Before coming to London, I worked as Senior Consultant at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants in Brussels and traveling around Europe to execute strategic and cost reduction projects in various industries. I engaged to work with disadvantaged job-seekers and to coach an entrepreneur (Check out his venture at Tripodmaker.com). Currently, you can find me in my free time around friends, discovering London, eating chocolate and working for the Industry Club. And as you might have noticed just recently, blogging about my experiences at LBS! To make it more personal by looking back at my most recent Leadership Skills session, I share with you my work-in-progress motto: “I want to empower people and generate buy-in by showing an energizing and ambitious personality”.
These first two months have been amazing and overwhelming. I hope this blog can capture at least 10% of this journey. Seeing all fellow MBAs together last week on our first London Talk around our class theme Big Data was a reminder of how fast it all has been going. The scene made me think about my “first day of school”, walking into Old Billingsgate Market but seeing only a handful of slightly familiar people. Of course I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know everybody yet, but looking into so many familiar faces was shocking and heart-warming. This crazy small community in greater London will not let me go for another year and half and I like that prospect!
Proud as I am, I don’t want to leave without this little joyful side-note. Our stream (one of five groups of ~80 MBAs) won the People’s choice award at the Bollywood dancing competition of our yearly Diwali party! Yeah!
Let me come back to you with more elaborate stories soon. Blogging is, next to pursuing my MBA, a new venture for me! Please let me know if you have any remarks, comments or recommendations. Not sure if this is the consultant in me talking or how it is supposed to be done in social media ;-). I must say, I am as excited as you to go through these ventures together!
So I decided to pursue an MBA degree. It is a thought process that many go through at some point in their careers. I did too. I even blogged about it. I finally decided to apply to the EMBA programme at the London Business School. Why, you ask? There were three very concrete reasons.
First was the structure of the programme. The modular format gave me immense flexibility. I could continue working and earning while I learnt. The format also enabled me to immediately apply what I learnt. Second was the nature of the programme. I am already past the individual contributor stage in my organisation. A General Management focus was just what I needed. Third was the brand name. Responding to the question ‘Where are you doing your MBA from?’ with ‘London Business School’ usually results in raised eyebrows (wonder, not suspicion) and a hint of a sense of awe. In fact, this programme fitted my needs so perfectly that I did not apply to any other MBA programme.
So, I started my application process. I have applied for full time MBA programmes at various top-ranked universities in the past. There is very less interaction with the admissions team until one gets an interview. With the London Business School EMBA, I had someone reach out to me almost instantly. The first thing I noticed was how nice she and everyone else I interacted with was. She was very courteous, knew all the answers to my (often frivolous) questions, and was prompt in her replies. It felt like they really wanted me to have a good application experience.
I went through the cycle of writing essays, re-writing them and then re-writing some more. The single most important piece of advice I can give you here, is that you must write from your heart. You’re combining so many pieces of information in your application that any discrepancies are visible almost immediately. Sure, you want to portray yourself to be the best candidate that you can be. But I think authenticity and honesty are valued immensely at the London Business School. I chose to focus on what I could bring that no one else could, on my unique story and on how much I would really love to be part of this programme.
Lo and behold, I had an interview call. I visited the Dubai campus on a scorching June morning. The interview started on time and I had senior programme members interview me along with the admissions committee. I liked the fact that selecting candidates was considered a task important enough to have such senior people present. They covered an exhaustive range of topics through their questions, and it felt as though they wanted to understand me from a holistic perspective. Now I recruit for my company, and have interviewed over a thousand candidates during the course of my career. But this was a different experience. I thought I was really good at reading people, but I came out of the interview with absolutely no idea of what they thought of me. I thought to myself, ‘These guys are good. I have never seen such a poker face.’
In the end, I didn’t have to worry too much. I got my offer, and I accepted it without hesitation. The poker faces have been replaced with warm smiles. Now, with two modules completed, I am even more confident that my decision to apply to this programme was correct. But more on that later.
London Business School offers all the students an incredible opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into the industries they want to work in by taking them to the industrial hubs. The student clubs also chip in with their own treks serving the same purpose – but in a more informal setting.
Global Immersion Field Trips (GIFTs) vs. Treks
- Organized officially by London Business School – So, a bit more formal
- Usually take place during the term vacations
- Take place all over the globe – are more dependent on emerging trends
- Organized unofficially by the student clubs – So, much more informal
- Usually take place during the term – so you have to ensure either that you have no lectures during the trek, or get the relevant permission from the program office
- Usually take place in locations in and around Europe
Both GIFTs and treks require interested students to apply to secure a place on the trek as they usually are in very high demand. The application process usually require you to write a couple of short essays (yes, again!). These essays usually try to gauge you on three core parameters:
- Motivation: Why do you want to attend the trek and how does it fit in with your future plans?
- Career objectives
- Industry cultural fit assessment
- What you bring to the table?
- Past experience in the field
- Network in the field of interest of the trek
- How do you plan to prepare for the trek?
As always, while you are writing your essay, ensure that you substantiate what you write with your background and experience, and more importantly be authentic.
- Munich/Milan GIFT – Industry/Supply chain management
- Paris GIFT – Fashion
- Shanghai GIFT – Asian/Emerging markets
- Silicon Valley GIFT – Technology/Entrepreneurship
Hope this was useful and feel free to contact me/leave a comment in case you need any further information.
As a Student Ambassador, I often get questions from prospective students around the world. They always go like this:
“My name is xxx, and I came from x country, and have done xxx. Do you think I have a good chance of getting in London Business School?”
That’s a fair question, but not the right one to ask if they really want to attend London Business School. For those whose profiles meet the minimum requirements, I would ask them:
“What do you want, and how would London Business School help you achieve that?”
Life is a journey without a clear path, and business school is only one pit stop along the way. The last thing you want to do is to chance the course of your career without an idea of where you want to go. Therefore, the question to ask is “how can London Business School help me achieve my goals?”
Your past reflects what your goals might be, and your achievements indicates the likeliness that you would succeed, but what really matters is where you are going from there. At London Business School, students are diverse not only due to their backgrounds, but also their purpose of coming here. Some are here to secure a job in prestigious corporate or professional careers, some are here to meet future business partners, and a (very) rare few came here simply to have a memorable learning experience. London Business School is such an unique place, because most of these people would find what they have sought.
Just a month into my MiM year at London Business School, I completed a consulting project with a technology start-up, started one with a fellow MiM student, took on executive roles in student clubs and became a Student Ambassador. Opportunities are abundant at the School, and it is easy to loose yourself in these seemingly hard-to-pass-on chances. To get the most out of your time at the School, however, you must know exactly why are you here. For me, I understand that my passion is in strategy and problem solving. I worked with these start-ups, not because I wanted to build the next Uber or Instagram, but because I wanted real-life opportunities to practice my consulting and execution skills. I am therefore seeking ways to do exactly that.
Once you understand your goals, then you would really have a chance to not only get admitted, but also succeed at London Business School. While the school life is fun, it is also demanding and could become stressful to those without a clear action plan. These students tend to sign up for too many (irrelevant) company presentations, join way too many clubs, and try to attend social events every week while attempting to meet the assignment deadlines. They obviously do not know what they want and where they are going.
Before asking the question “would I get in,” ask yourself:
“How would London Business School help me in my journey?”
In my next post, I will talk about the questions that we (and the admissions officers) ask when we review applications.
We are defined by our choices.
In every choice, we go towards who we want to be and how we want to live our life. Every choice speaks volumes about what we care about and what our focus is.
And if LBS MBA is giving me one thing it is choices.
I spent the entire day looking at the interlinks of some of the choices I can make: electives, exchange program, GBE, internships… And I feel I need a data modelling system to crunch all this. Why is that though? Because of the immense number of choices at your fingertips.
Let’s just look at the academics. There are a certain number of core courses that are the skeleton of any MBA degree so they are mandatory but the entire second year – I repeat, the entire second year – and up to 5 subjects in year 1 are your choice entirely.
You want the MBA to be as short as possible, very compressed and go back to work? You finish in 15 months.
You want to study somewhere else? No problem. LBS will ask: which continent?
Want to give entrepreneurship a go? Join the Entrepeneurship School.
Not sure which industry you will like? You can do several internships and try.
And it goes so much beyond the academics… there are choices in every single area.
Because of previous business commitments I have not travelled a lot recently and yetthere are so many places I just want to explore… The MBA, with so many students of different nationalities, is full of treks to different countries that go on throughout the year. Perfect!
One of my classmates, an entrepreneur, came here to create his next company. He created entrepreneurship meetings with fellow classmates to brainstorm.
Another classmate is unsure of what to do next. Fine. The industry club is organising a series of events, one per week, in which different people from different industries do presentations under the titles: What is business development? What is marketing? What is operations?
I had always felt my English pronunciation gives away my origin way too much – guess what? LBS organises an accent and pronunciation course to improve your accent. How great is that?
Used to be very fit but life got in the way? There is a club for every sport.
Want to socialise? There is – literally – a party, a dinner, something every other night.
It’s unbelievable. Think of something you would like to do, something that you would like to learn. I am sure there is someone, somewhere within the class or the community that knows about it or that is interested in that too. Or if not, you can create a platform for it.
I feel like I can really make those two years whatever I want to make them be.
For me, choices are a synonym of freedom. Choices are our chance to driving our life.
I am thrilled to be here. At London Business School. Right now. Doing an MBA. And I am because I feel I have the scope, the room, the options to be myself. And to decide who I want to become, whatever that is.
Our student-led conferences are back!
This year’s events begin with the China Business Forum on 18 October, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about the award for best student-led event.
I am Jon, the Senior Student Activities Manager at the School, and my team helps support the multitude of professional student-led clubs and events that are such a prominent part of student life here at London Business School. Last year was the second year that I ran club awards for the autumn and spring terms. At the end of each academic year I also look back at the best student-led event of the year.
While there are always incredible cultural trips and a constant stream of high quality career treks, I tend to be most interested in our student-led conferences. These present some of the best student-led activities in terms of enhancing students’ professional development and raising the profile of our brand. They are also a great way for the conference team to practise leadership skills and learn more about their sector.
Last year we had our first ‘perfect’ conference according to feedback from attendees*; we also saw our first examples of our conferences making it into international press (e.g. the Asset Management Conference ). Several other conferences also raised their profile and it was great to see an improvement overall (on an already high standard). The best events tended to be those that concentrated on what an attendee gains from the event rather than making the event ‘bigger’:
|Number of conferences surveying their attendees||17||13|
|Average score||4.4 / 5||4.2 / 5|
|% positively recommending||93%||86%|
|Approximate number of attendees||2000||1800|
More details on the conference surveys below*
My shortlist of the best conferences of 2013-14
This is from a combination of survey results, feedback from attendees and colleagues and from working with the teams:
Africa Business Summit (Summer 2014)
“Beyond the hype: The not-for-tourists guide to investing in Africa”
This was arguably our most professional event and was on an impressive scale: 45 speakers, sold out with 350 attendees (the majority external guests), over 20 sponsors and partners, moderated by a CNN business correspondent (Zain Asher), the most social media engagement of any of our events and they also launched an entrepreneurship competition.
This conference, more than any other I’ve seen, highlighted the hard-work, determination and ability of its organisers and the club’s presidents – it was a year in the planning and excelled across all areas.
If you aren’t currently thinking about doing business in Africa this conference (and the club itself) will change your mind.
eurOUT (Autumn 2013)
“the premier conference for LGBT MBA students and alumni from European schools”
The team had an incredible focus on their attendees and built a programme with a carefully judged mix of talks, panels, networking and social events to ensure attendees gained maximum value from the event.
They secured sponsorship and speakers from some of the companies that our students most want to hear from and work for (e.g. McKinsey & Co, BCG, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Accenture, Unilever, American Express, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, General Mills). They also successfully involved faculty to share our thought leadership and alumni to keep our whole community engaged.
I thought their overall survey score of 100% recommendations and 4.9/5 would be the highest any conference would ever achieve…
Family Business Summit (Summer 2014)
“Conversations on Family Business”
Our first ‘perfect’ conference according to feedback from attendees: All survey respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that they would recommend this event to current/future colleagues.
I also shortlisted this event last year for the same reasons – they keep it small, maximise interactions between guests and speakers and run workshops to go into depth and ensure attendees get the most out of the event.
The Women in Business Summit (Spring 2014)
“Sprints & Marathons: The Sustainable Career”
A super slick and inspirational event which wowed attendees and those involved in helping support the event – I still am receiving positive feedback from colleagues who attended and worked with the conference team.
The club and School launched a survey at the event that was picked up across press and media
Engaging speakers, packed venue and an enthusiastic audience – watch highlights here
A tough choice but I decided to give the award to the eurOUT conference.
All of the shortlisted events (and many of the others not shortlisted) were exceptional. In my opinion the eurOUT conference edged ahead of the others by striving and succeeding in making a meaningful impact on their attendees’ professional development. Congratulations to the club and to the organisers. And good luck for this year’s event!
*The conference survey-
The main question I ask is whether the attendee would ‘recommend the event to current/future colleagues’: 1=Strongly disagree; 5=Strongly agree.
I ask all conferences to gain responses from at least 10% of their attendees to be included. Note that we don’t include TEDxLondonBusinessSchool in this as they run an independent survey through TEDx – although arguably they are one of our most successful conferences. I will feature them separately later this year.
The full breakdown of scores:
|Africa Business Summit||4.5||89|
|Asia Business Forum||4.3||94|
|India Business Forum||4.5||93|
|Out in Business||4.9||100|
|Women in Business||4.6||93|
Thank you for reading!
Senior Student Activities Manager
Degree Programmes Office
On September 4, the members of the Masters in Management class of 2015, the programme’s largest and most diverse group of students yet, first stepped on the LBS campus in central London as official members of the school community.
This day marked the beginning of an intensive twelve months course – and already the first two weeks of the program (orientation and foundations) have been truly intensive. Before the start of lectures and seminars, a lot of value is put on gaining the relevant soft skills relevant for the recruitment process and on building strong bonds with fellow classmates and students from the school’s other programs.
Orientation encompasses two days of a variety of events. Being guests in London’s City Hall, we were fortunate to listen to valuable insights from London Business School Dean Sir Andrew Likierman and Simon Hay, CEO of consumer science company Dunnhumby. Moreover, our first sundowners, LBS very own tradition of bringing students together for a drink on campus on Thursday nights offered the opportunity to get to know fellow students and alumni better and begin to build a network.
Throughout the first days on campus, new students are being welcomed by staff, current students and alumni who share their thoughts on how to profit the most from the resources of London Business School. During MiM Away Day, study groups - teams of five to six students who will work on group assignments together throughout the first four months of the journey – have to meet several challenges in an outdoor park to later on enhance group performance in the class room.
The fall term, for many students filled with application deadlines for positions in consulting and finance, encompasses four different courses: Finance, Financial Accounting, Leadership in Organisations, and Management Analysis and Systems. The curriculum is complemented with various workshops to enhance CVs, job applications and to work on one’s soft skills.
So far, two words come to mind, when I reflect upon my experience during the first few days here at LBS.
Diversity: The Masters in Management class of 2015 is diverse in various respects. Students from all continents and from undergraduate disciplines ranging from art history to nuclear physics come together in London to learn from one another and share their experience. Which is also quite exceptional for a business school is that 40% of the incoming class is female. Having studied business administration at a small German business school during my undergraduate years, the opportunity to work on group assignments and case studies with students from different academic and regional backgrounds was one of the main reasons for me to choose London Business School. Now, I am looking forward to learn from the experience of a civil engineer from Lebanon, an economics major from Bulgaria, a fashion technologist from India, a finance major from China, and a business student from Switzerland in my study group.
Proactiveness: Even though only a few weeks have passed since the beginning of the term, I am really impressed by the proactiveness of my fellow students. My classmates have given tours of the Tate Modern, helped one another when moving in, organized study groups to prepare for case studies and finance interviews, and set up weekly yoga classes. I hope that this proactiveness will continue for the upcoming 11 months to enrich the MiM experience of every individual class member.
I have recently started my Masters in Management study at London Business School. I wanted to pen down my experience with application in the hope that it will be useful to prospective students.
A key idea to understand while applying to graduate schools, and business schools in particular is that the selection is not solely based on your past performance and future potential, but also your fit with the university.
Many students are baffled why they could not gain admission with very good academic and professional record. Fit is a very important factor as it determines how well you represent what the university stands for and if they can see you as a flag-bearer for the school. This can seem alien to many students where admission is granted based purely on performance in specific entrance examinations.
Resume Overview: http://www.linkedin.com/in/akasina9
Test Scores: GMAT – 730/800, TOEFL – 115/120, GRE – 324/340
- Creating a career path: Have a clear career plan (preferably both in the short-term and the long-term, both in alignment with each other)
- Check the prerequisites: As much cliched as it might sound, ensure that you satisfy all the prerequisites in terms of academic and professional requirements. If in doubt, contact the admissions representatives before you begin your application. It can save a lot of wasted effort if done upfront
- Take the required standardized tests: Give yourself enough time to prepare well for the standardized tests such as GMAT. Though they are not the sole guarantors of your admission, a good GMAT score goes a long a way in creating a favorable impression of your application
- CV: Keep your CV concise, current, accurate and gap-free. Refer to this post for tips about writing a better CV
- Essays: Be as authentic as possible in your essays. Do not try to blow things out of proportion or fake your way through. The admissions committee is experienced enough to call your bluff. Before attempting to write your essay, research well about the school and about yourself – in terms of what you want to do and what the school has to offer. This results not only in a much more cogent essay but also in understanding your fit for the school
- Recommendations: Recommendations carry an enormous weight to your application. A well written and insightful recommendation from a manager who knows you well is much better than a generic recommendation from a CEO. And a self-written recommendation is a strict no-no. Refer to this post for a better understanding about recommendations
- Interview: Interviews are logical extensions of the application. The admissions committee was impressed by your application and has decided to get to know you better to assess you, your abilities and your fit. As long as you were authentic through the application process, this should not be stressful for you. However, it pays to know your application inside out and think of possible questions that the interviewer might have as he/she reads your application. If possible, participate in some mock-interviews, and always have background information about the interviewer
Tips for applicants:
- Think thoroughly and deeply regarding what you want do in your career. Discuss with colleagues, friends, family and as many people as possible. It gives you a greater clarity about your priorities and definitely shows in your applications
- For the GMAT, I strongly recommend two books: (1) The Official GMAT Guide, and (2) Kaplan GMAT Premier. For the AWA section, have a generic format (available online as well as in the recommended books)
- Be authentic. I cannot stress on this enough. Know what you want and be true to that. If you get rejected because you were true to yourself, it just means that the school might not be ideal for you
- Graduate school application is a give-and-take process. Schools are competing as fiercely for you as you are competing for them
- Reach out to current and former students, and student ambassadors from the program you are targeting. Getting their views gives an inside perspective on things which will be invaluable
Most of the views expressed above are my personal views, their appropriateness depends solely on their use and the nature of the user.
This blog feels like an attic that I haven’t been to in years!!! Excuse me for a moment while I clean the dust…
There… Much better now!
I’ve been quite busy trying to earn my keep as an MBA Intern. Between June and September, I had the privilege of working with Shell International Petroleum Company here in London. I worked with the Retail Engineering Team – the people that manage the construction and maintenance of Shell retail stations all over the world. During my first week on the job, I visited a station that previously belonged to a competitor but was being converted to Shell standards, what is called a ‘KDRB’ – Knock Down and Re-Build. Suffice to say, there is so much thought and effort that goes into the construction and maintenance of fuel stations that the average consumer neither knows nor sees. All we do is get in, buy fuel, perhaps go into the shop, use the restroom, and then get out. But setting up a retail station to ensure that customers get safety, speed and ease of use – well, let’s just say I appreciate that team a whole lot more!
Working with Shell was a marvellous experience. My first paradigm-altering experience was with the lifts at Shell Towers. You know the story about the janitor/cleaner that tells the engineer (or was it architect) that he could put the lift outside the building instead of inside it? At Shell Towers, the floor buttons are outside the lifts. That first week, I had to consciously resist the temptation to stretch out my fingers to input my destination after getting into the lift, even though I already had done that before entering the lift.
More importantly, I enjoyed the collaborative and consensus-driven culture that operates at Shell. In my mind, the culture is a clear expression of the principle that no single person knows everything. While working at Shell, I had numerous interactions with lots of people within and outside my team – and they were only too willing to help. People thought nothing of spending significant time with me to help me understand not only the project I worked on, but also, the ways of working at Shell. In addition, decision-making processes are structured in such a way as to get the opinions and buy-in of a number of stakeholders, to ensure that there is broad support for initiatives executed. Obviously, getting consensus can slow down the decision-making process, but I guess that’s the trade off you get – speed versus support. That’s one of the core lessons from Strategy & Operations Management – picking a strategy and executing it; it’s about making a choice, prioritising a set of values or system over another. You can’t have everything.
The other thing I liked about working with Shell was work-life balance. Days I would get in by 8.00 a.m, and my floor would be empty. Days when I left by 7.00 p.m, I was the last to leave. In addition, it is possible to work from home (obviously pre-arranged with your manager, and if your physical presence is not required at the office). I did visit the gym in the building on some days, but seeing as I’m still packing pounds on my body, I guess I didn’t spend enough time there!
It wasn’t easy leaving. I felt a good kind of tired on the last day of my internship – like I had put in my all, and my effort was appreciated. I worked with amazingly great people (time to name-drop) – Bernard, Pedro, Graham, Gena – thanks for the wonderful experience!
So what’s next? Year 2 of the MBA begins! But that story is definitely for another time – hopefully not as much dust would have accumulated by then.
A year ago, I applied to the EMBA Global Americas & Europe. While I considered additional programs, this one was the only I decided to candidate to. Reflecting on this, I remember the application period as being both challenging and exciting.
Since I decided to apply, the application process took me about 6 months. For some of my classmates, this time frame was much shorter (for fewer, longer) but here is how I roughly split my time:
- Preparing the GMAT: about 3 months
- Completing the program application: about 3 months
Preparing and taking the GMAT is a must do that each of us has been through. I’m sure that for some it was a no brainer and for others it was more painful. I have a business background and I am not a native English speaker: my experience is that it is mostly a matter of perseverance. Taken individually, all exercises are do-able but the time constraint is adding up a little of spice. I bought plenty of books and spent about 100h practicing after work or during the week end. Just don’t give up at this stage, if you don’t score as high as you want, keep practicing.
When I first logged in the online application for the program, I was excited about what the non-GMAT part that would be ahead of me. Each section of the application had its own importance and I wanted to make sure that every single form was properly and accurately answered. Part of it is mainly administrative and most of it is about you, as a prospective student and future global leader. The essays were key, not only for the application itself but also for challenging me about my goals. I went back and forth to my essays and shared it with a couple of friends. I wanted to be 100% confident about every single line I wrote and asked myself: what is this sentence adding to my application? How does it help the recruitment team getting a better understanding of who I am and gauge the value that I can add to the program? My recommendations letters were written by people who knew me well and I had no doubt that they would share truthfully their thoughts. When I clicked on the “Submit the application” form, I felt like I did the very best I could.
Two weeks after I submitted the application (1st round), I received an invitation for an interview at the London Business School. I was happy to have passed the first step and I looked forward defending my case in a face to face interview. I was clear on my motivations and prepared a list of questions I haven’t had a chance to ask. The interview was run very, very professionally by two members of the recruitment team. They knew my application in details and while the interview was more of a conversation, I felt positively challenged during one hour.
A couple of weeks after the interview, I received an email which started by “Congratulations, …”