Twenty years ago, when Imperial College London decided to make the business school an official part of the college, many experts questioned the decision. Their concerns boiled down to two areas:
1) Why would one of the world’s top 10 universities — renowned in the fields of science, technology, and medicine — move into management and leadership?
2) How could Imperial compete with well-established MBA programs in the UK and Europe?
Turns out, Imperial was far ahead of the curve. In a world transformed by technology and science, the study of business and STEM now go hand-in-hand. In these times of accelerated change, the MBA students at Imperial College Business School are perfectly placed to impact business and society with their technology-driven mindsets and experience.
The top-ranked one-year MBA program in London, the Imperial MBA takes after the innovative spirit of London. It is defined by its bold nature, not shying away from addressing the toughest challenges, ranging from climate change to social impact or managing digital transformations to developing critical leadership skills.
‘STEMBA’: A NATURAL CROSSROADS BETWEEN BUSINESS AND SCIENCE
To reflect the combination of business management, technology, and innovation, Associate Dean of Programs Leila Guerra uses the term “STEMBA”.
“We foster multidisciplinary working, and our MBA students network and collaborate with the students and faculty of our world-recognized medicine, engineering, and natural sciences faculties,” Guerra explains. “Only a few weeks ago, MBA students were working on the Imperial Innovation Challenge, combining their modules in design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation to create business models that develop solutions for the solar economy.”
This model holds great appeal for the Imperial MBA Class of 2019. For Marco Gomez Jenkins, a Georgia Tech alum and project manager of the Space Systems Laboratory at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, the multidisciplinary approach at Imperial was a key factor to his choosing it as his next place of study.
FROM EQUESTRIANS TO ASTRONAUTS
“The business school encourages collaboration with other departments from Imperial College London,” Jenkns writes, “which allows you to engage with professors and students from one of the best engineering, science, and medical schools in the world to develop projects and ventures. With projects such as the Imperial Innovation Challenge and the Entrepreneurial Journey, the business school is truly a place where an idea can become reality.”
One reason is the diverse set of students who are attracted to Imperial. Growing up, Anjuli Patel competed on Zimbabwe’s national equestrian show-jumping and dressage teams. In contrast, Frederic John is a pilot in his spare time … when he isn’t skydiving, that is. If you think that’s brave, get a load of Jenkins’ career highlights.
“I flew in NASA’s ‘vomit comet,’ an airplane used to accustom astronauts to the zero-gravity environment experienced in space,” he tells P&Q. “During the flight, I was testing a radiator for a rocket engine designed to one day take people to Mars.”
AN INTENSIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN WHICH EVERY DAY COUNTS
The decision to spend a year away from work to invest in personal development was not taken lightly by the 2019 class. At Imperial, the Full-Time MBA is a process of transformation, exploring new and challenging disciplines, gaining new skills in a collaborative environment with diverse classmates in the process.
Ghaida Ayidh describes herself as a meditation addict and yoga instructor (and one who worked as a performance management analyst for the world’s largest energy company, Saudi Aramco). She also embodies the diversity of the Imperial MBA Class of 2019. “Every student has either a great story or an experience to share, and our faculty actually encourage these dynamic discussions,” Ayidh says. “They are extremely diversified. They are multinational explorers with a goldmine of qualifications and experiences, including aerospace researchers, pharmacists, engineers, designers, and excellent analysts. There is great breadth of family businesses, from car dealing to cookie dough. They are also incredibly resourceful; I actually have a lawyer classmate who helped me to understand my legal rights when it came to moving in London.”
Ekaterina Li had been on a fast track with PwC Russia, rising to a junior manager position at the age of 24, before joining AB InBev as a business analyst. She boiled down her decision to join the Imperial MBA to two factors: time effectiveness, and the opportunity to learn from diverse and accomplished peers.
“Time is the most valuable thing in life for me, so Imperial’s intensive one-year program worked perfectly,” Li says. “As for real-life experience, my professors have spent years working in industry or business, which I consider very useful, as an MBA should be more about practice than about theory.”
CLASS HEADING TO DENMARK AND ZAMBIA
In addition to a group consulting project, which enables students to gain valuable experience consulting for a company on a real-life business problem, Imperial also organizes a Global Experience Week. This year’s program takes students to places such as Denmark and Zambia for a unique, hands-on learning experience. This is a highlight for Lucie Branczik, a history of art grad who worked on over 30 museum projects around the world before returning to higher education. “The week in Zambia is an opportunity for us to explore the business environment and how it is changing within an international context. We will be able to meet local people from local companies who are trying to make positive changes. I am excited about getting some new perspectives and new experiences within a culture I know very little about.”
Beyond the classroom, Leila Guerra points to Imperial’s pioneering work in edtech to provide students with a rich and interactive learning experience. “We have an award-winning educational technology unit in-house to support the students using state-of-the-art teaching methods and technologies. Global panels via hologram and the use of AI are just some of the recent investments shaping the students’ experience. At Imperial, innovation always goes first!”
CLASS BACKGROUNDS INCLUDE HEALTHCARE, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & SPACE TRAVEL
Before joining the Imperial MBA, Anirudh Dastidar worked at Amazon as a software engineer, delivering big business and customer experience impact to millions of end users. During his eight years at Amazon, he moved from writing code “to solve world-scale business problems” to serving as a program manager who helped set strategy in his unit. Now he is looking to use the MBA as a vehicle to move into digital strategy consulting.
“I also have a goal to launch a travel-tech pet project as my first entrepreneurial venture before I am done with my MBA,” Dastidar says. “If I succeed with that goal, then I’d aim to grow its key metrics as time permits.”
Space tourism is the next travel frontier that Neel Savani plans to explore. Previously a research scientist at NASA, Savani created a new model to forecast solar storm characteristics arriving at Earth, increasing the warning time that current technology can provide from one hour to more than 24. “I want to remain open to any form of genuine innovation through data analytics, including my continued pursuit of data visualizations in virtual reality” Savani asserts. Knowledge from within other innovative sectors can be ideal for knowledge transfer to the commercial space sector.”
Go to next page for 11 in-depth profiles of Imperial MBA candidates.