Shruti Maheshwary, MSc Strategic Marketing 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School
Programme:
MSc Strategic Marketing
Nationality:
Indian
Education:

BSc (Hons) Management, University of Warwick

Company and role secured after programme:

Brand Management Internship, P&G UK

MSc Strategic Marketing 2020-21

About you

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

I had a year and a half of work experience before starting my Master’s. I have done three internships, two of which were in the field of marketing in startups. One of my internships was with The Wedding Brigade, an Indian online wedding management and eCommerce portal. My next internship was with India’s fastest growing parenting app, BabyChakra, where I redefined their content strategy through brand collaborations to increase user interaction on the platform. I also successfully led India’s largest virtual summit, Breast Is Best, promoting breastfeeding awareness and managed to garner a reach of 7.5 million people across all their platforms. I also worked as a Community Manager at an Indian coworking space, 91springboard, where I managed communities of sizes 10-800 in population by seeking out opportunities benefitting the startup ecosystem to achieve business growth and increase coworking potential.

Why did you decide to study an MSc Strategic Marketing at Imperial College Business School?

Having lived in 10 different cities since childhood, my fascination with the varying colour schemes used by brands in ad campaigns and the diverse ways in which they market their products globally has grown exponentially. My multicultural background has made me aware of my capability of better communicating with and appreciating people by being receptive towards their value systems and celebrating their uniqueness. The possibility to take this understanding, impact people’s impressions and develop an emotional connection towards a product solely through marketing is what I find truly incredible.

Additionally, the work placement route was a key motivator to applying for the programme as it would not only strengthen my skill set by providing me with a glimpse of my future career, but also challenge and enhance my decision-making skills by allowing me to fortify my theoretical knowledge and apply it in practical situations. Additionally, the prospect of being able to learn from leading marketing professionals through guest lectures and broaden my network and deepen my knowledge further stimulated my interest in the programme.

Apart from Imperial’s cutting-edge focus on technology and innovation, my inclination towards the university also stemmed from the way in which it grooms its students into tackling real world challenges through thought-leadership. I was positive the Business School would also provide me with unparalleled avenues of growth through its wide network of industry experts, access to leading conferences such as the 2019 MIT-Imperial Innovation Journeys Conference and the exceptional Imperial College Business School Careers, enabling me to break the glass ceiling and eliminating the recurring disparity altogether. Finally, the global perspective it promotes along with a strong focus on equality and inclusion deeply resonated with my beliefs and played an important role in applying to the institution.

Programme

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

What I’ve most enjoyed about the programme is that everything we cover in the modules is highly relevant and applicable to today’s world. Additionally, the substantial discussion-oriented elements allowed us to develop an in-depth understanding of cases spanning across a broad range of industries enhancing our commercial awareness. Given the diversity of our cohort, we were exposed to global business examples. Since my cohort came with different depth and breadth of work experience, every conversation with my classmates challenged me and enabled me to learn something new. Apart from the relevance factor, in hindsight, I do believe the programme also instilled a high level of critical thinking among us. All group exercises, assignments and exams were designed in a way to make us think from different perspectives and go beyond the surface level to actually use our creative thinking as marketers and devise innovative solutions and recommendations. I can already see the difference in my thinking and believe that this has trained me to think on my feet, especially during interviews!

Moreover, the programme promotes a forward-thinking approach as it recognises that the world is increasingly becoming tech-enabled, and good marketers need to be able to make data-driven decisions. The focus on data, analytics and technology ensures that we are well-equipped with all the necessary knowledge and skills to enter a field that is amid a rapid transformation.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Marketing Decision Making has been my favourite module so far as it allowed us to use all our knowledge gained in the programme to work on a simulation as a marketing team in a competitive and exciting environment. It resembled a real-world scenario and the gamification of the module kept us on our toes and motivated us to constantly take risks, think creatively and perform our best. It was very different from the conventional way of teaching as it actually enabled us to apply our learnings from other modules in a restriction-free environment with continuous support from the coaches who encouraged and challenged us to perform to our best potential. I would like to especially credit Mr James Eteen for making the entire experience thoroughly enjoyable!

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The programme goes beyond simply imparting theoretical knowledge and the assignments encourage practical analysis and creative thinking on real-life scenarios, much like the ones we would face as marketing professionals on the job.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

MSc Strategic Marketing places a considerable amount of emphasis on group work and rightly so. The programme places you in a diverse team from varying backgrounds to work with for the entire term. Every term, we get allocated a new group to work with. While this meant exposure to new potential friendships and broadening of network, the unprecedented times we currently live in also came with its own set of trials and tribulations. Since a lot of our coursemates were studying remotely, I experienced working with a virtual team for the first time. Even though navigating through time-difference, individual objectives and cultural differences took a bit of time, once we figured it out, we were able to effectively align our working styles and strengths. Looking back, I can safely conclude that the challenges and triumphs that came with it have honed my ability to communicate well and make worthwhile contributions in a team.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Our MSc Strategic Marketing cohort is extremely diverse, bringing in a broad range of cultures, ethnicities, work experience and educational backgrounds. This has enabled me to engage in stimulating conversations even outside of the classroom with topics ranging from social issues, history and technology. The diversity of our cohort has played an important role in making our class and group discussions more meaningful by encouraging us to become more receptive to varying perspectives and learn from each other’s experiences and skills.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Mr James Eteen is my favourite lecturer. He taught us three different modules and each one of them exceeded my expectations. What really made a difference to me was the time and effort he put into giving us feedback that was not just limited to our assignments, but his approachability in lectures and through emails made it easy for us to engage in discussions. He spent time going out of his way to suggest resources and interesting reads and being flexible in his teaching structure to spend more time on a discussion or query if required. His engaging delivery effectively instilled in us agility and out-of-the-box thinking, which truly helped refine my problem-solving and critical thinking skills. I immediately noticed how I was able to apply his teachings in interviews and I am certain that the knowledge and skills imparted by him will stay with me long after my Master’s.

Opportunities

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

Writing has always added an element of stability in my life and has been a form of self-expression for as long as I can remember. I’ve been writing poetry and short stories since childhood but over the years I found myself losing touch with my writing so when I saw an opportunity to become a Student Content Creator, I was really excited to apply. I definitely think the creative freedom the scheme offers to express personal experiences and inspire prospective students has been deeply enriching. Several prospective students have reached out to me since reading about my experiences, and being able to guide and provide clarity to people fills me with immense satisfaction.

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

The workshops and guest lectures throughout my programme have been highly relevant, not only for fortifying our skills but also informing us of the changing and upcoming trends across a broad spectrum of industries and eras. The ones that stand out the most for me are the Brand Strategy guest lectures where we heard first-hand experiences and practical insights from leading professionals of some of the most renowned brands in marketing history such as Swatch and easyJet. They were particularly intriguing because the speakers were directly involved in developing the market strategies discussed, so the insights gained went beyond information we could directly find ourselves.

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

Being the Social Leader for my programme, I am part of an online WhatsApp group of other social leaders across the Business School. This has opened up a lot of avenues for us to organise different social events together and get to know each other a bit better. However, due to the current environment, it is only now in the summer term, as restrictions begin to ease that we are organising in-person meetups across programmes. Another way I was able to meet people across different programmes was by living in student accommodation which enabled me to form friendships with fellow Imperial students.

Career

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

I have always had a keen interest in branding, specifically in the FMCG sector. Since applying to Imperial, I have had my heart set on working within brand management in an FMCG company. Towards the end of my first term, in December 2020, and with the guidance of Imperial’s exceptional careers consultants, I was offered a work placement in London at P&G for brand management, which I accepted.

The internship will allocate me to a P&G Brand where I will be working on different types of projects after going through training. The training workshops will equip me with P&G's overall approach to marketing. The projects can range from conceptualising a sales pitch for a new product to a retail company based on data insights to proposing brand collaboration ideas to grow an existing brand. I intend to further develop within this role and continue working in London for the next five years.

How did the services from Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?

Careers has been immensely supportive throughout my journey at Imperial. Being an international student, I was new to the job application process but the access to useful resources, such as writing impactful CVs and cover letters, which were available to students months before the start of the programme, really helped me in preparing myself for the job search process at the right time. Additionally, the accessibility of Careers made it convenient for me to seek advice on topics ranging from key skills to add on my CV to visa sponsorships. However, what was most beneficial was getting honest and objective feedback on my cover letters. Careers has played an integral role in making the job application process seem far less daunting than I thought it would be and doing their part in helping me secure an internship in my dream company.

London Location

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

Since most major companies are based in London, I do believe studying here has its perks. Imperial’s strong employer connections have enabled them to continuously get the top companies on board for career fairs and speaker events. In this aspect, it certainly does open doors and makes it easier for Imperial students to be able to network with these companies which they otherwise would not have as easy access to outside of a commercial hub like London. For instance, I got through to the final interview stage of a company which is based in London and attended Imperial’s Career Fair. It was through their company presentation that I found out about them, networked with them and was able to apply.

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

I live in Griffon Studios - Gradpad. Upon having done my research and after speaking to Imperial alumni before my programme, I found out that many students stay here and it would open up an avenue for me to make friends and get to know more people in the Business School. I was also always sure that I wanted to live in a student accommodation because of the social aspect and I knew that being an international student in a new city can get lonely.

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

I could hold a paintbrush before I even knew how to hold a pen and since then, art has played an important role in my life and is often my go-to form of stressbuster. I also love exploring new places to eat and finding hidden scenic walking spots around London (when weather allows!).

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?

As an international student, especially in these unprecedented times, the idea of starting a new life in a new city amid all the uncertainty can seem intimidating, but London truly has so much to offer that the pros certainly outweigh the cons!

My only piece of advice to students making the move to London would be to connect with Imperial alumni and speak to them to get as much information as they can on aspects such as lifestyle, the programme, career opportunities, accommodation and transport so that they can ease their stress and smoothen their transition into this new chapter.

Tips

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

Since a Master’s is essentially a specialisation in a field you are likely to pursue a career in, I would advise them to ensure that the programme aligns with their career goals. While the programme is designed to add value to both people with and without work experience, to be able to make the most out of the programme, it is important that it is something you are genuinely interested in and can take away skills and knowledge that are likely to help you in your career. Additionally, the programme, by design, requires commitment, time and energy and therefore, it is important to ensure that you have done your research about the modules, attended webinars and spoken to alumni if needed to understand whether the programme fits with your goals and objectives.

Whether you are an experienced individual looking to switch fields or fresh out of your undergrad with no marketing background, the primers offered to you before the programme prepare you for the actual programme and allow for everyone to be able to contribute equally regardless of the diverse backgrounds. Doing the primers effectively and reading about the programme will make your experience more valuable!

Finally, a recommendation I stand by is that the best way to get answers is by asking questions, so do reach out to Imperial students, I am positive it will give you more clarity!

Is Strategic Marketing (online, part-time) right for you?

Programme:
MSc Strategic Marketing
Nationality:
Indian
Education:

BSc (Hons) Management, University of Warwick

Company and role secured after programme:

Brand Management Internship, P&G UK