Programme: Weekend MBA

Undergraduate education: BSc Social Sciences, University College London

Current position: Consultant, Brand Strategist

Dee Ònásanwó was a Weekend MBA class of 2016-17 student. When joining Imperial College Business School, Dee was working as a Consultant Brand Strategist.

Professional background

Prior to joining the Business School, I was working in the banking sector for 8 years. Towards the latter part of my time in the banking sector, I established Pink Dynasty, a mentorship programme designed to improve social mobility for talented young women from challenged backgrounds. My employer at the time was fundamental in the establishment of the programme and is a key sponsor.

Pink Dynasty is going into its fourth year and we have been very successful in facilitating our mentee’s transitions from higher education into city careers. They’ve moved into areas such as banking, accounting and law.

My experience in the banking sector means that I have strong business acumen, commercial awareness and experience in managing expectations. With banking you really have to be on your toes because anything could happen at any moment. There are so many changes and you need a level head to resolve issues before they blow out of proportion.

As much as I enjoyed it, I always knew that working in the banking sector wasn’t necessarily a career that I wanted to pursue any further. I didn’t have much of a passion for financial services but it has been a great platform for expanding my network and allowing me to open doors for young women who have an interest in that particular career.

Direct application of the MBA

I’m studying Brand Management, Consumer Behaviour and Digital Marketing for my electives. I really want to work in a creative environment where I can help increase the awareness of a brand, product or service to drive sales. Alongside the MBA, I’m now doing some contracting work and consulting. I’m looking to transition into the creative industry and I’m currently creating brand strategies for start-up companies.

I’m able to implement a lot of what I’m learning on the MBA directly into my work and come up with fresh ideas because it’s something I’m currently studying. This practical experience will help when I finish the MBA. With my work experience and my qualifications I’ll be able to get into a career without starting from the bottom up. When you spend a lot of money on an MBA, it’s motivating to be able to see how having the degree will help you recoup the cost.

An entrepreneurial environment

I would always say I had an entrepreneurial spirit but you want to be able to demonstrate that in a way that is widely recognised and to collaborate with like-minded people.

When you work in a particular sector, everyone has a similar background and thinks along the same lines. No-one tends to think outside the box, but follows the status quo. At the Business School, you’re exposed to people from different walks of life with different perspectives and different ways to solve problems which you would never have thought of.

The MBA is also an opportunity for me to broaden my career prospects. If all you have is eight years of experience in one industry it’s quite difficult to transition to another without the experience or qualifications. This is a major springboard for me to jump into the creative industry and also to expand the Pink Dynasty initiative.

At the moment, Pink Dynasty is a programme. I want to establish it as a social enterprise – so it operates as a business but with a focus on social impact. The MBA is helping me to gain a solid understanding of various business elements that will help me achieve this, from organisational behaviour, marketing and accounting.

A personal and professional investment

I think that choosing to undertake an MBA shows that I’ve taken the time to invest in my development –both my professional and personal development. Everyone knows that an MBA isn’t cheap. It’s a huge investment. Not just financially but in terms of your time. It shows that I’m a committed person. Also, because it’s quite a general degree, I do feel that it will appeal to different industries and sectors so I won’t just be pigeon-holed into banking or anything around finance. As an MBA student, I am presented with many more opportunities. I could transition into human resources, marketing or business development for example.

The work-life-MBA balance

The number one skill set that the MBA has enhanced for me so far is time management. You really need to be skilled with managing your time because you’re working throughout the week but then need to prepare yourself for classes, lectures and group assignments. I had to learn quickly to manage my time. Things crop up quite a lot as well so I’ve had to dedicate time to just studying. After a busy week, you’re exhausted and then have classes or studying to do on the weekend.

This is the most challenging part of the MBA. When you’re really tired after a busy day and you still have to study in the evening. You can’t make certain commitments with family and friends, and of course they’re more available at the weekend so I’ve had to miss things. I have a great support system that understands that I have to prioritise my course.

Why Imperial?

Initially I wasn’t looking at Imperial as I thought it would be very tech and science based. One of my friends convinced me to attend an information session and I was totally blown away. The Business School has a really cool vibe to it. It’s somewhere that stimulates learning and I was very taken aback by the way the recruitment staff were so engaging and genuine in how they approach you and want to know your interests. I hadn’t received that treatment from any other business school. It had a personal touch which I liked.

There are around 70 of us in the cohort but every single individual matters to the staff and that is really important. A lot of the time when people pay for education, they feel like they’re just another number. We’re treated as individuals. I like the fact that the school cares about us and does everything they can to support our growth and learning. Another thing that attracted me to Imperial College Business School was the Careers Centre.

A new lease of life

As women, getting an MBA is going to help you gain the confidence to go after leadership roles. When you look at CEOs or CFOs, they often have MBAs. It’s also a great way to reignite passions you probably didn’t know you had, especially if you’ve predominantly worked in one sector. You find out so much more about yourself, about your skills and strengths. When you’re doing something for so long, you can forget the value you bring to the table because you become comfortable. But when you’re taken out of your comfort zone and thrown in with a group of people who have different experiences, you begin a new personal journey that may change your career decisions.

When you’re in banking, you adopt a cut throat persona because it’s a very male dominated industry. You can’t be anything but focused and straight forward. When you’re not in that environment, you finally don’t feel the need to put on this hard tough exterior, you can be yourself and that’s what I love about studying. For a woman changing careers, getting an MBA will bring a new lease of life.

Programme: Weekend MBA

Undergraduate education: BSc Social Sciences, University College London

Current position: Consultant, Brand Strategist

Next steps