Technically, there are 56 incredible minds who populate the Class of 2021. Call it a small school extraordinaire offering a rare one-two punch: a tight-knight community with access to the resources available in one of the world’s top universities for science, technology, and medicine. Not only access, but the MBA program takes after Imperial College London’s bent towards the natural sciences and mathematics. Not surprisingly, the Imperial College Business School adopts an interdisciplinary approach, one guided heavily by design thinking principles that delve deeply into innovating models, disrupting industries, and commercializing ideas.
“The main draw to Imperial College Business School for me was the link to its other faculties of Natural Science, Engineering, and Medicine,” explains Aoife Considine. I’ve heard the Imperial MBA being referred to as a “STEMBA” which for me sums it up perfectly. Imperial even has a specific programme called MBA Connect that links current MBA candidates with students from other faculties through their Enterprise Lab. The idea is that MBA students can act as mentors and catalysts to help get new business ideas and innovations off the ground – a perfect synergy in my eyes and something no other business school offers.”
Overall, the 56-member class represents 23 countries. Just 22% of students hail from the United Kingdom, with the largest segments coming from Asia (41%), the Americas (23%), and Continental Europe (9%). On average, the class is 28 years-old and possess 5.5 years of work experience. Women make up 43% of the student body. On average, the class scored a 642 GMAT and a 312 GRE.
True to Imperial’s STEM roots, students who majored in Engineering compose the largest segment of the class at 34% — a number supplemented by Science and Medicine (11%), Mathematics (4%), and Computer Sciences (2%). Arts and Humanities and Business and Management each hold 16% of the class seats, with Finance and Accounting (12%), and Economics (5%) also represented. In terms of previous industry experience, 21% of the class worked in Banking and Finance. Engineering (17%) and Technology (16%), Consulting (14%), Energy (10%), Healthcare (8%), Public Sector (8%), and Consumer and Retail (6%) also represent sizable shares of the Class of 2021.
A PROGRAM THAT ATTRACTS A SPECIFIC KIND OF STUDENT
You could argue that Imperial College isn’t a small business school. After all, it features 2,100 graduate business students in various program, including online to executive MBAs. In fact, Imperial’s Master’s in Finance and Master’s In Management programs rank among the ten-best in the world according to The Financial Times. Better still, you’ll find Imperial College Business School alumni in nearly 200 countries.
“When I first came into contact with the Imperial alumni community in my home country, I noticed that most of them were at the forefront in very innovative companies and industries, and this really made an impression on me,” explains Teniola Esan. “They were facing global issues with a sense of clarity and purpose, and leading conversations that weren’t even mainstream, yet in the business environment where I was, covering issues such as climate change and corporate sustainability. I wanted to be a part of that.”
The program’s 12-month duration was also attractive to students. Not only does it minimize debt and opportunity cost, but also enables MBAs to quickly return to work and maintain their career momentum. However, the Class of 2021 didn’t choose Imperial to save time and money. Instead, they were seeking an MBA program with a very distinct view and purpose, one that is boldly future-centric and data-driven.
“Imperial College Business School has embedded innovation into their core coursework, electives, career journey, and even their infrastructure, with a brand-new campus fully devoted to bringing students, faculty, and professionals together to create ideas that will change to world,” writes Ronald Johnson II.
A Q&A WITH SENIOR LEADERSHIP
In October, P&Q reached out to Imperial College Business School to learn about new developments in the full-program, as well as take a deeper dive into its “STEMBA” approach, hands-on learning opportunities, and growing reputation in sustainability and entrepreneurship. Here are some thoughts from Markus Perkmann, Academic Director of the Imperial MBA, and Joёl McConnell, Executive Director of Marketing, Recruitment, and Admissions.
P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?
Perkmann: “We have redesigned the Imperial Innovation Challenge in collaboration with Imperial College’s technology commercialisation division. During the Challenge, our students will visit our labs and evaluate technology created by, science, medical, and technology professors at Imperial and propose options for commercialisation. The Imperial Innovation Challenge is one of the ways that we equip our MBA students with the know-how to use insight and imagination to transform society and create social impact. This learning laboratory will be a highly transformational experience for our students. The skills and thinking they learn through this Challenge will help them to innovate and create positive change in their careers.”
P&Q: The Imperial College Business School dubs its program as a STEMBA. How do you integrate hard sciences across your MBA program? The larger college is recognized as one of the top higher education institution for the sciences. How does the business school draw from their expertise? How do you foster interdisciplinary collaboration?”
Perkmann: “About half of our Full-Time MBA class takes the Entrepreneurial Journey elective, where over a period of six months they create a startup proposition and pitch it to a panel of professional investors. The Entrepreneurial Journey is linked closely with Imperial College, which enables students to work on tech-driven innovation ideas. The Imperial Enterprise Lab plays a key role in facilitating the making of connections between MBA students and tech/medicine students or academics. This is also helped by MBA Connect, a student driven initiative that allows our MBAs to act as mentors for student tech startups from around the College.
In addition, on the Full-Time MBA curriculum, we leverage our strengths in STEM to offer elective options in business analytics, inspired by our expertise at Imperial’s Data Science Institute. We also offer electives in fintech, healthcare management, and machine learning and artificial intelligence that includes a programming workshop.”
P&Q: A popular part of your curriculum is the Global (Group) Consulting Project. How do your student projects work?
Perkmann: “On the Group Consulting Project, students form groups to work on a real-life consulting project. They either source their projects themselves, usually by connecting with companies they have approached through their “Interview a Leader” exercise supported by the careers team, or we can connect students with company projects through our industry contacts. After forming a group and having an initial meeting with their company, they need to submit an assessed formal proposal. They receive coaching as they work with their clients, culminating in a client pitch and academic report to be submitted. The project is very cohesive and the whole journey lasts a full term.
The breadth of projects and clients that the students work with is immense. Students have previously worked with Mercato Metropolitano to provide an analysis of their existing customers and ways in which they might increase their customer base in relation to geography, smart comms, and product enhancement. Students have also worked with an Australian energy firm to review the UK waste to energy market for the business opportunities of clients’ waste to energy plants. This consisted of a review of commercial, environmental, regulatory, social and operational factors associated with waste to energy in the UK, develop the financial model to determine profitability, and potentially recommend a development pathway forward. Another project was for a sporting federation. Students looked at how the ticketing model can be redefined to improve availability and increase profit.”
P&Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your business school?
McConnell: “We have had six months of very long days, and even some weekends too, both to ensure Imperial College Business School was ready to deliver a high-quality, multi-modular study experience for postgraduate students, and to ensure we were able to help students deal with all the practicalities of going to graduate school amidst a global pandemic. For many of our students, they had been planning to come to Imperial for quite some time, and their programme at Imperial was already a key part of their broader career advancement planning, so we put in the extra time and effort to help students continue forward with their plans – despite the broader context.
While it was a lot of work to make sure our students had the support they needed as they prepared for study at Imperial College Business School, the last six months also served as an opportunity for my teams to look at how we could be more effective, more innovative, and do things in a way that are as student-focused as possible. A lot of those efficiency gains and general improvements will be kept on a more permanent basis, and so in some aspects, the pandemic helped to significantly accelerate process and service improvement projects we already had underway. We’ve also stepped up our expertise in the area of offering digital-only outreach and recruitment events for potential applicants, something we’re hoping to be able to do more of in the future.”
* To read 13 in-depth profiles of Imperial College Business School MBA candidates, go to page 3.