BA Advertising and Public Relations, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Digital Client Service Executive, Nielsen UK
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I have held a number of positions before beginning with Imperial College Business School. In 2018, I worked for Ogilvy China as a public relations intern. In 2019, I worked for Blue Current, a FleishmanHillard sister agency and a global top public relations firm, as a digital strategy intern. Following this, I worked at the DUKE-UNC China leadership summit as an outreach and publicity external chair.
In 2020 I began working as a branding and marketing strategist at Hermark Culture Beijing, an arts management boutique consultancy that helps Western performing art groups enter the Chinese market. Later in the same year, I started working as a part-time account executive at TONG digital, a boutique digital consultancy based in London.
Finally, in March 2021 I began working as a Digital Client Services Executive at Nielsen UK, a position I currently hold.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Strategic Marketing at Imperial College Business School?
I have always aspired to learn in an international context, to develop a global mindset, and to contribute international perspectives wherever I go. I want to grow into someone with marketing expertise, an international mindset and the competence to work in a new cultural setting. Thus, after familiarising myself with advertising, PR and marketing in both Asian and North American cultural settings, I wanted to come to the UK to learn more about business here. My education and professional experiences across two different continents have situated me in a position to succeed in the MSc Strategic Marketing programme.
I have a passion for digital marketing and an eagerness to learn everything that revolves around it. The MSc Strategic Marketing programme offers a great range of modules to pursue my academic goals. I chose Imperial not only because of its reputation and ranking, but also the innovative and technology-and-data-oriented approach and immense networking opportunities, which I believe will benefit me long after graduation.
Apart from the interesting programme modules, I’m particularly attracted to the summer project. Having worked in both Asia and America where clients are from all over the world, I very much look forward to experiencing the work environment in London through the work placement. To me, life is a process of pursuing knowledge, challenging oneself and striving to make a difference. I want to help companies better understand and succeed in their global markets. And I see myself achieving my goals through studying at Imperial College Business School.
Lastly, the location in the heart of London really attracted me. London has immense career opportunities and I want to establish my career here. I also love art and culture and I want to be able to immerse myself into this culturally rich city.
Did you receive a scholarship?
Yes, I received the Imperial Excellence Scholarship (formerly known as the Imperial Business Scholarship).
It came as a surprise because all applicants were considered automatically upon admission to the School. Not only has it supported me financially, but I recognise it as a big encouragement for my past achievements, my ability, mindset and ambition for the future. As an international student, this scholarship also motivated me to strive for a better representation of my culture and I’d like to bring that into future academic and/or career environments.
I want to help more prospective students in the future because I believe there will be people who have similar backgrounds, experiences or mindsets to me, and need help or advice along their way. The scholarship further encouraged me to give back to the community whenever I can because I like the feeling of helping others and I firmly believe in the power of networks in the business world.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
The programme setup. It might sound nerdy but the way MSc Strategic Marketing modules are designed has met my expectation about this programme and what I have planned in terms of developing my skills and knowledge. For example, for the first semester there were analytics and research modules accompanying digital marketing, consumer behaviour, strategic marketing and management modules. Throughout the semester, knowledge and theories taught in one class can be adapted in other modules, allowing students to form a comprehensive picture of the industry and train their ability to apply transferable skills.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Strategic Market Management is my favourite module so far. It is a semester-long module about the marketing theories and practices and case studies from the past to the present to the predictable future. The readings were carefully selected and were interesting reads (such as Harvard Business Review articles or newsletters); I’ve been actively following the industry trends and found the module super helpful for understanding the industry better outside the classroom. The module was engaging, interactive and challenging, requiring students to form their ideas and understandings about the industry.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
The career development. MSc Strategic Marketing really pushes and encourages students to develop their career network and paths. Before the programme started, we were offered access to all kinds of career resources, trainings, workshops and lectures. Throughout the semester, the programme has consistently provided lots of opportunities for students to participate and grow their skills.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
This academic year is a bit different due to the pandemic, so I’d say the most challenging part I found is to get a full campus experience. Imperial College Business School and the programmes team have done their best to ensure in-time communications, diverse activities and helpful opportunities both academically and professionally. However, not being able to immerse in the on-campus learning environment somewhat hinders students from getting a university experience which could sometimes add challenges to other aspects of learning such as group work, networking and social hang-outs.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Diverse, smart, culturally sensitive, kind, ambitious, cheerful and clear about their goals and future.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
James Eteen from the Strategic Market Management module. Eteen is an expert on strategic marketing and business in general. Having solid and inspiring professional experiences, he pushes us hard in thinking critically, encourages us to learn actively and teaches us everything about this industry with heart and passion. He is also very patient and kind in offering help to every student who has concerns about the programme both academically and professionally. He gives constructive feedback and also takes feedback from students seriously, allowing both parties to develop and thrive as the semester goes on.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
To be able to connect with lots of alumni who have strong professional experience and expertise in the industries and sectors which I love. LinkedIn, workshops and lectures were great channels to grow my network.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I’ve attended many lectures and guest events and found the spotlight panel sessions have been very helpful in developing my skills and knowledge. These are week-long events where alumni from different programmes in the Business School working in different tech or digital companies were invited to give speeches about their career development and the companies they are at. Most importantly, these events offer great chances for students to reach out and connect with alumni afterward and establish a long-term relationship.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I’ve joined the LGBTQ+ Career Club and the Technology, Media and Telecommunications club. I am also a Student Ambassador for the MSc Strategic Marketing programme.
Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?
Being a Student Ambassador allows me to work and socialise with students across programmes within the Business School. We went through the training together, and throughout the semester we work together to deliver an all-round experience for other students. Through working and planning, we were able to network across programmes too.
How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?
Imperial College London has lots of activities, services and opportunities, and being in the Business School offers first-hand access to all the tech-oriented approaches in teaching, entertaining and service. For example, students from the Business School can also attend events, join clubs, and use on-campus resources from Imperial College London. Moreover, graduates of Imperial benefit from having the reputation of a digital, data-oriented approach to business when entering the job market.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I want to stay in London and establish my professional career path in the marketing industry. I have several experiences on the agency side across the world and I want to polish that a bit more upon graduation. After gathering enough agency experiences and having a clear idea of what sector/company I want to go for, I want to work in the in-house marketing teams for my dream company/brand.
Eventually, I want to use my expertise in marketing and contribute to art and culture because throughout my studies and working, art and culture were the things that kept my creativity going; business is not only about figures and data, being in marketing fields require practitioners to be more humane and speak to the public. Thus, I value the importance and impact of art and culture on marketing practitioners and want to contribute to it as my career matures.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I received the job offer at TONG digital in October 2020 where I worked for five months as a part-time Account Executive. It is a Sino-Western consultancy and social commerce agency; I was charged with helping brands with their entry into the Chinese market through social media channels and e-commerce platforms.
In March 2021 I received an offer from Nielsen UK and have since been a part-time Digital Client Services Executive.
All my past experiences were in Asia or North America, and as I am trained as an advertising and public relations practitioner in the US, I was familiar with writing and producing in the American style. Working part-time while studying at Imperial allowed me to really understand the business environment and ethics in the UK and is helping me finding my interest, passion and professionalism in the marketing industry in the UK, which is something I think will help me compete in future job hunts.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Yes, definitely. I like to network and reach out to industry professionals and being in London allowed me to really connect with them on a personal level which in turn greatly helped my career development. I was given opportunities to visit the offices on site after connecting with people from the companies I love. Since this year is a bit different, most of the networks and events happened over Zoom. Yet being able to be in the same time zone and have common things to talk about really helped me forge relationships with connections I value.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy reading (I’m a big fan of Virginia Woolf!), training and cooking good food. I also really enjoy art galleries and museums because I grew up with it (I was born into an archaeologist family). I especially enjoy Egyptology and I recently taught myself to read simple hieroglyphs.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?
There are many cultural and historical sites that offer you peace of mind as you strive and thrive in this metropolis. People are diverse and the society is tolerant and welcoming. I love cultural exchanges and I am fascinated by daily cultural differences (whether it’s UK vs US, or UK vs Asia). I think when you set your mind on constant curiosity, every day you will be happy because you get to learn something you don’t know before.
Unfortunately, the pandemic this year really shattered lots of expectations and dreams. From obtaining a visa to buying flight tickets to quarantines, everything could be difficult when you are on your own. I was lucky enough to have someone in London taking care of my needs prior to my arrival and I greatly appreciated that. Otherwise, looking for housing and getting small daily tasks done in lockdown time can be difficult.
I highly recommend joining social group chats (whether it’s WhatsApp or WeChat) to find people who are in the same boat as you. Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask questions, and ask for help. Everyone has gone through similar things and you will be understood.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
I did not attend either. I read thoroughly through the website and contacted Student Ambassadors and alumni for inquiries prior to my application. I found the most useful part is to talk with students who have been in the programme to make sure the programme fit me well and how I could better showcase my strength in the application.
I’d recommend prospective students attend these events because not only will you meet your potential future classmates and alumni, you could also benefit from their questions. You might learn the importance of some information that you thought you didn’t need. Moreover, it’s a good chance to connect with alumni before you enter the School to get help on a more personal level and make friends.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
As mentioned above, attending webinars and information sessions will be useful. Connect with alumni or people who are studying the programme. Read through everything about the programme and everything about the application before you start.
Take some time to write down everything about you that you think is worth showing and that is relevant to the programme. When it’s time to write your personal statement, remember to show who you really are, not someone who has completed a million things and won a million awards yet has no personality thoughts. Be humble and be smart, there might always be people better than you, so you really need to select the things that make you stand out.
Most importantly, remember to have fun in the process! If you are excited just by reading the programme descriptions, then you are definitely on the right track.