Leilani S C Pao
Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: Colby College, Bachelor of Arts (Double Major in Economics and Art History)
Work experience/internship(s): My working experience has been in Luxury Fashion, Retail, Beauty and Art. Before starting my MSc at Imperial, I was an Ecommerce Assistant at Richard James. Some of my previous experiences include, internships at Avon USA, Sotheby’s USA, Accessorize Thailand as well as Colby Research Assistants to Professor Michael Marlais (Art History) and Professor Timothy Hubbard (Economics).
Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: One of my proudest accomplishments was presenting my senior economics project, titled ‘Colour and the Value of Art’, at the Maine Economics Conference in 2014. My research essay investigates whether the environmental colour (background setting colour) an artwork is placed on has an influence on the perceptual economic value of that work.
Contact via LinkedIn
Why did you decide to study an MSc in Strategic Marketing and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
The reason I chose Imperial, but specifically Strategic Marketing MSc, is because of how relevant and transferable the program is to the real marketing environment. I was drawn to the emphasis on group work and the focus on digital marketing. The professors are very knowledgeable, often drawing from their own cutting-edge research or new findings in the market. Don’t be surprised if you read about a company merger or new digital marketing technology in the Wall Street Journal or Mashable and see it covered in lecture the next day.
What makes the MSc Strategic Marketing at Imperial College Business School unique?
The digital aspect! Imperial’s MSc Strategic Marketing is unique because it is one of very few programs focusing in its entirety on Digital Marketing. Every aspect of the program, whether working in groups, modules or supporting career lectures, aims to provide students with the essentials to succeed in the current marketing field, where digital is becoming a necessity rather than a differentiating point.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?
My favourite part of the programme is when I work with my syndicate group on our assignments. The early stages are always my favourite because I love brainstorming new ideas.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
Ironically, also working with people! With over 50 nationalities within my cohort, there’s bound to be culture clashes. However, it has been an extremely rewarding experience as I was able to sharpen my teamworking abilities and communicate with different types of people.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
I am constantly amazed by the sheer talent of my colleagues and the most rewarding part of the program is when I get to see all the amazing work that everyone has produced, such as during our presentations.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Marketing Strategy in Practice. In this module, syndicate groups were asked to take on the role of Marketing Managers of B2C companies and “compete” with other groups to achieve the highest share price index. This module was my favourite because I was challenged in so many different ways, not only intellectually, using theories I learnt from my previous modules, but also critically and socially as the module required skills such as problem solving, teamworking and analytical and strategic thinking. The module was intense and time consuming but enjoyable and definitely worth the effort!
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I’ve been to a number of them but the ones that really struck me were the Strategic Marketing workshop, an all-day workshop prepping students on what they need to do for their marketing careers, and a fashion/retail event at the LinkedIn London HQ where we met successful fashion executives and learnt first-hand about what it takes to be the best in fashion.
How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
A jigsaw puzzle. Each member is unique in their own way but they all connect with each other to make a talented, eclectic and happy family.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Omar is by far my favourite professor. His lectures are very well structured and his case studies/ examples are relevant and interesting. It’s so easy to contribute in his classes because he is entertaining, charismatic and very humorous.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what inspires you the most about working in this type of environment?
I think working in groups is the best as long as everyone has similar goals and working styles. Personally, I feel that when you work in groups, you tend to produce better work because each member contributes their different strengths and once you find a group of people you love working with, you tend to bring out the best in one another.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
My cohort epitomises the phrase “work hard, play hard”. I’ve never been among such a talented, fun-loving, beautiful, creative, trendy, ambitious and diverse group of people.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I am one of the Student Ambassadors for the Strategic Marketing MSc. It has been an extremely rewarding experience because I enjoy sharing my experiences with prospective students and helping them make their career and higher education choices. It is also great to get to know my colleagues from other programmes.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
I think one of the greatest opportunities Imperial provides is connecting students to future employers and alumni, whether through career events or core modules, such as the consulting project or guest lectures. Imperial’s alumni are very dedicated, never ceasing to miss an opportunity to share their experiences and encourage and guide current students. In fact, I was thrilled when my group presented in front of an alumnus working at Starbucks for our Relationship and Services Management module.
How have you benefited from the services provided by the Career and Professional Development Service?
I have been to a number of career events, seminars and had a couple of meetings with them via Skype and in person. They are amazing: always sending students information about job postings and organising such amazing events. My advice to incoming students is to start early and use their services as much as possible!
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
It’s really cool to be a part of the Imperial College London community. I enjoy meeting other students from other fields and learning about what they study and their research. The Imperial community also fosters great collaborative opportunities. Some of my classmates are partnering up with engineering students to establish startups.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
Definitely! London is the mecca of Europe and there are so many great opportunities in London.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I started the program with the intention of securing a graduate trainee position at a large multinational fast-moving consumer goods company. Although that goal is not necessarily completely out of the question, Imperial has broadened my perspective on career opportunities. After taking courses like Digital Marketing and Marketing Analytics, I have started pursuing job opportunities in the digital and tech industries that I may not have thought of before.
Whereabouts do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
Lancaster Gate. I love living in this area because it is so convenient to travel around Central London. Everything is within walking distance. It takes 20 minutes to get to Notting Hill Gate or Oxford Street. I also enjoy my 25 minute walks through Hyde Park to Imperial every morning.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
It depends what you are interested in because London has so many things to do. I have a huge sweet tooth and am an avid gallery/ museum hopper, so you can always find me catching the latest exhibit at the Tate Modern/ Royal Academy or munching on the newest dessert hybrid creation. London markets are also my weakness! But my favourite has to be the Columbia Flower Market or Borough Market.
In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
One of my favourite places to go for a break from Imperial is Tombo in South Kensington. It’s a little Japanese Café and they are famous for producing anything and everything about Green Tea. All their desserts are delicious but their Green Tea soft serve is to die for!
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about applying for the course?
Do your homework and definitely research about the programme. The MSc Strategic Marketing is amazing (and I love it!) but it may not be for everyone. Other than browsing through Imperial’s website, I would recommend attending the online/ on-campus information sessions or contacting the admissions officers. I think the best way to get information is to reach out to current students, student ambassadors and alumni so that you can learn from someone who has experienced the program first-hand and understands what you are going through.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online or on campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
The campus information session was extremely helpful. Actually, it was ultimately the turning point of my decision to apply to Imperial because the admissions officers and current students were so friendly and helpful and I could see how much value the programme could add to my future career aspirations. I also attended the acceptance students day event where I was able to meet my future classmates and learn more about what I should expect from the programme.
Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier!
Be creative with your group meeting and study spaces! Try venturing outside of the business school; have your group meetings in the ACEX building, Brompton Market around South Kensington station, or even at the V&A café.