2022 MBA To Watch: Ivy Chen, Imperial College

Ivy Chen

Imperial College Business School

“I am a mom, critical-thinker, and lifelong learner who loves challenges and adventures.”

Hometown: Fuzhou, China

Fun fact about yourself: I have missed flights out of Vegas three times…I guess I really wanted to stay in the fantasy land.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, BBA (Concentrations: Strategy and Finance)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Bank of Singapore, Asia’s global private bank

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I started my Imperial Full-Time MBA journey in September 2021, and I was a stay-at-home Mom during the summer of 2021 with a strong desire to build my own venture and become a “mompreneur”.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be likely to join a start-up/scale-up/tech firm, taking on a business development or project management role. Meanwhile, I will also be working on my own business idea with my team assembled at the Imperial.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am a Student Ambassador for Imperial College Business School, supporting to recruit the best talents for the future MBA cohorts. I contribute to Imperial student blog as a Student Content Creator, showcasing how I pursue a full-time MBA while balancing my family commitments as a new mom, aiming to encourage more female and mom candidates to join the future cohorts. I am also serving as the Head of Retail for the Imperial College Business School FMCG, Luxury, & Retail Club, focusing on bringing retail industry insights and career opportunities to the Imperial students.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of the notable achievements for me is that my team (composed of three women) won the Imperial Innovation Challenge among 19 brilliant teams, focusing on a deep tech commercialisation plan. The Challenge was a full week dedicated to learning about a cutting-edge biotech solution from the Imperial College London science faculty. We proposed practical yet creative commercial applications, and successfully pitched the business plan to the panel of judges. Through this competition, I showcased my creativity, ability to learn fast, curiosity to dive into this uncharted field, and strong interpersonal and communication skills of working across functions in a diverse team. Although it was intense and filled with hard work, it was a great learning experience for me.

Academically, I achieved an overall distinction grade for the modules taught in first term, which I also owe hugely to my amazing project teams and excellent teaching from Imperial’s world-class faculty. For the two hardest modules, Corporate Finance and Business Economics, I managed to achieve overall grades of 93.7% and 81.73%, respectively.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? For me, it is hard to name one achievement. Rather, I think it’s my overall career exposures in different regions, companies, and roles that made me feel proud of my professional journey. I started my career with EY Consulting in New York, conducted a wide range of performance improvement and digital projects with banking, wealth management, credit cards, fintech, and other financial services clients across North America. I grasped an opportunity to relocate with EY to Singapore, contributed to EY’s blockchain and digital value proposition developments, and worked on a major M&A deal in APAC – and +then successfully got recruited by my then client, joining Bank of Singapore. I further developed my business development, marketing, and project management skills and earned a deep understanding of issues and growth opportunities in the APAC financial services sector. My rich experience has enabled me to work well in a diverse team and I am always ready to raise my hand for new challenges and opportunities.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Imperial predominately because it is such an innovative institution, promoting an entrepreneurial mindset combined with science, logics, and human-centric design. Innovation is embedded deeply in both academic curriculum and extracurricular activities. The innovation ecosystem encourages everyone to be curious and courageous to seek better solutions to problems without feeling like they are being judged and criticised. There are also tremendous opportunities to collaborate on projects with the wider Imperial College London community. I am currently taking the Entrepreneurial Journey elective, which is a flagship module for students to develop a startup business proposition, taking an idea all the way to an in-depth business plan, guided by professional coaches and skill workshops.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr Ileana taught us Design Thinking, which is a core module to solve some of the hardest and trickiest problems in society and companies. She pushed us to drill deep into problems and apply human-centric design to find the emotional pain points before we brainstorm for potential solutions. I truly appreciate her teaching, which equipped me with a practical lens to tackle complicated problems that may arise with our future ventures, future employers, and society as a whole.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favourite MBA tradition so far was an assignment given by the Imperial College Business School Careers team, called “Interview a Leader.” We are encouraged to connect with leaders and founders in sectors of interest to us to learn from them about leadership, the latest industry developments, and career advice. I used this opportunity to successfully connect with multiple industry leaders and start-up founders, who are based in London and Singapore, and hold senior positions in Google, LinkedIn, and sustainability start-ups. This is an amazing “assignment” that opens door for us to explore career interests and potentially find our passion and career alignment.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?  I would probably have started networking earlier, not only just for the career purpose but also for general learning. As an Imperial Full-Time MBA candidate, we were encouraged by our Programme and Career teams to reach out to industry practitioners, start-up founders, leaders from different backgrounds, and students from other disciplines to broaden our learning horizons and develop a diverse network globally.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Although Imperial is a world-leading STEM institution, I thought the student body would be composed of more male students. However, it is not the case as Imperial has a strong focus on diversity and inclusivity. My cohort is extremely diverse with a balanced gender ratio and representation of the LGBTQ+ community.

What surprised you the most about business school? Imperial College Business School has a wide and strong network with other world-renowned institutions. Although our Full-Time MBA programme is only one year, it is extremely well-structured that many of us have opportunities to conduct exchange programmes with other institutions or take electives at other colleges overseas.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I participated in the Imperial Fast-Track MBA Admissions Day where I had a chance to attend workshops, panels, and be offered an interview with the Admissions team directly. My performance, as well as a diverse and international background, made me stand out during the day and I successfully secured an offer shortly after the Admissions Day.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I really admire Michelle Tang, who is a dear friend of mine. Michelle is a true leader. She voluntarily takes on responsibilities as a Career Leader for my cohort, serves as President of the Imperial FMCG, Luxury & Retail Career Club, and sits on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council to innovate with the School to provide a better learning experience for all students. She is also excellent at her academic work, holding a high standard and not afraid of getting her hands dirty in solving complicated problems.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father is a successful business professional who I have always looked up to and he encourages and supports me 100% for my pursuit in business. He once said to me when I was young that business is at essence in almost all aspects of our life and society, which has since motivated me to pursue the subject.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to start my own venture by identifying a problem to solve to unlock more values to people. I am currently exploring a potential idea addressing a pain point in the mom and baby space using AI technology with my team at Imperial. In addition, professionally, I want to further craft my sales and negotiation skills and be able to apply these skills in my future organisations and personal life.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I became a new mom during the pandemic in a foreign land. Looking back, these two intertwined events changed my view of a career completely. As a parent living in the world barely coming out of the pandemic and facing a climate crisis, I want to make a positive impact in my future career, pursuing opportunities which promotes sustainability and connectivity in our society. I now appreciate a more flexible working environment for a better work and life balance so I can be there for my son’s childhood as much as possible while not sacrificing my personal professional pursuit.

What made Ivy such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Ivy stood out in her MBA cohort for her intellectual curiosity and keen determination to co-create with me and her classmates a fulfilling learning experience. She is the clear demonstration that being a new mom to a young baby living in a foreign country during the most challenging of all times can co-exist with taking up the challenging yet rewarding Full-Time MBA programme at Imperial. She made every effort to come to campus for the Design Thinking module and shared her views with the cohort about how design thinking contributed to business transformation in her previous organisations. She is a strong team player who is not afraid to speak up, and she successfully led her team to tackle one of the most complex problems for the design thinking project “How to help people feel safe while walking at night in London.” Throughout this project, she has showcased her creativity, ability to learn fast, teamwork, and strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Outside of the classroom, Ivy also takes on leadership roles, such as being a Student Ambassador to help prospective students learn more about Imperial and sit on the core committee of the FMCG, Luxury & Retail Club. One of her notable achievements is winning the Imperial Innovation Challenge among 19 brilliant teams, focusing on deep tech commercialisation. She and two other female students dedicated a full week to learning about a cutting-edge biotech solution from the Imperial science team and proposed well-rounded yet creative commercial applications for it.”

Dr Ileana Stigliani (PhD)
Associate Professor of Design and Innovation


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