it has been a while since I last wrote. Why, you might ask?
Well, if I had to pick one word to describe this term, it would be: intense.
Final Exam week this week.
Still, since my words are limited, I thought I’d resource to the classics. They say a picture is worth more than a 1,000 words. How about a video then?
Let’s have a video-journey through the term:
Diwali Party dance:
For the Diwali Indian celebration, those that wanted got dressed and… learnt to dance!
Want to feel what it’s like to be in our shoes, or rather, in our seats?
Lecture from Corporate Finance on Capital structure:
Now let’s really be in our shoes. Even when it comes to exams.
Strategy Exam: we had to analyze the strategy, identify the challenges and give recommendations to the Hospital City in Cayman Islands. The case is summarised in this video:
There is a club for everything. There is a conference for everything.
Before starting business school I went to the Women in Business Conference. It was one of the best conferences I have ever been to.
And if you are a man, the point is still the same. Get a feel for the quality of the speakers and the conference itself, and if you think it meets your standards, rest assured: there will be one conference for a topic you are interested in (Women in Business, Energy, Asia,…)
I will come back soon – just one week more Term 1 is over.
Following up on my last post, I had a couple of months to spend after being accepted into the LBS EMBA programme. I spent these months doing two things.
One, I spread the news far and wide – to friends, relatives, and colleagues. I simply loved the sense of awe I would see in people’s reactions to the news. It reinforced my belief that this was a great programme to be a part of, and made me feel more confident of my decision to accept the offer.
Two, I had spent all of June in a nervous state, afraid to think about how life would be during and after the EMBA programme. I didn’t want to jinx it. Now, I allowed myself to slowly become more and more excited. As each development happened, be it a welcome email, an update of some sort or access to the portal, the reality dawned upon me that I was about to go back to school. I spent hours reading about LBS, London and Dubai. I explored the portal until there was nothing left to explore. I joined student groups online. I read discussion boards. The best part was, I enjoyed every bit of it.
Finally, the time came to depart for London. I was at the airport checking in my bags. The check-in attendant seemed disinterested, until she asked to see my UK Visa. She had never seen a student visitor visa before. She asked me, are you going for school? I replied in the affirmative. She then asked me why I was going only for a week. As I explained, I saw the same sense of awe in her too. “How cool!”, she exclaimed. She wanted to hear all about it. We had to end our conversation prematurely, as there were people in line.
Anyway, I got to London a couple of days before the first day of orientation. I wandered around the city on the first day. Though I had been to London four times before, I had always seen it through the eyes of a budget traveler. The neighborhoods around LBS were something new for me. I loved every bit of it. The second day, I wandered over to campus. At first, I was hesitant to enter. In India, random people just don’t get allowed to enter the campus of a university. You have to have an ID card or a very strong reason to be allowed inside. The gentleman at the reception smiled and asked me if he could help me. I told him I was looking for the EMBA registration desk, and he showed me where to go.
I walked over, smiling for no reason. As soon as one crosses the garden between the buildings, there is a wonderful sense of calm. No street noise whatsoever. I signed in, collected my iPad (which was completely unexpected) and hung around to talk to a few other people who were also signing in. Then I walked back to my hotel like a child who is just returning from a toy store, with my iPad in one hand and LBS welcome kit in another. I slept late, excited about the next day.
The first day of orientation was quite a bit to handle, even though it was only an evening. We had a wonderful speech by the Dean followed by welcome drinks. I remember standing in a corner, observing people. Everyone seemed like such a rock star. I felt a sudden pang of inferiority. Now I knew why they had welcome drinks. A glass of wine gave me the courage to socialise. I realized that everyone probably thought the same, and started talking to people. The discussions continued into the night at the hotel bar, and did so all week. It turned out to be one of my favorite things about orientation week.
Over the next few days, we had a series of interesting talks by various professors and alumni. Talks about school, career, life after LBS and what not. We also started our first modules, Leadership Skills and Understanding General Management. The professors were top-class and really knew their subjects well. I especially liked the fact that in spite of the research background, they were able to connect real life situations to what they were talking about in class. The examples came from diverse geographies, industries and experience levels and kept the discussions animated and engaging.
My agenda for the week was to talk and connect to as many people as possible, be it faculty, staff or students. I focused on those who were part of the London stream, simply because it would be a while until I got to see them again. “London or Dubai?” became the most frequently used phrase in my vocabulary for those few days.
At the end of the week, I was exhausted, excited, impressed and humbled. Exhausted, because I consistently chose socializing over sleeping. I was always one of the last few to leave the hotel bar after many interesting conversations. Excited, because the orientation week really set a tone for what lay ahead. I couldn’t wait to go to Dubai for the second module. Impressed, by the calibrof the staff, professors and classmates. I can safely say that I did not meet two people who had done the same thing prior to their EMBA. Humbled, because I was considered good enough to be part of this fantastic group of people. I thought I had achieved a great deal up to this point, but the stories I heard told me there was so much more that my classmates have achieved. Being one of the youngest in the class, I think it’s a good thing. I have the most to learn, and I will have the most time to apply what I learn.
The point that stood out the most for me was the complete lack of arrogance. LBS also did a good job of making it clear that being part of the EMBA program should not lead to a sense of entitlement. They didn’t need to, the class as a group seemed like some of the most down-to-earth people I have met. I go back home eagerly anticipating what lies in store during the next module. I just can’t wait!
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.