Damla Khan Global Online MBA 2021-22

Role: Weekend MBA

Nationality: British

Education: BSc Hons Neuroscience, University of Glasgow. MRes Biomedical Science, University of Southampton. PhD Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Cardiff University

Role: Life Science and Deep Tech Consultant, Zaz Ventures

My career path: from academia to working in industry

Science has been the driving force behind my career path. Fuelled by my desire to make a positive impact in the world and natural curiosity for science, I was offered a fully-funded PhD at the University of Southampton in Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. After completing my doctorate, I secured a Postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University where I engaged with project partners in the life sciences industry.

This was the catalyst in changing how I viewed science and offered me a different perspective, one that was more business-focused. This piqued my curiosity to the point where I wanted to gain a better understanding and therefore I transitioned across to an industry role where I have become an asset to my team. My first foray into industry was working with a grant writing consultancy where I engaged with a diverse group of C-level executives working on the forefront of the most exciting and innovative products being developed in Europe. My strong scientific background meant I was perfectly placed to work with life science, biotech and MedTech SMEs, which I have been doing for the past four years.

My motivation for studying the Weekend MBA

While my current role has furthered my knowledge of strategy and provided me with the confidence I need to become a business leader, I wanted to broaden my skill set in market understanding, product commercialisation and financial management to deliver sustainable and value-creating strategies. By doing so, I will position myself for a senior role in driving effective strategies for successful businesses.

As a leader in STEM, and a champion for sustainable business and innovation, Imperial was my top choice for an MBA since its core interests are aligned with mine. The institute fosters a strong connection between STEM and the Business School. Attracting top talent also means building a strong network of highly talented individuals. Specifically, the Weekend MBA has also allowed me to juggle my current work commitments and role as a new mother. Being awarded a scholarship was invaluable in ensuring I could meet my career aspirations while bolstering my confidence, knowing that Imperial wanted to invest in me as much as I want to invest in myself.

My favourite module: Organisational Behaviour

I walked into the classroom thinking it was the ‘easy’ module (unlike Financial Management Accounting and Decision Analytics). But in fact, Professor Jonathan Pinto has changed the way I view organisations. Maybe even a bit too much!!  A well taught MBA programme changes perspective.

Building a strong network

The MBA is all about your network. Working together with a diverse cohort makes you appreciate the wide talents and skills that are out there, that can enhance your own learning, complement your own skills and help you achieve your goals – both short and long term. In addition to the learning, making connections with my cohort has been the most rewarding part of this programme. I have had the opportunity to make friends with bright minds that are driven and motivated and above all – supportive!

Stimulating group work

My cohort is a diverse group in terms of experience, sectors, ethnicity and location. The cohort has been instrumental in enhancing the MBA experience. The group projects we work on together are an opportunity to put our learning to the test. The simulations are usually the most interesting and bring out a competitive streak in the entire cohort (in a healthy way, of course). We have the opportunity to do presentations too.

The different methods of group work are engaging and by getting deeply involved in research for the projects you gain a strong understanding of the subject matter, beyond classroom teaching. Having a strong group and a good relationship are instrumental to the group work experience. Fortunately, I have a fantastic syndicate group and for the few projects where we have been randomly allocated into groups, I have worked with bright and focussed classmates that have continued to add to the group work experience.

Imperial’s global presence   

Since I live in Singapore, it was really important for me to join a programme at an institution with a strong global presence. Imperial has an excellent reputation and strong ties in Singapore that have allowed me to network with the active alumni here. In fact, my new job is a result of that strong network and being connected to the right people by the careers team!

The Personal Leadership Journey and career aspirations

The MBA is helping to bridge the knowledge gap between my current role and that of a business leader. It is more than just learning content – it is moulding me into the kind of leader I want to be. The Personal Leadership Journey on the programme has forced me to reflect on my career, plan out where I want to be and helped navigate that path.  In addition to using the knowledge and skills developed during the MBA, I intend to capitalise on the strong network I am building both among my cohort but also the wider Imperial College Business School community.

Going forward, I want to transition into a career in management consulting and have just secured a role at a Singapore-based consulting firm with a growing global presence. This door was opened through the fantastic Careers team at Imperial – special thanks to Xiabei Wu for all her help!

Balancing an MBA with motherhood

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and for me, it has taken a village to help me pursue my MBA. Juggling the workload with a baby has been the hardest part of the programme. However, having a strong support system in place has enabled me to overcome a lot of the challenges. This truly would not have been possible without the help of my amazing family and my work (who have been incredibly supportive throughout). Also, my Imperial family – my syndicate group – have been instrumental in ensuring I can juggle everything.

My advice to future students

The MBA is challenging but worth the time, effort and commitment. If the programme is aligned with your goals and aspirations, then make the leap. I started the programme when my daughter was six months old. I wouldn’t have been able to manage the workload if it wasn’t for my family. If you have children, speak to your partner/family/network. Make sure you have the right support in place and you will get through it!

Role: Weekend MBA

Nationality: British

Education: BSc Hons Neuroscience, University of Glasgow. MRes Biomedical Science, University of Southampton. PhD Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Cardiff University

Role: Life Science and Deep Tech Consultant, Zaz Ventures

Find out if the Weekend MBA is right for you