2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Komal Bapna, Imperial College

Komal Bapna

Imperial College Business School

“Outgoing, energetic and unapologetically ambitious girl trying to make her mark in the universe!”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun fact about yourself: As a 7-year trained Indian classical Bharatnatyam dancer, I can never be expressionless!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Electronics Engineering, University of Mumbai

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Digital Growth Manager, Airtel Payments Bank, Bharti Airtel Limited (Gurgaon, India)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I was prepping to come to my dream city, London! Right now, I am interning with Vault Investments Limited as a part of my Entrepreneurial Journey.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am aiming to work in Top Tech and Fintech firms in London in Growth/Strategy and Consumer facing roles.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I have three roles and awards that were the highlight of my MBA journey. I was awarded the Imperial Excellence Scholarship, 2022-2023 for the strength of my application and interview performance. Additionally, I was selected as the Head of Fintech, Finance Career Club, Imperial College Business School for my experience and passion towards Fintech and Financial Inclusion. Finally, I am also an engaged MBA Content Creator for the business school writing feature blogs, chairing panels and creating social media content.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? While I am extremely proud of being involved in a lot of academic and extracurricular activities at the Business School, one of the most engaging and interesting experience was chairing an alumni panel for the careers team themed: Spotlight on Account Management. I had the opportunity to lead the panel with three account executives from Salesforce, Meta, and Amazon respectively. Another important and intellectually stimulating experience was representing the MBAs on a student discussion with Imperial College London Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley FRS.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest achievement to date has been co-founding Healthyhive (a family-owned food and beverage brand), while working as a Strategy Manager reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, studying the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and preparing for Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). I did all of this while trying to establish myself as a professional – the last four years have been a journey that I am the proudest of. I have evolved as an ambitious human being and not just as a professional. While multi-tasking sounds very generic, I consider it a personal achievement to have made it through the journey, especially during the pandemic. I have come out as a positive person and I am looking forward to making a change in the world, starting with impacting the lives of the customers of the company I eventually work for after my MBA.

Why did you choose this business school? Apart from the central London location and the benefits of doing an MBA overseas, Imperial College Business School seemed to be the perfect fit for my career progression due to its unique focus on entrepreneurship. As someone with a strategic mindset, I was looking for an MBA programme and university that complements my commitment to technology and innovation. So far that has also been the best part of the MBA.

Imperial College London is known for its expertise in STEM and business, and I had no second thoughts about the opportunity to study in one of the Top 10 universities in the world. Imperial also leads in research and during the entire course, I can see the exposure to STEM opportunities even as an MBA student.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Well, I couldn’t honestly choose one! Associate Professor, Dr Michelle Rogan taught us Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Her approach and insights in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset truly trained me to think like one. I also thoroughly enjoyed the engaging case study driven structure she followed throughout the course, which usually involved opinion polls that were then open for discussion in the classroom.

I have also enjoyed my interaction with Professor Christopher Tucci during my MBA. He was the lead instructor for Imperial Innovation Challenge and he is also teaching us one of the coolest electives – AI Ventures. Professor Tucci’s infectious energy with his boundless knowledge makes complex topics exciting and easy to learn. I have also had some of the best conversations and brainstorming sessions with him during the MBA.

What was your favourite course as an MBA? My favourite is the Entrepreneurial journey module. This is a 6-month module that starts in the spring term and concludes in the summer term with a business pitch about my venture to investors, academicians, and other participants. I also feel it’s the most unique element of this MBA.

It’s a very hands-on module that runs in collaboration with the Weekend/Global MBAs, Imperial College MSc Computing students, and service designers from the Royal College of Arts. As a part of the Entrepreneurial journey module, I am working on a real-life venture – Vault Investment Ltd. – with some of the brightest folks from Mexico, Spain, and the UK. As someone who is extremely passionate about new technologies and innovation, Entrepreneurial journey is a perfect module to prepare my leadership skills for the future.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? A 12-month MBA can be very consuming on your social energy and tests your personality in multiple dimensions. The one MBA tradition that is my absolute favourite is my monthly catch-up with my Career Consultant. Every MBA student gets assigned a Career Consultant for over the course of the year and then going forward, it is student led to meet and talk to them as much as they desire. The monthly connection with my consultant is one of the best one hours of the month. Apart from discussing progress on my career plan, we also discuss my overall well-being and development.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?

When I look back there is only one thing that I would want to train my mind on or change: the constant worrying and thoughts about what the future holds after the MBA.  It is an amazing quality to be focused on your career goals, but it also acts as a deterrent to gaining the entire experience of the MBA. An MBA is not just an academic programme, it’s a transformative journey one takes, and it changes the way one thinks and interprets the world thereafter. The economy and geo-political landscape impact the job markets globally, but it ideally should not affect the MBA journey in any way.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? What’s not to love about London?! Apart from all the charm the city offers, my top three reasons for loving London are the following:

1. Insanely Diverse and inclusive – I felt at home the minute I stepped into London, it’s truly a cosmo city with so many activities to do apart from study and work.

2. Ease of living – From the accessible public transport to grocery stores, it’s habitable.

3. Landscape – The city has so much to offer! My favourite are the green spaces – from Hyde Park to Holland Park to Richmond, these spaces make the city liveable and enjoyable.

What surprised you the most about business school?

Truly how diverse it is! While we all look at diversity in business schools as a metric to make a decision or rank them, is it genuinely embedded in its values and day-to-day operations? Just thinking about the professors, programme team and my cohort, I am happy and surprised by how diverse we are in terms of our culture, professional backgrounds, education, nationalities and also life experiences. Before coming to the business school, I had no idea how much I would learn just by talking to my peers.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?

Being the truest version of myself and not toning down my ambitions even if they may seem super high or difficult to achieve. I made sure that my application form was a true reflection of who I am personally and professionally. I was brutally honest about my areas of development and what I am seeking out of the one year at Imperial College Business School, and I believe that gave me the edge in my application process. It was also reflected in my interview with the school which felt more like a discussion about my goals and development in the next year to come.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I love my cohort! But if I have to pick one classmate that I admire the most it would be Donny Satrio Mahartha. Donny is from Indonesia and has been sponsored by his government to come and pursue the MBA at Imperial College Business School. He is a fun classmate and a smart colleague. I have collaborated with him on multiple projects, but my favourite conversations have been while working with him on our design thinking project and in cohort parties! I love his enthusiasm and admire his affirmative attitude. Apart from being my classmate, he has also been a confidante and I have promised to go and see him in Indonesia after the MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

1. Leading a company that truly believes in and works on improving the way we live our lives.

2. Being one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world as a proud Indian Woman

What made Komal Bapna such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Komal Bapna is not only very engaged in her programme, but she is heavily involved in opportunities outside of the classroom. She is a valued Student Content Creator, producing authentic, high quality student content for the Business School that motivates and inspires others. Additionally, as she has a strong background in Fintech in India, she is now the Head of Fintech for the Business School’s Finance Career Club. Komal is an invaluable addition to the class, and we cannot wait to see what Komal goes on to achieve in the future.”

Markus Perkmann
Academic Director of the Imperial MBA and Academic Director of the Imperial Enterprise Lab


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