John Wang, Weekend MBA 2021-22, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: Weekend MBA

Nationality: Chinese

Education: Bachelor of Science, Emory University

Role: Engineering Manager, Amazon

My career in tech

I started my career as a software engineer and have been in the technology industry ever since. I’m now an Engineer Manager at Amazon. I’m responsible for leading a team of software engineers to build scalable technologies in the digital streaming service and smart TV sector. I am passionate about building things that people find useful and I have been extremely lucky to be part of teams that have achieved that.

Motivation for joining the Weekend MBA

I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and learn about all aspects of the business. Imperial’s Weekend MBA programme offers a great balance between continuing my career and having the opportunity to do just that. I’m also particularly drawn to Imperial’s deep roots in technology and entrepreneurship, which I’d like to explore in the next step of my career.

My work requires me to interact with people from different functional areas such as product strategy, marketing, finance etc. Prior to the MBA programme, I have sometimes found it more challenging for me to effectively tackle problems in these areas. The core modules taught me not only the fundamentals but also gave me the confidence to be more effective in similar situations.

What makes the Weekend MBA programme at Imperial unique is the opportunity to study while I  continue in my career and the location of the School is in one of the best spots in London.

My favourite module: Financial and Management Accounting

My favourite module so far is Financial and Management Accounting with Mr Michael Wells, Professor of Practice. Who would have thought? I was quite intimidated in the beginning because more often than not I had trouble keeping up with what Mr Wells was talking about. I didn’t have any prior experience in accounting and never planned to go into accounting. However, by the end of the module I was delighted with how much I’ve learned and the pure joy of overcoming a tough challenge.

The Entrepreneurial Journey

I think the greatest opportunity here at Imperial is the Entrepreneurial Journey. I love the fact that I’m doing an MBA programme at a university with a deep engineering background so that I can combine my technology background with the business knowledge that I acquire from my MBA journey.

Working with my diverse cohort

I love how diverse my cohort is. With people from different countries, industries and stories to share. I particularly enjoy working with my syndicate group. We all came from vastly different backgrounds but somehow, we worked well together and sometimes it even feels like we have been working together for a long time. From conversations, I’ve learned a lot about their culture, society and most importantly the commonalities amongst us all.

Group projects are always interesting because I get to work with different people and every time there is always a different dynamic. I like the intellectual stimulation from team meetings and collaboration. I can always learn something from my group members.  

Studying on-campus in London

I have been living in London for the last six years and I’m proud to call the city my home. I love the culture, diversity and history that this city has to offer, so doing my MBA at one of the best universities in London was a no brainer for me.

Going back to a classroom was a surreal experience for me. That said, if I’m being honest, I think going to a pub after class is my favourite thing about coming to campus. I get to speak to some of my friends that live in different countries or others who I normally only get to see online and have some good-natured banter. 

Juggling work, studying and a social life

It’s important to acknowledge that the MBA studies will take up a lot of your time. For me, it’s imperative to set expectations with the key people in my life so that everyone understands how I will adjust my schedule. On top of that, working effectively with my syndicate group is another key area for me. We have spent a significant amount of time creating mechanisms and rhythms that work for us and they have paid off in the long term.

I have to actively balance life, work and my MBA. There are times that I have to keep all the plates spinning. It’s important to take a step back, clear your head, work with your colleagues, partner and MBA syndicate group to actively plan your week.

The importance of keeping my goals in mind

The most challenging part for me is to always keep a growth mindset at every opportunity. The programme is nearly two years long and after the initial mental stimulation and excitement, I felt the pressure from assignments, work and life, in general, was catching up on me. I had to actively tell myself to show up and step up my game. In the end, I found this uncomfortable part of the journey the most rewarding.

Advice for future MBA students

Be clear about what you want to get out of the programme. The MBA is an open-ended question. You will get the most out of it if you know what you are seeking. Look for the people, classes and opportunities that best align with your goal.

Programme: Weekend MBA

Nationality: Chinese

Education: Bachelor of Science, Emory University

Role: Engineering Manager, Amazon

Is the Weekend MBA right for you?