Our biggest career choices hinge upon some key factors – money, interest, passion, security etc. Some more than others depending upon your own risk aversion, importance of work-life balance, ambition and so on. Whatever the motivation, the common outcome from an MBA is expected to be ‘change’ – accelerated change. “I’m doing my MBA to change nothing in my current circumstances” – said no one ever! If change is the goal, then the measurement of success surely has to be how far you move from your current state. But not every moment in life is ripe for change and an untimely MBA won’t pack the power of a knockout punch.
In my opinion there are three distinct stages at which an MBA makes sense. First, the full-time MBA when you’ve had a few years in consulting, banking or other professions and are eager to get ahead in the corporate world. And because they have no great obligations at this stage in life, the opportunity cost of losing two years’ pay is minimal. The second is when you’re trying to make a similar change, but are a bit further along in your career and life to give up your income. The Executive MBA students, typically with a few more years’ work experience, will juggle work, family and weekend classes to change their position, a team, a discipline or try out another organization.
The third stage, is when you’re an established mid-to-senior level executive with experience in leading teams and organizations with a proven track record. So the case for change at this level is not because you ‘need’ to, but because you ‘want’ to – perhaps because you want a new challenge or want something more stimulating than what you’re doing or perhaps you simply want to see what options are available. Whatever the reason, at this stage in life the single most driving factor is realizing your own potential and pushing the boundaries of your capabilities. Unexplored, this can lead to a midlife crisis.
Enter EMBA Global. When I started the course, I was doing quite well as a revenue strategist at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, but I decided it was time to look at possibilities ‘out there’. I loved the work I did but I also had begun to realize I could do better. So I naturally wanted to equip myself with the education and network to discover other options. Someone once said to me “An MBA is a lot of money to just keep your options open”. No doubt the case, but the reward when you pick an option can be life-changing. And so I found myself on a plane to London to start the 20-month EMBA-Global journey.
I remember sitting in class on the first day of orientation, being awestruck by everyone’s stories of how they got there, and thinking, “What am I doing here?” But as the year progressed and I got to know everyone, I discovered that we weren’t all that different. We had different backgrounds but still, being in the company of these smart individuals didn’t give me a feeling of competition, but of validation – that I could achieve whatever I set my sights on, like every one of my friends in class could. And so began a journey of self-searching, self-awareness, excitement for the possibilities and, of course, action. I can’t count the number of folks in class who have quit what they were doing when they joined to do something completely different – something they had always wanted to do. Many have chosen to change locations, professions and industries. Some like me, have taken the path of entrepreneurship, which wasn’t an option for me until I started the EMBA Global experience. With six months left to go in the program, I quit my job at Starwood and using that experience, I’m launching SuiteStory, the next best thing in online luxury hotel booking experience – one that will cater to a whole generation of affluent travelers looking for more than just a standard room and who’ve never made a booking on the phone in their life. My co-founder is a fellow EMBA-Global; the program seems to be paying dividends already.
All my classmates have similar stories to tell – a lull in the career, the desire to jump start again on to a new path, building the base of a Global MBA education, then, the leap of faith. Time will tell how the future unfolds, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single classmate who wouldn’t do this all over again. The success of an MBA program can be subjective and while many publications try to standardize it, my yardstick squarely measures how much you were able to do what you set out to do – which was change. EMBA Global has by far exceeded my expectations in that regard. It is the best way to gain knowledge, friends, networks and a new purpose to shoot for the stars. It is the perfect midlife miracle.
4) How to Establish a Long Term Multi Million Dollar Business
Right, so you have read part 3 of this series “how to convert my great ideas into cash”, and have started getting some cash into your business and raised somewhere between £10K-£1m from your first big Venture capitalist investment. What’s next?
A few things:
- Verify your product is exactly what your customers want and iterate if it isn’t. Ask your customers one question – would you implement this product in your organisation today/use this if it was free? If they reply “we will use it but right now we don’t have the staff to roll it out” or something along those lines, it means the product isn’t good enough and you’re not going to sell a single thing. It doesn’t matter whether you have £200k available for marketing or even £1m. No one will buy it. (This is a very important point and will be discussed more in my next post)
- Make sure you do this before you scale your company! If you don’t you will essentially have no clue whether people think the problem is big enough to spend money on solving it, and you would have pointlessly hired and wasted your investment money on a VP of Sales. The VP of Sales will definitely not meet his target when the product is shipped and get fired. The third time targets are missed the VP of marketing will get fired. When you miss the targets for the 4th time in a row the board will realise something went wrong in the company, and eventually you, the CEO, will get fired
- Finally, make sure you have a VRI and focus on it – more on this below.
VRI – Valuable, Rare and Inimitable resource.
- Valuable – it brings in loads of money/customers for your business
- Rare- it is hard for a business to get
- Inimitable – it cannot be copied or replicated by anyone else
For example, if you are a popular person at university and you know and have access to 100’s of university students, this in itself is a VRI. Think of how you might utilise this. A friend of mine utilised his popularity at university to start GradLancer – a company that gives employers access to students. Building on this network of graduates and employers is key to GradLancer’s success.
Another great example of a VRI is described by London Business School Strategy Professor, Aharon Cohen Mohliver. He says, there were hundreds of apps that did exactly what Uber did when it entered the market. But now Uber is the market leader? Why? It’s a phone app like all the others isn’t it? What is it about Uber that the others cannot do?
The answer is Uber’s pricing algorithm. Uber has access to data and can process that data with an algorithm that no one else can match. None of the other apps have such a good pricing algorithm and it is difficult for them to make one without a huge investment both in physical and human capital.
This concludes the “How to Start a Successful Business” series (parts 1-4) which provides an overview of the steps you need to take to go from having a bunch of ideas to a successful business. Note, the series does not go into detail in how each of the steps should be performed – it just lists the steps and the decisions that need to be made and provides you with some food for thought.
However, my next series titled “The Epiphany” will touch on things in detail, describing the exact processes that must be taken from having an idea for a product, to getting it into a position where you can get some funding (£10K-£1m) from a VC and acquire enough capital to start a proper company with your own office. I will be talking about concepts from Steven Gary Blank’s award winning book “The four Steps to The Epiphany”.
I finish this series with a sentence Professor Michael Davies, (Technology Venture specialist at MIT and London Business School), started every single one of our lectures off with:
“Anyone who is interested in starting a new technology venture should read Four Steps to the Epiphany”.
I cannot stress how much this book will help you with starting a business. Watch out for my next post on it and follow me on social media:
It’s been a while since my last post (How to come up with a multi-million dollar idea) so I will skip the introduction and get straight into the most important thing. The first thing you need to do to convert your idea to serious bucks is to figure out who your customers are and whether or not they want your product.
Customer discovery is the most important thing when embarking on a new business venture. Say you have a new app that is targeted at university students, go and speak to university students, get them to trial the app. If they end up deleting the app after a few days it means your target customers don’t want it. So go back to the drawing board and try again. The same applies to any other product. If it is a type of food or new recipe you have and no one is buying it, go back to the drawing board. This process should take a few weeks and should include surveys and REAL CUSTOMER DATA, not just market size estimates and market growth forecasts.
When you know customers actually want your product and you have market size and growth estimates, its time to think of a business model. Sounds complicated, but its actually just a model/plan which describes who your customers are, what your product is and why it is different to the competition, and how you plan on making money.
Once the business plan is done you can combine this with the customer data + feedback you recieved earlier and start making some initial financial forecasts to see if this is a business actually worth pursuing.
In other words check if revenue is greater than total costs in the long term. You obviously don’t want to be operating a business at a loss. If at this point it seems you will be breaking even or losing out, STOP. Don’t think of it as a waste of time, think of it as an investment you made to stop yourself on losing out on money and time.
Once you have your business model and you have produced some low cost prototypes and have real customer data purchases, it is time to make a decision. Do you iron out the bugs of your current product before you release or whilst you release it? This is a difficult question to answer and depends on what the product is so read up on past companies and case studies before you decide (e.g. Dropbox).
The reason this is very important is because these decisions will heavily influence whether or not you will pass the barrier which occurs at the early adopter’s stage and kills the majority of start-ups (See the figure below)
Most business dont get past the “early adopters stage” shown in the diagram as often their products require a radical behavioural change. If there is one thing entrepreneurs learn the hard way, it is that no one wants to change for your product or app or whatever you have. So find a way to make it convenient around people’s current lifestyles.
So once this is decided and you find yourself approaching or at the early adopter’s stage, you will be considering your second stage of funding and will be looking for investors, most likely a venture capitalist.
NOTE: Before even approaching a venture capitalist you need some customers, you need to show there is a demand for the product, it works, and your business model and projections are reasonable and can forecast some profits which are worth investing in. This isn’t forecasting profits of £1000 after a year. This is after you have really thought about your business model, what your sustainable competitive advantage is (what you have that is difficult to imitate) and when you have good answers to the following questions:
- What are the other technologies available that can achieve the same thing
- How much does it cost you to do this relative to competition
- What do you have that someone else cannot really imitate
- What are your projections for the next three years
So to summarise, we have covered a few things in this post. First and foremost is the importance of researching weather or not customers want and will buy your product- this takes weeks and sometimes even months. Second is the importance of having a well thought out business model, knowing the market growth forecast, knowing your customers, and using this information to make a reasonable financial forecast. Third is thinking about how you can get past the early adopters stage to get mass adoption of your product by minimising behavioural changes and tweaking your product to better suit customer needs. And finally once the above points are sorted, preparing yourself for standing in front of a venture capitalist.
Stay tuned for part 4 where we talk about what companies do when they have passed the early adopters stage and how they establish themselves as key players in the market. In other words, going from £millions to £billions.
Sitting in our last class of term, a lecture on sustainability and part of our ‘Business, Government and Society’ course, I was feeling confused by how quickly the first year flew by. Before the lecture our stream had gathered on the sunny front lawn for a celebratory picnic to mark the last time we would ever all sit in a lecture theatre together. Little did we know that this particular class was going to be even more memorable than we had anticipated.
We did wonder as we walked through the Sainsbury building on our way to the lecture theatre – what all the security presence was for. As the lecturer, Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics, wrapped up the first half of class, he finally shared details of the guest speaker who had been scheduled for the end of the lecture. Well, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer – it was none other than His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales! Or Prince Charles, son of the Queen, father of Princes William and Harry, and grandfather of George and Charlotte, as he is also known.
The Prince of Wales began by asking us whether we had covered sustainability as part of our course. It’s not every day you have the opportunity to talk with the Royal Family! So I put up my hand and explained that as well as our Business, Government and Society course, we had also covered a case on The Body Shop.
His Royal Highness went on to talk about The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S), an organisation he set up over a decade ago to get the finance, accounting and investor community to support a real shift towards a sustainable economy. He expressed his concern that “we talk about the human economy in isolation from the natural economy” and stressed that we have to “encourage business to think more long term”. He asked us whether we had heard about the circular economy, which is something that I actually only found out about since starting the MBA, through the very interesting Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship which was promoted on campus last term.
The Prince of Wales went on to speak to a gathering of deans and programme directors from leading business schools, hosted on campus, to promote accounting for sustainability in their MBA and research programmes.
The timing was fitting, a day before the School’s Society.Economy.Environment Summit , which addressed he future of sustainable business with nearly 100 attendees and high-profile speakers from organisations such as Marks & Spencer and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as A4S. I co-organised the event so I hope you’ll forgive the plug!
All in all it was an incredible high to end the first year on, and campus was buzzing with excitement all afternoon, fuelled by countless student selfies taken with the Prince in the background as he left campus.
We didn’t even realise the second term had ended. We had gone through three modules of pretty heavy topics in the last three months. Maybe it was because of the last quarter of the financial year, which in India ends on March 31st.
After a month-long winter break, we kicked off the January module with an accounting exam. This was followed by three courses running in parallel – a first for us until now. Macroeconomics, Strategy and Decision Risk Analysis. We had exceptional professors for all three courses, but these are subjects most people have no experience with. We really had to focus to keep up.
The January module included an amazing boat party which I already talked about in my last post. One good thing is that the program team decided to do the February module at the Sofitel Palm. This is a gorgeous hotel right next to the Atlantis on the Palm in Marina. It certainly added a bit of glamour to the course.
The batch after us were having their first Dubai module at the same time, and they were at the same venue as well. We got plenty of chances to interact with the incoming batch over the week. We even had a mixer at the Sofitel. Alumni were also invited for good measure. The program team worked overtime to ensure a smooth experience, although a sandstorm brought in some drama towards the end of the module.
The March module was only four days long and went by quickly. The career-related events were happening in full steam with Mariam joining the London Business School team. Everyone seemed to appreciate it. Dubai was starting to heat up as well. We also went through some experimentation with catering vendors, and I was the de facto vegetarian club representative. Fun times.
The courses were heavy, but very informative and excellent. The quality of professors continues to amaze. I used the learnings from the strategy class and was able to significantly improve the working of my business.
On the networking front, the EMBA program continues to exceed expectations. I have actually been able to do business with some of my classmates and even have a couple of offers for funding my start-up. This has given me a lot of confidence in the strength of the network.
As the third term begins, I am filled with a sense of nostalgia and excitement. Nostalgia, because seven modules are over and we have only three left. How time has flown! Excitement, because it will be time for electives soon. I can’t wait to attend classes in London, New York and Hong Kong. Meet new people, learn new things and explore new cities. Here’s to an exceptional third term!
I decided to write this post to reflect on the tremendous amount of opportunities I have been a part of since I started the MiF program 9 months ago. More specifically, I’d like to share with you my experience at LBS this past week alone.
Granted, the quality of the MiF program is top-notch (as ranked #1 by the Financial Times for a consecutive of years). What truly amazes me is the diversity and inclusion at LBS – the people, the cultures, and the opportunities.
Practitioner Courses (Monday & Wednesday)
In addition to the core courses and the elective courses, LBS students have the options to take practitioner courses, which are courses run by experienced industry practitioners. Starting this week, I have two weekly practitioner courses in my calendar: Advanced Financial Modeling and Social Entrepreneurship.
The Advanced Financial Modeling course teaches the mechanics of financial modeling and equips students with the tools to perform various and practical financial structuring and modeling tasks as done in most investment banks.
The Social Entrepreneurship course aims to provide students a comprehensive introduction to the field of social entrepreneurship, and to identify the opportunities and challenges of a career in social entrepreneurship.
These are two very distinctive courses; one is more technical and the other is more entrepreneurial. As I am currently working on two part-time projects, one for a financial advisory firm and the other for a not-for-profit organization, I find these practitioner courses especially valuable.
The LBS Sundowners happen every Thursday evening, from 6:45pm to 8:30pm. Faculty, students and alumni gather at The Nash lounge for free beer and wine. Since one of the 8 rules set by the Sundownders Crew is “What happens in the Nash stays in the Nash”, I won’t go into further details. Just know that Sundowners is probably one of the most beloved things for the LBS community.
TEDxLondon Business School (Thursday & Friday)
Something I genuinely enjoy doing is volunteering. Despite my schedules during Term 1 and 2 were mostly packed with classes and recruitment, I always try to find the time and opportunities to volunteer – such as teaching primary and secondary students business skills, fundraising for Toy Drive and conducting mock interviews for high school students.
This Thursday and Friday, I had the pleasure to volunteer for the annual TEDxLBS conference. On Thursday, the volunteers gathered at Royal Geographical Society to set up the venue, sort the 500 goodie bags and badges, and ensure everything is ready for the next day. Within five hours, we allocated over five thousands of goodies into five hundred bags for the attendees. Supply chain, time management, and manpower – all the hard work goes into the gift bags for tomorrow.
TEDxLBS is a whole-day event from 9:30 to 19:00, with 15 talks on a wide range of topics (finance, science, technology, art, music, Africa, and leadership). The theme of TEDxLBS 2015 is KALEIDOSCOPE: Kalos, Eidos, Skopeo (Beauty, Shape, Examine) – the observation of beautiful forms.
The volunteer team arrived at Royal Geographical Society by 7:15am on Friday. I was responsible for registration, sponsor booth and ushering. Although I missed half of the talks, I was very happy to see the audiences being inspired by the speakers. Through TEDxLBS, we gain the kaleidoscope to explore and reflect new colors and perspectives.
If you missed the conference, don’t worry. The TEDxLBS videos will be available online in a couple of weeks!
LBS Hackathon Bootcamp (Saturday)
Having spent six years of my life living in Silicon Valley, I’ve always been interested in technology and innovation. The LBS Hackathon is a weekend long event where people passionate about entrepreneurship come together to create products from ideas. The actual LBS Hackathon is going to be held next weekend, but the Hackathon team is very thoughtful to organize a Bootcamp to get everyone prepared, technically and mentally.
During the one-day Bootcamp, participants from LBS and outside of LBS gathered to learn the multiple aspects of creating a startup. We had speakers and attendees who are entrepreneurs, scientists, lawyers, doctors and “business people”. From coding 101 to fundraising and legal, business model canvas to product design & MVP creation. The speakers particularly emphasize the importance and value of people. “Most of the startups fail not because of the product, but because of the people.”
I am impressed by how much I’ve learned within only one day. I can’t wait for the LBS Hackthon next weekend!
MBAT Volleyball Practice (Sunday)
One month after I joined LBS in August 2014, I met a few MBA2015 students who went to the MBAT in 2014. They all agreed that it was one of their best experiences at LBS. I therefore made sure that I don’t miss out on this special opportunity (the tickets were sold within seconds)!
“The MBA Tournament (MBAT) is the biggest and best inter-school sporting event of the modern ages.” It’s the annual sport tournaments where all the top business schools compete with each other on a physical level. “The illustrious House LBS has historically dominated this tournie of business school champions and we intend to continue to #OwnTheThrone!”
As MBAT is approaching in two weeks, the LBS teams are practicing frequently and hard. On Sunday afternoon, after I visited Hampstead Village with my PEVC study group, I joined the Volleyball team at Regents Park for a practice session. We are incredibly excited to #OwnTheThrone for LBS at HEC Paris!
Here it is. A glimpse into a week of my life at LBS. I hope this article has provided you some new perspectives about the endless possibilities at London Business School.
Masters in Finance is more than finance.
The MiF is a leading post-experience master program for potential candidates with an average of 6-7 years working experience. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that one will meet many MiF students who have just recently gotten married or have a young family. In addition, as MiF is a very intense program which requires one’s full commitment (in terms of money, time and energy) both from the students and their families, I would strongly suggest for potential candidates to discuss this life-changing plan with your family prior to enrollment.
Based on my observations, there are several “types” of newly wed or young family in MiF :
1. “Domestically” single (but not available)
This is the type of newly wed or young family that has to be separated during the program for various reasons (job, children etc.) Hence, either the husband or the wife will remain in his/her country and the couple/young family will meet up during the school breaks to spend quality time together. There are several benefits to this option i.e. the student could focus on studying, participating in the school activities or be actively engaged in job hunting. However, one has to note that this is at the cost of the loss of quality time with the family, and especially if you have children, you might miss one of the most important development phases of their lives.
2. Full house
For this type, the whole family would move to London. This will be ideal if you are fully sponsored or might not have (or relatively small) financial constraints. However, as mentioned previously, MiF is a very intense program. Thus, it is important that your family are in the same boat, and communication is the key to have a balanced life between your campus and family life. Nevertheless, LBS is very supportive to the students and their spouses. The campus provides a lot of activities for the student’s family, through the partners club or student’s clubs.
3. 2nd Honeymooner
This type of family usually has relatively older children who are willing to be left behind in their country to stay with the student’s relatives due to various reasons (i.e. school, health, language etc). Thus, the husband/wife can join the student during the duration of the program.
Now it is up to you and your family to decide on the type of family that you prefer during your MiF experince.
London Business School is a top business school. In the heart of one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the world, the school fully supports entrepreneurship with dedicated courses, an incubator, and countless student initiatives. This high-quality business education is a great springboard for an entrepreneurial future.
As students and future alumni of such a great institution, our responsibility – nay, obligation -as custodians of the brand, to give back to the community that gave so much to us, is always front-of-mind. It’s just a matter of deciding how and where to contribute.
As with any startup, our adventure starts with spotting a need, something lacking – an opportunity to create. A group of LBS students – across all programs -realised that the school community lacked a way to share entrepreneurial stories: a medium to learn from each others’ experiences, to pass on the latest research, and to share all of this with global audience.
With our team of doers we decided to create the London Entrepreneurship Review. LER is a student-run online publication that captures the richness of entrepreneurial thinking at London Business School: from home grown competitions, incubators, partnerships and angel groups to research, conferences, coaching, classes and great speakers. LER was conceived as a forum to share all of this entrepreneurial energy with a much wider audience.
Life at London Entrepreneurship Review
I joined LER very early. It was about to launch its first version. Everyone in our team had their own reasons to contribute to such a fascinating project. For me there were three main reasons:
1. Have an impact
We students are here to contribute to LBS. When you join the LBS community, you do not consider yourself a customer -you are the school. And there is no greater way to contribute to the brand of your LBS than to build its entrepreneurial voice globally. At first, the project was a nice way to emphasize leading thoughts within the community. Now that LER is expanding we’ve noticed the concrete and positive impact on the LBS brand. LER illustrates how committed the school is to supporting entrepreneurship. It points out entrepreneurial success among alumni, academic research, and students’ passion for startups.
2. Get the excitement of being part of a start-up
I’ve learned a lot from being in the leadership team at London Entrepreneurship Review. Just reading published articles is a wonderful way to understand the key challenges entrepreneurs have. But most of what I learned was on the job.
My role is to grow our readership. Of course we are all ambassadors for the publication, but I focus on scaling our ability to reach new readers. I face the same challenges a start-up would: How can we raise awareness of LER? How can we make sure that our esteemed readers enjoy their experience on the website? How can we engage our readers on social media? These are topics every startup has to deal with—replace ‘readers’ by ‘customers’ and you are in a CEO’s mind.
Other members focus on business development, editorial, or sourcing great content. There are a variety of things you can do. What I like is that, as with any other early stage start-up, it is up to you to define your role.
If you are really interested in social media and want to learn why it is such a big thing for companies, just start working on LER’s social media operations. If you want to understand all about brand management, then you can work with our agencies to develop the brand and the collateral. Or if you want to learn all about online analytics and growth hacking, then you can get your hands dirty doing digital marketing for LER.
We all believe in ‘learning by doing’. Beyond acquiring technical expertise, we learn how to be good leaders. We contribute as much as we want, implement our own ideas, and get to know what it’s like to be driving a growing start-up.
LBS has a very strong and expansive community. There is no better way to feel part of it than to contribute meaningfully – really add to making it great. Working on LER has been a terrific way to meet brilliant people. I am constantly surprised by how skilled everyone is. There are only a few places in the world where you can find such a concentration of genius. LBS is one of these. And being part of LER has definitely been a great way to experience this uniqueness.
If you are as excited as I was about joining the London Entrepreneurship Review to make a positive impact on the LBS community -and learn a lot about entrepreneurship, running a digital start-up and more -you can reach our recruitment team here.
LBS’s vision is ‘to have a profound impact on the way the world does business’. Get in the driver’s seat. Join us now: ler[@]london[.]edu or
Click here to read the London Entrepreneurship Review.
Thanks to Rami Banna for reading drafts of this.
Follow the London Entrepreneurship Review on Twitter: @london_ler
This week the last add/drop round for electives is over, so for any MiFs who, like me, are not taking the fourth term, that means we have had our final say in the subjects which will appear in our transcript. Now what is left to work on is the grades which accompany them only. Should be a piece of cake! (That was a joke, and before you ask, yes, us MiFs can and do crack jokes as well as anyone)
Anyhow, I thought this a good time to talk a bit about how I got around picking my electives, since it seems to also be a topic of much concern among candidates I have talked with so far. The good news is, the elective portfolio for MiFs currently consists of an amazing 32 courses, out of which we can choose 7 to 10 to add to our program. The bad news is, the elective portfolio for MiFs currently consists of an STAGGERING 32 courses, out of which we HAVE TO choose 7 to 10 to add to our program. You might not think 7 to 10 is that many, but I assure you, when you get down to it, it is actually a lot to choose, also it means that you get to decide entirely for yourself what you are going to do at LBS from the second term onward. To offer you aid in this time of need, LBS has a nice online bidding system, which all of us, despite initial skepticism, have found very user-friendly and tremendously helpful. You will be introduced to the system in due course in your year at LBS, so i will not talk more about it. What I want to do with this post is giving you a few pointers about how to actually pick the electives to bid for, using the aforementioned awesome system. You can trust me, I think, because learning from past mistakes is always one of the best ways to learn, and, as you will see soon enough, I have messed up rather spectacularly with my Spring term choices.
Pointer #1: Balance your schedule. For your reference, the prevailing practice appears to be 4 to 5 electives per term, but that is the nature of such practice, for reference only, because you should not let peer pressure talks you into doing all 4 courses when you are already spreading yourself too thin with job hunt and internships and what-not. If, in Spring term, you have managed to secure an ideal internship, or you want to finish you CFA (or ACCA, as I ought to have done, but was too lazy to), or it just happens to be the recruitment season in your favorite industry, if any of that happens, then it is perfectly okay to limit yourself to 2 electives or even the minimum of 1. Last term there was this week in which I was juggling 4 group assignments just when things were starting to get crazy at my internship (I interned at a designer boutique and it was London Fashion Week, yes, it was as horrific as it sounds). It was an amazingly exciting, highly fulfilling week, but one which I would rather not repeat, seeing how I was mostly dead on my feet for the fortnight following.
Pointer #2: Balance your courses. Among the available electives, there are some we unofficially refer to as “light courses”, owing to the fact that they do not require much of heavy book-lifting and/or intensive case studies. On the other end of the spectrum, there are monstrous courses which require you to, every week, prepare a 30-page case, read 5 research papers and 50 pages of textbooks, swim the length of the Amazon and climb to the top of the Everest. Okay, that was probably exaggerating it a tiny bit, but you get my point, no? Basically, you would not want to study more than 2 of those Herculean electives together in one term. In Spring I innocently, happily, opted to do 3 of them at the same time. People have been telling me I was courting death, and you know what, I wholeheartedly agree.
Pointer #3: Balance your purpose. I am sure, having gone through all the stress of the application process to finally get an offer from LBS, you would want your academic year in London to add as much value as possible to your future career, so, at the risk of being the ultimate kill-joy, I do think you need to choose electives based on their degree of possible usefulness for the job you want to do after graduation. Thanks to our ever thoughtful program office, this pointer is not as hard to execute as it sounds. As you may well know already, there are 3 possible concentrations you can go for within the MiF: investment management & analysis, corporate finance, and risk management & derivatives. So, all you need to do is take your pick and filter the list in the elective timetable to narrow it down to the useful courses.
Pointer #4: Forget balance, let’s have some fun. I am putting myself in great danger here, of course, because there is no guarantee that I won’t be told off for giving you this completely irresponsible advice. But, honestly, if there is something I most highly recommend people to do at LBS, it is to have fun. So, if among the electives there happens to be a subject which truly interests you, do not hesitate to bid for it, even if it has nothing to do with your future career or if you have only the faintest notion of what it is all about. Because why not? There will probably be no other period of time in your life in which you are so totally free to satisfy your academic curiosity. As I distinctly remember, in my application essay, I did tell LBS that the reason why I want to do the MiF is, first and foremost, because I want to study. Up to this point, 2 terms into the program, I find that I can still repeat that conviction of mine with pride (I do have to repeat it actually, you know, people keep raising eyebrows at my choice of doing that Behavioral Finance elective).
As a final thought, despite the jumble I made in picking electives, my Spring term was, on the whole, very enjoyable and I do not regret taking any of the 4 courses I took. I learned an awful lot of new things and I had my fair share of fun too. Bottom line: you can’t go wrong with any of those 32 (and soon to be increased) electives.
That is it, folks, I hope you find these pointers of mine somewhat useful, if not, please be generous enough to consider it a harmless bit of rambling from a student wishing to do something different in this last week before her new school term starts. I am doing 5 electives in Summer, so wish me luck?
Term 2 could be re-baptised the term of summer internship recruiting. Busy, busy. The academics doesn’t stop and recruiting ramps up big time. With term 2 long gone, and the spring break having just turned the corner, I thought I’d share my two highlights for term 2:
Mike Bollingbroke Guest Lecture
One of the lectures of MOB (Managing Organisational Behaviour) was done by Mike Bollingbroke. His career? Pretty impressive: Operations top-guy at Cirque du Soleil, COO at Manchester United and now CEO at Inter Milan.
We spent 2 hours with him and it was A-MA-ZING! I cannot talk much about it because Chatham House Rules applied, but I can say he discussed what he believe were the foundations of leadership, his key lessons learnt, and he walked us through real examples of key points and issues in his career.
What’s that? LBS has gone crazy and promotes people having tattoos? Don’t worry. It’s not that.
Tattoo is just the funny name of an event created to honor diversity. Tattoo is where every nationality comes dressed in their best attires and showcase to the rest of the community what it is to be themselves. Every nationality brings their own food, and everyone performs in front of an audience.
In short, LBS – at its purest.
I attach a video of the Indian performance -