Clara Burr-Lonnon

Clara Burr-Lonnon

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

I had various internships in both London and Boston. I worked for the NHS as a Healthcare Assistant in the Coombe Wood perinatal unit and as a Teaching Assistant at Chelsea Westminster Hospital School. I also worked as a Public Health Advisor for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster, advising on public health/arts initiative. Back in the US before I finished university, I was the Business Development Associate at a chronic disease platform associated with the School of Public Health at Boston University.

Why did you decide to study MSc International Health Management at Imperial College Business School?

I chose to study MSc International Health Management at Imperial because I had dipped my toes into various aspects of the health sector, so I knew I wanted a Master’s degree where I could build upon my health knowledge with tangible business skills. MSc International Health Management is a perfect balance of both. I was able to delve deeper into aspects of the health sector while applying my new knowledge in a business setting. I also wanted flexibility down the line. I knew if I studied purely a Health policy degree I would be more pigeon-holed into the health sector, and should I desire a career shift down the line, having the business backing will be a transferable skill set that no other programme offered.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?

Finishing group projects was the most rewarding part as I was able to see the culmination of hard work in a tangible product. I always enjoyed presentation days as it was exciting not only to see what your group’s finished product looked like, but also to learn from what other groups had been working on.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module was the Business Plan competition. It was really nice to be able to brainstorm and come up with a unique idea together which we truly believed could be sold on the market. Working with people who were so passionate about the idea made each day working on the project very exciting. As always, we didn’t know when we would hit a roadblock in our idea, but working with people who were truly confident about the idea and went above and beyond to do external interviews and research made each day exciting. At the end, we had a competition where each group pitched their ideas and we were really excited to come in second place.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

Balancing focusing on the International Health Management programme, while also applying to full-time jobs and maintaining a healthy social life. Friends on the programme make every step of the way easier as you ride the journey together. Also, the careers service was extremely supportive and made the job hunt much less stressful and put me at ease throughout the journey.

People

How do you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort is a melting pot. A mix of cultures, work and life experiences culminating together to make an MSc International Health Management 2017-18 family.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Harpreet Sood; As the NHS England’s Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer and a Professor, it was great to not only get an academic perspective during his class – Management Challenges of Healthcare Organisations, but also to get his professional perspective. He was also always willing to chat and help – taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with students.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?

I’ve learnt not only about my strengths, but also my weaknesses. Each group has its own dynamic and it’s been interesting learning about the different roles I take on in each setting. Working in a group setting really sets you up for the “real world” because it always takes a team to accomplish great things in life. It has also been interesting to hear about other people’s ideas when we were given a task and coming to a conclusion as to which approach to take together.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

The connections Imperial has given me have been invaluable. The Imperial name opens so many doors that I can’t single out one opportunity, it is the culmination of experiences at Imperial which has made this year so incredible.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?

Healthcare Club (Vice President), Women in Business Society, and the Consulting Club.

How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?

I enjoyed attending guest lectures from other departments. Having access to both Business School events and also university wide events were invaluable to my experience at Imperial. It was nice to feel a part of both the Business School, and also the Imperial community. Access to both Business School and university wide clubs was a great option as well and there is so much offered.

Career

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

I would like to gain experience initially within the NHS, especially after living in the US for 14 years and being surrounded by such a fragmented healthcare system. I am excited to see where the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme takes me and what doors it opens. I have realised since being at Imperial that I like juggling lots of different stakeholders at once and enjoy variety in my day-to-day life. A position with the flexibility to see both immediate results and work towards long term goals is also important for me. Though having a health background pre-International Health Management, the programme has made me realise the power that the business has in the healthcare ecosphere and has shown me the exciting things happening in the private sector as well. Down the line, I would like to work in the private sector, possibly back in the USA and apply what I learn from working in the NHS.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

Yes, NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme – general management stream. I will spend the first 11 months working in an operational placement at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital, three months pursing a flexi-placement of my choice (either within or outside the NHS), and spend the final 10 months in a strategic placement at the Healthy London Partnership (a partnership between the NHS in London, the Mayor of London, Public Health England, and London Councils).

How did the services from Imperial College Business School Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?

Before any interviews I would have a practice interview with a member of the Careers team which was really helpful in order to think about potential questions and get feedback. I used the resume/cover letter review slots which are available every week. They were also able to put me in touch with alumni who had previously done interviews at the same company in order to ask further questions about what the application/interview process was like.

London location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? 

Definitely! Living in the epicentre of the UK’s career opportunities has been key. Visits to offices and events at employers locations such as GSK, BCG, McKinsey, BUPA and many more would not have been so seamless had I lived outside of the city. Also, knowing you live in London means you can attend networking and career opportunities as they are close by and easy to get to. Especially if you know you want to work in London (like me), it is great to be able to network and apply to jobs where you see yourself after the Master’s.

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I chose to live in Clapham because my cousin, also in her early 20s told me it would be a good place to live because of the mix of young professionals and students who live there. It has been a great place to live – good transport connections to Imperial, many options for shopping/food/drinks; also Clapham Common is a great place to meet friends and have a picnic when the weather is nice. It is also a bit quieter, and it is nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of central London.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?

I really love the arts and culture so you can find me wandering around art galleries such as the Royal Academy of Arts and The Barbican. One of my friends from MSc International Health Management got me into life drawing classes which we now attend together weekly. I really enjoy exercising and spend a lot of time running, which is a great way to explore parts of London. My favourite is to run along the Thames through Battersea Park. I also spend a lot of time doing spin and yoga classes. My friends and I love exploring different restaurants so I spend quite a bit of time going around to different places all over the city. On Sundays my favourite thing to do is go to Columbia Road Flower Market with my flatmate to get some flowers to brighten up our flat for the week ahead.

I have travelled to Amsterdam, Rome, Florence, and various places in Scotland while on the programme. However, because I have spent quite a bit of time travelling Europe before, that was not my priority this year.

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

Though I am originally from Kent, I spent 14 years living in the US, so London was a relatively new city for me when I started MSc International Health Management. London is a big city and sometimes it can seem overwhelming because of the amount of things it offers. However, it is important to remember that there are so many people in the same boat – so many people move to a new city without knowing lots people and it is exciting to make new friends and explore places together. I would recommend making sure you get yourself out there, don’t be afraid to try out new things, and Meetup is great for discovering new people – a few people on my programme and I would go to Meetup events to meet other Londoners while doing an interesting activity like yoga or life drawing.

Tips

Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?

I attended an on campus session a year before I applied when I first thought I was interested in the programme, an online webinar before I applied, and also an admitted student’s day the June before I arrived on campus. They were definitely beneficial in getting more of a feel for what Imperial life was like and what opportunities were available to grads after finishing the programme. I would definitely recommend them to prospective students – it is best to get a feel of the campus and the programme through one of these sessions. The website can only say so much!

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

Go for it! If you have an interest in the space where healthcare and business overlaps and if you even have an inkling that International Health Management could be right for you, apply and talk to current students (connect with us on LinkedIn and ask us questions. We are always happy to help and share our experiences).

Clara Burr-Lonnon

MSc International Health Management 2017- 18

Nationality: British & American

Undergraduate Education: BSc Health Science, Boston University

Job after Imperial College Business School: General Management Stream, NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme

Connect via LinkedIn