Programme: Weekend MBA
Education: MSc Programme & Project Management, University of Warwick
Role: Senior Real Estate Manager, Willis Towers Watson
My career to date: From Taiwan to the UK, from SME to S&P 500
I have always been interested in business and understanding how organisation’s innovate and excel. In my first degree, I studied French as my majour and business as minor in Taiwan. I found that degree, particularly the business component, thoroughly enjoyable and quickly decided to further my education by taking on an MSc in Programme & Project Management in the UK, at the University of Warwick.
After graduation, I worked in a small company specialising in sustainability in supply chain. As a foreign national, it was particularly hard to get a job in the UK as visa sponsorships, (limited in numbers), were required. I am proud to be one of the few Taiwanese students that stayed in the UK after my completing my postgraduate degree. The journey was by no means a breeze, but through tenacity and persistence, and very importantly, the supportive managers I have had throughout my career, I am where I am today – a Senior Real Estate Manager at an S&P 500 company. The experience made me humble, resilient, and optimistic. It is what made me, me.
As part of my job, I develop strategy and execute complex multi-million-dollar workplace transformation programmes across Europe and Asia, in both emerging and mature markets. It is a challenging yet rewarding job.
Motivations for applying to the Weekend MBA
I’m a firm believer in continuous learning and development, in pushing myself outside comfort zone, and in learning from likeminded people with diverse backgrounds. The Weekend MBA at Imperial College Business School fits these criteria perfectly, while also providing the opportunity to engage in a high-quality environment. Furthermore, I was drawn to Imperial’s focus on business, technology and entrepreneurship; all of which I believe are critical for businesses to be successful, and for leaders of the future to be adept at. I also wanted to continue my day job and be able to apply the knowledge and experience directly at work; the Weekend MBA is therefore the perfect option for me.
Once you begin working and progressing in your career, it’s quite easy to get siloed in a specialised field. The Weekend MBA allows me to take a step back and build up different knowledge that is important in today’s business world; moreover, it also allows me to take a step up, and examine challenges on a more senior managerial level. This MBA programme has already expanded my thinking about the business problems of today, and those of tomorrow, and most importantly, how we can tackle them.
Why I chose the Imperial Weekend MBA over other business schools
The Imperial MBA is one of the top programmes in Europe and in the world, and the calibre of the professors and facilities is outstanding. The weekend study structure is very accommodating for professionals who want to work while studying. It does not require taking excessive days off work, or spending evenings taking classes after a long day at work (and find it difficult to focus when you’re already mentally and physically drained). Moreover, the Weekend MBA cohort also has exposure to the endless amount of resources that Imperial offers, whether it’s to help to hone specific skillsets, climb your career ladder, create a new career path or even set up a business.
Going outside of my comfort zone
If you’re someone who proactively seeks challenges, gets excited about exploring today’s business problems, and wants to push yourself outside your comfort zone, the Weekend MBA is a great way of achieving this. The most rewarding part of the programme is the constant brain stimulation – I love how my mind is buzzing with excitement with all the new knowledge I’ve picked up through lectures, exchanges with peers, and activities.
What I have learned so far
A key takeaway for me is: ‘You don’t need to know everything.’ Sometimes I worry that I am not as knowledgeable and won’t be able to contribute much, especially in an environment with lots of talented and sharp professionals. Through the programme I have recognised that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, as well as what they can bring to the table, and what they can learn from. Instead of being someone who knows it all and is good at everything (which is pretty much impossible), find a great team where you can each contribute and also, learn. It makes the experience much more fun, memorable and fulfilling.
My favourite module: Managerial Economics
My favourite module is no doubt Managerial Economics with Professor Jonathan Haskel. Jonathan has made the class fun, practical and interactive, the sometimes-dull microeconomics concepts became fascinating with the practical examples in our daily lives. The module even inspired a classmate and I to create an Instagram account that uses simple examples to explain everyday economics.
Balancing work, life and studies
I take everything one day at a time. Every now and then I stop and take a deep breath. Although I wish COVID-19 never happened, the silver lining to the situation is that the time I have saved in not commuting to work, and not needing to be either in the air or on trains, traveling to the next business meeting. This has meant that I have extra energy to devote to the Weekend MBA and other activities organised by Imperial.
Sometimes I wish I had another brain to help me think, study, write, learn and work. Time management is for sure one of the most challenging parts, yet is one of the key skills I have picked up during the programme.
How I organise a typical day
Depending on the programme and assignments, I wake up earlier in the morning to study before logging onto my work laptop. I also use my lunch break to join online events/seminars that I find interesting. Around two to three days a week after work, I also allocate time to continue with my modules, assignments or extracurricular activities. It is also important to ringfence your time with family, so you don’t neglect them, and set time aside for exercises to keep healthy and fit.
The faculty: high calibre academics with industry experience
The Business School faculty are a high calibre of academics, with a wealth of knowledge to share. They also have many years of practical experience in the industries which brings the learning experience to life.
I love how the professors draw on examples that are not only multidisciplinary but global during lectures, allowing us to reflect comprehensively. The cohort also come from various nationalities and professional backgrounds, bringing diversity into all of our interactions.
Working with the Weekend MBA cohort
My cohort is loads of fun. They are smart and competitive professionals, eager to learn and fearless in the face of challenges. The group projects that we have done together have been extremely interesting. I enjoyed the knowledge acquired whilst doing the projects, and even more so, working with different people with diverse viewpoints and styles.
Sadly, this year I was only able to travel for class once due to COVID-19. That was, however, the best study weekend I have ever had! The live interactions with the cohorts and interesting debates with the professors were priceless.
Extracurricular activities at Imperial: workshops, seminars and career clubs
With the rich resources provided at Imperial, I have joined many seminars and events that were useful and inspiring from both a career and personal perspective. For example, I enjoyed the seminar from Joseph Liu on Personal Branding and Selling Yourself to build your career. He gave a lot of useful tips on building a strong personal brand, reinforcing competitive advantages and building good relationships.
I also enjoyed the seminar on Women in Finance: The Path to Leadership, where senior women in top financial companies shared their leadership journey, the challenges faced, and how to empower young women to realise their dreams, lead fearlessly and excel in their careers. Lastly, the Pitch-n-Mix events held by the Imperial Enterprise Lab are super fun. This is where students present their entrepreneurial ideas in 60 seconds and answer questions from the audience. It is a burst of ideas and creativity!
I have joined the Finance Club, Consulting Club and Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club. I have also formed teams and participated in three hackathons; one on COVID-19 business recovery, one on healthcare innovation and the other in data analytics.
The Imperial MBA Women’s network
Imperial has so many alumni providing vast networking opportunities, for example the Imperial MBA Women’s group I’m in. It’s a great platform to bounce ideas, ask questions, and get feedback; and most importantly, an environment to support each other!
My career goals
We are starting to see more women in senior leadership roles, but not many of these women are Asian. As an Asian woman, I aspire to one day become a CEO in the western world, supporting and mentoring other women from different backgrounds in attaining their dreams. So far, I have focused on expanding my knowledge through the Weekend MBA in multidisciplinary areas such as corporate finance, strategy, accounting, data analytics, organisational behaviour, innovation and entrepreneurship etc., and many more for the coming semesters. All of these fuel my passion and allow me to gain different perspectives in how I see and interpret problems, situations and opportunities. I have no doubt the knowledge and experience gained will be instrumental in helping me achieve my career goals.
I would like to continue progressing my career and take on more senior roles in the industry. I love a challenge, and one thing the Weekend MBA has taught me is that anything is possible!
My advice for prospective Weekend MBA students
Go for it, you won’t regret it! Give it your very best and leverage the many resources that Imperial has to offer. It’s important to know what you want to get out of it, and work hard to make it happen. Good luck!