Austin Allaire, MSc International Management 2019-20, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: MSc International Management

Nationality: American

Education: BBA Accounting & International Business, Baylor University

Job after Imperial: Associate Consultant, Teneo

About you

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

Before beginning my studies at Imperial College Business School, I had several internships, most notably with KPMG in Dallas, Texas and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Working in the field of international tax ignited my interest in global business and curtailed nicely into my studies in the MSc International Management programme.

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

I chose to undertake an MSc International Management in order to further advance my own educational development and differentiate myself in a competitive job market. Living and working in the United Kingdom had been a long-term goal of mine before applying to the programme. When I applied, I did so with the intention of leveraging my experience to gain an employment opportunity that would enable me to continue living in London beyond the programme. I am happy to report that the Business School’s Careers team did a great job at preparing me for interviews and I will be staying in London to work as a strategy consultant when the programme comes to an end.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

I have greatly enjoyed the international flavour of the programme – both amongst the people and the programme itself. With regards to the people, we are a group of 43 students representing 27 different nationalities. This has been a tremendous asset both inside and outside of the classroom, as everyone brings their own unique cultural perspective to discussions and experiences. The programme itself is also very international with the opportunity to engage in an international design thinking project. I had the opportunity to travel to India*, which had an incredibly positive impact on my learning.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module was the Climate Change and Business Strategy elective. Over the course of four (very full) days, we had the opportunity to meet the scientists, corporates, engineers and entrepreneurs who are working to address the climate crisis across all sectors. This module brought out the best of studying at Imperial by bringing together leaders working to address the climate crisis from both a scientific and a commercial perspective. We also ventured out from South Kensington to explore sustainability initiatives at London’s Olympic Park and the Transport for London (TFL) headquarters. Through this module I gained a deeper appreciation of both the scale of the climate challenge as well as our ability to overcome it.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The most rewarding part was definitely travelling to India to help a startup accelerator improve their business model using the knowledge base developed throughout the programme. Our experience really demonstrated how academically rigorous yet commercially practical the classroom experience is within the Business School.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Through the programme, I have learned a lot about working in teams. Teamwork is an essential skill in today’s workplace; however, it requires practice. Fortunately, nearly every module in the programme has provided an opportunity to work on a different type of team assignment, ranging from financial analysis to research to presenting. The classroom has served as a safe space to make mistakes and learn how to work constructively with a variety of individuals.  

How was the Leadership in Action module and international trip* to Bangalore/São Paotlo beneficial to you?

I had never travelled to India before the Leadership in Action trip*, and I learned so much through the experience. Not only did I experience the challenges and opportunities associated with working in India, I also gained a deeper appreciation for the wonderful hospitality, amazing food, and rich culture that sets the subcontinent apart as a cultural treasure. Getting to experience all that alongside many of my new friends from the course made the trip all the more memorable.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Our cohort is incredibly connected. What started on the first day of induction as a room full of strangers quickly became a room full of friends as we bonded through our shared experiences. Over the course of the programme, we have had many social events to strengthen our sense of community, including a riverboat cruise, a black-tie dinner, football matches, and holiday celebrations, among others.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Tommaso Valletti stands out in my mind as a professor that exhibits the “Imperial difference.” As the former Chief Competition Economist for the European Commission (Directorate General for Competition), Tommaso brought an incredible wealth of real-world case experience that brought our core economics module to life. Moreover, he was incredibly approachable and was always happy to have a quick chat during the break or after class. Many of the faculty at Imperial College Business School bring fascinating real-world experience into the classroom, which creates a rich learning environment.


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

The greatest opportunity I have had at Imperial is the opportunity to serve as the Chair of the MSc International Management Student Staff Committee (SSC), which includes an appointment to the Dean’s Student Advisory Council (DSAC). Working alongside these two bodies, I have had the opportunity to shape the learning experience for not only our cohort, but also the broader Business School. This has been a particularly humbling experience as the SSC and DSAC have served an integral role in helping the School adjust to the unprecedented transition to remote learning wrought by COVID-19.

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

I’ve been involved in several leadership capacities at the Business School. As already mentioned, I serve as the Student Staff Committee Chair for my cohort as well as the Deputy Chair (Academics) for the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. I also serve as a Student Ambassador, whereby I get to interface with prospective students at in-person recruiting events as well as through an online platform called UniBuddy. I enjoy getting to speak with prospective students about their passions, interests, and aspirations – and how Imperial would make an excellent partner in building their future.

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

The Business School provides a number of opportunities to engage with other programmes, including the Welcome Event in the fall, which was held at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. In addition, our SSC Social Chairs have done an excellent job at creating opportunities to engage with students across other programmes. We’ve held happy hours with other cohorts and even rented out a riverboat for a cruise on the Thames with the MSc Management and MSc Strategic Marketing cohorts. We’ve also had several football matches with students from the MSc Management cohort.

How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?

Being connected to the broader Imperial College community is significant in a number of ways. First of all, it provides the opportunity to encounter students from other faculties at common places like the student union, the dining areas, or even the gym. I’ve made several connections through our shared spaces that have helped to expand my thinking. Secondly, the connection to the College provides academic insights that would not be possible otherwise. The Climate Change and Business Strategy elective exemplifies this by bringing in relevant academics from the College to provide much-needed context surrounding their specialities.

How have you found the unprecedented switch to remote delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

I have been impressed by how seamlessly Imperial was able to quickly transition to remote delivery amidst the COVID-19 crisis. As an established leader in online education for many years, the Business School was able to quickly extend this capability across all programmes and modules. I was pleased to play a small part in advising on this transition through my leadership roles, and I was encouraged by how proactive the Business School’s leadership team was in ensuring the transition was student-centred.


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

I came to the Business School with the intention of securing a role in management consulting following the programme. I secured an associate consultant position with an incredible strategy consulting firm here in the city for after the programme and I couldn’t be happier.

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

The entire Careers team is fantastic and puts forward a tremendous number of resources to enable students to succeed. I personally owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Daley, one of the Career Consultants specialised in consulting. His guidance enabled me to succeed at the application process by advising on my CV and cover letter as well as preparing me for case interviews.

London location

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

I found Imperial’s strategic location in central London to be highly beneficial, as I was able to readily engage with employers at both on-campus and off-campus events. Many potential employers act as guest lecturers and are active at on-campus recruiting events. In addition, I was invited to several off-campus recruitment events in the City, which I was able to easily access due to Imperial’s close proximity.

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

I chose to live in Shoreditch, East London. I was drawn to the area for its reputation in arts and culture. I have enjoyed exploring the area – especially its many coffee shops, restaurants, and markets. Even though it’s not as close to South Kensington as some other popular student areas (White City, Earl’s Court, Clapham Junction), my commute to campus was a quick 35-minutes on the Northern and Piccadilly lines – and the location is close to the City and Canary Wharf, which made interviews and off-campus events easily accessible.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring all that London has to offer. I’ve attended several shows in the West End, concerts in Shoreditch, and several festivals throughout the year. I am also into coffee and photography – and London has provided opportunities to experience the best of both. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I bought a bicycle and I have enjoyed going for rides to various parks and historical landmarks. 

What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

An obvious challenge of moving to London is the cost of living; however, if you have a budget and stick to it, you will be just fine. The major benefit of moving to London (which far outweigh the literal cost) is the city’s incredible diversity. London is a major global hub; as such, it provides many opportunities to enjoy the best of dining, culture, and entertainment – all right in your backyard!


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

I attended the Future of Consulting workshop in the spring of 2019. At that event I met several members of the programme team and experienced first-hand all that Imperial has to offer. Obviously, in-person visits may not be feasible given the COVID-19 situation, but I would highly recommend that students take advantage of the other available means of interfacing with the programme team and current students at this time in order to get a better sense of what Imperial College Business School has on offer.

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

A mentor recently advised me that in challenging economic times, investments in higher education are always a wise idea. I think that is good advice. If you see something in the MSc International Management that would help you to achieve your career aspirations, come along and apply – you certainly won’t be disappointed. And, of course, if you have any questions, the friendly Admissions team is always happy to assist you!

*Previous classes travelled to Brazil and India with the Leadership in Action module. The future locations students will travel to on the module are not confirmed.

Programme: MSc International Management

Nationality: American

Education: BBA Accounting & International Business, Baylor University

Job after Imperial: Associate Consultant, Teneo

Want to know whether the programme is right for you?