Naomi O’Donnell MSc International Management 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: MSc International Management

Nationality: Japanese/Irish/Swiss

Education: Bachelor’s in Management, HEC Lausanne

About you

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

During my gap year in 2016, I did a few internships. The first was for a luxury/fashion magazine in Paris where I was the assistant to the creative director. I also analysed the Australian and Japanese cosmetics market for their latest project, which was to create a global database including all relevant professionals in the beauty industry. I also did an internship in a marketing agency, where I mostly researched and synthesised client data on excel and compiled weekly updates comparing forecasts to actual conversion numbers. During my first month at IImperial, I also took part in a consulting project in parallel to my classes. I was part of the first cohort of the Global Fellowship programme organised by Cases Over Coffee. We helped a company called Marketing Arena establish its post-COVID strategy.

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

First of all, my plan was always to do a master’s in management, as I would like to build a career in consultancy and more specifically in the luxury industry, perhaps as a brand manager.

The reason why I chose Imperial’s MSc International Management was because of the programme itself. The focus on leadership and “soft skills” is greater than in any similar programme offered by other business schools. Additionally, the opportunity to travel and partake in real-life consulting projects abroad was also an attractive element. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we will not be able to travel to those destinations, but we are still doing the consulting project remotely for companies located in South America, which is also a great way to gain experience.

Finally, the reputation of Imperial College Business School was also a convincing element as it is well known internationally.

Did you receive a scholarship?

Yes, I did. I actually did not apply for one so I was very surprised when I found out I was granted a scholarship. This was truly helpful in making my decision to attend Imperial and I am very grateful to have received it. Ever since I accepted my offer at Imperial, I’ve had many opportunities to do interviews with different journals and blogs, which has been very exciting.


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

I like the fact that each module is short but intense. I believe that it is the best way to prepare us for a variety of career paths. It is a management programme after all, so it is better to have a good understanding of a bit of everything rather than a heavy focus on just one or two subjects. It is also a relief to have assessments rather than exams. I believe that it is a much more accurate way of measuring our capabilities. Rather than memorising a bunch of information from our textbooks, working in teams on case studies is a much better reflection of the realities of working in a firm.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

So far I have enjoyed the Leadership in Action module as it is a bit of an unusual class. We had the opportunity to learn with horses, which I had never experienced before! The type of discussion led in class was also interesting and more interactive than other classes.

I also really enjoyed Competitive and Corporate Strategy. I had not studied strategy before, so it was a new subject for me, and the professor was so passionate and funny that it made the lectures interesting.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

Perhaps the most rewarding part for me is the fact that I moved to London for this programme and I am one step closer to beginning my career in the city I dreamed of for so long. COVID-19 really made me doubt if I was going to be able to go through the whole process of moving countries and starting my master’s so it is truly rewarding just to be here.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

I think the challenging part in all of this is more related to managing your own time and being organised rather than to the modules themselves. I personally learned a lot of the basics during my undergraduate so nothing was new (though of course, we are analysing in a lot more depth than back then) but each professor gives you a lot to do and many of those tasks are group work, meaning not only do you have to organise yourself, but you also need to organise meetings with your group, set deadlines and so on.

How has the Leadership in Action module been beneficial to you?

It is an interesting module and the second phase is completely different from the first. The first phase taught me about the do’s and don’ts of being a leader and how to improve myself to become the type of leader that I want to be, whereas the second phase is teaching me about design thinking, which is more oriented towards the end-user rather than myself. I believe this module allowed me to improve my critical thinking. 

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

I think Imperial really tried their best for us to have a little bit of the experience of coming on campus and meeting our classmates, even if it was only once or twice a week. This is a new situation for everyone so of course there were a few hiccups, but overall, I think they managed it as well as they could. I think it was great that we had the Student-Staff Committee because if we had any sort of problem, we could tell them and they would report it to the module team. Without them, I think the multi-mode teaching would have been a lot harder for everyone. 


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

I really enjoy the diversity of our class and I wish I could have had the experience of  seeing them in person every day and get to know them better. It is truly amazing how people from all around the world came to be a part of this programme.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

I think Dr Christiane Bode would be my favourite professor, just because she was always super energetic and funny. It made the lectures more dynamic and as a result, I enjoyed her class, even though when I first saw it on the programme I didn’t think it would be that interesting to me.


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

The most useful workshop I attended was the one about case study interviews because I had never heard of this type of interview before. It absolutely makes sense that this method is more accurate to evaluate a candidate than a “standard” interview but quite frankly it was scary to hear that this was what was waiting for us. I think this workshop made me realise, and many of my classmates as well, that I had to step up my game and prepare seriously for interviews. It was very informative and without this intense workshop, I probably wouldn’t have realised how meticulous this type of interview is.

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

I am part of the luxury subcommittee of the FMCG, Luxury and Retail Club. I am very happy to be a part of this club as it aligns perfectly with my career goals. It is very useful because not only do we share tips for job opportunities in this industry but also talk about all the trends and have amazing guest speakers from world-renown brands. It is very insightful.

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

Yes, during summer I attended one of the online events where I met many people from different programmes and eventually one of the girls that I met reached out to me, so I had the opportunity to meet her once I was in London. Additionally, as I have joined the FMCG, Luxury and Retail Club, I have met a few more people from different programmes, and we were able to get to know each other a little during the online welcoming event. Other than that, I did not have many opportunities to meet people from different programmes, mostly due to the pandemic.


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

The industry that interests me is Luxury; whether in real estate, fashion, jewellery, or art, as I personally find this elegant and timeless category to be very intriguing. My end goal would be to create my own consultancy firm specialising in high-end brands, but first I need to gain experience as a consultant and learn more in-depth about the industry itself. Therefore, after graduating from my Master’s I would like to either find a position as a consultant in a niche firm within the luxury industry or a position within the marketing department of a high-end brand and progress towards eventually becoming a brand manager.

So far Imperial has provided me with the academic tools to analyse and solve a variety of cases appropriately, as well as insights and trends of the luxury industry through all the events the FMCG club has organised.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme? How did the services from Careers help you secure employment/in your professional development?

At the beginning of the year, I focused on creating an Excel sheet with all the employers I would potentially like to work for. As I am passionate about the luxury industry, I considered applying to industry leaders such as LVMH and Richemont, along with luxury startups and small boutique consultancies in London. In May, I actively started to reach out to employers and submitted my applications wherever I could. So far, I have received a few interview requests. I am in the final round of interviews for one company, and halfway through the interview process for another. I am yet to receive an offer, but I am confident that I will get one soon. Throughout this process, I took the opportunity to use the services from Careers. I wanted to make sure my cover letter was well written and ready to be sent out. My career consultant gave me great advice on how to tailor it to resonate better with employers.

London Location

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

I definitely believe that moving to London was a good decision for me in order to find a job. In Switzerland, there are not that many job offers and therefore it is extremely competitive. I believe that a big city like London will have many more opportunities for me once I graduate. London also has a much more diverse range of companies as well as more opportunities in the luxury industry. Naturally, this led me to do my Master’s in London so I could immediately start working here once I am done with my studies. It is also a strategic move because companies generally prefer to hire people who are already in London.

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

I live a bit further out from campus than most, next to Wembley Stadium. The reason why I moved here was because I have a dog and not many landlords accept dogs in the city centre. Nevertheless, I am quite happy here. The area was completely rebuilt recently and I have all the necessities at walking distance, and it is a bit more peaceful than the centre.

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

When I am not studying (which is not that often to be honest!) I enjoy going out for drinks with friends or going to a nice place for dinner. Because in Switzerland there isn’t that as much variety, I want to enjoy London to the fullest! Obviously, my plans got a bit interrupted by COVID-19, so these days when I am at home I like to take some time for myself and also more creative hobbies such as painting and photography.

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

I was already living on my own before, so I had to move all of my belongings from Switzerland to London. It was particularly hard because of COVID, and there were such uncertainties about everything. Finding an apartment was also a bit challenging because of my dog and also because I couldn’t go in person to see if everything was OK. Fortunately, I came to London last November (before all the COVID drama) for an information session at Imperial so I had the chance to visit the apartment I am living in now, it is the only apartment that I visited so that is also another reason to why I decided to move here.  Other than that, I did not really face any difficulties with visas because I am Irish, so I was lucky on that end.

To anybody who is planning to move to London from a different country, my only advice is to plan ahead and be well organised. If you do that, and the pandemic restrictions have been eased, then everything will be fine.


Did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?

The information session I attended on campus was really useful, and it convinced me that Imperial was a good fit for me. After the session, I was more motivated than ever to try my best to get into Imperial. Additionally, the information session truly gives an overview of what the programme is like and you get information that you wouldn’t get on the website alone. I definitely recommend going to one of the events to see if this is a programme (and School) that fits your needs.

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

I think this programme is great if you are thinking of pursuing a career in consultancy especially. There are many workshops and modules oriented around consultancy more than any other career path (at least so far), so if that’s the path you want to follow then I encourage you to apply for this programme. If you do decide to apply, I would also advise you to be well organised and to be up-to-date with the workload because each module is very short and intense before you know it, it’s over! And you might find you don’t have time to catch up on what you missed.

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme: MSc International Management

Nationality: Japanese/Irish/Swiss

Education: Bachelor’s in Management, HEC Lausanne