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Stop to smell the roses

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Written by
Sophia D.

BSc Economics and Management and UoL SIM alumna Charlotte Chan shares her experience of studying with the University of London and the Singapore Institute of Management. We take a look at her inspiring story and tips for achieving success.

Charlotte Chan sitting on the stage in Beveridge Hall during a visit to Senate House, University of London

Charlotte Chan has had an impressive career trajectory since completing the BSc Economics and Management: previously a strategy consultant at Accenture, she worked closely with clients to help them form new growth strategies based on novel technologies. Over her five years in the role, Charlotte worked to explore new industry trends, business opportunities and implement concepts to prove investment value. Now working towards an MBA at the London Business School, she is at the forefront of exploring new avenues in private equity and big technology. 

Charlotte’s journey to London began when she enrolled on the BSc Economics and Management programme at the Singapore Institute of Management. She explains why she chose this pathway: “It was one of the top international programmes that supported my learning in Singapore. I knew that I wanted to have the comfort of being in this country while also being on an internationally respected and competitive programme.”  

A snapshot of Charlotte’s highlights at university include the internationally diverse classrooms; the charisma and expertise of the lecturers she was learning from; seeing rewards for her hard work and diligence; and finishing as one of the top achievers in the second year of her programme. Charlotte was a top scorer worldwide in one of her modules, an achievement which she describes as a “huge word of affirmation for my efforts” and an “encouragement to continue pursuing greater challenges”.

Outside the classroom

Extra-curricular activities were a large part of Charlotte’s university experience, where she was given the opportunity to build her own society – the Innovation and Networking society:  “I realised that the speed of innovation and technology development was going at a pace that was so quick and I was seeing so many desirable job opportunities in that space, I thought, why not bring back some of the connections and ‘know how’ back into university and get a group of people to be as driven as we can be so, after we graduate, we can enter into those hot technological industries.” Within 3 months of garnering support and budget for this society, Charlotte created a pathway in which students could build technology, prove their concepts and present these to industry professionals. This allowed Charlotte to meet stakeholders and faculty members and build on her perspective of how the University was managed outside of the classroom. Alongside this, fireside chats were organised with leading industry experts such as IBM and Google, giving them the opportunity to recognise the talent of students at the Singapore Institute of Management. Five years later, Charlotte is proud to announce the society is still operating with over 100 students actively participating. 

Charlotte was awarded a scholarship for academic excellence and for her full contribution to student life at the Singapore Institute of Management. During her years at university, Charlotte formed strong networks with Career Life, part of the Student Development team. This helped her receive support in writing referral letters and being invited back as an alumnus to present at the institution. Charlotte said: “you know that there are people rooting for you and that you can also then practice mock interviews with the people that you've built rapport with.” For Charlotte, the scholarship “has played a huge factor in lifting off one of my biggest dreams, which is pursuing graduate education and accelerating my pathway towards, hopefully one day being part of a C-suite of a global corporation.”

Wisdom for her fellow students

Charlotte Chan meeting Pro-VC Mary Stiasny during a visit to the University of London

Charlotte’s advice to students studying at the University of London begins with discovering where your expertise lies. She suggests embracing the journey through first year to understand where your passion is to build your foundation for your future goals: “I started off as a Business and Management student … slowly I realised that I was succeeding in the economics modules. So, in my second year and onwards, I decided to shift to Economics and Management and that really sparked joy within me because I was taking more courses like Macroeconomics, Industrial Economics.”

Charlotte provided further tips for new students starting university: “Be open to meeting the people around you and be open to hearing things that might be unconventional to you.” She suggests having chats with university administrators to understand how different departments could support you during your academic pursuits.

Planning for assessments meant having a methodological routine for Charlotte. This began with reading all the resources before the lectures and subsequently comprising a list of questions which she asked the professor afterwards. Upon returning home, Charlotte proceeded to set study time, usually around an hour, to make notes on what she had learnt and internalise the content, what she calls “revision recaps.” Charlotte also advised practising for the real thing by taking mock assessments. 

Charlotte also commented on the importance of looking after mental wellbeing as a student: “as a high achiever, I’ve experienced moments of utmost stress and disappointment if I do not reach my goals.” She manages these emotions through reflective practice and journalling. “I have a journal in which I branch out different paths towards my goals, so in a tree branch, you know, if one path doesn't work out, then I will say, okay, what is the other way to trace back to that goal that I want to achieve?” 

Achieving greatness

Charlotte Chan during a visit to Senate House, University of London

Achieving greatness has always been Charlotte’s goal and she proceeded to share her advice on how other students can aspire to reach the same accomplishments. “Have a plan and be diligent. After knowing your plan, it's setting a routine for yourself and being diligent to stick to the plan and have certain checking points.” Charlotte also references the importance of knowing the resources available to you, such as the faculty members and even other students, and building your own village of support. Charlotte explained: “It's important to know who are the people that you can look to for emotional support … they are your village and they'll be there to cheer you all the way to the end of the finish line.” 

Charlotte expressed the best advice given to her during her studies was to “stop and smell the roses”, explaining that, as a high achiever, you are susceptible to setting steep goals, burning out to achieve these and then only feeling glad for a short period of time before setting another goal. Charlotte continues: “so stopping to smell the roses meant a lot for me in terms of trying to break down my big plans into small, little achievable milestones, knowing that it's okay not to achieve those immediately, knowing that there is always a timeline for myself that's unique from everyone else, and that not going according to the plan doesn't mean that I failed...just enjoying every experience you’ve got towards the goal.”  

Why the University of London?

When asked why she chose to study at University of London, Charlotte commented on its long heritage, credibility and the sense of letting students pursue learning away from an institution.

Fast forward to Charlotte’s current endeavours; she is currently pursuing an MBA at the London Business School, a federation member of the University of London. Embarking on one of the most competitive MBA programmes in the world with a cohort of 489 students for the 2025 programme with over 63 different country representatives, Charlotte expresses her excitement: “I have just plunged deep into a whole new, diverse network that I've never had before in my life.” Charlotte aims to tap into this diverse network, explore different pathways and delve into the opportunities here in London. She is also looking to further her experience with an exchange programme in the United States. Charlotte’s next steps include building a global exposure and credibility before returning to Singapore to continue her career. 

Thank you to Charlotte for sharing her story with Student Life UoL. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast with Charlotte