My First Semester as an MBA at Imperial College Business School

Natasha Lakhani describes her first semester as an MBA at Imperial College Business School

This time last year I was buried under GMAT handbooks and business school prospectuses as I made my decision on which business school to attend, to pursue my MBA.

A year on, GMAT conquered and city job left behind, I’m back to being a full-time student studying for my MBA at Imperial College London. In fact, the first semester is done and I’m looking forward to what the MBA has in store next.

When I spoke to alumni and people in my network who had completed an MBA themselves, they all would tell me how it would be an incredible experience, developmental and tough. They were spot on. Four months into my MBA, it’s everything I honestly hoped it would, but it is challenging.  In this blog I hope to give you an accurate and honest insight into what it’s been like studying my MBA at Imperial and what you too could expect as an MBA student in the future.

My MBA journey started with a two-week induction in early September. Nervous about my first day and meeting so many new people, the induction was a great way of easing us into the MBA experience. Many business schools run a similar induction program designed to introduce the cohort to each other before they head into the classroom together! The highlight of the Imperial induction for me was an away day which the school organized for us. On a wet, windy Friday afternoon, I and my 77 new classmates embarked on a series of outdoor obstacle courses and took on physical and mental challenges together. It was a great icebreaker and made us all collaborate and work with each other in a unique way.

Imperial MBA Class

What followed the induction was the kick start of the MBA syllabus. Varied and practical in its content, my first semester saw me take courses covering Organisational Behaviour, Strategy and Marketing through to Economics, Corporate Finance and of course, my beloved Accounting ( I am a chartered accountant after all!). Having previously completed a BSc in Management for my undergrad, the MBA differed in the fact that there was much more space to discuss ideas, share experiences, and time to question and challenge theories back to our lecturers. My favourite module alongside our Microeconomics module was Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a relatively new discipline being offered by business schools. At Imperial it is a core module and its purpose is to show how, as future leaders of corporations, we can approach problem solving differently to solve large scale, societal/ organisation wide “wicked problems”. I loved that, and I also really enjoyed the interactive nature of all my lectures. Regularly demanding us to participate, present in, (or even role play in!), every day of my first semester felt different, varied and fun. And I was learning new content as well as developing behaviourally. As the pictures below show, getting up and participating in class, pushing yourself to present (often week after week), raising your hand and asking difficult questions and discussing ideas is one of the biggest and best benefits of the MBA. It’s about character building. It’s about developing as a person in whichever way you need and want to – be it academically learning new subjects or practising professional skills. 

Presenting at Imperial


Whilst my time in the classroom has been a definite highlight of my first semester, the time outside has been equally rewarding and fulfilling. The MBA experience is whatever you make it. My advice to anyone pursuing a full-time MBA would be to absolutely indulge yourself in everything offered as part of the MBA. The year goes so quick, and the opportunities are so unique, that you must grab anything of interest to you with both hands. Assignments and exams are of course important – but they’ll be there if you participate in other things or not! So make the most of the time and push yourself to pursue as much as possible. For me, I decided to apply for a leadership role on offer for an Imperial Business School club. I am now the President of the Energy Club which is proving to be a really useful role for me. I’m pursuing the MBA to achieve a functional change in the Energy Sector, having worked in Oil & Gas for seven years before my MBA. This opportunity is really helping me widen my network in the sector and makes my requests to connect and talk to companies/representatives more authentic and rationalized. The experience has also allowed me to practise my leadership skills. I and my co-president had to recruit a committee, set goals and deliverables, and we manage the committee to meet the club’s priorities. It’s been a great way of making new friends, aside from those on the MBA too. Here we are at Imperial College Business School’s Career Fair promoting the club and upcoming events! 

Promoting the Energy Club at Imperial College Business School’s Career Fair

The next highlight of the MBA in my first semester has to be the cohort. There has been no shortage of social events, birthday drinks, nights out, sports events, festivals and everything else in between. Studying in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world means there’s always something, someone is up for trying. The cohort is exactly what I hoped it would be – supportive, intelligent, accomplished and most of all, encouraging of one another. What’s been incredible is the friendship and support forming between the women on the course. 

We have our own Ladies Group and organise regular “Ladies Nights”. Having worked in a typically male dominated industry, being able to discuss the challenges of being a woman in the professional world, hearing how other women have overcome these same predicaments and discuss plans for the future has been totally priceless. I respect the women (and the men!) so much on my course and learning from them has been one of the best indirect benefits of the MBA so far.

 Ladies Night at Imperial


Great experiences, people and opportunities aside, the MBA is tough. The first semester at times really was demanding and a full-time course especially, becomes the epicenter of your life. Expect long days, full of lectures and classes, along with the need to stay back and do group assignments and individual assignments in the evenings and weekends. The first semester was a juggling act much of the time – managing a constant flow of assignments and exams, finding time to socialize with MBA friends, whilst still finding time for family and other friends. Through to carving out time to network, pursue extra-curriculum activities, and start the new job search! Be prepared to work hard and push yourself. That’s what I’ve learned in my first semester. Having said that, if you’re motivated to dedicate a chunk of yourself to your MBA, you will love the first semester and beyond. The opportunities are there waiting for you to grab them at business school. Already in my first semester I’ve been selected to represent Imperial at the World Government Summit in Dubai, I’ve organized a Careers Club Fair at the business school, blogged and vlogged for Imperial, and most impressively I’ve updated my CV four times! It’s been a fulfilling first four months. I’m delighted I made the decision to pursue an MBA and with the right mind set I know future students will enjoy and develop from the experience too. 

Natasha Lakhani
Written by Natasha Lakhani

After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Management from The London School of Economics & Political Science, Natasha has spent the past seven years working in the Oil & Gas sector for Shell PLC in a variety of finance roles. She is a member of the National Academy for Gifted & Talented Youth and has been awarded a Forte Foundation Fellowship to pursue  her MBA at Imperial College London, which she started in September 2017. Natasha is passionate about the Energy Challenge and hopes to accelerate her career in this sector post-MBA.

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