BA Geography (Industry), University of Leeds
Graduate Analyst, HSBC
What work experience/internships (if any) did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Before beginning at Imperial College Business School I had completed two internships within the financial services industry. The first was between my second and third year of university, where I completed a year in industry in Hong Kong at HSBC as part of the Global Architecture team. The second was more recent, I completed a summer internship in London also at HSBC the summer before I started at Imperial, in their Global Banking and Markets division.
Why did you decide to study MSc Management at Imperial College Business School?
Having graduated with a Human Geography degree, I was keen to challenge myself and branch out into another discipline which covered subjects that I had no previous exposure to. Furthermore, I also wanted to enter a discipline that was more related to the industry I wanted to pursue, so as to make a lasting impact in the workplace and MSc Management at Imperial was the perfect stepping stone to my career in financial services. I was lucky enough to receive offers from all the universities I applied to including London School of Economics, University College London and Kings, but what made Imperial stand-out for me was of course Imperial’s reputation, consistent ranking and location but the programme itself, I think comparatively there is much more information about the programme online, but I liked the fact that you could tailor your learning to suit my needs and career aspirations. The ability to create a unique curriculum was what really sealed the deal. I was also attracted by the international aspect giving it an even more global perspective.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
I have really enjoyed learning concepts, frameworks and theories that I previously haven’t studied. I have loved reading all sorts of case studies and putting theory into practice in so many business cases and simulations. I can feel myself thinking in different ways and looking at things from various aspects. What is most rewarding is learning the content and then getting good grades and passing exams in subjects which I initially thought I would really struggle with. I also can’t forget to mention the amazing friends that I have made, and I am extremely grateful for that.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Marketing was one of my favourites because it allowed me to be creative and collaborate in a diverse team, the group work was one of the more enjoyable ones. For me coming from a non-business background all the modules are new, I need to learn something totally new, and I found understanding the role of marketing in the value creation process and topics like organisational marketing decisions, marketing strategy and mix, really interesting especially then having to apply this in a business simulation context.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
As for the biggest challenge, for me it was the more quantitative subjects such as Corporate Finance, Accounting and Business Economics. It was material which I had never covered. The most challenging part is the fast pace and intensity of the modules. These five week modules cover concepts and content which normally would be taught over multiple terms at an undergraduate level. On top of that you have many deadlines, group work and individual assignments, the first term you spend a lot of time doing careers events and searching for jobs, then you have exams in December and February. Having said that, there is a lot of support at Imperial through tutorials, career services and the cohort is also very supportive.
Did you attend an international trip? How was it beneficial to you?
I attended the European Immersion trip to Lisbon and the International Study Tour (Global Immersion) to Dubai, both cities I had never visited before. The International Study Tour (Global Immersion) was beneficial as I was able to experience first-hand the social and cultural dynamics of business in the UAE. In addition, something new to the programme this year was the European Immersion trip. I choose to go to Lisbon, which gave me valuable exposure to different companies across a range of industry sectors, MNC’s and start-ups.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
My cohort at Imperial is extremely diverse, international and ambitious. It is full of future leaders and future pioneers of different industries. Everyone has their own life experiences and stories to share, I have certainly made friends for life!
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
My favourite professor was Christian Hampel, he led the Entrepreneurship module in the summer term. He stood out to me because of his enthusiasm and humour. He made the lectures and overall module very fun and engaging. You can tell he is passionate about what he does and that rubs off on the students. He created a good learning environment.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
There is certainly a lot of group work at Imperial and that was something that I knew I needed to adjust to. Almost all modules will have a group work element, in the first term groups are assigned and you work with a lot of different people. In term two and three there is more choice with who you wish to work with. Firstly, it’s a great way to socialise and get to know more course mates that you wouldn’t normally have a chance to work with, group work was actually where my closest friends on the programme to this date first met. The group work environment really is boundless because everyone in the group is from a different country and has different social and academic backgrounds, so it certainly fosters a deeper and richer learning experience. In this global era there is a need to learn about various cultures, religions, social norms and at the end of the programme you have a truly global network which is an invaluable asset in your future career. You learn to play to people’s strengths and there are ample chances to take the lead and hone vital teamwork skills. The great thing about having so many projects are that you can always set yourself targets and goals in the next group work to push yourself and see how you work in distinctive environments. My most valuable experience was the amount of presentations I did, in every group work I presented and this has really honed my communication skills and increased my confidence when it comes to public speaking. It also pointed out areas where I needed to improve going into the work force when it comes to group work.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
The greatest opportunity has certainly been the ability to get to know, work and hang out with a diverse group of peers within my cohort and in the wider Imperial community. You meet and make friends with people from all walks of life, going into different sectors with varying ambitions. It is an environment in which you prosper and grow and being able to access global alumni in almost all sectors and job levels is incredibly beneficial. I also want to mention that there are many opportunities outside of school hours that aren’t part of the programme, for example I took a language course at Imperial that the Business School funded.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
There has been a large array of guest speakers, workshops and events that I have been fortunate enough to attend. We had a guest speaker from Goldman Sachs come during our Strategic Management module, I thought she was extremely insightful and what particularly resonated with me was the application of academic frameworks in real life business practices and situations. We have also had some great talks from big FMCG and consulting firms.
In terms of events, term one career fairs are always exciting to go and talk to others, I was actually part of the HSBC stand which was great when developing communication skills, it was certainly interesting being on the other side. As for workshops, the ones that stood out to me were the Personal Branding, Resilience and Emotional Intelligence workshops, not only were they fun and engaging but I feel I now comprehend my strengths and weaknesses better.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I am an Imperial College Business School Student Ambassador, which has been a great way to give back to the school and promote the programme to prospective students. Speaking to prospective students, through Unibuddy and presenting at information sessions has really honed my interpersonal skills and ability to build and manage relationships with a diverse range of people. I wanted to become an ambassador because I appreciated the help I got from previous cohorts’ ambassadors and I would like to share my Imperial experience with prospective students to help their decision-making process easier. I was also part of a few sports societies which is a great way to network with people outside the business school. If you have time I would recommend getting as involved as possible.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
The Imperial College London brand is exceptionally impressive and well recognised, and it is a real privilege to be part of an incredibly diverse student community. Having a mix of world class engineers, scientists and future business leaders all on one campus is truly inspiring. Overall, the college has been super encouraging, welcoming and professional. Whatever your motivations it is amazing to have so many opportunities to expand your network and develop fundamental skills not only within the Business School but with the wider Imperial community. Anything from volunteering to various social impact programmes and sporting activities, there is always a reason to be on campus when lectures have ended. The alumni network is also extremely vast and a valuable source, for example I connected with several Imperial alumni at my future company. Lastly, be sure to go to the farmer’s market on campus, you won’t be disappointed!
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
Currently my future career goal is to continue to work in London in the finance sector. Imperial has been a great stepping stone from my non-business background to get me further prepared to join the corporate world. Having said that Imperial has certainly broadened my horizons and exposed me to different careers, industries and pathways such as consulting and entrepreneurship/startups. The future aim to be a leader within a large corporate within the financial services sector, leading my own team and making a difference to the lives of others and the environment I serve in.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I received an offer from HSBC in London, for a two year Securities Service Global Graduate programme, within the Global Banking and Markets division. Over the two years, I will undertake four rotations (one international) working in any of the following areas; custody services, investment operations, fund administration, corporate trust and loan agency services.
How did the services from Imperial College Business School Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?
The careers service is a real asset at Imperial College, it is available very early on, even before the term officially begins. Personally, I went to many CV/cover letter consultations as well as assessment centre help sessions. There are also other services like interview prep and case study practice for those wanting to go into consulting. I have heard nothing but praise from my cohort about the careers service, many of whom would not have secured their jobs without it. In addition there are many employer events published that you can get involved in if you are undecided are need help with applications, many workshops and one to one sessions throughout the year.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Studying in London is really beneficial as a lot of the assessment centres and interviews for big corporations are held in London. In terms of networking I know people on my cohort that have reached out to people they have met at career events for a coffee in the city. I also believe the Imperial brand and name is beneficial when it comes to networking and career prospects.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live at Gradpad in Clapham Junction. I choose to live there because it was recommended by Imperial. There are positives and negatives, however, with hind sight I should have chosen somewhere that is much closer to campus/central London. However, I would highly rate the accommodation itself.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?
When you’re not studying… then there is plenty to do! Imperial always has events going on, whether it be social at the union or networking and career events, also there is many clubs and societies to join. In my spare time I am a real sports enthusiast. I regularly play tennis, badminton and table tennis both at Imperial and at local sports centres. I am also a foodie, so love exploring all the restaurants and different types of cuisines, there’s a nice Japanese place near uni called ‘Tombo’ which is a favourite with my friends and I. Additionally, there are an enormous amount of activities to do in London such the West end, markets and many Instagram worthy places. Being in London means there is something for everyone right on your doorstep! In terms of travelling, as I am from the UK I didn’t go on any day trips to various other parts of the UK from London, but many of my overseas classmates did. Personally, I love to travel so took any opportunity in the busy Imperial schedule to travel, apart from the international trips with Imperial to Lisbon and Dubai, I went to Denmark, Japan, China, Spain, France, Germany and Hong Kong, it was important to travel before I started work!
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 moved to London from the North of England, so it wasn’t really a big a move compared to some of my classmates but still London was a very new experience for me. The benefit is that there are many places to visit, eat and party with your new classmates, Imperial’s location is so central, you can get anywhere quickly! I would do thorough research about accommodation as this year I lived a little too far. What I love about London is it is so diverse and international whilst there is so much to do, it really is what you make it. The biggest challenge though is that it is very expensive, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise, my tip would be to budget and manage your money carefully!
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
When I was applying I didn’t attend any online or on-campus information sessions, however once I had received my offer I joined a campus tour and online webinars that introduced the programme further and shared student’s experiences. These were really useful, informative and interactive but I would advise to get in touch early on to see if this is the right programme and place for you as it is a big investment. I would also recommend going to the information sessions, they may seem a bit daunting but there are ambassadors, admissions and programme leaders there to answer your questions, it really is a great opportunity to grill them as well as get a sense of the environment in the business school.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Apply (early)! I didn’t think I would be accepted as it is so competitive (don’t be discouraged), but I was happily surprised! Talk to alumni and current students to learn more about the programme and life at Imperial, it’s a big decision so ask as many questions as possible, I will happily help! Reach out to as many people as you can to get different perspectives, talk to the Admissions team at Imperial for further support and advice. When you are here, make sure you network and take every opportunity available as you get out what you put in.
Here are some specific tips about topics I get asked about the most:
A strong cover letter to sell yourself with your ambitions and why you want to join Imperial is also important. As well as emphasizing work experience, high academic achievements and extra-curricular activities will help. Make sure you know what you want to achieve from the programme and what your career aspirations are, this will be key for the career questions and also on the interview. As for what they look for it, it is on a very individual basis but showing on your application that you have excellent communication, problem solving, and teamwork skills is important.
For the interview I would say just relax and be yourself! In terms of what they look for, the interview is only a part of the application so if you feel you didn’t perform well don’t worry as many of my classmates felt that way, you have to remember they will look at your application as whole. Try not to panic, keep good eye contact, smile, be confident and know what you want to get out of the programme. Think about what skills you bring and what you would bring to the cohort and you should be fine!
I got asked a lot if you needed GMAT to get accepted. I didn’t have GMAT so for sure you can still get an offer without it. A good GMAT score will of course add weight to your application but it is not necessary as there are so many other parts to the application process.