UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Student Spotlight: Ignacio Gutierrez Gomez

Ignacio Gutierrez Gomez (Prosperity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship student, 2022-23) tells us about his experience of the programme's pilot placement scheme

Ignacio Gutierrez stands in the UCL Quad on campus

The Prosperity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PIE) Placement scheme at the IGP offers students an opportunity for experiential learning that bridges the gap between theory and practice and supports application of the skills developed in the MSc PIE to real-world situations.

Led by Dr Onya Idoko and taking place in term 2 of the 2022/23 year, the pilot scheme saw seven students undertake a three-month placement with a partner organisation. Here, Ignacio Gutierrez Gomez tells us about his experience.

Please tell us about your placement. Why did you choose this organisation and what did your challenge there involve?

I chose to collaborate with the London Borough of Hackney because I was interested in two specific areas. First, I’ve always been passionate about music and all forms of arts and creativity. I knew that Hackney is a unique place in London and the world where you can find diverse forms of enterprises and communities using social and creative approaches to build a better future.

Secondly, I wanted to have a first-hand experience with an organisation based in London to learn as much as possible about how companies function in the UK and have the chance to interact and talk with as many companies as possible while putting my MSc learnings into practice.

I was tasked with finding ways for the Hackney Council to better connect with local businesses and help them thrive as part of the borough’s growth.

How did the placement complement your study at the IGP? How were you able to apply your learnings to a real-world setting?

The placement allowed me to put into practice some of the methods we learnt at the IGP. As an example, I engaged in in-depth discussions with Council members and developed a well-defined strategy to conduct interviews and gather valuable insights from social enterprises in Hackney. Additionally, I used different theoretical frameworks to analyze what the Council is implementing so far and how it can be reshaped towards a more social approach.

What support did you receive throughout the process? 

During my placement, I received much support as a member of the Climate, House, and Economy team. This allowed me to be fully integrated into the Council and work collaboratively with my team members. I also had the opportunity to involve other members of the Council in my challenge. Being part of the team gave me the opportunity to experience it firsthand rather than just observing as an outsider researcher.

I regularly met with Dr Idoko every two weeks to update her on my progress in the challenge and to receive her feedback on how to approach any issues I had.


How do you foresee this experience helping you as you move forward in your career?

This experience is opening a lot of new doors in the UK. First of all, due to the placement, I have been able to keep in touch with some of the social enterprises I met and now I am working with some of them in my dissertation. Additionally, this job experience is the first step to getting into the UK job market and it’s a clear proof of what PIE students can contribute to different industries.


What advice would you give to those taking part in the next wave of placements? Do you have any tips on applying for the placement, or managing it alongside study?

I definitely recommend every PIE student to be part of the placements scheme. Everyone will have the opportunity to directly experience companies that share similar goals as the IGP. It will increase your confidence around complex issues and explore how you can put into practice some of the learnings from the master.

If you're a future student, my recommendation would be to stay organized with your schedule so that you can make the most of your placement and participate in all the IGP and UCL activities that are available. It's essential to think about your passions and plans after your master's degree and look for companies that align with your goals. This way, you can begin building your future while enjoying your placement doing things that you love.