Hardil Shah MSc Management 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: MSc Management

Nationality: Indian

Education: B.Tech Fibres and Textile Processing Technology, Institute of Chemical Technology

About you

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

Before starting my Master’s at Imperial, I worked in Mumbai at a home-textile ecommerce firm as a New Product Development Executive. My role involved gaining consumer insight, conceiving marketing strategies and developing textile products that catered to consumer demands in a fast-changing environment. As a textile engineer, my role was to continuously look at existing product lines, improve them and look for potential extensions of current offerings.

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

2020 was a challenging year to decide to study, not only for me but for students worldwide. After completing a technical engineering degree, I was keen to build on my past experiences and develop a managerial mindset to climb the next step on the ladder. The practical business skills embedded in core modules of the MSc Management programme at Imperial combined with the opportunity to select electives within concentrated specialisms such as finance, offered a great gateway into the world of business and commerce.

Student clubs, guest lectures and industry specific fairs would give me immense networking opportunities with Imperial’s alumni and at the same time learn from their experiences. I anticipated that the opportunity to network with the brightest minds in the business world, technologists and STEM students under a single roof would be a huge asset for me as they represent every field and job level. Combined with the collaborative environment and the diverse student body, I would learn more about different cultures and markets and hit the ground running as I amalgamate theory into practice.


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

I enjoy that the programme attracts students with very diverse backgrounds and experiences. My syndicate teams almost always have people from four to five different nationalities with a range of interesting work experiences and working in teams has been quite enjoyable, even though it has been virtual for the majority of the time.

I love the fact that we represent not just different nationalities but also different thinking styles and ways of approaching problems. In a team setting, our discussions have always been very lively, each of us drawing from our past experiences and bringing something unique to the table. Outside of our syndicate teams, most of our modules have a social aspect in the form of breakout rooms which has been very useful for speaking with a lot of classmates. Student-led clubs were also enjoyable, with several engaging events throughout the year. The future of networking is digital and getting used to it during your Master’s is a good way to prepare for it!

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

I cannot pick one as I am drawn between two modules: Corporate Finance and Operations Management. As an engineer with no academic background in these subjects, these modules were something I was very excited about. Corporate Finance was my first module focused on finance and it introduced me to financial decision making, valuation techniques and investment practise — topics I knew nothing about. Being in London, the world’s financial centre, it set up a solid base for me to dig deeper into the world of finance. I could relate to world happenings at that time be it the GameStop saga or the world of cryptocurrency, and this further led me to opt for the finance specialism electives.

I found the Operations Management module to be grounded with practical, real-world problems and discussions around how these could be solved. Topics such as process management, inventory management, supply chain coordination and their applications for designing and improving production processes in practice were highlights of the module for me. Another enjoyable session for me focused on the Toyota production system — the illustration of the philosophy of the complete elimination of all waste in pursuit of the most efficient methods provided an effective summary of the key learnings of this module.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The industry connections provided by Imperial College Business School. I can’t stress enough the importance of networking!

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

I would say the most challenging part of this programme has been the lack of face-to-face interaction which would have been present in normal times. An essential part of any Master’s programme is the networking aspect and with the world completely changed, that too has become digital. While knowing people outside of your teams was difficult, interactive lectures did help in socialising. Breakout rooms and online social events with the cohort and the Business School as a whole (including a virtual DJ night) meant that things were never dull and there was something exciting to do for everyone.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

Personally, I have been really amazed at the speed at which Imperial adopted and set up the digital infrastructure to deliver the same level of education to anyone in any corner of the world. In terms of technology, I have never faced any issues connecting online while I was studying virtually and credit to the cameras installed in class as the image quality has been phenomenal. It hardly felt I was not in a physical class and that was in essence what the purpose behind it was. On campus, I have been mesmerised by the lovely lecture theatres, individual study spaces and the most popular student hangout place — the Queen’s Lawn. Having experienced both in-person and virtual lectures, I would definitely say the multi-mode teaching experience is not any less valuable and the School does a brilliant job in ensuring you feel part of a very tightly knit student community.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Extremely talented. I am always in awe of the multitude of academic and work experiences people bring. Not only that, there is a sense of collaboration among everyone and it really helps because everyone is navigating paths that intersect at several points. I have met most of my classmates virtually, but I can confidently vouch for each of them having strong work ethics and a desire to learn and grow together.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

My favourite lecturer has to definitely be Dr David Shepherd (Business Economics). I think his lectures were really well organised and while topics were challenging to understand, I loved his teaching style. We learned economic concepts and how to make use of them in different scenarios to see their effects. He complemented his lectures with additional sessions focused on quantitative problems. Overall, I found him really engaging and passionate about what he does and I am proud to have been taught by such a revered economist.


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

I have actively participated in several activities organised at the School but there is one I am very excited about — the Study Abroad elective. I will be completing one of the modules with ESC Rennes (France) called ‘Doing Business in Europe’. It is primarily focused on how business has evolved through the years and how in particular it affects the UK given the Brexit scenario.

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

I am part of the Social Impact and Responsible Business Club as the Director of Outreach and Engagement as well as India Business Club as Head of Events. Organising events this year has shown our resilience in a tough environment and proven that no barrier is too huge. As part of these clubs, I am always looking at networking opportunities with entrepreneurs, social impact startups, professors from Imperial, as well as subject matter experts. We held several events in the technology and social impact space, providing a chance for students to interact directly with recruiters. This regular interaction coupled with cross-cultural experiences via collaborations with several regional career clubs and first hand exposure to managing events has enabled me to communicate my thoughts clearly and represent the Business School and its diversity at the global stage.

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

As someone with an engineering degree, this connection was a strong reason for me to apply to the Business School. Having such a huge community is a huge advantage and one very few schools in the world have. Several competitions (hackathons, case study competitions) I took part in outside of Imperial had teammates from the wider Imperial College London community as well, whom I am still in touch with today.


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

Post-Imperial, I want to go into consulting and I am currently applying to several firms. I want to pursue a career in consulting so that I can learn continuously and challenge myself, explore new avenues and broaden my horizons. Speaking with many passionate consultants at career fairs and workshops organised by the Business School, it is exciting to know about the wide variety of projects one can undertake. The opportunity to work for a very large range of clients assures me I can make an immense impact. The level of responsibility even a junior consultant asserts over projects from day one excites me as it would give me frequent exposure to senior leaders and clients and I will be able to learn from their feedback. Careers is very knowledgeable and up-to-date with recent market trends. They have provided me with case study sessions and one-to-one advice for my CV and cover letters which has helped me a lot. I would highly recommend speaking to them if you are looking for personalised guidance.

London Location

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

I live in Bayswater, a short walk to the South Kensington campus. It is a beautiful part of London with excellent access to two underground stations. My walk to the Business School is a scenic route through the centre of Hyde Park and never feels like a tiring walk. The Queensway road is lined with restaurants, cafés, essentials like banks and multiple grocery shops, as well as other fun places including a bowling alley and an ice-skating rink. Buses run every few minutes 24/7 and take five minutes to get to Oxford Street, London's busiest shopping street.

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

I love exploring new places and it is said that each time you walk down London streets, you will find something new. I can relate to it extremely well. London is a melting pot of diversity and one of the world’s most international cities. It is a city of ideas — from world cuisines, history and culture to architecture, design, film and theatre. In spite of the amazing connectivity through public transport, I enjoy and spend a lot of time walking on London streets. While there are the more touristy attractions of Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, River Thames and the London Eye, London is also home to some of the finest history and art museums in the world. One example is the Natural History Museum which houses a blue whale skeleton!


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

Before applying, I had the chance to attend a QS University Fair which was organised in Mumbai and I spoke with delegates from the Business School. I would definitely recommend this to any prospective students who are planning to apply. It was a great chance to interact directly with Imperial and get my questions answered about my eligibility to apply. As we live in a completely different world now, I would recommend keeping track of the Business School website and attending any online information sessions — you are bound to learn something new each time.

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

To anyone planning to apply to MSc Management, I would say that it is vital to understand from the beginning that as a one-year programme, it is bound to be challenging but equally rewarding. Try to think of how your experiences would contribute to the diversity on campus and what are the areas you want to explore to enhance your skillset. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out of your programme.

Having clear goals and motivations is important, but it is not the end of the world if you are unsure what path you would like your career to take. Learning along the way should be the primary aim for you and it can only happen if you are actively involved. The job market has now changed, and they value people who are flexible and creative. In that aspect, Imperial provides ample opportunities in the form of student clubs and industry expert led workshops that help you to gain experience and showcase your leadership abilities.

The post-study work visa is an excellent option for international students looking to work in the UK after their Master’s so one should aim to make the best use of it. For most people, including myself, a Master’s is their final degree, so enjoy your time, make friends, discover places and make the most of your time at Imperial!

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme: MSc Management

Nationality: Indian

Education: B.Tech Fibres and Textile Processing Technology, Institute of Chemical Technology