2019 Best Online MBAs: Candice Gray, Imperial College

Candice Gray

Imperial College Business School

I am driven by passion, dedicated to improvement of self and the world around me.

Age: 37

Hometown: Trinidad and Tobago

Fun fact about yourself: I am a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or drone pilot.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • The University of the West Indies, Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering
  • The University of the West Indies, Masters of Philosophy in Civil Engineering
  • Heriot Watt University, Masters of Science in Water Resources

Where are you currently working? Ministry of Works and Transport, Trinidad and Tobago. I currently manage the Coastal Protection Unit.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of championing and leading the development and initiation of the Comprehensive National Coastal Monitoring Programme within my current organisation. As a Small Island Developing State, Trinidad and Tobago is significantly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. However, as a country, we have been challenged with the will to ensure data and science is available to make informed decisions to address these impacts. Recognising this gap, I championed for a programme with tangible deliverables to bridge the gap between coastal science, policy, and decision-making. In May 2019, having obtained executive approval and funding for the programme, I led the launch of the CNCMP, which will be executed over the next three years.  In the development of the programme I advocated for a collaborative approach, partnering with two key stakeholder agencies, in a public sector environment that is known for stereotypically operating in silos.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Ever since graduating from my undergraduate degree in 2002, I dreamed of attending Imperial College London to pursue a post-graduate degree. As a Civil Engineer, I always thought I would pursue a technical degree at the College. I have always been drawn to Imperial, given the institute’s strong and rich history of research and innovation in engineering and sciences. So it was a natural choice when choosing to pursue my MBA, as I felt that I would be given the best of both the technical and business fields within the Imperial Global Online MBA programme, knowing the proven caliber and recognition of the contributions that Imperial has made on the world stage.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The diversity of my cohort. I have had the opportunity to meet a diverse range of individuals in terms of cultures, professional and educational backgrounds, lifestyles, personalities, and geography. I can honestly say that I have made lifelong connections across the globe that I am certain would not have been possible without this online MBA programme.

I am someone who thrives on challenges. Pursuing an online MBA programme as intensive as the Imperial Global Online MBA challenged me in terms of commitment, time management, and personal growth. I learned so much about myself particularly having gone through the Personal Leadership Journey.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? It was the connection that you had with the programme team, professors, lecturers, instructors, and teaching assistants. One is tempted to think that the level of interaction would be low given the distance learning delivery mode. With the Imperial Global Online MBA, it was on the opposite scale; from one-on-one sessions to live lectures and tutorials, the level of interaction was above expectations.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Allocate at least three hours every day towards your studies. It is easy not to do, but having enrolled in the programme, ensure that you give it the priority needed. Time goes by quickly between the start and end of a semester. Lean on your support systems.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? There should be more opportunities available for networking and involvement of the global (distance-based) cohort.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Certainly. I have learned many new skills and my knowledge base has significantly expanded. I can say that the top skills that I have either gained or improved through my Imperial Global Online MBA journey are relationship-building, communication, problem-solving, active listening, team-building, and decision-making. I have championed for and recently led the launch of a new programme within my organisation. In so doing, I drew upon marketing, strategy and project management knowledge gained through the programme.

I was advised recently to take note of all the intangible services I provide to my organisation – not just those that are outside my job description. Instead, they are the skills that, without them, it would be impossible to deliver the tangibles or go beyond what is expected of me and be a true value add. I believe that a lot of the skills and knowledge that I have gained through this programme fall within this category at my current job.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Wholeheartedly, I would not change pursuing my Global Online MBA at Imperial College Business School. It was an opportunity to accomplish a dream on my bucket list (pursue a degree at Imperial). My outlook on life has expanded. I was forced to challenge who I am, and I can truly say that I have become more self-aware. I have made lifelong connections with wonderful individuals that I may never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. I feel inspired and prepared for the next chapter of my life.

On my graduation day my mother, daughter, and husband traveled with me to London. I will never forget that feeling of seeing my six-year-old daughter at Imperial College London, having my husband and mother who supported me through the two-year journey, participate in its culmination.

It is a combination of the above that I will never trade.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To be a senior member of an organisation that promotes and influences global policy towards a sustainable future, such as the World Economic Forum and the United Nations.

What made Candice such an invaluable member of the Class of 2019?

“Candice distinguished herself from the offset, where she was one of the most engaged during induction and proactively reached out and started to build strong relationships with the Careers team. She was one of the earliest to book in for her first careers meeting, where we discussed her career to date and goals going forward.

Candice had already achieved a great deal prior to the MBA, reaching the position of Director of the Coastal Protection Unit and was ambitious to continue to progress and make a positive impact, particularly in the area of low impact sustainable development to reduce the risk of flooding on communities in her native Trinidad and Tobago.

She was keen to learn as much about herself as possible through the self-awareness exercises and to find ways to use this knowledge to maximise her strengths and improve her performance. We discussed ways of positively managing some of the challenges she was facing and growing her self-confidence.

At subsequent sessions, I reviewed Candice’s CV with her, to make it as impactful as possible and we also worked together to identify alumni from the Imperial network that she could connect with to broaden her network. We also discussed how she could maximise the benefit of the Interview a Leader assignment. Whilst students are only required to interview one leader, Candice saw the opportunity to learn from and build relationships with senior women leaders and decided to interview no less than four eminent African women leaders and created a blog on leadership to share her learnings and help inspire and encourage leadership potential amongst other women. She also made great use of LinkedIn to drive traffic to her blog.

Candice also used me as a sounding board when making her elective choices, both to support her public sector career and her entrepreneurial ambitions. Most recently, she has been in touch to discuss finding a role in Abu-Dhabi, where she and her family are relocating.”

Ceri Willmott

Careers Coach & Consultant, Imperial College Business School Careers



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.