Interview 3: Jayshan Ratnakumar

Jayshan Ratnakmur (MEng, Imperial College London), Imperial College Business School

2020 Scholarship Winner, Jayshan RatnakumarPrior to starting his MBA at Imperial College Business School, Jayshan worked in both the Defence and Energy sectors for over 5 years.  In 2015 he joined BAE Systems working on UK’s Nuclear Deterrent Submarine programme and by 2018 he became the Lead Senior Engineer for the submarine’s steam turbo-generators.  Jayshan then joined technology startup GreenSpur Wind Ltd as its Lead Mechanical Engineer and led the development of the 250kW ferrite based permanent magnet generator for the wind turbine market.  Since this successful project, Jayshan headed the applied engineering department and won three Innovate UK grants totalling £600,000 in 2020.

Why did you decide to do an MBA?
After working for several years in engineering roles, I developed a desire to be able to influence technical and corporate strategy at a business level. This desire grew stronger throughout my time working at technology start-up GreenSpur Wind Ltd. Regular engagement with board members and attendance at board meetings led me to realise that I needed to build and exercise a new commercial mindset, which would complement my technical know-how and strengthen my ability to influence and impact business decisions. An MBA offered me the perfect vehicle to develop this mindset and to add a commercial aspect to my career; building business knowledge foundations, raising my profile within powerful business networks and ultimately offering me the chance to explore new opportunities. I felt the MBA was a great course to bridge various disciplines, enabling me to approach new industries whilst strengthening my professional skillset.

What stage in your career were you at when you decided to do the MBA?
My career began in the defence industry, where I spent a little over 3 years developing into a lead engineering role that required me to manage the system development and integration of the steam-turbogenerators for the UK’s nuclear deterrent submarines.  I then spent 2 years at GreenSpur, leading the applied engineering department for its fantastically innovative generator technology for wind turbines, where I developed a desire to influence the strategy of the technology’s route to commercialisation.  It was at this point when I was faced with the decision as to whether to completely commit to the engineering discipline, or bridge into a new function which better fit my ambitions and strengths and it was at this stage in my career that I decided to do an MBA.

How will you use what you learned on your MBA course to further your career?
I am approaching the MBA as an opportunity to build on and practice my business acumen in a ‘training environment,’ which will effectively give me confidence to approach a new strategic technical role, comparable to that which several years of experience in a commercial role would have given me.  As well as the foundations of knowledge that it will teach me in key areas such as marketing and corporate strategy, the MBA will open opportunities for me to explore my more specific career goal of commercialising innovate and sustainable technologies.  It will enable me to further my career by carving a streamlined path to reach my ambitions through a new professional network and with a strong understanding of business operations.

What are your expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
I am delighted to now be a part of the SMF network, which I will remain a part of throughout and beyond my MBA journey! The network presents me with a fantastic opportunity to learn and seek wisdom from experienced professionals who have previously undergone similar transitions in their careers to the one I am experiencing now.  I hope that the SMF network will assist me in achieving my goal of commercialising innovative technologies with the ultimate aim of achieving a more sustainable society. The network is enriched with the experiences and diverse perspectives of the fellows, many of whom are committed to the sustainability cause as I am. The SMF network also boasts a strong VC circle and combining this with the network I will build at Imperial will truly accelerate my ambitions.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school?
The backing and support that I have received from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the SMF have fuelled my motivation to both passionately pursue my career goals and to support the SMF’s ethos.  In addition to becoming a mentor for bright young engineers and supporting EIBC winners, I hope to set up a hub within the network for creative and entrepreneurial minds. I believe that I can build upon my experiences of completing an MBA, working in a start-up and any future entrepreneurial experiences, to develop the aspirations of young Engineers in Business Competition winners. The SMF does a fantastic job of developing and supporting individuals and I hope to do the same specifically for their ideas and ambitions.

How did you find out about the SMF scholarship?
Towards the start of 2020 I attended a couple of Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) events in order to seek opportunities to progress and transition my career in the way that I had envisaged.  I subscribed to the RAEng mailing list for information on future events and coincidentally it was in this way that I discovered the SMF scholarship opportunity.  This opened my eyes to the option of undertaking an MBA, which I realised would be the perfect path to achieve what I was seeking.  I then enquired and received further information on the SMF scholarship – so the SMF opportunity was the real kick-starter for me considering to do an MBA!

How was your experience of applying for the scholarship?
My experience was made somewhat more unique with the current Covid-19 pandemic.  Schools were changing their approach to applications and each school had different requirements.   My original plan to apply early changed with the closure of GMAT test centres and the introduction of online interviewing. This was probably the most challenging part of the entire MBA and SMF application process: quickly adapting to the varying requirements and carefully managing my time on each of the pre-requisites to overcome the following hurdle.  This was all further challenging due to the effects of the pandemic on the job I was in at the time.

What did you learn by going through the scholarship application process?
The scholarship application process really helped me reflect on what my long-term ambitions truly were, and the tough process tested what lengths I was willing to go to make steps towards progressing them. Fate had it that I had to complete my GMAT, my scholarship interview and a £500,000 grant application to support my current company’s future, all within three consecutive days!  I’m proud to say that I was successful in all three. The biggest lesson from this process was really understanding my “why” and being prepared to test myself as to how far I was willing to go to fulfil my ambitions.

Find out how to apply for a scholarship.

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