Sahera Fakher, MSc Management 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: MSc Management

Nationality: Lebanese

Education: BE Chemical Engineering, American University of Beirut (AUB)

About you

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

After taking a waste management elective at my previous university and finding the programme topics to be extremely interesting, I interned at JCC Araco Group which is a construction and environmental engineering company based in Beirut, Lebanon. I was part of the waste management engineering unit for two months. I rotated between the warehouse, sorting and leachate treatment plants as well as the marketing department. I conducted an analysis of the leachate after it had been processed to ensure that the pollutants were removed. Moreover, I researched various types of biofilters, aiming to reduce toxic odour in landfills, and I selected the most effective option based on cost, market availability and efficiency. I also performed a data study to determine the daily average amount of organic waste treated and transformed into compost relative to the amount of organic waste collected. During my internship, I got the chance to apply the knowledge that I had learned in the classroom which was fascinating and insightful.

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

Throughout my four years at AUB, I acquired extensive technical knowledge related to chemical engineering processes and design. I gained the skills required to excel in product and process design, instrumentation, process control and optimisation. Moreover, several of my modules required me to participate in startup competitions, during which I employed my engineering knowledge to develop, design and market sustainable products. These competitions ignited my interest in strategy, business and entrepreneurship. I realised that I wanted to develop my business acumen and commercial awareness to complement my strong technical background. I wanted to gain knowledge on how businesses around the world function. Therefore, I believed the time had come for me to expand my business background in order to improve my decision-making skills as a professional in my future career. I was particularly looking to pursue a business degree that does not require a Bachelor of Business. I was excited to dive into the business world by pursuing a Master’s degree in a world-class institution in a city that has always been my favourite. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of the students enrolled in the MSc Management programme this year have extremely diverse backgrounds, which confirmed my choice.


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

The programme is highly interactive and up-to-date with current events. Every module of the programme encompasses several case studies through which the programme material and objectives are taught. The case studies are extremely interesting as they often discuss companies and brands that we know, use and love on a daily basis.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module so far has been the Marketing Decisions module offered by Dr Stjin Maesen in the autumn term. During every class, Dr Maesen used to show us video examples of different marketing tactics employed by a variety of very well-known companies. The discussions that followed were always extremely interesting and insightful. It has been my favourite module because of the coursework that my group and I completed. We worked on launching a new product offering by HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery service operating in Europe. Our brainstorming sessions were always so fun and eye-opening. The project required us to think outside of the box, be creative and to market the new product offering to a specific customer segment.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

Personally, studying abroad constituted the most rewarding aspect of the programme. It was a great opportunity for me to travel, although amid the pandemic, and experience a new lifestyle. Living abroad, far from the comfort of my home, has been a life-changing experience. It forced me to be independent and adapt to change and new challenges. I built confidence in living on my own which contributed to my personal development.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

The most challenging aspect of the experience has been trying to juggle the programme’s coursework and deadlines and my job applications. It is a tedious process that every student goes through. In the autumn term, I had two interviews in the same week as two of my final exams. I also had a project to complete with my team during the same period. It was difficult, however, I managed to do well on both the exams and the interviews. The key was to manage my time effectively but also to plan and execute in advance. Time management and project management are key skills that every student will most definitely develop during their time at Imperial.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

The multi-mode teaching delivery has been great so far. The Business School made the experience of attending classes online smooth and easy. Imperial has equipped its classrooms with cutting edge technology to help facilitate virtual attendance. I wrote a blog about my experience with multi-mode teaching delivery. If you’re interested to know more, make sure to check it out!


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

It has been great to be surrounded by intelligent, passionate and like-minded people. The work environment with my peers is so dynamic and energetic. It’s in this unique type of environment, that I am most productive and innovative. Being a student in the Business School at Imperial allows you to make connections with some of the most motivated and driven people in the world. Moreover, my cohort at Imperial is incredibly diverse. There are people from more than 20 different countries around the world. I am grateful that I got the chance to meet, collaborate and exchange ideas with many peers from all over the world.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Dr Elena Dalpiaz was my favourite professor. She lectures on the subject of Strategic Management. Since the first lecture, she emphasised the importance of diversity at the Business School while she ensured that every student felt comfortable and at ease in her class. She constantly expressed concern for her students’ well-being while keeping her classes fun and informative. Her classes hosted guest lecturers from reputable firms around the globe including Goldman Sachs and McKinsey & Company, which were interesting and interactive. She also used to always dedicate five to 10 minutes of every class to allow the students to socialise as she was aware that it was hard for them to meet during the pandemic.


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

The greatest opportunity I’ve had at Imperial is the chance to meet and work with driven and motivated Imperial students and alumni from all over the world. One alumnus that I met referred me to the current company that she is working in. The Business School constantly emphasises the importance of networking and building connections. I am trying to implement this lesson in my day-to-day life and the benefits are many! I encourage every student to do so as well.

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

I have attended a variety of different workshops that contributed to my personal development. I particularly benefitted from the series of consulting workshops given by Mark Daley from Careers. I learned everything that is essential to know when applying to consulting companies, including what consulting employers look for, how to make my application stand out, how to solve cases, etc. I also found the networking workshops held by Careers to be of great value as they helped me create several connections with alumni from the Business School.

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

I am a member of the Consulting Club, the FMCG, Luxury Goods & Retail Club and the Lebanese Society. The clubs have hosted several workshops and events that were highly beneficial. The Consulting Club organised the Peer-to-Peer case programme which allows students to practice cases with each other and receive feedback on a weekly basis. I am also a Student Content Creator for the Business School which means that I get the chance to share my experience as a student in the College through blogposts, pictures and videos posted on the Business School’s social media platforms.

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

During orientation week, I had the chance to meet and socialise with peers across the MSc Strategic Marketing, MSc Finance and MSc International Health Management Programmes. Moreover, I met several others on campus. It was a very pleasant experience. During my electives that will start next month, I will hopefully have the chance to work with students from other programmes.

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

After joining the Imperial College London Alumni group on LinkedIn, I reached out to several alumni who followed career paths that seemed interesting to me. I also reached out to alumni who currently work at the companies that I was applying to. Most of them were very kind and helpful. I was grateful that I got the chance to have calls with them and learn from their experience. They gave me tips and advice on how to make my applications stand out, and they helped me pinpoint what employers in their companies were looking for.


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

One of my long-term career goals involves establishing my own startup. I have participated in several startup competitions in the past and I have always been passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. Before launching my own business, I would like to be a consultant as I believe that it constitutes a great opportunity to learn to solve complex problems while being exposed to a variety of different industries. During my time at Imperial, I have learned about consulting and about the skills that I need to develop to reach my goal. I am pursuing the strategy specialism and I look forward to learning more from the electives that I chose!

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

I remain in the process of applying to jobs. Careers has been of great help so far and I encourage every student at Imperial to make the most out of their services. I attended several one-to-one sessions with the careers consultants, during which I learned how to tailor my CV and cover letter to a variety of different companies. It is important to note that Careers is comprised of experts in a wide range of industries including Finance, FMCG, Consulting, etc. I received specific and tailored help that allowed me to obtain several interviews. Careers also offer interview preparation to any student who has a scheduled interview/assessment centre. I used this service to prepare and I was able to improve my communication skills and posture. There are a variety of different aspects to consider when interviewing online and Careers prepared me well!

London Location

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

I most definitely think that it is. Due to the pandemic, all my networking took place virtually. However, I believe that if the circumstances were different, most of the interviews and assessment centres that I attended virtually, would have taken place in a central location in London. I believe that it is important to keep that in mind when looking for a flat.

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

I live in South Kensington on Cromwell Road. My flat is around a 12-minute walk away from Imperial which makes it significantly easier for me to commute! I also wanted to get the chance to live in a very lively area in Central London. Finally, several of my Imperial peers also chose to live there so I thought it would be a great idea to get a flat that would be close to them. I encourage every prospective student to consider living there, as they will get the chance to be near famous attractions in London while being able to walk every day to campus!

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

I particularly enjoy reading non-fiction and self-help books as I find them to be very insightful and eye-opening. I believe that each book teaches me a valuable lesson that contributes positively to both my personal and professional life. I also have a passion for creative writing: writing poems allows me to express my emotions and I find it to be extremely therapeutic. I also really enjoy having walks around London (whenever it is not raining!) as I am always on the hunt to discover the best spots in the city to have a pleasant time in with my friends.

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

It was challenging to move to London during the pandemic, however, despite all the setbacks, it has been the most enriching journey that I have ever experienced. I got the chance to roam the streets of London and visit some landmarks like the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. I also got the chance to enjoy Imperial’s beautiful campus. I enjoyed attending classes in-person while meeting and socialising with my peers. The major setback that I experienced was the lockdown that happened in November for a whole month. It was the first lockdown that I had to experience on my own. However, I kept reminding myself that choosing to move during unsettling times, meant that I had to be ready to overcome the struggles that might arise. During the lockdown, I studied, exercised, learned new recipes and walked every other day in Hyde Park. I encourage every prospective student to take the choice to move to London as it constitutes a unique experience that they will remember forever!


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

I attended the annual QS World University Tour which hosted recruiters from the top business schools in Europe. I had several questions for the recruiter from Imperial and she was eager to help. I was particularly confused about the difference between the MSc Management and MSc International Management programmes. However, after sharing with the recruiter more information about my background and my career goals, she advised me to apply for the MSc Management programme. Moreover, she gave me tips on how to improve my CV and how to make my application stand out. Overall, it was a very helpful and insightful experience. I advise every prospective business school student to attend, to ask a lot of questions and to take notes.

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

I believe it is very important for you to think extensively about what the programme will add to your educational journey and about how relevant it is to their your career aspirations. I also encourage you to do a lot of research about MSc Management and the Business School on Imperial’s website. There are a lot of resources that can guide you and erase your doubts. Finally, I push you to reach out to as many alumni as possible through LinkedIn. It can be surprising how much useful information you can get from people who were once in you position. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions!

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme: MSc Management

Nationality: Lebanese

Education: BE Chemical Engineering, American University of Beirut (AUB)