Indian alumni celebrate their lifelong connection with Imperial

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Imperial alumni with Nicola Pogson, Director of Alumni Relations, holding a banner that says we are Imperial alumni

Generations of alumni gathered in India to learn about the Business School’s new strategy, meet up with old friends and form new connections.

Ranvir Puri (MBA 1994), Chapter Chair, welcomed guests to the New Delhi event, while Pashupati Advani (Electrical Engineering 1979), a director of the Imperial College India Foundation (ICIF), welcomed alumni and friends to Mumbai.

Strategic thinking

Dean Francisco Veloso outlined Imperial College Business School’s ambitious 10 Year Strategic Plan. He highlighted how important he felt it was to share the vision with the whole of the alumni community, and has been doing so at alumni events around the world throughout the year.

He explained that the Business School’s mission remained the same: ‘To benefit business and improve society through the power of innovative thinking’. However, the competitive and societal environment in which the Business School operates informed the strategic review.

Dean Veloso shared some fascinating insights into the factors driving change in education and into the changing characteristics of students. “Students are increasingly coming to us with different priorities from previous intakes”, he said. “They seek purpose driven work, both personally and globally”. Dean Veloso described the “hacker mindset” of this new generation of students, who have grown up teaching themselves new skills. “We are at a time of transition for management education”, he said, “with changing markets and new competitors”.

Why a ten year plan? Dean Veloso explained that the School might be expanding into the undergraduate market, a move that required very long term vision and planning.

Dean Francisco Veloso presents the Business School strategy to alumni
Dean Francisco Veloso presents the Business School's strategy to alumni in India

Indian innovators

Professor David Gann, Vice President (Innovation), shared news of the exciting new developments in White City, and spoke about the School of Public Health, a campaign to create a new state-of-the-art hub for health and wellbeing research.

Professor Gann also took a moment to acknowledge some local alumni innovators and attendees, including Devanshi Shah (MBA 2017), co-founder and CFO of Snaxchange, an online marketplace for buying and selling packaged foods before their expiry dates, and now the founder of a social enterprise network for pet owners that need medical help for their pets.

Swati Pandey (MSc Mechanical Engineering 2012) is the founder of Arboreal Innovations, an award winning global plant biotechnology and natural food ingredients producer with a focus on Stevia. Swati was selected as the Asia-pacific laureate 2018 in the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. The Awards aim to encourage inspirational women entrepreneurs worldwide to solve contemporary global challenges.

A lifelong connection

Professor Gann also warmly welcomed Dr Hiralal Patel (Mechanical Engineering 1941, PhD Aeronautics 1945), who at 99 is one of the oldest members of the alumni community and studied at the College for seven years from the time he arrived in 1938.

Alumni were inspired and moved by Hiru’s words, as he concluded: “I am sure that through Imperial's White City Campus and by harnessing different developments that have taken place in digital and artificial intelligence…Imperial will continue to be one of the leading institutions in the world and I’m proud to be a member.”

Dr Hiralal Patel, one of Imperial's oldest alumni, addresses the room
Dr Hiralal Patel (Mechanical Engineering 1941, PhD Aeronautics 1945)

Supporting students

Sandeep Saha (PhD Mechanical Engineering 2010) flew from Kolkata with his parents to join the event in Mumbai, as he “didn’t want to miss an opportunity to reconnect with the College.” Sandeep is Assistant Professor in Aerospace Engineering at The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

Alumnus Sandeep Saha with his parents and Nicola Pogson, Director of Alumni Relations
Sandeep Saha (PhD Mechanical Engineering 2010), pictured with his parents and Director of Alumni Relations, Nicola Pogson

Deeply committed to supporting current students and their student experience, Sandeep explains, “I received a fellowship to study at Imperial and I got a lot from the College. I wouldn’t have got this far without it. If I can help current students, I will”. He is currently mentoring three students through the Imperial Mentoring Programme. “I am extremely happy with this programme. It works both ways; the students learn but also I learn what goes on at the College. They all wish to be academics so I think I am particularly able to help them – I feel we have been well matched”.

When asked about his fondest memory of the College, he said, “That is a tough question, as there were so many great memories. I had so many good friends. I used to love to sit beneath the Queen’s Tower, but I loved also my regular strolls around Hyde Park.”

Sandeep also said that he valued the online resources available to alumni on Imperial Plexus, the new online community platform. “These are a great resource, I particularly appreciate them as an academic.”

Alumni reflections

Vinay Gupta (MSc Risk Management and Financial Engineering 2012) and Nikhil Samuel (WEMBA 2015) were catching up with each other and discussing how their businesses could benefit. Vinay said he was happy that the Business School was reaching out to the Imperial community and found it inspiring to hear from Hiru Patel.

Nikhil was excited to get together with alumni in Mumbai. “I had no idea that there were so many Imperial alumni in India. I have just found out that I am neighbours with one of the members of the Imperial College Indian Foundation!”

Niraj Thakkar (MBA 2011) and his wife are moving to Toronto in early 2019, and spoke with Nicola Pogson, Director of Alumni Relations, about how he could connect with the local community in Canada. He said, "These events are a great way for alumni to build connections and keep in touch with Imperial."

Business School alumni pose for a photo with Nicola Pogson, Director of Alumni Relations, holding a Business School banner
From left to right: Niraj Thakkar (MBA 2011); Nicola Pogson, Director of Alumni Relations; Romit Dasgupta (MBA 2013); Nikhil Samuel (WEMBA 2015) and Vinay Gupta (MSc Risk Management and Financial Engineering 2012)

Nicola Pogson encouraged alumni to mark 29-30 June in their diaries for the Alumni Weekend at the Great Exhibition Road Festival. Invoking the spirit of the first Great Exhibition in 1851, which one-third of the country's population visited, The Great Exhibition Road Festival will offer a free weekend of discovery. It will mark the bicentenary of the birth of Queen Victoria, and Prince Albert, and takes inspiration from the Prince's vision for the area as a dedicated centre for research, learning and creativity.

Nicola also encouraged alumni to join Imperial Plexus, an online platform exclusively for Imperial alumni, and to get involved with volunteering opportunities including becoming an international student recruitment ambassador or an alumni mentor.

For the full gallery of photos from these events, please visit the Imperial College London alumni Facebook page.


Jenn Rowater

Jenn Rowater

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6697

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Nicola Pogson

Nicola Pogson

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