Over the weekend, a team of eight came together to pull off an historic feat for the Africa Club – win the London Business School (LBS) 2017 Tattoo Talent Show. Talk about diversity, the group comprised six nationalities: Russian, Nigerian, Jamaican, South African, British and Moroccan. (If I include Kadotien’s incredible voice over, then add Ivorian to the list). And what brought us together for Tattoo – a love for dancing and a strong desire to portray the beauty of African dance to the LBS community. In a nutshell, the performance not only displayed different African dance moves including Shoki and Azonto, but it was also a story of love crossing boundaries.
I must say that the quality of performances from the other clubs was incredible and choosing the top 3 must have been quite a difficult task for the judges but I’m glad that we won! We won despite having practiced for just a week and one member (guess who?!) having rehearsed all the moves in less than 24hrs before the show. So how did we do it, in the face of skilled professional performances from so many other clubs?
- We had a very dedicated dance captain in Ayo Gabriel, who coordinated the entire process and spent many hours in solo practice at home so that he could successfully pass the skills and energy across to his team. Equally important was that he had a very supportive team: Elena Zhukova and Eme Caiafas provided valuable insights on organization and dance steps; Ellie Stoneham, Monique Cheri Baars and Samantha provided much needed logistics support, particularly in sourcing fabrics and Simba; while Nabil Lahbil provided incredible energy and tremendous help bringing me up to speed with all the moves in less than 24hrs.
- There was tremendous passion across the team and the energy was electric. We didn’t set out to win but wanted to put on a really good show for the audience. We were cognizant that we were the last team coming up and wanted to leave a lasting impression on our audience. Through it all, we were buzzing with too many creative ideas for time to allow.
- Though we only met to practice five times, in reality, we put in significantly more hours in private. Speaking for myself, after only joining the team to rehearse our moves on Friday night, I spent time watching dance videos and our recorded sessions at home to master every step in detail. Such was the level of desire to put on an excellent show and to not let my mates down on stage.
Basically, I can summarize our success as being down to four key factors: dedication, team work, passion and hard work. I believe as with many things in life, talent can sometimes be overrated and life’s winners are sometimes those who are willing to put in the hard work that success demands.
On the night, given the spectacular performances, I believe every group was a winner. We all showed the beauty of embracing diversity and team work across the different programmes, and this is what makes the London Business School experience truly special.
Hats off to Professor Tahoun, our special judges and MCs, and to all of you for making #lbsTattoo2017 great again! Special thanks to Akitoye, Matthew, Jonni, Yemi, Solomon, Cheke and the club executives for all their background work making the rest of the Africa Club’s showing at the festival a truly memorable one.
During Orientation on Day 1 at LBS, we were tasked to introduce the person next to us and “why they were here” to the group, based on a brief conversation with them. After spending 7 brutal months working in investment banking, I misguidedly and jokingly remarked that “I was here for a holiday.”
Disclaimer: LBS is certainly not a holiday, but in many regards, my experience has shared many of the characteristics of my what my ideal holiday involves. For me, it has been a voyage of discovery – new people, new cultures, expanding horizons. In this piece, I’ll take you along with me on parts of my journey – but take my experiences with a pinch of salt – everyone is different and what has applied to me, may not apply to you or your aspirations.
To start, I think it’s very important to be defined about what you’re looking to get out of Business School and when you’re here, recognise that everyone is here for different reasons. Some want to gain specific skills, some to get their dream job and some are here to expand their horizons. But essentially, as you’ve probably heard before, your experience is completely what you make of it. Unlike your undergraduate, LBS is a privileged environment where you can completely tailor your experience to your interests and aspirations. For me – my goal was threefold – meet ambitious, globally-orientated people, open my mind and expand my opportunity set.
But what about the MFA course – as the first ever class. The course is finance heavy and will teach you a rounded toolkit to succeed in the finance world. Being the new kids on the block affords us many opportunities and growing pains alike. The course has been carefully considered and built by faculty and recruiters, but as a new programme there will be areas which can be developed, and being the first cohort gives us the opportunity to work with the Progamme Office and school to add extras and give constructive feedback which will help improve future years. The Programme Office (Lisa, Miles and Lucie) have been particularly amazing in working with us to include additions into the programme – whatever we’ve asked for, they’ve tried best to get it for us – from lectures on private equity and fintech to more spaces in electives. While many of our suggestions won’t be included in our programme (because our ideas aren’t always feasible), we’ve help build the future MFA.
Recruiting…a student’s favourite buzz word. While most of our class wants to go into banking, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only option. Being in London, the worlds most global city, you can build a career in anything – and for me, a big part of coming to LBS has been the incredible opportunity set it gives you. It’s important to have a plan but it’s equally important to be flexible and adaptable – so take the opportunity to explore different industries or other career paths. Furthermore, be bold, innovative and cheeky in your career search. For an international student without the right to work in the EU (like me), finding a job will be more difficult but “turn your competitive disadvantage into an advantage” and approach the job search with more tenacity and imagination. Lastly, on getting a job, DON’T STRESS OUT. You may not get your dream job initially but then the skills you learn will be transferable – view your first job as a mere stepping stone to your dream. Most importantly, if you don’t wish to follow in the banking/consulting career path, don’t let yourself be perturbed by all the noise around everyone else recruiting for those roles.
People…this is really what LBS is about. Our class is 80 brilliant students from 37 countries, there aren’t many other places in the world where you’ll find that density of diversity and talent. However, don’t come here solely to build a network – come here to LBS to make friends, build lifelong relationships and talk to as many diverse people as possible. LBS is an amazing place to build your network, but more importantly, it is a unique environment to build long-term relationships with people from across the globe that it’d be difficult to meet otherwise – rather just “networking”, I’ve been focused on making friends with the idea that networks will naturally come from that. Furthermore, if you want to meet lots of interesting people, you have to be engaged and somewhat strategic – often the seemingly least exciting roles are actually the ones which give you the most exposure (i.e. put your hand up to be a class representative or serving drinks at Sundowners). One of LBS’s biggest strengths is the sense of community it fosters – both while you’re at school and after school as an alumnus. As the youngest bunch of students on campus, we’re in the privileged position where we have a ton to learn from the more experienced members of the community and it’s important to leverage that – people are incredibly generous in mentoring students beginning their career because most successful professionals were mentored as some point. That being said, it’s important not to be discouraged by our youth, we also have things to teach and sometimes the “, inexperienced” point of view provides a lot of insight that experience tends to overlook. With that in mind, reach out to students on different programmes and alumni (regardless of their seniority) and they’re generally incredibly open to meeting and being helpful – chances are they had people who helped them along during their early careers so they want to pay it forward.
Lastly, a word of getting involved. At the beginning of the course, a lot of people told me not to over-extend myself and get involved in too many things. I listened – I probably shouldn’t have. Be part of as many things as you can possibly fit in! On a one year programme, your time here is limited so make sure to squeeze out every inch of value you can. I’m an Executive Committee member of the Real Estate Club, Africa Club, the Social Representative for the MFA and on the Sundowners committee – I wish I had got more involved in other things. I’ve become a “Yes Man” – I grab any opportunity available from going for a beer, to being part of a competition team or going to a guest talk about something that I didn’t think I would necessarily be interested in.
At the end of the day, I didn’t come to LBS for a long time, I came for a good time – and it’s exceeded all my expectations!
During the first day of orientation at LBS, they told us that the first term would be intense, but that we could we could look forward to lighter schedules starting January. I think that prospect got myself and my fellow Early Careers classmates through finals in term 1, in the hopes that the hardest part would be behind us once we completed them. Now that we have been back from the break for a month, and that we’ve readapted to the fast-paced day-to-day of LBS, I can look back on orientation with a smile and say: How about no!
Although perhaps the academic workload is more or less the same, I think that all of us being the dynamic and action-seeking business people that LBS was seeking to enroll, many of us are on the executive committees of different clubs, on internships, cramming for job interviews, sending out CVs en masse, and most importantly, enjoying London.
For myself, one of the most demanding commitments has been working on the 2017 Corporate Innovation Summit that will take place this Friday, the 3rd of February. Although we have been planning it for months, the greatest challenge was that we wanted to achieve something great but still manage to do it early enough so that people who are job-hunting right now can benefit from the insight and networking opportunities.
Ultimately, I am very proud of the energy and time that the team put into building an incredibly rich event. We have been able to attract speakers from impactful companies as innovative as Unilever, Li&Fung, Deloitte, Hilti, and Cargill, and as disruptive as Deliveroo, CO:LAB, Brand Genetics, Impossible Labs, and SROne (a GSK-backed VC). The speakers’ team did a fantastic job of reaching out to companies and panelists that were not only interesting, but also had a lot to bring to the table in terms of experience and insight, and then group them into panels that would focus on compelling topics, such as technological disruption, so that we could make the experience as valuable as possible, but still keep the fun edge.
Moreover, to favor recruitment, we are giving attendees the option to be part of a CV book that our participating companies have especially requested. We were also concerned with making the Corporate Innovation Summit accessible to as many LBS programs as possible, so we made sure to make tickets affordable by subsidizing student tickets through other types of passes. At this stage, I am excited to see how the last few months of preparation will turn out, and to reap the benefits of the event (in the form of wine at the pre- and post-networking events!).
To find out more about the conference, follow this link: http://lbs.pickevent.com/EN/CIS2017
And to get your ticket now, click below:
Bumping into my LBS interviewer last week brought back fond if somewhat traumatic memories from this time last year when I was going through the MBA application process. Now things have calmed down a little after an exciting, exhausting, formative first term, I wanted to share three quotes that recently made an impression on me, and their relevance to my application experience.
1. “Unless a leader knows where they are going, any road will take them there” – Theodore Levitt
I came across this quote in the reading for my Marketing class last week. It reminded me of how useful I found writing my application essay.
LBS has one compulsory question, similar to those at other top programs: what are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these?
The essay was one of the most time-consuming parts of the application. But it was also a rare chance to stop and question why I had gone down certain paths. For instance, it helped me articulate that I am motivated by chances to have high-level impact addressing social issues like inequality, and that this had informed decisions like moving from teaching to consulting.
It can be tempting to tell the school what you think they want to hear. True, the essay tests your ability to form a compelling narrative. But more so, it tests that you have clear career objectives and that the MBA can support these. It’s therefore a far more important tool for the applicant than for the school, given the significant investment an MBA represents.
2. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn
Business schools differ on countless dimensions, from the city to the curriculum. But above all, the people make an MBA and so it is vital to find a school with the right fit.
Most schools offer chances to engage with student life before you apply. LBS did a great job here. I visited a class on statistics. The school paired me with MBA students who provided really great advice. And I even got the chance to go to a campus talk with Lord Browne, former CEO of BP and prominent thinker on business ethics.
I personally wanted to attend a school with an international flavour and I’m excited to now be part of a cohort with 76 nationalities, six in my study group alone. My classmates range from professional cricketers to fashion designers to surgeons and our case discussions have showed me the diverse perspectives that you can approach any problem with. I also wanted a longer course with time to delve into interest areas; at LBS you can develop a concentration through your elective choices and I plan to concentrate in economics.
Whatever your goals there is a school for you – just take the time to find it!
3. “Shipping beats perfection” – Khan Academy
This quote is a development principle at Khan Academy, one of the most striking examples of a business school graduate taking practical, entrepreneurial steps to impact social change.
It reminds me of my GMAT preparations – and not only because I used Khan Academy to brush up on algebra. Looking back on my application, I could have shipped things sooner. I delayed taking the GMAT for too long and was left with a pressured few months approaching the deadline.
There are lots of moving parts in the application; it takes time to arrange referees, get transcripts, polish your CV, complete the online form, take language tests etc. So book that test date. Sort out the easy things like transcripts. And get friends to skim over your essays beforeyou think they are perfect. Whether planning to apply next round or next year, it pays to start now.
By way of introduction my name is Augusto Ramos and I’m currently studying the Masters in Finance at London Business School (LBS). Having completed the first term of the MiF I would like to share my experiences. I’m a 25 year old Brazilian with over 4 years of professional experience in corporate finance and asset management. I worked for two years at SC Johnson in the finance department, working with budget planning and analyzing the financials of new product launches for the Home Cleaning segment. I then decided to leave SC Johnson after two years to join a Brazilian start-up asset management firm, working as an equity analyst analyzing consumer staples companies. Prior to joining LBS I took a four month internship at Dynamo Capital LLP, an asset management Firm in London, analyzing European public companies. My main motivation to study at LBS was to leverage my financial knowledge in a global environment.
Early last year there was an event called “Working in the consumer goods industry” where different LBS alumni working for different companies came to speak. One of the guys that came to campus works for AB InBev (the world’s largest beer company). Getting to hear about his experience there and the work environment made me 100% sure that I wanted to work for a company controlled by the 3G group. LBS offers you opportunities to meet these people and attend numerous events where you can network and meet professionals from any company or industry you are interested in.
The Study Group
One of the best things at LBS is being divided into study groups for the Core Courses. The groups are split to reflect culture and sector diversity. In my case, I ended up working with classmates from Portugal, India, Malaysia and Mongolia. This is an amazing experience as you get to practice how to deal with cultural differences (and there are plenty!) and differences in group opinions! These are things you will most definitely encounter in your professional life and having an opportunity to deal with this is very fulfilling if you want to work in a global environment.
The Classroom Experience
I have been really impressed with the teaching at LBS. My favorite class so far has been Advanced Corporate Finance. This covers not only different methods for valuing companies and projects, such was DCF, multiples, real options and so on, but also how companies deal with capital structure decisions, deciding whether to go forward with project finance or corporate finance, ways of financing investment decisions and what differences need to be accounted for when performing cross border valuations. This area of corporate/project finance is a big interest of mine. Each different aspect mentioned above was backed up with real life case studies, looking at what different companies considered before making investment decisions. Analyzing what went right and what could’ve been done better has given me a great deal of knowledge.
Besides the weather, literally everything about London has been excellent – going out to pubs with my friends after class, (yes it is possible) and during weekends, running in the park and playing football and of course enjoying watching Premier League matches! I come from a country where due to security and infrastructure issues, I am not very used to having the freedom of moving from one place to another at any time I want and for cheap prices, so being able to get the tube late at night to go to someplace 1 hour away from my place has been unique as well. Life in London is great, and if you get used to the weather, the pros are miles better than the cons!
The great business thinker Milton Friedman once said “the business of business is business”. Perhaps at the time this was true but I must admit that this idea has never sat comfortably with me. In fact, I positively disagree with it – with a passion. Business, businesspeople and business education have the most phenomenal power to impact positive change in the world. Business school equips students with skills and knowledge to act as global citizens, charged to support those less fortunate. In my opinion, “the business of business is responsibility”. I refer to responsibility in all its facets. Responsibility to drive stakeholder value, to ensure good customer experience, to protect consumer rights and to deal responsibly with both employees and clients. But the responsibility of good business extends further – to use our skills and experience to support those in society that require assistance; whether this be through giving time, financial assistance or guidance. CEO of cloud computing giant SalesForce, Mark Benioff, devised the 1:1:1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy. The model is a commitment to contribute 1% of equity, 1% of employee hours and 1% of product back to the community it serves and has now been adopted by over 700 companies worldwide. During my Silicon Valley GIFT with LBS, I was privileged to see the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in South San Francisco; a world-class medical facility that not only treats thousands of sick children each year but is committed to improving children’s health worldwide. The project is a testament to Benioff’s commitment to philanthropy, CSR and the ‘business of responsibility’.
As a business school student from a non-profit background, creating impact has always been of the utmost importance to me. Following my time with the LBS in California, I took the opportunity to connect with a NY-based child health charitable foundation. Together with a team of counsellors and medical personnel, we brought 50 children suffering from cancer to Orlando for a week of fun and respite. Many of these children have interrupted intense chemotherapy sessions and prolonged hospital stays (think 6months plus), at the approval of their physicians, to spend a few days relaxing on rollercoasters and eating ice-cream in Florida’s winter sun. Most of these children are bald, many are wheelchair-bound and several are constantly wired to medical machinery and monitors. Imagine, therefore, people’s surprise as they watched us scream our way through roller-coaster rides and dance alongside characters at the Disney parades. Days were spent zooming around The Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld and the Universal Studio Parks. Nights were spent sleepless – administering drugs, prepping gastric tubes and dealing with medical complications. Armed with open-access trips to ToysRUs, skip-the-queue passes at all amusement parks and fireworks displays galore, the trip of a lifetime was had by all and unbridled happiness permeated the entire experience. Although fun and laughter hasn’t yet been scientifically-proven to cure cancer, there is no doubt that all the kids returned home with a fresh hope, renewed smiles and greater strength to battle and overcome their challenges. Many of our kids are already back in hospitals across the US undergoing treatment – I wish them all well and a New Year filled with only much happiness and good health!
The London Business School is committed to “changing the way the world does business” and an integral facet of this pledge is to positively impact society. LBS’ trifecta: The Volunteers Club, Net Impact Club and Impact Consulting Club offer some of our best talent to the community; giving guidance, time and resources to support local non-profits and social enterprises. It is something about which our school community is incredibly proud and for many students, involvement in these clubs is the start of a lifelong pursuit in driving impact from operations to the boardroom, and a commitment to solving communal and global challenges. LBS is a school committed to holistic business education – an institution that creates leaders who solve problems using their minds as well as their hearts.
Wishing all our readers – students, potential students, alums and supporters – a very happy and successful 2017!
Silicon Valley – the name has engendered legendary status in recent decades as the global hub for innovation and technology. And our week in the Valley certainly didn’t disappoint! I was very fortunate to be selected to attend the Global Immersion Field Trip based out of San Francisco and the stellar line-up of big tech companies, start-ups and venture capital firms, carefully allocated into a jam-packed schedule, kept us busy from dawn until dusk. Highlights of the trip included a presentation at Andreessen Horowitz by partner Todd Ludwack, an ex-exec of eBay. A16Z (as it is known in the industry) is a VC powerhouse based in Menlo Park, with successful exits in household brands such as Skype, Groupon and Instagram to name just a few. Ludwack shared with us frameworks with which to analyse digital platform propositions and investments (the likes of Uber and AirBnB) as well as some lessons-learned from his time at the VC house. In particular, he led an interesting discussion on first and second order effects when it comes to making investments – not only predicting outcomes as the business expands across markets but predicting secondary consequences of these changes that may have knock-on effects in new markets or sectors. Contrastingly, a small-group presentation at SoftTech VC led to fascinating insights into a firm that invests in very early stage ventures – when an entrepreneur may be armed with justa dream and a prototype – and whose expertise has led to some of the greatest edtech, platforms and wearable successes to emerge from the Bay Area (think FitBit, EventBrite and Twitter).
Later in the week, we had the ‘inverse experience’ through visits to several start-ups, a great opportunity to see the entrepreneurial space from a different perspective. We were treated to passionate presentations by entrepreneurs and co-founders from promising ventures such as DoubleDutch (a firm revolutionising live engagement marketing) from people that have grown a vision and personally tackled problems across the whole gamut of organisational functions.
Another fantastic visit included a tour and panel discussion at Pinterest. Everything you hear about working life in the Valley – the funky office space, the sushi chef slicing uramaki in the centre of the workspace, bicycles covered in flowers hanging from the ceiling, an endless mountain of muffins and cakes overflowing in open-plan kitchens filled with employees animatedly schmoozing in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. As soon as we walked into the office, our cohort was ‘Pinterested’ – challenging staff to ping-pong and table football games in the lobby. But when we finally got down to business, the managers we met knew their business analytics backwards – from potential opportunities for growth using existing profit drivers right down to what would be trending in the coming season for middle-agedmales in Tokyo.
Singularity University is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not really a university but a
think-tank and it doesn’t really focus on one technology but rather how many different emerging technologies can be leveraged and interfaced in order to drive growth and solve global challenges. A presentation by ardent futurist Darlene Damm opened our minds to new research in areas that will transform the way we live in the coming years – artificial intelligence and machine learning, bioengineering and regenerative medicine, big data and augmented reality were just a few of the topics touched upon during our workshop. The focus at Singularity is on “exponential tech” – technologies whose adoption and development can have skyrocketing impact in all industries across all markets. A hands-on session also gave us the opportunity to see some of these new technologies in action – from having a chat with a cognitive robot to running around with Virtual Reality goggles, fully immersed in another dimension. One of the great take-homes for me from SU was a new way of thinking about technology application. As a non-gamer I was excited to see that research was underway to use VR headsets in the provision of palliative care and pain management for burns victims and other trauma patients. SU encourages students and professionals to ask the big questions. They don’t claim to have all the answers but they promote great vision, ‘moonshot thinking’ and alternative ways to think about, apply and leverage new technologies to impact meaningful change in the world.
No visit to Silicon Valley would be complete without a visit to Apple HQ or the Googleplex. At Apple we had the opportunity to meet two senior product managers and following several presentations had the opportunity to ask some of life’s most pertinent questions – why did Apple choose to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7? What’s the thinking behind the TouchBar on the new Macbook Pro? Why doesn’t Apple expand its portfolio of products? These questions may seem trivial but what lies behind them is masses of market research carefully formulated into intricate strategy applied to product design. The outcome is one of the world’s most beloved brands that plans the user experience right down to the carefully-engineered iPhone box that builds a one-second anticipation when lifting the lid for the first time. As someone with a non-profit background in the health space, I was particularly excited to hear from a lead at Apple’s Accessibility team. Apple are constantly trying to add new features or extras to their products to ensure that they are functional for all members of society. This goes far beyond adjusting font size for the visually impaired and ranges from ‘AssistiveTouch’ head-movement-controlled touchpads for people suffering with cerebral palsy to syncing devices with hearing aids to enable better quality conversations for those with partial deafness. Thankfully many never have the need to enter Settings>General>Accessibility on our iPhones but take a look at the impressive plethora of adaptations Apple works on to ensure accessibility and quality user experience for all users regardless of capability.
The Googleplex has a mythical status in the professional world. Ball-ponds at work. Croissant buffets lining the corridors. Self-driving cars whizzing around the parking lot, darting in between parked Google Maps vehicles with their iconic rooftop cameras. All this may be true. But this is not what stood out for me at Google. Several months ago I read Schmidt and Rosenberg’s “How Google Works” – a fantastic read for anyone with a keen interest in organisational behaviour and a passion for understanding how the world’s source of knowledge operates. The take-home message from the book was that Google is all about people and the culture they foster amongst their employees. This could not have been seen more clearly than on our visit to Mountain View at the Google HQ. We had the chance to chat with several LBS alums that are working out there in a range of roles from product management to business strategy. What came across most strongly was their love for Google and the freedom they have to pursue new opportunities and ‘self-actualise’ (in Maslow OB terminology). Googlers, as they are known, strive to maintain an entrepreneurial outlook in the face of global operations; a tremendous feat. They do this by giving their employees autonomy to be creative, to innovate and to follow their passions. The result of such policies (including 20% Time – the commandment for all Googlers to spend a fifth of their time in the pursuit of innovative projects – that according to employees results in working 120% of the time!) are some world-changing products including Gmail. Much food for thought to be gleaned from our time at the Googleplex in hiring talented people and allowing their enthusiasm and self-motivation to shine.
Visits to Electronic Arts (the world renowned EA gaming company), the beautiful Stanford University and their Design School, Autodesk and Shop.co among others topped off an incredible week but it would be remiss not to make special mention of the LBS alum community in the Bay Area. It was fantastic for our cohort to meet the incredible populations of LBSers and our supporters based out in the San Francisco area. One of the major plugs of our school is the global network of contacts as alumni forge their international professional careers. Indebted to the school for the education, life skills and opportunities afforded to us, it is really wonderful to meet LBSers from across the professional spectrum who offer advice, guidance, time, friendship and professional support. The large networking evening was particularly lively and enjoyable and was a great opportunity to link with those in the finance, consulting, technology and start-up spaces – united by our common love and gratitude to the London Business School. A big thank you to the Admin team – in particular Kelly and Fiona – for making such a wonderful, busy and exciting trip possible!
Being this close to Christmas, “Global Immersion Field Trip” might not be the first thing that comes to mind.
The acronym comprises an incredibly rich range of experiences from business to social life: a trip abroad that brings together a selected pool students to get to know more about a specific topic. I am writing this piece while on the plane back from the Silicon Valley GIFT (themed “Entrepreneurship and innovation”) and still cannot believe how much happened in such few days.
The Programme Managers and Programme Office outstandingly arranged a five-days schedule packed with extremely stimulating company visits. With the core theme of the GIFT in mind, these spanned from rapidly growing start-ups to affirmed tech giants. Andreessen Horowitz, Apple, Autodesk, Double Dutch, Electronic Arts, Google, People Rocket, Pinterest, Plug&Play, Shop.co, Singularity University, SoftTech opened us their doors, showing us once more the diversity that LBS commits to. From these companies, we learnt a lot about topics like venture capital funds, platforms, innovative trends, start-ups and tech firms in general. In my case I had never been in Silicon Valley, and this was a wonderful occasion to experience first-hand the unique pervasiveness of its people mind-set, forward-looking and change-embracing. We also attended a networking event with LBS alumni based in San Francisco and the Valley, a fantastic chance to get to know experienced professionals working in the area, as well as -why not- possible future working partners.
However, there has been much more than just business: the GIFT was an amazing opportunity to bond with other students, getting to know new people and cementing already existing friendships. From the 6am breakfasts to the free evenings in San Francisco, passing through the brief moments of break between company visits, the trip has left me with a lot of fun and marvellous stories. It didn’t stop with the week of the GIFT itself: many of us decided to stay in the US after the trip, to embrace our “On the Road” spirit and have a road trip in California or nearby. Even if not all on the same route, we kept in touch and managed to meet in a couple of cities along the way, leading to many more unforgettable memories.
To conclude, while looking back I can only say thank you: to those who organised the trip for making it possible, to those who fully engaged in it for making it one of the many incredible highlights of our LBS experience.
I survived! We made it through what has been nothing short of an extraordinary past few months. As the saying goes – time does fly when you’re having fun. But I remember vividly, days when I was drowning under mountain high and rising to-do lists and all I could say was: one way or another, I’ll make it to term end, and here we are. I must say, that nothing can sufficiently describe to anyone, the experience of the London Business School MBA other than simply experiencing it; and so far, many of my mates will agree it’s been busier than even a full-time job!
As I type this up, it’s the night just after a marathon weekend of final exams – grueling! Many are gearing up for what will be a phenomenal week at one of LBS’s flagship December treks, in Val Thorens – the Snow Trek (FOMO). Many are setting out with friends anew to countries around Europe and elsewhere, and others heading back home to family and friends. For others, it’s the perfect time to finally explore the UK and get out of the Baker Street bubble. And for some, it will be a holiday busy with case preps, interview preparations, networking, retrospection, planning for what comes next…and reading The Goal (-_-).
I envy the MBA2019s. As an MBA Student Ambassador, I was excited to congratulate some of those who recently received their admission offers from LBS. More exciting however, is that they will be first to explore the revamped LBS MBA offering. The option to waive the language exit requirement and tailor your core courses are some of the brilliant changes to the core MBA programme I sometimes wish were retrospective. Nevertheless, just as I found it reassuring to hear alumni say how much better the MBA is, now versus when they were here, I’m glad I can already convey a similar message to the incoming class.
How do you think about impact? So, we all want to be successful but to what end? What is the essence of our success and what will its impact be? As I draw the curtains on term 1 and look forward to an exciting year ahead, it is perhaps pertinent to draw on Stephen Covey’s Habit 2 in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Begin with the end in mind. Framing the end is often an ongoing process (and the GLAM course required us to do this) but it’s important to have it in mind as a guide for today’s actions and decisions. Excel’s Solver won’t optimize for you here (#DMDjokes).
Okay, this post is as random as the title suggests but I think it has achieved its objective nonetheless – to give an insight into the LBS MBA student experience. Thus, to you, my Japanese friends, and those gearing up for the Japan trek: ‘Meri-Kurisumasu’ and ‘Yoi otoshi o’! Sayonara!
Having just finished exams it now seems an appropriate time to sit down and pen my next LBS blog post. Since I wrote my last piece at the end of October, things have been extremely busy. If you’ve never been to graduate business school, it’s hard to imagine what I really mean – so I’ll try, if I may, to paint a visual image. Imagine listening to the CEO of Kraft-Heinz Europe, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, explain the intricacies of their regional strategy and the challenges of expansion and market segmentation. Imagine presenting a project on data analytics in front of your peers and professors, outlining a financial model that links box office revenues to casts and budgets through a series of statistical tools and analyses. Imagine providing consulting and advisory services to an international charity that provides world-class surgery to children with congenital heart defects from the developing world. Imagine sitting in five hours of back-to-back lectures in financial accounting; picking apart Tesla’s financial statements to uncover some of the issues within their business. Imagine attending a panel discussion from six consultants from leading firms discussing future trends in the world of digital healthcare followed immediately by an event by McKinsey on Digital Transformation.
Now imagine, that all the above events, occurred in one day. This was one day in the week following my previous blog post.
I therefore can’t possibly begin to describe by sheer exhaustion nor talk about every insightful lecture, inspiring speaker or interesting experience I have had as the winter term draws to a close. There have definitely been several highlights: Attending a presentation by Fernando Fischmann, CEO and Founder of Crystal Lagoons was certainly a most interesting discussion. Fischmann, a biochemist by training, has created a technology in which to sink artificial lagoons with crystal clear water to provide lakes for recreation in resorts, public parks and residential developments throughout the world. In only a few years Fernando has created an intricate global monitoring system for his pools and generated billions of dollars in revenue from projects across Latin America and the Middle East. With ambitious plans for expansion and a vision to transform the renewable energy sector using his technologies, Crystal Lagoons is certainly an enterprise that makes any business-savvy student or budding entrepreneur sit up and pay attention.
The LBS Healthcare Conference at the Royal Society of Physicians this year featured a stellar line-up of pharmaceutical and biotech celebrities. Jane Griffiths, Chairman of Janssen EMEA (J&J’s pharma division) opened this year’s discussion on precision medicine and the future of personalised healthcare. Panel discussions followed, chaired by charismatic LBS professor Nicos Savva with particularly insightful perspectives from Roy Katso (Director of GSK Innovation) and LBS super-alum Chris Meier (BCG). Jackie Hunter, CEO of Benevolent Bio, passionately delivered on applications of machine learning in healthcare whilst Dr Junaid Bajwa (MSD UK) adjusted the lens of the discussion to focus on systems and providers of healthcare and the potential impact of personalised delivery. A great opportunity to hear the trends and updates currently underway in the world of bioprocessing and a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.
Other highlights over the past few weeks have included a lively debate by a panel of Israeli Venture Capitalists who collectively have backed some of the biggest names to have come out of the Start-Up Nation in recent years including Waze, SodaStream and Checkpoint. Representatives from Dalberg Consulting and their private equity arm D.Capital presented thought-provoking case studies on the challenges of social impact investment. From supporting a Kenyan microfinance business, to designing a democratic election system for the Congo and driving agricultural development in Benin, the world of social impact investing and consulting is fraught with unique challenges in addition to the usual array of obstacles. As one of the leading players in the sector, Dalberg is working to drive change as well as profitability in a diverse range of areas across this hostile environment. When contrasted with a fascinating presentation by the Attorney General from the Hong Kong Embassy on trade and investment opportunities on the island-powerhouse you can begin to construct a mental image of the kind of holistic business education that life at the LBS has to offer. All this is quite aside from hours and hours of lectures in Finance and Organisational Behaviour and the endless exams and assignments.
But all that is on-hold for now as I write this from a coffee shop in the trendy Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood in San Francisco. I have just begun a Global Immersion Field Trip for a select group of students to visit the global innovation hub of Silicon Valley. This week’s whistle-stop adventure will take us from projects at Stanford to presentations at Apple. From the heart of the Googleplex to the brains of Andreessen Horowitz. As I watch the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge, dawn is only just breaking on what is sure to be an exciting week ahead.