BA Culture, Business & Society, Franklin & Marshall College
Managing Director, Chipper Cash
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I worked in marketing, in financial services in Ghana before starting at Imperial. I chose a career in marketing because I’ve always loved to write, and because I’ve always been interested in human and consumer behaviour (I studied Cultural Anthropology in my undergrad). I also chose financial services because it’s having the most impact on Ghana’s economy by giving unbanked individuals (majority of the population) access to savings, loans, and insurance for the first time. My roles in marketing revolved around customer engagement, grant applications, and digital marketing in both B2B and B2C settings.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Strategic Marketing at Imperial College Business School?
I chose to study theMSc Strategic Marketing programme because I wanted insights into not only marketing, but overall business strategy. I aspire to be a business leader in all of business. Plus, I enrolled in this programme to gain more insights into strategic, big picture thinking, rather than focusing on tactical actions.
I chose Imperial because of the Business School’s exceptional reputation and because of how practical the programme is. I was attracted to the Entrepreneurial Strategy & Planning module where we get to pitch a business idea, and the Consulting Project where we get to solve a problem for a business in London. I felt that having this exposure would not only poise me for leadership in marketing but would enable me to be a well-rounded business leader.
Did you receive a scholarship?
I was one of two recipients of the Business School Dean’s Fund scholarship. Imperial is an extremely competitive school and being recognised in this way, out of the hundreds of students in the Business School, made me feel proud and validated. It also made me feel like I had made the right decision to pause my career and pursue a degree in higher education.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
I have enjoyed the programme so much! It has been challenging sometimes but always rewarding to work in teams with my classmates from different ethnic and academic backgrounds. I have also enjoyed the on-campus events organised by entities such as the Enterprise Lab and even external organisations such as, the New Entrepreneurs Foundation. For instance, about a month ago, I got to meet one of my heroes - Jenny Campbell, who used to star on 'Dragon's Den.' It was surreal to think that in 12 months I went from watching her on TV in Ghana to meeting and receiving invaluable life and career advice from her.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My favourite module has been Strategic Product Management taught by Dr Jan Ross. One of Dr Ross’s research areas are risk and uncertainty and how businesses can develop strategies that enable them to thrive in dynamic political, economic, and competitive environments. As you can tell, it was extremely relevant and highly engaging. I have no doubt that I will leverage my knowledge from that module for the rest of my career.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
The summer term consists of the Entrepreneurship Strategy & Planning module where we work in teams to develop and pitch an original business idea to a panel of lecturers and external judges. The most rewarding part of the programme is seeing the quality of ideas and breadth of thinking from not only myself but from my peers. A year ago, if given the same project, we would have probably focused mainly on branding and digital marketing, but as almost-graduates of programme we’re thinking bigger and using pricing, product development, and market entry timing as competitive advantage strategies. This big picture thinking is exactly what I came to Imperial to hone.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Definitely the frenzied pace of the first term. The programme doesn’t start slow and it was quite challenging balancing adapting to a new city, working in groups with complete strangers (who by the end of the semester became close friends), and meeting multiple deadlines that seemed impossible. However, it was necessary for us to do so much in the beginning to have a solid foundation, and it became less challenging with time once we all settled in.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
We’re a very diverse group in every sense of the word - ethnically, intellectually, age and gender-wise. Some of us have worked in finance, advertising, and consulting, while others came straight from university. What binds us is our passion for marketing and our strong belief in the positive impact it can have on any business’s bottom line. I can’t wait to see what we all achieve in the years to come!
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
It’s tough to say because the standards for all the teaching styles at Imperial were high. I have enjoyed the fact that we were taught by both stellar industry professionals/entrepreneurs, and academics. It made for an excellent balance between the theoretical and practical aspects of the programme, and it meant that everything we discussed was extremely relevant in today’s dynamic business environment.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
It’s difficult to single out one thing. I would say the greatest opportunity has been that we have had access to so many different opportunities during our time at the Business School – whether it is a talk by a world famous author – Dr Alexander Osterwalder, or a successful entrepreneur – Chris Sheldrick (CEO & co-founder of what3words), courtesy of a live taping of the Imperial College Business School podcast and the option to attend external events such as Fintech Talents for free.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
Early in the year, I attended a talk on ‘Building Invincible Businesses’ by Dr Alexander Osterwalder, the creator of the revolutionary Business Model Canvas concept. This is a concept that was discussed in two modules – Strategic Market Management and Entrepreneurial Strategy & Planning – so it was useful for me to have the chance to learn directly from the creator of the concept.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I knew I would get the most out of my experience by being involved in extracurricular activities, so I served as Marketing & Communications Manager of the African Business Club, submitted content as a student blogger for the Business School and was an active member of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club. Attending club events enabled me to expand my network by engaging with the wider Business School community.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I will be joining Chipper Cash, a venture-capital-backed financial technology company, that builds software to enable free and instant peer-to-peer cross-border payments in Africa and Europe. I will be the Managing Director, overseeing growth in Ghana and West Africa.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Most definitely. I had the opportunity to attend a talk on ‘Building Invincible Businesses’ by Dr Alexander Osterwalder, the creator of the revolutionary Business Model Canvas concept. I also I got to meet one of my heroes - Jenny Campbell, who used to star on 'Dragon's Den’ at an event organised by the New Entrepreneurs Foundation. Being in the centre of London, at such a prestigious school means there are many opportunities to broaden your knowledge and expand your network.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
Having studied in another country as an undergraduate, I knew living abroad as an international student can be an isolating experience. To combat this, I chose to live in a tight-knit postgraduate residential community called Goodenough College. A friend of mine lived here last year, but I also heard more about it on one of the Imperial incoming student webinars. I chose to live there because I wanted to meet students in other schools and to explore London. We have thriving clubs and societies such as the Go To Stadium club, which subsidises tickets to watch Premier League and UEFA Champions League football games (I was able to attend a Premier League game at Wembley).
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I really enjoy walking through London. I’ve spent the year discovering the city and it has been invigorating to take in the history, food, architecture, and local vibes.
What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?
The benefits have been living in a global and diverse city, but the downside is how expensive it can be (depending on your lifestyle). If you’re worried about how expensive it is, my advice is to apply for scholarships and consider living with roommates or flatmates. However, London is student-friendly, so no matter your budget there are affordable ways to entertain yourself!
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
For information on the Business School and life as a student at Imperial, I read student blog posts and reviews about the programme on the Imperial College Business School website.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
I would encourage them to reach out to current students and alumni on the programme, either through LinkedIn, the ambassador programme or student blogs. The rigour and the holistic business focus are certainly not for everyone, especially if they’re interested in the more creative aspects of marketing. However, I think regardless of your leanings, the knowledge you will gain is extremely enduring and valuable, so please seriously consider the programme!