Mats Brandt MSc International Management 2021
Programme:
MSc International Management 2020-21
Nationality:
German
University and subject studied for undergraduate degree:

University and subject studied for undergraduate/Master’s degree: BSc Business Administration, Hamburg School of Business Administration

About you

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

I started my professional career in 2015. For my bachelor’s degree, I received a sponsorship from Beiersdorf AG, a multinational FMCG producer (including brands such as NIVEA and Eucerin) based in Hamburg, Germany. The following three years I spent my time rotationally at university for study terms and at the company for internships (each lasting three months). I gained insights into accounting, marketing, reporting and analytics, manufacturing controlling, sales, and business controlling. After graduation, I worked full-time as a consultant in our group accounting and controlling department until the start of my Master’s programme.

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

Many factors drove my decision to study at Imperial. Personally, I wanted to prove myself in a very competitive environment, stretching my abilities at one of the world’s leading business schools. It was partly my inner curiosity that pushed me towards this combination of programme and school. I did not search for the option with the highest possible overall grade; I searched for the challenge. With regard to the MSc International Management programme, it was specifically the focus on leadership abilities and international exposure, as well as mindset development, that caught my attention. I want to become a future leader fit for the biggest challenge ahead of us - to drive sustainable and innovative business models and growth in volatile markets and uncertain environments.

Did you receive a scholarship? 

I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to support my studies. The obvious benefit of this is financial support. With all the expenses for tuition fees, living costs, and additional travel expenditures, receiving financial support is a great help. But it is not limited to that: as a scholarship recipient the Business School encourages you to take leadership responsibilities within the student body. Your background and insights are used to promote the programme and the Business School on social media channels, and for you personally, this is a great chance to increase your visibility – both among fellow students and future employers. My advice to future applicants is to seriously consider applying for a scholarship. I personally believe that the opportunities connected with receiving a scholarship are of great value for your personal development. It is important to be ready to engage to fully uncover the potential of this opportunity.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you enjoy the most?

The biggest asset of this programme is the cohort itself. Our extremely diverse group of students from all around the world, with various backgrounds, focus areas, and interests, is of tremendous value for everyone. We may be very different, but we are all here for the same reason: to grow personally, to build our networks, and to find friends for the rest of our lives. Every individual in our cohort has unique stories to tell, unique experiences to share or unique knowledge to offer. I am pretty sure that a business created solely with people from our cohort could be quite successful! We all share the same values but combine a very broad range of skills and expertise that make us a highly effective group.

Everyone is outstandingly supportive and friendly, we help and are there for each other, specifically in these challenging times. I am sure we will have a great year together. We not only value one another for the backgrounds and networks that we bring into our cohort, we value the diverse characters and perspectives that broaden our minds and help us develop a true global mindset.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module has been Leadership in Action – it is the only module that accompanies us on our transformational journey for the entire year, and does so with a very unique approach. It has by far been the most interactive module in the first term and fostered a very strong culture of exchange, collaboration, and learning among the cohort. Participation surveys after each class make you reflect on your contribution to the discussion. While some say that this provides additional pressure to engage in class, I highly appreciated the learning effect. When filling out the surveys, I always reflected on what I’d said in class and what the lecturer or other students added to this. This is a long-term learning achievement that I would not have reached without this approach.

Leadership in Action is what really differentiates this programme from other Management programmes at comparable business schools and universities. I did not expect to be taken on such a reflective and transformational journey within just a couple of weeks. You will start to intensively question yourself, your behaviours, your decisions, mistakes and what you can learn from them. You will understand how others perceive you and how you can use your strengths and weaknesses to shape your environment, ultimately leading people around you. For me, this experience helped me make huge progress in understanding and leading people.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The relationships to the people in our cohort and the atmosphere are incredibly rewarding. Everyone is supportive, but also very thankful for everything you do for the cohort. As the Academic Leader for the MSc International Management programme, I am impressed by the appreciation that we as the Student-Staff Committee (SSC) receive from our fellow students. We put a lot of work and effort into all of the topics we cover, but I know from past experiences that this does not necessarily mean receiving recognition. To see that people value engagement motivates me even more to raise my voice for every single student on our programme.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Time management is something you should not underestimate on any Master’s programme. The volume of readings, assignments and ongoing applications (such as those for additional extra-curricular engagements), and regular deadlines that you must meet are sometimes very hard to manage. This is even more challenging when the outcome of something is not only dependent on you but on your entire team. As most of our work is online, some members of our teams for group assignments are not in London but spread across the globe, which requires even more coordination, communication – and time management. It is important to plan ahead and to be able to prioritise if necessary. It is always hard to leave something aside if you aim for the maximum in everything you do, but this stretch mirrors real-world scenarios and decisions we have to make in business. The experience is very meaningful.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

Multi-mode teaching is a new challenge. One could say it is easy to combine the knowledge from face-to-face and online only and make the multi-mode experience a flawless experience right from the beginning. It is not – and this is fine. Professors and students likewise must adapt to this environment. While professors must keep in mind to include people online when part of the class is in front of them, for students it is sometimes strange to hear people talk “out of nowhere”. Despite some minor glitches, I am convinced that multi-mode teaching is indeed a very useful and efficient tool for our current situation. The advantages are obvious and hold the potential to shape the way we learn in the future.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Professor Tommaso Valletti can – without any doubts – be described as an outstanding professor. He is one of the lecturers that make Imperial a special place. With his personal experience as the Chief Competition Economist at the European Commission he managed to bring a unique perspective into our economics classes. Although economics itself was not new for us, he achieved huge attention and enriched the class content with practical stories from his time at the European Commission. This is what adds the real value from faculty: most of the content is not completely new to us but it is of extreme value to have this content connected to different business perspectives and work with that, thus creating a rich and insightful classroom experience.

Opportunities

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

I am delighted that I received the opportunity to represent my cohort as the Academic Leader. As part of the Student-Staff Committee, I am in regular exchange with the programme’s management team. We raise the concerns and proposals of our fellow students and work on continuously improving the MSc International Management programme together for future cohorts. In this position, I also gain insights into the processes and the future initiatives of the Business School.  

Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

I truly enjoyed the sessions with external people from the business world, which are either hosted by the faculty as guest speakers or by one of the many career clubs of the Business School as evening sessions. All of them give meaningful insights on some very specific topics. These sessions serve as a great complement to the input from lectures as they enable us to apply learnings to real-world scenarios. Although the teaching at Imperial itself is strongly connected to business cases, I think it is extremely important to attend speeches with people from big employers: they offer the business exposure we need to transfer our knowledge and adapt our thinking to real-world scenarios.

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

I am happy that I managed to secure some leadership positions at Imperial: as the Academic Leader I am part of the Master’s in Management SSC, and additionally member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee (DSAC) and Edtech committee, which covers all the topics around our digital learning experience. Additionally, I am the Head of FMCG in our FMCG, Luxury, & Retail Career Club at the Business School, and I am also a Student Ambassador.
Moreover, I joined several clubs as a member based on my personal interests, such as the Asia Business Club, the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club and some societies from the wider Imperial College like the German Society, Model United Nations, and UNICEF.

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

The exchange with people from other programmes is more limited than in the past years due to COVID. Some of our networking events and get-togethers have been cancelled or postponed, but I would encourage anyone reading this – now more than ever – to use the opportunities offered by clubs and societies. I am in close contact with students from other programmes within the FMCG, Luxury, & Retail Career Club – not only to our leadership team but also to the various club members that we have. Additionally, my position in the SSC connected me to all the Academic Leaders of the other programmes. I am happy I have met them; they all offer additional perspectives and interesting insights from different disciplines.

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

The biggest benefit of being part of Imperial is access to the societies from the main College. Hundreds of clubs offer the opportunity for everybody to find something to engage with - sports, charities, social engagement, tech topics, and many more. This is also a great chance to connect to people from non-business backgrounds. As a STEM university, Imperial nurtures young talents from nearly all disciplines. For example, I joined a club that supports communities in rural Rwanda with research and technological innovations. In this context, business people, techies, and engineers work together on making a positive impact in developing countries.

Career

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

It is my personal goal to make an impact with whatever I do in the future. I am very happy in FMCG as I love to work with tangible products, to serve consumers across the globe and to know that with the work I do every day I can make the lives of others better or easier. Working in FMCG for me means to work with a strong purpose and I personally believe that working with a purpose is a requirement not only for strong performance, but also happiness and satisfaction. In the longer-term it is my aim to take on leadership and management responsibilities. Imperial and its strong focus on personal and leadership abilities helps me to prepare for this journey. Within my student leadership roles, I can test acquired knowledge before using it in the real business world.

London Location

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

London is a metropolis, home to many multinational companies and specifically strong in finance. It is the perfect place to study as you are close to the business, you can easily get in contact with companies through Imperial alumni and even the interesting startup industry is getting stronger and stronger. I am convinced that not many other cities in Europe offer such a variety of career opportunities. People are generally very open and happy to chat if you are interested in specific roles. The key is to effectively use your network and that of Imperial.

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

I decided to book a studio in a student accommodation in Hammersmith. Due to COVID, student accommodations cannot currently unfold their advantages such as regular networking events, get-togethers and meetings in the common rooms. However, I think it’s worth the investment. Hammersmith is actually a very nice area and I am very happy I chose this place. Supermarkets, restaurants, and pubs are close by and the Hammersmith tube station is just a two-minute walk. From there, it is a 15-minute ride to campus. The Westfield shopping centre is a 15-minute walk. Whenever possible, I use my bike to go to campus – it is only 15 minutes and some fresh air in the morning is the best way to start your day.

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

I try to spend as much time as possible with my friends. Within just a couple of weeks, we became a very close group and, if possible, plan something together every day. The advantage of moving to another country to study is that you don’t have any other commitments. This leaves quite some space to spend the rest of the time with the people you get to know - enjoy the city, visit the surroundings, and take a break from the demanding study programme. In the end however, free time is also somewhat limited. The core studies, extra-curricular engagements, societies, and clubs use most of my time during the day – but there is always some time left to go for a drink or a nice dinner!

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?

I can only recommend moving to the city you are studying in – although this might not be a requirement in the future anymore. But the experience is different - you are closer to your fellow students, the experience is richer and more tangible, and I am pretty sure you won’t regret being in the middle of this experience. If you are open-minded and curious, I don’t see any big challenges in moving to London (except the cost). It is a large but also a very international city and you will always find someone to support if necessary. Don’t think too much about possible scenarios and don’t plan every step of your journey. Move to London, get to know the people, and enjoy your time in one of the greatest cities in Europe!

Tips

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

I attended one of the online webinars prior to applying and it was helpful to get an overview of the process,  but it strongly depends on your personal preference - I prefer to read through every detail of the website myself. If I am interested in something, I should know it anyway – so better to read it yourself than be presented with half of the story. I can also strongly recommend getting in touch with the Student Ambassadors. I did it only after I was admitted to plan my time at Imperial, but now, as I am a Student Ambassador myself – I know that we can give helpful tips even early on in the application process. Don’t be shy to get in touch - we are happy to help!

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

Before applying, make sure you understand what Imperial stands for. Compare the values of the School to your personal values. I am convinced that only a good fit will lead to a successful story for both parties. Critically, question what you want to achieve in your career and how Imperial and the programme can help you on your way. If you use this analysis and strongly connect your values to the values of Imperial in your application, I am sure you will have a good chance of receiving an offer. And don’t forget - Student Ambassadors are happy to help!

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme:
MSc International Management 2020-21
Nationality:
German
University and subject studied for undergraduate degree:

University and subject studied for undergraduate/Master’s degree: BSc Business Administration, Hamburg School of Business Administration