The Imperial College Business School Q+A
Saumya Vardhan, Imperial College Business School MBA 2010
Tell us about your educational and professional background.
I was always very driven growing up, I think mostly due to my upbringing. My parents offered me the chance to do whatever I wanted, and I always loved mathematics.
For my undergraduate degree, I chose to get a BSc in Statistics at Delhi University because I still loved math but I wanted my education in applied mathematics. Then I continued on to do an MSc in Operational Research at Lancaster University and eventually a full-time MBA at Imperial College with a specialisation in strategy and finance.
As for professional experience, I have several years of consulting experience in the UK and India. In 2008, I co-founded an aviation consulting company, Starair Consulting, with my father, where I was associated with setting-up several new regional airlines in India. During my MBA program, I was a summer intern in Rolls-Royce’s Defence Aerospace Strategy Division analyzing the growth opportunities for Rolls Royce in emerging markets.
What are your career goals?
As of now, I am looking at private equity or strategy consulting in the UK. Eventually, I might want to start another business in the emerging markets, as I am very passionate about entrepreneurship.
In general, I want to keep traveling. I enjoy living in the UK and enjoyed traveling to the US (even though it was for company business) quite a bit as well.
What attracted you to this course?
Firstly, the MBA course has a strong focus on entrepreneurship – that was the main reason I chose Imperial.
Secondly, Imperial has a strong brand name and an extensive alumni network that was very useful in looking for job opportunities.
Thirdly, within the program and school there are a variety of extra-curricular activities. It was important that I had a social outlet and could participate in a range of social events and industry conferences.
For instance, I was the President of the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club and a Student Ambassador for Imperial College. I also joined the dance society to improve my salsa dancing and the tennis club to stay fit.
Above all, Imperial has a fantastic location in London. I grew up in New Delhi and have worked in London before. I am a city girl. Whilst I did have a lot of fun in Lancaster, I wanted to be in a city again where I could meet different people and travel more readily.
Did having professional experience help with your studies?
Most definitely! Practical experience orientated my studies to look at the broader picture and expand my horizons. Being an entrepreneur gave me practical experience to apply to the academic content. You need both.
What was your favorite module?
It was my elective on Private Equity and Venture Capital. I was extremely interested in the subject, and I found the class to be highly informative. We had weekly guest lectures from people at the top Private Equity firms worldwide.
On the practical side, it was important for me to hear about their experiences, hardships, and accomplishments.
What was your favorite aspect of the Imperial College MBA?
The most enjoyable aspect of my studies was definitely my final project and internship with Rolls-Royce. It related to my career interests and gave me a chance to work with highly qualified and experienced professionals from the aviation industry.
It is amazing to be invested in a project and to see it come to life through your own efforts; it is even more astounding to have qualified and experienced members of your field taking your advice.
What did you find challenging about the program?
The most challenging part was balancing the demands of the program with my professional responsibilities and my social life. I was still working for my own company at the time and I knew I wanted to actively participate in school and external activities.
To help balance out all of these competing priorities, I decided beforehand what I wanted to achieve this year. Luckily, I was able to balance everything, and so far I am hoping to graduate with good grades.
So, even though I definitely felt stretched to the max for a while, I am glad that I pushed myself to achieve all of my goals; the outcome was well worth the stress.
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