Position pre MBA: Systems Engineer at GE Aviation
What motivated you to do an MBA and why did you choose Cass Business School?
Having developed a solid background in engineering and technology throughout my studies and professional experience, I decided to do an MBA in order to compensate my skills and accelerate my career progression. After doing my research on different programmes, I decided that Cass Business School is the best choice for me. Cass offers a great learning environment due to the mix of people from different cultures and variable disciplines that can broaden your perspective and way of thinking. The Cass environment is enhanced by the whole London ecosystem that includes diverse industries, innumerous opportunities for networking, and is becoming a strong innovation and technology entrepreneurship hub. In addition, another thing that makes Cass MBA stand apart is the opportunity to apply the knowledge you acquire in real life projects (Strategy Project, Consultancy Week, Business Mastery Project). Moreover, the International Study Tours offer tremendous opportunities for learning and development. Last but not least, the huge global alumni group and the constant support that Cass provides to its alumni (networking events, free classes and work space) made it even clearer that Cass was the right choice.
What are your career goals and what do you hope to achieve after you have graduated?
My long-term career goal is to lead the strategy of a technology organisation. As part of this aim I would like to endeavour starting my own technology company in the next 5-10 years. So far, through my experiences, I have developed a solid background in engineering and technology. Therefore, immediately after the MBA, I would like to take roles in different business functions in order to get a more holistic view on business operations and business strategy. I am also considering opportunities in start-up companies since such roles can give a broader perspective in a smaller amount of time. It should also be mentioned here that the Cass MBA, and more specifically the career service office, offers valuable help in shaping our goals and objectives. This process is also supported by an established career coaching scheme, which is offered in partnership with an external organisation.
How would you describe your overall experience of the MBA so far?
From day one, the Cass MBA offered a great learning and development experience. On the professional development side, the first three weeks with the daily workshops, talks and seminars were key to improve core employability skills and kick start our job search. However, the journey did not stop there since every Thursday is devoted to job search and professional development, with opportunities to attend workshops or work with consultants on a one-to-one basis. Outside the in-class professional development activities, and one of the highlights of the programme so far, was the two-and-a-half-day leadership training held at the Sandhurst Military Academy. Coming from an engineering background, I really enjoyed the learning experience so far, since most of the courses offer new valuable knowledge that helps me build a holistic view around business. Moreover, working in teams to deliver solutions for the different projects is a huge part of daily activities as an MBA student. These projects involve planning, managing team dynamics, exchanging ideas and delivering formal team reports and presentations that certainly add to the learning experience. Finally, outside the MBA programme, and since I am interested in entrepreneurship, I had the opportunity to attend many interesting talks and events so far, like the start-up weekend organised by City University in September.
What has been the most rewarding experience for you so far?
From all the diverse experiences so far, meeting with people from countries across the world and working in three different teams in just two months, is the one experience that really stands out. Through collaboration and discussions, I gained insight into different cultures, viewpoints and personalities. I learned how to work more effectively and efficiently in order to deliver quality results on time. Another important lesson was the understanding and managing of team dynamics. Finally, by reflecting on my behavior and performance in these team activities, I became more self-aware recognising areas of strength and areas that I would like to improve.
What has been the most challenging aspect?
I believe that the most challenging aspect in the life of an MBA student is the balance of academic work and professional development with career and other events. Especially in London there is a huge number of such opportunities both inside and outside Cass. Being selective and targeting events based on interests and post-MBA aspirations is key to achieving a good balance. Furthermore, I believe that the three weeks in the beginning of the MBA programme, where there is a lot of emphasis on developing personal goals and career aspirations, were really helpful for me in order to deal with this challenge.
How would you describe your fellow cohort?
The first obvious aspect that makes the Cass MBA cohort unique is the international diversity of the students. There are 33 countries represented in a class of 75 students. The diversity does not stop there, our cohort has students from diverse professional backgrounds and includes a blend of different personalities, both which enhances the learning experience. However, besides diversity, all my fellow peers share some common characteristics which are crucial for the success of the programme. These are openness, willingness to collaborate, share and support each other.
What has the learning experience been like? How are classes taught and what sort of expertise do the academics bring?
Cass MBA programme offers a unique learning experience. The programme structure is carefully developed to include not only lectures and coursework but also projects in cooperation with companies that allow the application of knowledge in real life situations. These projects help students put things in perspective and have hands on experiences that enhance learning. The in-class experience is also really good. Every module is taught by professors who are enthusiastic about their subject, they are experts in their field and most of them have worked both in industry and academia. The lectures are interactive and professors frequently share personal experiences and insights from their career. External speakers are also invited to talk during classes. This year’s highlight in the Strategy class was the lecture of Toro Ross’s HR Director and Chief Operating Officer, Otello Valenti, who talked about lessons that businesses can learn from Formula 1.
What are your thoughts on living and studying in London and does Cass’ location bring any added benefit?
London is a global business hub and the last few years has become a major entrepreneurship and technology hub as well. This gives innumerous opportunities to attend events of interest, network or even get involved. Google London campus, which is just five minutes from the main building of Cass, is a great example. You can sign up for free, work in your projects, meet other people interested in start-ups and attend talks and events without any cost. London is a great city to live in as well. It is multi-cultural and provides great entertainment opportunities that span from attending musical performances and theaters to enjoying food tastes from around the world.
What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking of doing an MBA at Cass?
One thing that I would suggest to every prospective student would be to try to visit Cass during one of the Open Days. It is a great way to interact with current students, faculty and the Cass Admissions team and learn more details about the programme. Also, you will have the chance to take part in a lecture from a distinguished professor, meet and discuss with other candidates and see in person the Cass facilities. Prior to applying, visiting Cass helped me during the application stage but more importantly when I had to take the final decision.