Many university club events are just about having fun. Deciding whether to take part is pretty simple.
Business school clubs provide a breadth and depth of professional activities such as speaker events, competitions, career treks, conferences and leadership positions. This can make it more difficult to decide what to get involved in.
How do I make the most out of these opportunities? What will I learn? What are the networking opportunities? How do I avoid missing out whilst not spreading myself too thin? What should I put on my CV?
My advice – as the Senior Student Activities Manager at LBS - would be to treat them as part of your professional development and take a structured approach:
Step 1 – Frame
Think about your long-term career aims, what gaps are there between where you are now and where you want to be? How could extra-curricular activity help?
Link this to the advice from Career Services and Organisational Behaviour Courses.
As an example, these slides are from a presentation by Professor Margaret Ormiston on how to use club leadership as a personal development opportunity:
Step 2 – Explore and develop
There are a huge amount of club events – you will regularly have to choose between different activities. Actively assess their relevance to you and what you’re trying to achieve, don’t just follow the crowd.
Ask yourself – How will the activity help me develop relevant skills, expertise, networks? How do they help me find out more about areas that interest me?
Establish one or two tangible outcomes that you would aim to get out of each event e.g. a new contact or an alumni’s perspective on a business you’re considering joining.
Student leadership roles can also provide a relatively safe environment to practise particular skills or try out new ways of leading.
Step 3 – Demonstrate
Club activity isn’t going to help your CV!
Once you’re in business school, your club involvement is unlikely to make much difference to your CV.
To illustrate this, a few years ago we analysed CV submissions to consultancy firms to see if different content changed the likelihood of being invited to interviews. We found there was no statistically significant benefit to putting student leadership roles on CVs.
Instead, think about how you could talk about your different activities in interviews.
Think about what your club involvement says about your willingness to contribute to the community you’re in, how it shows passion for your area of business, how you have been able to use contacts that will be valuable in your future role.
Specific experiences may also help complement your business experience. For example, club leaders often have plenty of examples of how they’ve been able to motivate others or resolve conflicts. They can also provide ‘safe’ examples of failure and learning.
Step 4 – Reflect
Periodically, take time to reflect: What have you learnt? Do you need to reassess your involvement? Are you now able to focus on a narrower range of businesses or opportunities?
Talk to your peers and compare what you’re getting from these activities. Peer-to-peer coaching can also be a valuable tool – now is a great time to practise: https://hbr.org/2010/02/cultivate-your-coaching-networ-2/
Take time every few weeks to reflect on what you’re learning through student activities and go through these steps again.
To give some examples here are a selection of some of the great learning opportunities through student-led activities at London Business School:
- Student leadership as a way to practise ‘delivering through others’
- Get involved in the TELL Series to hear entrepreneurial success stories first-hand and help find and select inspiring founders
- Take part in the Global Social Venture Competition to test your business idea:
There are many facets to pursuing an MBA. Juggling with your precious time is one of the most important one. This picture sort of shows the challenges you will face! An improved version of the one you’ve probably already seen ;-).
Next week I’ll be writing about the sports and fun aspect, but let’s now focus on the academics of an MBA.
Not taking the pre-term into account, you will follow six core courses before Christmas of which five run regularly every week. The last one is the Leadership Launch, about which you’ll find lots of information on the LBS website (Leadership Launch). Five courses of 2:45 h, including a well-deserved break of 15 min, means only a small 14 h of classes each week. So, plenty of time for your other obligations mentioned above, I hear you think ;-).
Catch up with courses via the tutorials
Every week there are tutorials for those who are struggling with a core course such as Corporate Finance or Financial Accounting. It is a good way for you to ask questions, go over a certain exercise again with a tutor and use crowd-sourcing to discuss your insights. I must say, every professor up till now has been very open to receive direct questions. Even the more advanced students that have follow-up questions are welcome to discuss those with the faculty.
Execute pre-readings and home-works, often with your study group
In order to have an interesting class discussion, some courses require pre-work. Be sure you will develop your fast reading skills to cope with this. Various courses require solving cases or problems with your study group, knowing LBS puts a lot of effort in developing this mentality. All study groups represent a perfect mix in terms of geographies, background, languages, interests and future aspirations – Don’t ask me how they manage this. This leads to challenging discussions and working together.
Two weeks ago we had our second and third mid-term exam combined with a break week. This allows you enough time to revise your study material and even some time for travelling. Many people went home for a week, other took the opportunity to do day-trips around the UK or fly towards a European city. Various tutorial sessions are organized by the school and even students organize sessions for fellow students to help out.
We have just passed our two first rounds with the new electives bidding system to choose up to five electives to complement core courses in Term 2 and 3. Thanks to my genius bidding strategy I got into my preferred three classes :- )! Looking forward to these electives next term as class discussions will become even more valuable during these courses.
You see, in the end when I talk about the academics, you actually talk about crowd-sourcing, available professors, strong study groups and interesting class discussions. People, people, people.. It is obvious; it’s all about the people and be assured that you will be shaped by the people around you. This is why you need to choose your school wisely and LBS served me well up to this point ;-)!
If you have come across any of LBS’ myriad of web banners, sponsored links, magazine ads (and I am sure you have, what else could have led you to this post?), you must have realized that we are pretty proud of our prime location in London, and we make rather intensive use of it in our marketing. In fact, the title of this blog post is more or less taken straight from a slide in the presentation deck we used in information sessions for prospective students. Does that make this entire post of mine entirely repetitive, therefore a waste of time? I hope not, because when our Admissions Team mention London, they usually make it synonymous with “job opportunities“, “leading financial institutions“, “world’s biggest companies“, and of course, they are absolutely right, but personally when I think London, I tend to think more of “an awesome place to live“. So, as an amateur photographer who is attracted to all things pretty, and an aspiring living contradiction to the general perception that the LBS Masters in Finance is all about numbers and figures, I’d like to present to you 10 photos from my London collection, in the hope to convince you that it’s worthy to come to LBS, not just for working the job, but also for living the life.
First, as a matter of fact, there is the school itself, which is quite breathtakingly beautiful:
Here’s my view whilst studying in the Nash garden:
Then there are the classics, Eye, Bridge, Tower:
That picture of the Tower of London was color edited, obviously, but the sweeping mass of poppies are 100% real. Those poppies belong to an ongoing display at the Tower to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War. In London, there are plenty of chances for that, you know, to be impressed and to take a picture and edit it to impress your friends at home. Or you can also easily ask someone to take a picture of you and tweak it a bit to make it look like you are in the middle of a classic movie, because London is just convenient like that. This is me at Piccadilly Circus, for example:
There are also nice, little known things that just happened to catch your eyes, like this wall of wine-red vines that I came across on my way to Greenwich Park:
Talk about Greenwich, if you’re in the area, definitely do NOT miss out on visiting the Old Royal Naval College. I was there last month and was treated to a very interesting (and totally free) performance featuring the renowned diarist Samuel Pepys.
Now that we mention diaries and such, you guys should be aware that London is a heaven for book lovers. Fact: Waterstone’s Piccadilly is Europe’s largest bookshop.
I went there last weekend, spent 3 hours and a considerable amount of pound sterling, and I fully plan to go back next week, because, well:
The very same could be said for London, you will never reach the end of this city, so let’s get to exploring as soon and as much as possible, shall we?
I will see you at our starting point, the LBS campus, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4SA.
P.S. Do contact me at any time if you have burning questions regarding the where to go and what to see around London.
I remember when I was at a crossroads, trying to decide whether to do an MBA. I used to read the Admissions and the Student Blog, trying to avidly gather information, facts, figures, stories, that would help me picture how life would be when doing an MBA and how would I fit in.
I used to think: I want more information. How about this? How about that? This is my stab at it. In this post I am trying to give you those facts and figures that I felt I missed.
The application. How competitive is it, really?
Success rate:For the 2016 class, there were 3000+ applications and 411 made it through.
GMAT: The GMAT average is 700. The range, 600-800 (yes, some people got 800).
The class profile. How diverse is it, really?
Age:The age range is 23-38, with experiences ranging from 2 to 13 years. The 2 year experience ones are a very small percentage, and only coming from top-notch consultancies.
Diversity: Massive. There are 65 nationalities. I remember joining thinking I really would like to experience diversity. I just couldn’t grasp how much of it there would be.
From the moment you join, you are part of a study group that does all 1st year projects together and – trust me – spends massive amounts of time together.
Take the profile of my group as representative: Indian, Portuguese, Brasilian, American with Chinese background, Singaporean that has spent a significant amount of time in the US, and me, Catalan having worked for a long time in the UK. That’s in terms of nationalities. Now let’s look at previous employment: Founder and MD of a start-up with 2 million turnover, assistant VP at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Associate of an Investment company, management consultant, management consultant and me, Satellite Project Manager at Airbus Defense & Space. Age range: 27-33. And if I went into personality types, you would see there is a significant range as well.
I knew there would be diversity. But to that extent? It’s amazing.
And once you are in, what?
Let’s get to the knitty-gritty.
The course started on the 18th of August (yes, August).
First week: The first week is called Orientation week. It’s light. You do introduction, and a series of workshops of topics like Ethics or Case Studies. The highlight of the week is the Away Day – a day full of Team Building Activities to get the study group starting to work as a unit.
First month: 1 Orientation week + 3 weeks of what’s called Pre-term.
In the pre-term you do:
- Understanding General Management: A case-study based course in which you see what general management is.
- Global Leadership Assessment for Managers: a three-day course that focuses exclusively on leadership and personal development. It includes a 360 feedback, a NEO questionnaire, and a 1×1 with an executive coach. It’s great.
- Business Writing and Communication: Two half day workshops focussed on business writing and presentation skills. Good reminder.
- Corporate Finance: The first of the core subjects starts in the pre-term, allowing for a staggered core subjects start that will ease your transition into the academic world.
The rest of Term 1 has strategy, Economics, Financial Accounting and DMD (Data Models & Decisions).
MBA Term 1 is hard. I mean it. It’s hard. I studied Aerospace Engineering at top notch university and graduated top of the class. And I can tell you that this MBA, so far, is hard. Why? Because the workload is very high and because, if like me, you came from a different background, you need to adjust your way of thinking to the different disciplines.
Why do I say the workload is very high?
The lectures are 2:45h long with a 15 minute break in between.
Before every lecture you generally need to read a case study or a book chapter. There are a significant number of post readings, maybe 3 academic papers.
So far, 2 months in, I have done 1 exam, 7 individual assignments and 9 group assignments. 2 more exams next week. You do the maths.
Oh, and by the way, let me throw the bomb right now: All exams happen on weekends. What? Yes. I know…
But it’s worth it. It is definitely worth it. We have come here to learn. We wouldn’t be learning if we were simply scratching the surface without getting the hands dirty and exploring the concepts to a certain depth. And achieving that depth requires time, and practice.
The course is well-organised, though. The fact that you start Corporate Finance before the rest of the subjects tells me immediately that the Programme Office is aware of the workload and knows what they are doing. You will see.
I hope that those of you that, like me, were looking for actual details on what the MBA life is like (the Academics in this case), have had some of their questions answered.
If you have any question, please ask!
Before coming to London, I worked as Senior Consultant at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants in Brussels and traveling around Europe to execute strategic and cost reduction projects in various industries. I engaged to work with disadvantaged job-seekers and to coach an entrepreneur (Check out his venture at Tripodmaker.com). Currently, you can find me in my free time around friends, discovering London, eating chocolate and working for the Industry Club. And as you might have noticed just recently, blogging about my experiences at LBS! To make it more personal by looking back at my most recent Leadership Skills session, I share with you my work-in-progress motto: “I want to empower people and generate buy-in by showing an energizing and ambitious personality”.
These first two months have been amazing and overwhelming. I hope this blog can capture at least 10% of this journey. Seeing all fellow MBAs together last week on our first London Talk around our class theme Big Data was a reminder of how fast it all has been going. The scene made me think about my “first day of school”, walking into Old Billingsgate Market but seeing only a handful of slightly familiar people. Of course I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know everybody yet, but looking into so many familiar faces was shocking and heart-warming. This crazy small community in greater London will not let me go for another year and half and I like that prospect!
Proud as I am, I don’t want to leave without this little joyful side-note. Our stream (one of five groups of ~80 MBAs) won the People’s choice award at the Bollywood dancing competition of our yearly Diwali party! Yeah!
Let me come back to you with more elaborate stories soon. Blogging is, next to pursuing my MBA, a new venture for me! Please let me know if you have any remarks, comments or recommendations. Not sure if this is the consultant in me talking or how it is supposed to be done in social media ;-). I must say, I am as excited as you to go through these ventures together!
So I decided to pursue an MBA degree. It is a thought process that many go through at some point in their careers. I did too. I even blogged about it. I finally decided to apply to the EMBA programme at the London Business School. Why, you ask? There were three very concrete reasons.
First was the structure of the programme. The modular format gave me immense flexibility. I could continue working and earning while I learnt. The format also enabled me to immediately apply what I learnt. Second was the nature of the programme. I am already past the individual contributor stage in my organisation. A General Management focus was just what I needed. Third was the brand name. Responding to the question ‘Where are you doing your MBA from?’ with ‘London Business School’ usually results in raised eyebrows (wonder, not suspicion) and a hint of a sense of awe. In fact, this programme fitted my needs so perfectly that I did not apply to any other MBA programme.
So, I started my application process. I have applied for full time MBA programmes at various top-ranked universities in the past. There is very less interaction with the admissions team until one gets an interview. With the London Business School EMBA, I had someone reach out to me almost instantly. The first thing I noticed was how nice she and everyone else I interacted with was. She was very courteous, knew all the answers to my (often frivolous) questions, and was prompt in her replies. It felt like they really wanted me to have a good application experience.
I went through the cycle of writing essays, re-writing them and then re-writing some more. The single most important piece of advice I can give you here, is that you must write from your heart. You’re combining so many pieces of information in your application that any discrepancies are visible almost immediately. Sure, you want to portray yourself to be the best candidate that you can be. But I think authenticity and honesty are valued immensely at the London Business School. I chose to focus on what I could bring that no one else could, on my unique story and on how much I would really love to be part of this programme.
Lo and behold, I had an interview call. I visited the Dubai campus on a scorching June morning. The interview started on time and I had senior programme members interview me along with the admissions committee. I liked the fact that selecting candidates was considered a task important enough to have such senior people present. They covered an exhaustive range of topics through their questions, and it felt as though they wanted to understand me from a holistic perspective. Now I recruit for my company, and have interviewed over a thousand candidates during the course of my career. But this was a different experience. I thought I was really good at reading people, but I came out of the interview with absolutely no idea of what they thought of me. I thought to myself, ‘These guys are good. I have never seen such a poker face.’
In the end, I didn’t have to worry too much. I got my offer, and I accepted it without hesitation. The poker faces have been replaced with warm smiles. Now, with two modules completed, I am even more confident that my decision to apply to this programme was correct. But more on that later.
London Business School offers all the students an incredible opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into the industries they want to work in by taking them to the industrial hubs. The student clubs also chip in with their own treks serving the same purpose – but in a more informal setting.
Global Immersion Field Trips (GIFTs) vs. Treks
- Organized officially by London Business School – So, a bit more formal
- Usually take place during the term vacations
- Take place all over the globe – are more dependent on emerging trends
- Organized unofficially by the student clubs – So, much more informal
- Usually take place during the term – so you have to ensure either that you have no lectures during the trek, or get the relevant permission from the program office
- Usually take place in locations in and around Europe
Both GIFTs and treks require interested students to apply to secure a place on the trek as they usually are in very high demand. The application process usually require you to write a couple of short essays (yes, again!). These essays usually try to gauge you on three core parameters:
- Motivation: Why do you want to attend the trek and how does it fit in with your future plans?
- Career objectives
- Industry cultural fit assessment
- What you bring to the table?
- Past experience in the field
- Network in the field of interest of the trek
- How do you plan to prepare for the trek?
As always, while you are writing your essay, ensure that you substantiate what you write with your background and experience, and more importantly be authentic.
- Munich/Milan GIFT – Industry/Supply chain management
- Paris GIFT – Fashion
- Shanghai GIFT – Asian/Emerging markets
- Silicon Valley GIFT – Technology/Entrepreneurship
Hope this was useful and feel free to contact me/leave a comment in case you need any further information.
As a Student Ambassador, I often get questions from prospective students around the world. They always go like this:
“My name is xxx, and I came from x country, and have done xxx. Do you think I have a good chance of getting in London Business School?”
That’s a fair question, but not the right one to ask if they really want to attend London Business School. For those whose profiles meet the minimum requirements, I would ask them:
“What do you want, and how would London Business School help you achieve that?”
Life is a journey without a clear path, and business school is only one pit stop along the way. The last thing you want to do is to chance the course of your career without an idea of where you want to go. Therefore, the question to ask is “how can London Business School help me achieve my goals?”
Your past reflects what your goals might be, and your achievements indicates the likeliness that you would succeed, but what really matters is where you are going from there. At London Business School, students are diverse not only due to their backgrounds, but also their purpose of coming here. Some are here to secure a job in prestigious corporate or professional careers, some are here to meet future business partners, and a (very) rare few came here simply to have a memorable learning experience. London Business School is such an unique place, because most of these people would find what they have sought.
Just a month into my MiM year at London Business School, I completed a consulting project with a technology start-up, started one with a fellow MiM student, took on executive roles in student clubs and became a Student Ambassador. Opportunities are abundant at the School, and it is easy to loose yourself in these seemingly hard-to-pass-on chances. To get the most out of your time at the School, however, you must know exactly why are you here. For me, I understand that my passion is in strategy and problem solving. I worked with these start-ups, not because I wanted to build the next Uber or Instagram, but because I wanted real-life opportunities to practice my consulting and execution skills. I am therefore seeking ways to do exactly that.
Once you understand your goals, then you would really have a chance to not only get admitted, but also succeed at London Business School. While the school life is fun, it is also demanding and could become stressful to those without a clear action plan. These students tend to sign up for too many (irrelevant) company presentations, join way too many clubs, and try to attend social events every week while attempting to meet the assignment deadlines. They obviously do not know what they want and where they are going.
Before asking the question “would I get in,” ask yourself:
“How would London Business School help me in my journey?”
In my next post, I will talk about the questions that we (and the admissions officers) ask when we review applications.
We are defined by our choices.
In every choice, we go towards who we want to be and how we want to live our life. Every choice speaks volumes about what we care about and what our focus is.
And if LBS MBA is giving me one thing it is choices.
I spent the entire day looking at the interlinks of some of the choices I can make: electives, exchange program, GBE, internships… And I feel I need a data modelling system to crunch all this. Why is that though? Because of the immense number of choices at your fingertips.
Let’s just look at the academics. There are a certain number of core courses that are the skeleton of any MBA degree so they are mandatory but the entire second year – I repeat, the entire second year – and up to 5 subjects in year 1 are your choice entirely.
You want the MBA to be as short as possible, very compressed and go back to work? You finish in 15 months.
You want to study somewhere else? No problem. LBS will ask: which continent?
Want to give entrepreneurship a go? Join the Entrepeneurship School.
Not sure which industry you will like? You can do several internships and try.
And it goes so much beyond the academics… there are choices in every single area.
Because of previous business commitments I have not travelled a lot recently and yetthere are so many places I just want to explore… The MBA, with so many students of different nationalities, is full of treks to different countries that go on throughout the year. Perfect!
One of my classmates, an entrepreneur, came here to create his next company. He created entrepreneurship meetings with fellow classmates to brainstorm.
Another classmate is unsure of what to do next. Fine. The industry club is organising a series of events, one per week, in which different people from different industries do presentations under the titles: What is business development? What is marketing? What is operations?
I had always felt my English pronunciation gives away my origin way too much – guess what? LBS organises an accent and pronunciation course to improve your accent. How great is that?
Used to be very fit but life got in the way? There is a club for every sport.
Want to socialise? There is – literally – a party, a dinner, something every other night.
It’s unbelievable. Think of something you would like to do, something that you would like to learn. I am sure there is someone, somewhere within the class or the community that knows about it or that is interested in that too. Or if not, you can create a platform for it.
I feel like I can really make those two years whatever I want to make them be.
For me, choices are a synonym of freedom. Choices are our chance to driving our life.
I am thrilled to be here. At London Business School. Right now. Doing an MBA. And I am because I feel I have the scope, the room, the options to be myself. And to decide who I want to become, whatever that is.
Our student-led conferences are back!
This year’s events begin with the China Business Forum on 18 October, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about the award for best student-led event.
I am Jon, the Senior Student Activities Manager at the School, and my team helps support the multitude of professional student-led clubs and events that are such a prominent part of student life here at London Business School. Last year was the second year that I ran club awards for the autumn and spring terms. At the end of each academic year I also look back at the best student-led event of the year.
While there are always incredible cultural trips and a constant stream of high quality career treks, I tend to be most interested in our student-led conferences. These present some of the best student-led activities in terms of enhancing students’ professional development and raising the profile of our brand. They are also a great way for the conference team to practise leadership skills and learn more about their sector.
Last year we had our first ‘perfect’ conference according to feedback from attendees*; we also saw our first examples of our conferences making it into international press (e.g. the Asset Management Conference ). Several other conferences also raised their profile and it was great to see an improvement overall (on an already high standard). The best events tended to be those that concentrated on what an attendee gains from the event rather than making the event ‘bigger’:
|Number of conferences surveying their attendees||17||13|
|Average score||4.4 / 5||4.2 / 5|
|% positively recommending||93%||86%|
|Approximate number of attendees||2000||1800|
More details on the conference surveys below*
My shortlist of the best conferences of 2013-14
This is from a combination of survey results, feedback from attendees and colleagues and from working with the teams:
Africa Business Summit (Summer 2014)
“Beyond the hype: The not-for-tourists guide to investing in Africa”
This was arguably our most professional event and was on an impressive scale: 45 speakers, sold out with 350 attendees (the majority external guests), over 20 sponsors and partners, moderated by a CNN business correspondent (Zain Asher), the most social media engagement of any of our events and they also launched an entrepreneurship competition.
This conference, more than any other I’ve seen, highlighted the hard-work, determination and ability of its organisers and the club’s presidents – it was a year in the planning and excelled across all areas.
If you aren’t currently thinking about doing business in Africa this conference (and the club itself) will change your mind.
eurOUT (Autumn 2013)
“the premier conference for LGBT MBA students and alumni from European schools”
The team had an incredible focus on their attendees and built a programme with a carefully judged mix of talks, panels, networking and social events to ensure attendees gained maximum value from the event.
They secured sponsorship and speakers from some of the companies that our students most want to hear from and work for (e.g. McKinsey & Co, BCG, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Accenture, Unilever, American Express, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, General Mills). They also successfully involved faculty to share our thought leadership and alumni to keep our whole community engaged.
I thought their overall survey score of 100% recommendations and 4.9/5 would be the highest any conference would ever achieve…
Family Business Summit (Summer 2014)
“Conversations on Family Business”
Our first ‘perfect’ conference according to feedback from attendees: All survey respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that they would recommend this event to current/future colleagues.
I also shortlisted this event last year for the same reasons – they keep it small, maximise interactions between guests and speakers and run workshops to go into depth and ensure attendees get the most out of the event.
The Women in Business Summit (Spring 2014)
“Sprints & Marathons: The Sustainable Career”
A super slick and inspirational event which wowed attendees and those involved in helping support the event – I still am receiving positive feedback from colleagues who attended and worked with the conference team.
The club and School launched a survey at the event that was picked up across press and media
Engaging speakers, packed venue and an enthusiastic audience – watch highlights here
A tough choice but I decided to give the award to the eurOUT conference.
All of the shortlisted events (and many of the others not shortlisted) were exceptional. In my opinion the eurOUT conference edged ahead of the others by striving and succeeding in making a meaningful impact on their attendees’ professional development. Congratulations to the club and to the organisers. And good luck for this year’s event!
*The conference survey-
The main question I ask is whether the attendee would ‘recommend the event to current/future colleagues’: 1=Strongly disagree; 5=Strongly agree.
I ask all conferences to gain responses from at least 10% of their attendees to be included. Note that we don’t include TEDxLondonBusinessSchool in this as they run an independent survey through TEDx – although arguably they are one of our most successful conferences. I will feature them separately later this year.
The full breakdown of scores:
|Africa Business Summit||4.5||89|
|Asia Business Forum||4.3||94|
|India Business Forum||4.5||93|
|Out in Business||4.9||100|
|Women in Business||4.6||93|
Thank you for reading!
Senior Student Activities Manager
Degree Programmes Office