before coming to London as they both of these can take a long time and are important.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
I think before applying to the course it is important to think about your career goals and consider how this programme will help you progress towards them. Overall at Imperial and in the IHM programme each person’s experience can be shaped depending on what you want to get out of it. I think the IHM programme content is very good but there is much more that you can get from the programme if you know where you want to go and can be intentional about how you spend your short time at Imperial.
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 I attended an online information session when I was applying for the programme. I found the information helpful, especially for information about the visa process and career services. Going into the session I had researched the IHM programme content extensively but it was useful to be able to hear from the programme director and a current student and be able to ask them questions. I would recommend students attend these events if they have any questions or want to learn more about the programme other than what is on the website.
Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier!
Do not forget your ID card especially if you are going to be around campus after hours or on the weekend; it can be difficult to get around. Also there are many places to meet with your syndicate group but around deadlines they can be reserved far in advance so make sure to book a discussion room if you have an important meeting before a deadline.