WINNER | Chris Holmes


Chris is a Chartered Professional Engineer and Project Manager with over seven years’ international project management experience working on flagship digital and infrastructure projects, including Network Rail’s Intelligent Infrastructure programme, Transport for London, Crossrail, Melbourne Airport Rail and Sydney Metro. Leading his most recent project Chris was passionate about blending engineering with new technology to provide decision optimisation software for network rail. After his MBA at Imperial College Business School, Chris is determined to contribute making the UK’s energy transition a success by working in clean technology and renewable energy.

When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?

I started thinking about doing an MBA four years ago while working in Australia. I was working as Deputy Project Manager on the Melbourne Airport Rail project and I realised that there were lots of opportunities to blend engineering, technology and business, and that making that combination a success was vital to projects aimed at transitioning to a low carbon economy. As a Engineer and Project manager, I realised the skillset and exposure I was missing was business. Also, I knew that I was really passionate about renewable energy and that studying an MBA would allow me to transition to the sector I really wanted to make an impact in.

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?

My goal is to make a significant contribution to mitigating climate change by solving challenges in the UK’s clean energy transition. I believe that business has a real opportunity to make an impact by providing solutions to problems with decarbonising our production of energy, for example through developing new energy product technologies, such as hydrogen, or by helping to provide a flexible and reliable grid fit for renewables.

To make an impact there are several areas I’d like to explore during my MBA. Firstly my ability to identify strategic opportunities, so that I can create a business strategy that aligns with the needs of the energy transition. Secondly I’d like to grow my entrepreneurial experience which I can apply within large businesses or start-ups. Lastly, I’d like to expand my network and get exposure to different people, ideas and projects at Imperial College Business School.

How will you use your MBA to further your career?

I would like to use the MBA to transition into a business leadership role in a clean energy company. I aim to join a renewable energy company in their innovation and technology division, where I could help lead the development and scale-up of emerging technologies across the industry. I’m also interested in using the entrepreneurial skillset I plan on further developing at Imperial College London by joining a growing clean technology start-up. Imperial has a great system for providing a launch platform for new businesses and the Enterprise Lab is an exciting opportunity to start a business focussed on clean technology. In five years’ time I would like to see myself contributing to the UK’s clean energy sector and making a success of either of these options.

What are your hopes of being part of the SMF network after business school?

I’m looking forward to joining the large and successful network of SMF businesspeople and engineers and collaborating with SMF Fellows on future clean technology business ideas and ventures. I would also like to work with a mentor in the renewable energy/clean technology field, to have some further guidance on shaping my career post MBA.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school?

I would like to become involved in the network by attending events and seminars, especially the focus group centred around renewable energy and sustainable development. Additionally, I look forward to contributing to future events and the growth of engineers in business, as I did at Mott MacDonald Australia.

I am keen to contribute to the competitions SMF organise, mentor younger engineers as well as help grow a diverse outreach and encourage more engineers to try business as a career.

How did you learn about the SMF scholarship?

It was advertised on Imperial College Business School’s application information, and I followed it to the Royal Academy of Engineering’s website, as well as the SMF website. On reading the information and profiles of other awardees online, as well as the contribution and networking opportunities I realised I really wanted to be part of the community.

What did you learn by going through the scholarship application process?

By answering detailed questions and attending an interview with previous awardees, the processes helped me develop my career plan further and also exposed me to new ideas. The interview panel had varied experiences, and provided lots of really insightful feedback that I will reflect on and use over the course of the MBA. The application process made me even more excited to join the SMF community.

What difference has the scholarship made to you?

It has made a significant difference, as it will allow me to throw my full focus behind getting the most of the MBA experience and developing my post MBA career in Energy. It will allow me to both attend the school I want to – Imperial College Business School – and give me the time to explore the opportunity of developing a start-up or new venture. The scholarship also allows me to join a really large community of like minded engineers and business people, who I’m excited to meet and collaborate with.

What tip would you give to someone seeking financial support to do an MBA?

Talk with your programmes coordinators and research all the options – they are really helpful and often know opportunities for support that are not advertised online. It is well worth identifying what organisations can help you and then putting in the effort to make a good application.

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