UCL School of Management

Florence Espitalier-Noel | 16 April 2018

In the (cool) shoes of a Master’s student in Canary Wharf

What a feeling… stepping out of the Canary Wharf station and realising that I would be studying on the 38th floor of the second tallest building in the UK! 

Why do I think it’s so great? After 18 years in Mauritius and three amazing years at Exeter University, I was ready for something BIG. 

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Mauritius… kitesurfing, horse riding, the warm, salty air, the Indian spicy food, and the genuinely nice people. 

And Exeter? Definitely the place I felt in my element, where the parties were always so much FUN and the connection with everyone really strong. In one day I had time to play hockey, go to lectures, have a coffee at Costa, go to town and party - the kind of thing that would take three days to do in London

But after tossing my hat in the air, I knew that I needed CHALLENGE. I had to get out of my comfort zone and meet people who were really different from me. That’s how you find me squeezed in the tube at eight o’clock with a book in one hand and my bag in the other. But I still think that being in one of the main financial centres of the UK is the best way to switch from chill campus life to daunting working life. 

You lucky prospectus students who have been offered a place to start in September, you might not find yourselves as squeezed as I am in the morning thanks to the arrival of Crossrail – an addition to the Jubilee and DLR lines. 

 Why did I choose UCL SoM? 

· The SoM is located in one of the main financial centres of the UK 

· Students here are able to take advantage of the benefits offered by Canary Wharf AND Bloomsbury 

· It focuses on technology, innovation, analytics, and entrepreneurship. For those who don’t get it yet, that’s the FUTURE! 

· The MSc Management has different pathways, is very practical and is structured in the same way as an MBA 

· The school has been ranked as one of the most research-intensive departments for management research in the UK 

· According to the Complete University Guide, UCL was ranked 3rd for Business in 2018 gaining 7 places compared to 2017 due to its high selectivity  

© C Ferraton. One Canada Square: the location of the School of Management (SoM) 

So many opportunities…

Here, I got to DO stuff as I had the opportunity of being elected as student rep! We organised a welcome boat party on the River Thames, a Christmas ball, a Chinese New Year event, and a charity football tournament followed by beers at the Slug and Lettuce. It’s quite useful to know as well that our professors have studied in Oxbridge or Harvard, and that our lecture theatres have been designed in the Harvard style ‘horse-shoe’ seating now filled with seventy pretty cool classmates. 

I’ve developed my critical thinking through preparing for case studies; some friends took the opportunity to lead consultancy projects, while I decided to do an MBA style Summer School at Tsinghua University in Beijing. 

© F Espitalier-Noel. UCL SoM Student Hub on the 38th floor of One Canada Square where students gather to eat, chat and study 

A very warm welcome… 

From our first day we were given a very warm welcome. The modern but cosy student hub was crammed with the 230 MSc Management students, all aged between 20 and 30, and from eighty different countries; each of them with different experiences, accomplishments, and activities. 

During induction week we quizzed alumni who are now working at Capgemini, Capco, PWC, Amazon, and Barclays to get useful information from them. Thanks to Merger and Acquisition (M&A) and Blockchain conferences, I realised that I wanted to seek employment in a Management Consulting firm specialising in Digital and Innovation practices. I also had the opportunity to take part in the DECA individual case study competition organised by the UCL consulting society, where I tried to develop my decision making and enhance my presentation skills – hopefully it worked

The careers team were so helpful when it came to the improvement of CVs, cover letters, case study, and interview training. 

Students can make their voices heard thanks to the Unitu platform and prospective students can ask my colleagues and I for advice through the Unibuddy communication channel. 

© F Espitalier-Noel UCL SoM Football competition for the charity Cancer Research UK 

A typical day 

Our typical day starts at 9am and can finish at 7:30pm – or even later! We usually have three hours of lectures, spend time in meetings to work on projects, chill a bit on the sofas or outside, grab too many coffees, and when we’re tired of seeing each other, we take the tube to head home. 

I like the fact that groups are randomly assigned so we get to know everyone on the course. At the beginning I found it annoying, but then I realised that it’s a good preparation for the actual working environment where we won’t choose our colleagues. 

Some of our cool lecturers have even invited small groups for lunch in Canary Wharf on a weekly basis in order to get to know us and have interesting conversations. I am amazed at what I have learned from discussing ideas with my classmates within the 2,639 square metres of the 38th floor or walking with them around the 300 shops and restaurants that Canary Wharf offers. 

Let’s face it: there were times when coffee was very useful but at least now I can leave with my feet on another rung of the ladder towards maturity… as I complete my 18 years of education! 

© V Petorin UCL MSc Finance students at the Christmas Ball

Florence Espitalier-Noel

Last updated Monday, 16 April 2018