Once the Facebook group started, the collective panic set in. Everyone seemed so worried. Which bank is best? How will I get a Giffgaff SIM card? How will I ever find a flat? Relax, it’s really not that difficult.
Coming to LBS, coming to London, is not nearly as stressful as it may seem from a distance. Getting a bank account is simple with a letter from the school. Getting a phone set up is a piece of cake. Finding a flat… well that does takes some patience, but it’s much easier after finding housemates first.
LBS is incredibly welcoming and the school massages you into the thick of things quite slowly. All of your questions will be answered as soon as you arrive, so as long as you get through Heathrow with a legitimate visa, there is no need to worry.
My first few weeks were filled with plenty of alcohol infused “social events” and felt much like a holiday. In fact, it was almost annoyingly slow-paced. But then it all changed and now my mouth waters thinking about all that free time I used to spend hanging around the Marylebone pubs.
Over the last couple of weeks I spent quite some time visiting the offices of two operating companies co-run by the transport group I work for. This meant a lot of time spent in trains, hotels and meetings. I am rather afraid of flying so I really enjoy my train rides. The scenery on the train from Manchester to York is quite peaceful and gave me some time to read and reflect on some impending choices I need to make. As a substantial proportion of LBS students, I have some doubts about my future career that I hope to solve in the next couple of years. Since the start of the EMBA programme I have frequently been thinking about what kind of job I want to have for the next couple of years. I probably started thinking more about this after we were asked to write about our dream job and eulogy back in Orientation Week.
I fancy myself to be quite rational, but I am aware that this is not always the case. Therefore, I started to write some notes on a piece of paper after the train called at Huddersfield to help me better consider my decision. During my undergraduate degree in Peru I took 65+ modules as part of my Engineering degree (5.5 year undergraduate programme). I would lie if I’d say that I enjoyed Industrial Electricity, Thermodynamics or Mechanical Design, but I quite enjoyed Operations Research. Without going into too much detail, the idea that you can study “systems”, simplify reality with a model and look for better outcomes was quite appealing to me. I am really looking forward to the Decision and Risk Analysis course in the second term to see if I remember anything! Let me now use some concepts from Operations Research to model my decision making process:
Let my goals be: to have a family, to complete my education, and to live in Asia.
Let’s imagine that these can be smartly constructed into an objective function with appropriate weightings. I want to have the best time possible so I will imagine that this function is crown-shaped (i.e. I am a king!). These goals have a limiting effect on my choice set (i.e. feasible region). Articulating these limitations and the ineluctable loan payment, let some constraints be:
• Healthy work-life balance (i.e. working hours less than H hours a week),
• Research-friendly environment, and
• Company with global operations.
• Minimum salary requirement
After seeing some salary numbers during Orientation Week and in the omnipresent MBA rankings, I started thinking a lot about the “minimum salary” constraint. For a couple of weeks I was thinking Portfolio Management, Consulting, Private Equity! I guess it all goes down to my/your “crown”. A series of meetings with Careers Services provided some valuable input as I got information that has further refined my choice set. I’m really curious about what will happen in the next couple of years! As a part-time student my first port is to try to re-shape my current role into what I would like it to be and I am actively doing that.
To conclude and tied to the notion of salary being a constraint and not a part of the objective: Someone was kind enough to comment on my last post jokingly suggesting a writing career and so did a classmate (!). I don’t quite feel up to that task but I’ll share with you a passage by J.M.Coetzee that I read in my favourite hotel in York. I will confess that I am taking his idea out of context as he was writing about nations and I am thinking about individuals, but I still think it’s relevant:
“The figure of economic activity as a race or contest is somewhat vague in its particulars, but it would appear that, as a race, it has no finishing line and therefore no natural end”.
When I came to LBS, I knew there would be many opportunities to get involved, learn and grow as a person. From the clubs to the interesting classes and new friends I have made, there has been so much to take advantage of at the School. So far, I would have to say the highlight of my experience has been dancing at the Indian festival Diwali.
One of the best things about the MiM programme and LBS in general is how international it is. I have made amazing friends from around the world, many of whom come from India. When I heard that the India Club was holding a party for Diwali, I decided to join some friends and practice my Indian dance moves! After many hours of preparation and suiting up in our Kurtas/Saris, we rocked the house at Diwali and had an amazing night!
Looking forward, we have the Santa Pub Crawl, an exchange with Fudan University in Shanghai and many, many more Muffin Days
Looking forward to terms 2 and 3!
1. London is huge!
I’ve been here 3 weeks and counting, and sometimes I forget the name of the subway line that takes me to LBS and back home. I find it surprising when friends in other parts of the UK tell me they have no clue where a particular town in London is.
2. London has got awesome history!
Two things I’ve done to get a better understanding of London’s history – I visited the Museum of London, and took a free Royal London tour. I came away from both in awe of the rich history that precedes the city, as well as the trends and forces that will shape it in the future.
3. London Business School is awesome!
There’s just so much great stuff to do here. And if you can’t find something you like, you can always create it! An LBS MBA is definitely more than academic exercise; it’s an awesome avenue for personal development.
4. It’s cold!
I’m coming from a tropical climate, so from Day 1, it’s been really cold for me. I’m pretty much in a jumper anywhere I go. This amuses a lot of people, and even though it doesn’t help, they never cease reminding me that ‘winter is coming!’
Interested in London Business School? Then why not attend some of the great student-led conferences such as the Global Energy Summit? This year, the GES committee opens its doors to prospective students so you can have your first real experience at LBS.
I attended the event in my first year and I very much enjoyed it. I learnt a lot about the energy sector from high calibre decision makers, and most importantly it was great to hear from different perspectives such as consulting, financing and corporate companies.
If you attend, you will also get a fantastic opportunity to meet students and alumni from different programmes of the school, and network with representatives of some of the school’s partner companies
Experiencing the school and its community is the best way to know LBS. I encourage you to register on the Global Energy Summit website. And if you do, make sure you contact the officers so we can arrange an appointment!
29, November 2013
Church House Conference Centre
London, SW1P 3NZ
I still remember the first day of the start of the programme in City Hall as if it was yesterday – bright sun and clear sky. Ever since then I have been warned that this is quite misleading when it comes to English weather and I should wait to see the end of November when short days, cold wind and fast-approaching exams knock on my door. Yet, even though these cold winter days are coming, there are couples of student-led initiatives on campus which keep me warm and make me smile.
As the end of November and one of the most celebrated holidays in US and Canada, Thanksgiving, are approaching, London Business School students found their own way of saying ‘Thank you!’ for their experience here so far. On Tuesday afternoon the Nash Lounge was busy with students writing long letters or just scribbling couple of thankful words to people they love and miss all over the world. The postcards were free and handmade by a bunch of enthusiastic peers who formed ‘A Grand Gesture’ movement after winning a competition on how to create most happiness if you had money. I guess they succeeded in showing everyone how easy it is to make someone happy…with a simple gesture.
After sending couple of postcards to my friends and family back home I headed on to another event in order to learn how to spread my message and ideas globally at… TEDx! That’s right, one of the largest conferences organized by London Business School is now looking for three astonishing students to share their knowledge, experiences and emotions. I have followed TEDx talks for the past couple of years and often come across their influential speakers. It had crossed my mind that it would be great to speak in front of such a big and knowledgeable audience that now I can hardly believe I have the chance to do it!
I guess the end of the term has disproved its reputation of being busy only with applications, interviews and final exams (do not get me wrong, these are still present), but rather turned out to be an exciting period full of surprises. Thanks to London Business School student life November in London has never felt so warm!
Five weekends done of the first term. A number of assignments need to be submitted, time is getting tight, the social committee is planning a trip to Winter Wonderland, and Movember is visible in the classroom. Good times. I arrived at the concept for this post via two different situations. First, in the last session of the CSR/ethics module our spirited lecturer brought a guest speaker to class. He is an alumnus of the school who has set up a business that partners with the NHS to provide heart related services (RPHC). Beyond being impressed by the idea of his business I was reminded that I have a mild heart problem that has drastically changed the way I approach my day-to-day life since it started in 2008. Second, last Monday I was back in St. Barts Hospital to get an echocardiogram to track my progress. It is always humbling to switch from student to object of study as a nurse was discussing the structures of my heart with an apprentice technician. The sound of the machine is quite relaxing though, sort of watery, so I normally have a short nap while being assessed. Without a doubt, birth and death are the flip sides of the same coin, however, probably not standard in this day and age to spend much time thinking about it at the age of 25.
Anyway, as part of the reading for the last CSR session a happiness formula was proposed by Lyubomirksy et al to be the sum of:
S – a biological set point
C – the conditions of your life, and
V – the voluntary activities you do.
With regards to S, I will only say that I am certainly not the happiest person around by any yardstick. I am confident that my seat-mates in the class, my study group, or my colleagues could confirm that I am a bit grouchy.
I will focus my account of the C’s with two of its elements. On the one hand, I experience lack of control related to my heart condition which flares up in the most unexpected situations and reminds me that I need to be prudent. On the other hand, as I grew up and moved out of Peru, my circle of friends has contracted and now I keep in touch with a few meaningful individuals who I might not see all the time but who with I have a tight bond. With regards to my family I mostly communicate with my parents by Skype and my brother by email but I am probably closer with them now than when I lived in Peru with them. Finally, my girlfriend and I have settled down into our flat and I guess we have a blissful existence. No arguments, plenty of cooking and conversation, and a degree of faith that some things just work. Therefore, the other C that really resonates with me is relationships. In a way, the slowing down that resulted from my lack of control, has resulted in a positive change in my relationships, and an overall enhancement of the C-value of my formula. The adaptation principle in action.
What about the V’s though? I have just written an email advocating “process” KPIs instead of measuring outcomes. Some people might wonder if there is time for V’s during an EMBA, but surely V’s can help assess the quality of this whole process. I argue that there is always time and posit three examples of my own. Isn’t it annoying when someone says they are too busy to do something? I actively choose not to be in that group. First, I have decided that over the next 2 years I will teach myself basic Brazilian Portuguese. How? I will start with Duolingo. Come on, just do it, I try to take a lesson before starting to work, one at lunch, and two the evening. Why? Because in the future I want to work with Latin America and if you research why duolingo exists you might just want to join. Os meninos bebem leite! Os estudantes gostam de London! Second, I am trying to read a non-MBA book a month. Why? Because I think that literature allows us to expand our range of experience. When? Before bed, in the train, after lunch on the weekends, bit by bit. Third, I am going to volunteer for EnglishPEN. Why? Because I think what they stand for matters after growing up in Peru. When? Whenever they reply to my emails asking for further information….
We seem to live in a time of communal paralysis. Everyone wants to “do” but no one “does” in the belief that someone else will. I am looking forward to the last session of Managerial Economics so I can conceptualise this in terms of game theory. To conclude, I just wanted to say that I wouldn’t have embarked on the V’s had my C’s not changed back in 2008 and had I not opted to join the EMBA programme.
Not many people know that LBS has a students’ hall where some of the MBA, MiF and MiM students live. In fact, not even all the current students know it! But this is a real option that some of us have chosen, as it amplifies the student experience.
Basically it means that every day, after a frenetic day on campus full of classes, teamwork and company presentations, I head home and the MBA experience goes on. The life at the hall is indeed an extension of the life on campus: multinational, collaborative, intellectual and enjoyable. Do I need a partner to prepare a case interview? No problem, next door there is a fellow classmate willing to practise. Problems with a company valuation for Corporate Finance? Easy, a fellow MiF lives upstairs.
I have also discovered that the hall’s canteen is one of the best places to socialise and extend my network beyond LBS. It concentrates the brightest graduate and PhD students from the top universities in London: LSE, UCL, King’s College, etc.
All in all, the students’ hall provides a very rewarding experience and is a good alternative to the traditional house sharing.
This is based on my personal experience as well as those of my classmates.
Most of us had a clear idea of what we wanted when we set foot in LBS. Most of our CVs were amongst the top 5% from our respective countries, so our thought process was like this: ‘of course we’d get what we want’! Why then, does the class of MiFFT2013s, cream from their respective countries, have 50% still job hunting, even after 3 months post graduation? What didn’t go right for most of us?
One side of the coin: Fewer jobs coupled with current oversupply of talent in the market and competition from peers. The visa situation also adds to the woes, with many companies cutting down on visa sponsorship costs.
The other side of the coin: Some jobs, particularly trading ones, require language skills with banks/trading desks expecting you to bring in new clients immediately upon joining. Some other jobs, particularly asset management ones, need you to indulge in heavy networking right from the beginning, which is then likely to convert into a job with time, perseverance and hard work.
Yet another dimension: For most of the students a career change now means they can’t get back to what they were doing prior to LBS neither can they think of shifting sectors again. Thus they have to be doubly sure of whether a career change is the right option.
Even to a person with very little background in mathematics this seems like a linear programming problem with several (severe ) constraints, objective being DREAM JOB! No wonder it is taking time!!!
I can never forget the moment when I received the life changing email from the MiM Admissions. Feeling the thrill and excitement from within, I jumped out of my chair and roared like a football player who just scored the winning goal. Seconds later I realised I was still in office, colleagues across the room looked at me in silence. Awkward. I slowly sat down and started working again. Embarrassed, but that didn’t stop the joy. I’m in!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at LBS. Students come from over 40 countries speaking 42 languages, being able to learn alongside my peers is, in itself, a masterclass in diversity. Academic-wise, it is all about applying the theoretical knowledge to everyday, real-life examples. We sit in a rounded lecture where all students are expected to contribute in discussions and express our views. Through this unique learning experience I am able to gain greater insights than ever before.
The career service is another integral part of the programme. There are enormous amount of career sessions ranging from 1-to-1 career coaching to group assessment centre practice; just in the last month, over 100 sessions took place. There are also company presentations and networking events in LBS ranging from finance, consulting and corporate sectors. Through these events I was provided with lots of opportunities to network with their current employees, learn more about their culture and experience. I’m very excited about an interview opportunity at a consultancy firm next week, and that could not be possible without the help of career service.
I’m now half way through the first term, and I am still feeling the excitement at LBS. Two months ago, I thought to myself that LBS would be my best decision in life. Now I can be very sure to say, that LBS is the best decision in my life.