Laura Arribas

Professional background

After I finished my degree in  Telecommunications Engineering I joined a graduate programme at a global telecommunications company in Germany. During the programme I had the opportunity to work in different departments, mainly on technical roles trying to apply as much as possible to my university studies. Afterwards I relocated to the UK and spent three years in R&D before I decided to move to a more commercially-oriented and customer-facing project management role. For the past six years my career has evolved within the telecommunications project management space. I currently hold a programme manager position responsible for the coordination of the main transformation projects in my department.

Proudest achievements

In business I would probably highlight one of the projects I led for a tough customer in the banking sector. The project was incredibly challenging and it affected me personally, but I feel proud about how I managed to overcome the difficulties, learn and move forward. Eventually, the hard work and personal involvement paid off and was recognised both internally and on the customer side.

In my personal life, looking back I feel proud about the decision I took at 21 once I finished my Erasmus Scholarship in Karlsruhe (Germany) and decided to stay there to start my career while everyone I knew was going back to their respective home countries.

Choosing an MBA and Imperial

Studying an MBA had always been in my mind after I finished university, since I saw it as a great complement to my studies. However, I wanted to make sure I had several years of work experience to understand how a business works and outline a clearer goal of what I wanted to get from the MBA. Having spent all my career in the telecommunications sector, my main goal when starting the MBA was to broaden the scope of possibilities and ultimately progress into a leadership role with responsibility for social change. This goal is steering my journey at Imperial and everything I do has this personal ambition behind.

When deciding which Business School and programme to apply for I contacted the Imperial admissions team directly to understand the differences between some of the programmes. Once I had made the application online I joined one of the information sessions, which was a useful way to meet people that were also considering joining the programme. I also asked the Imperial team whether I could attend a lecture (in listen only mode) and that again reinforced my final decision.

I really valued the fact that Imperial College Business School is a Business School within a prestigious university covering other subjects like Engineering or Medicine which, in my view, provides a richer experience. The Weekend MBA at Imperial also offered the perfect schedule as I knew I wanted to do it on campus while working. During the application process the admissions team at Imperial was very helpful and made everything possible to help me make the decision.

MBA experiences so far

There are many concepts and frameworks you learn in the different modules; but there are other less tangible things, such as working in teams with people from very different backgrounds and with diverse ways of approaching the tasks, or the tools and support provided to work on your career and personal development that I find incredibly valuable.

The most rewarding part of the programme so far is probably the feeling of satisfaction of the work accomplished, in particular when working in teams.

Expectations for the MBA

When I started the MBA I had a special interest in subjects closer to my (analytical) background like Finance or Economics. During the MBA I’ve found myself very interested in other subjects like Organisational Behaviour or Strategy.

Now that we are in our second year, I look forward to the Entrepreneurial Journey as I see it as a subject that will encompass most of the modules in the MBA while working in a mixed team of Service Designers and MBAs, which is proving highly rewarding already. I am also excited about doing one of my elective modules abroad.

For the second year, I would also like to focus on making the most of the Careers & Professional Development service, including the coaching programme offered.

I am hoping that the MBA will give me the confidence and resources (knowledge, network…) to drive my career where I want to go.

Preparation for a weekend session

Materials for the sessions are usually available on the online platform several weeks before the class. I usually go through all the mandatory readings the week before the session paying special attention to the case study as a significant part of the lecture is spent on it.

Imperial opportunities

There are so many interesting events happening every week. To name a few: I remember one session during our induction week on personal branding, which I found very inspiring. In the first year we also had a number of seminars under the Career & Professional Development service. I particularly enjoyed the Emotional Intelligence and Resilience workshops. There was a brilliant event on how to approach and respond to case interviews run by an external speaker. In addition, in several modules guest speakers have joined to reinforce topics covered in class, which is a great way to see how our learning is applied in real business life.

Juggling the work-life balance

It can be difficult at times but it’s all about organising yourself and making compromises. Doing an MBA is a big commitment but it also helps you to become very efficient and make the most of any time you have. Feeling supported by family and friends is also incredibly important.

Cohort

My cohort are diverse, international, high achievers, very bright, willing to do great things and without fear of big changes and challenges.

Tips and advice for prospective students

If you want to do it, go for it! It will never be the perfect time to start an MBA but, in my opinion, it is worth it. I would also recommend having a routine to study and ensure you make time for sports or other physical activity to help your mind keep energised.

There are numerous talks, events etc. during the week so, if possible, living a reasonable distance from London makes it easier to make the most of the MBA experience (in my case, I moved from Reading to London for the MBA).

Everyone has different reasons for doing an MBA. The important thing is to have an initial idea (whether to progress in your current company, change sectors, become an entrepreneur…) and select a business school that feels right for you. Don’t worry if your goal for doing an MBA is not crystal clear. It is likely that this goal will change while you are on it!

(Also, take a long holiday before the start of the programme!)

Nationality: Spanish

Education: MSc Telecommunications Engineering, Universidad del Pais Vasco in Bilbao, Spain

Current position: Programme Manager, Virgin Media Business

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