Meet The Imperial MBA Class Of 2019

Anjuli Patel

Imperial College Business School

Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe

Fun Fact About Yourself: I started riding horses when I was 16 months old and competed for the Zimbabwean national equestrian show-jumping and dressage teams from the age of 17.

Undergraduate School and Major: King’s College London and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, English Law and French Law LLB

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Associate and Solicitor-Advocate, Dispute Resolution, Baker & McKenzie LLP

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My career so far has given me many incredible opportunities and there is a lot I am proud of. One of my biggest accomplishments has been my ability to adapt and work seamlessly in London, Hong Kong, and Johannesburg, project managing and building case strategies on multi-party, international disputes worth up to US$950 million.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My MBA classmates are collaborative and dynamic.  We are a small cohort of only 73 people, yet with 30 different nationalities and a wealth of different industry backgrounds and experiences. We are genuinely supportive and encouraging of each other’s personal and professional aspirations. It is a stimulating environment as everyone is eager to learn and committed to making the most of this fantastic opportunity.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I am a firm believer in “learning through doing.” I think that true professional and personal growth is often rooted in maintaining an open mind and working in close collaboration with others. As such, the calibre of the faculty, the wide range of the courses, and the high quality of the experiential learning offered at Imperial were really exciting to me. I also appreciated the comfortable and welcoming environment of Imperial’s campus, with an underlying buzz that encourages self-exploration and growth.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? There are so many courses and activities that I am eager to get involved in at business school. I am particularly looking forward to participating in the 2018–2019 WE Innovate Programme, Imperial’s flagship female entrepreneurship education programme designed to support the next generation of women entrepreneurs in developing an early stage business idea to progress their leadership and entrepreneurial skills. My team and I were recently selected to participate in the first phase of the Programme to pursue a business idea in social impact and innovation. I am excited to have the chance to explore the entrepreneurial journey with a team of talented and motivated individuals from different industry backgrounds and to be supported and guided through that journey by the experienced professionals who form part of Imperial’s Enterprise Lab.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have spent the last seven years pursuing a career as a dispute resolution lawyer, working for Baker McKenzie, a leading international law firm. Operating in a firm with a huge global network and tackling legal and commercial questions on a challengingly large scale, my role involved constantly assessing and strategising the next legal step to balance and protect a client’s interests. It was through this aspect of my work that I developed a keen curiosity in business management, strategy, and leadership. Having been promoted to senior associate, I felt it was the right time in my career to focus on enhancing and expanding my business strategy and management skills by studying for an MBA.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Although it is a significant financial undertaking, I knew that studying for an MBA was an invaluable opportunity. Conversations with friends and family helped: my partner supportively said, “Some people buy cars; this is your knowledge and you’ll have it forever”. A wise friend also said, “It makes total sense, you’re future-proofing your career”.  I was confident that ultimately there could be no downside to taking the time in the short term to invest in my education and skills in order to advance my career in the long term. I was also fortunate to receive a part scholarship from Imperial to study for my MBA. The scholarship has been of great assistance and was encouragement that the MBA was a chance I could not pass up.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied only to the Full-Time MBA Programme at Imperial College Business School.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I had attended a number of information sessions at Imperial and other London business schools, but I felt that Imperial was the right fit for me. Through speaking with several students, alumni and admissions staff at Imperial, I gained a clear sense of Imperial’s community feel and supportive team-player attitude. What distinguished Imperial – and made it an easy choice for me –was its evident commitment to ensuring an MBA cohort with a diversity of cultures, ideas and industries, backed by the impressive educational infrastructure of a university with an internationally-recognised brand. I was satisfied that studying for an MBA at Imperial would not only provide me with the preeminent training and business opportunities of which other schools boast, but also a close-knit network and people-oriented ethos which make it unique.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Moving to Paris to complete the French portion of my Law degree was a defining moment for me. I had eagerly anticipated living in what is arguably the most beautiful and romantic city in the world. I had imagined myself cycling along the banks of the Seine on my way to a Constitutional Law lecture at the famous Panthéon-Sorbonne University. What I had not prepared myself for was the challenge of operating 24/7 in a new language, adapting to a system of higher education that was entirely different from what I had become accustomed to having just completed the first two years of my English Law degree in London, and all the while being very far away from my family in Zimbabwe.

What I learnt about myself over the next two years in Paris has since helped me through some of the most challenging moments in my life. I learned the value of throwing yourself head on into a challenge, the strength you gain from embracing change with courage and resilience, the humility you discover from confronting your limitations, and the importance of being kind to yourself to push beyond them and continue to grow.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Having only recently started studying for the MBA, I am currently open-minded about my career plans post-graduation. Whether it be continuing to progress in my career in law and pursuing a leadership role at my firm or transitioning into a different industry, I am committed to utilising my analytical and strategic skill set, facilitating impact, and driving change. I am thus focusing my MBA journey on exploring my existing skillset, enhancing my leadership skills and learning more about different industries and opportunities.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope for an exciting life, full of challenges and opportunities for self-discovery and growth. I want a career that supports this philosophy, continues to push me, and ultimately has a positive and lasting impact.

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