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, …”
After a rather quick ten months the EMBA core courses are all but done – only a couple of individual assignments left. Some of us will be moving swiftly into the Capital Markets and Financing block week, some will be going on the South Africa International Assignment and others will chill until September. Good stuff.
I was advised when I started writing the blog that I should try to make lists, that bullet points make posts readable and appreciated. So I thought I’d summarise some key personal learnings from the core experience:
- From reading all (well, sometimes not all) those cases across several modules it appears that common sense is not that common in business. I’ll be careful when making decisions not to hold my opinion too highly and to question my assumptions.
- It seems that more than half of the value of the EMBA journey is to be found in figuring out exactly what it is you want to do. Over the course of the last ten months, time became a constrained resource and paths became easier as I intuitively preferred to do some things over others. Being very busy can, temporarily, be a good thing.
- My partner will be doing the full time MBA starting in four weeks. They’ve already had a bunch of networking events. Over the last ten months I’ve made some good friends and forged key connections for the future. Someone pointed out yesterday that I haven’t done enough networking. Big ‘to do’ for 2014/15.
- I’ve read some articles questioning the value of the EMBA. I think this is very hard to assess objectively. Empirically, I have made a couple of moves at my current job that wouldn’t have happened without it and I got interviewed by a company that wouldn’t have paid attention to me before I had the MBA stamp on my CV. I believe it is worth it now and value will increase as I go along my career.
- Horses for courses. I just love that phrase. No literal translation to Spanish. Probably hard to tailor the core courses to everyone’s development wishes and I certainly found some content repetitive from my previous education. Same with the faculty, hard (but not impossible) to find unanimous opinions. I think it is key to segment quality of content from quality of delivery though. Hard to tick both boxes all the time (but not impossible).
Looking forward to the electives…
Businesses in Britain and across the world are only just beginning to touch on the impact technology is having on operations, routes to market, and how leaders behave. This year’s Global Leadership Summit focused on “Generation Tech”; a broad and deep subject matter that touched upon the multi-faceted way technology is impacting businesses, societies and individuals.
One of the key takeaways I got was that business needs to be agile in adopting the latest shifts in technology in order to be more responsive to consumers. Technology can often be seen as a disruptor to the established order of things and this can breed a resistance to change. Companies that fail to change are doomed to failure. Paraphrasing LBS Professor Gary Hamel, “CEOs who are personally resistant to change fail their employees, shareholders and customers”.
Therefore, it is imperative that companies from various sectors be agile in adopting the shifting sands of technology. This does not mean a “technology first” approach but rather using technological gains as part of a business leader’s toolkit. As Royston Seaward, Partner at Deloitte said, “organisations think too much about their product and not enough about how their customers want to use that product”. So beware: don’t put the cart before the horse!
Business leaders who are in service industries are only now waking up to the immense power big data and the analysis that comes from that can be used in providing personalised services for their customers. Those who are at the vanguard of this create a competitive advantage for their businesses. What it takes is for the combination of available technology and old-fashioned intuition and risk-taking.
The businesses that will be successful in the future are those who are agile enough to see where the power rests in their sectors and then utilising the right “toolkit” to take advantage of this. Professor Julian Birkinshaw was particularly persuasive in identifying the changes in the computing and car manufacturing sectors over the last few decades and how easily it can be for today’s established companies to be tomorrow’s minnows. Business leaders need to take a macro view of their sector and identify where the particular points are in the value chain that control the most power: influence, bargaining etc, and how they can bring the resources at their disposable to take advantage of these areas.
The final point I want to bring up is the impact GenY will have on businesses. This generation is the first that has been brought up with emerging technology and a globalised marketplace where the tyranny of distance has been defeated by the ease of the internet. GenY employees (and future leaders) are more flexible and place greater emphasis on corporate missions than Baby Boomers or GenX. The challenge for GenY is how to take this inherent risk-tolerance and combine it with the steely resolve needed to be successful business leaders. The future of business will be ‘mission-first’ with a greater emphasis on their purpose and product generation than quarterly results. This means how we picture business leaders will need to shift: if you are an existing business leader you must recognise than a GenY rival is more prepared to use (social) media to promote their mission and to quickly build up brand awareness. So don’t be complacent!
London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit was an outstanding success and demonstrates the power of having in one room academic, business and social leaders bouncing around ideas and views with each other. Businesses are facing increasing strains from diverging social, technological and demographic trends so this year’s summit was particularly important to creating the right framework to approach “Generation Tech”. I am certain that next year’s summit will be just as interesting as this one!
It seems hard to believe, but the September EMBA has now transitioned into the final term of the first year. I was really eager to get back to school after the break and the Corporate Finance 2 and Operations Management modules look like they are going to be very interesting. The Social Committee guys, who go out of their way to organise events, send a newsletter before every weekend and in it the EMBAs can find the “quote of the week”. I am not one for quotes, but I will remember the “who to be impressed by” rule of thumb provided by the Finance professor: “[In Central London] don’t be impressed by the person who has a Ferrari, be impressed by the person who lives above the ground and has more than one loo”.
Over the first two terms I went through a bit of a hard time – a lot going on at work, pressure on the EMBA, ill health, etc. – which coloured most of my interactions with classmates and some of my impressions around day-to-day life as well. Fortunately, I’m doing a bit better now so I’m trying to be more perceptive of a number of positive things going on around me – a surprisingly easy task once you keep your ‘eyes’ open and I wanted to share some examples here:
- Due to the ill health portion of the mood darkening events I could not attend the much expected Moscow trip. Bummer! During this first weekend back, the EMBA crowd that went to Moscow approached me to have a chat, they made a little circle and gave me a gift – an ushanka (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ushanka) . I’m not the kind of person that would cry, but I was really touched by their kindness.
- During the first term I applied for the LBS Mentoring Scheme and I was lucky enough to be paired with an alumnus. My advice for next year’s applicants: don’t over-spec your request – the perfect match in terms of all of your requirements may not exist. My mentor has been very generous with this time and has been a great sounding board for me to discuss some difficult events in my professional life. He just brings a totally different perspective for me.
- As I carry on with deciding what to next in my professional life many of my classmates have offered advice during our days at LBS, have introduced me to other people that I could ask questions to and have met with me after work to answer some of my questions.
- Even between strangers I have seen surprising things recently. A neighbour found a lost key chain in the street and posted a note in a tree nearby offering to return them. A pharmacist offered advice to a customer on how to reduce the overall cost of her prescriptions. A young lady helped an aging man cross the street.
- Etcetera, etcetera.
I tried to think what all these elements have in common as it is very comforting to ‘find’ unity in disjointed events. I believe it could be argued that the common thread is a sense of community that I normally overlook and will try to notice a bit more.
This summer a new conference will be gracing our diaries, The Global Sports Symposium. The Global Sports Symposium, which is being presented by the same team behind the US-based Ivy Sports Symposium (Sports Symposium, Inc.), this student-run event, will bring together the leading decision-makers of the industry for a day of networking, discourse and learning. The organization is excited to be expanding internationally by hosting the first GSS in partnership with Arsenal FC and Emirates Stadium.
This year not only is it the first event outside the US, but there is a dedicated Career Workshop, We have partnered with GlobalSportsJobs on the Careers Workshop, “Supercharge Your Career in Sports – Powered by GlobalSportsJobs”. Where you can learn from those who have made it in the industry.
There are over 30 speakers, 6 panels and 2 workshops. To name just a few of the confirmed speakers we have:
- Mark Lamping (Jacksonville Jaguars, President)
- Michael Cunnah (iSportConnect, Executive)
- Tom Fox (Arsenal FC, Chief Commercial Officer)
- Charles Baker (DLA Piper, Partner)
- Abeed Janmohamed (RadiumOne, Commercial Director Europe)
- Jim O’Toole (London Irish Rugby Club, Commercial Director)
- Paul Bell (Leeds United, Commercial Director)
- Jeff Bennet (Raptor Sports Properties, LLC, Chief Executive Officer)
- Lucien Boyer (Havas SE, President and Global CEO)
- Matt Rogan (Two Circles, Managing Director)
- Russell Stopford (Perform, Director of Product Development)
- Adam Paker (Commonwealth Games England (CGE), Chief Executive)
- Ameesh Manek (England Basketball, Director)
- Glenn Lovett (Repucom, Senior Management)
- Phil Carling (Octagon (UK), Head of Football)
- Bob Reeves (Rugby Football Union, President)
The Sports Symposium has traditionally welcomed student attendees from over 60 colleges and universities and professional delegates from a wide range of companies. Its intimate setting combined with engaging content and dynamic speakers have made it a “must attend” event every year; we are certain that the same successes will be met during our first global conference.
How will you benefit from attending whilst studying?
- There is a very generous student discount!
- You will gain a unrivalled knowledge of the sports business industry
- Network opportunities! Meet your idols in the sports business industry
- A Career workshop “Supercharge Your Career in Sports – Powered by GlobalSportsJobs” – A chance to talk directly with and have your questions answered by young professionals across a breadth of industries within sport.
- Free goodies- Including breakfast and lunch!
The Sports Symposium is dedicated to helping students and those new to the sports business industry, by providing opportunities to network with top level executives, creating career workshops and offer industry insights.The symposium promises to bring a 360 degree view of the Sports Business world, with talks and panels representing all aspects of the business. However, it comes with a nice twist as it’s aimed at both seasoned professionals and those who want to enter the business.
“Throughout the planning process the student-run team has received positive feedback from the industry leaders it has reached out to. We believe this is a testament to the US-based Ivy Sports Symposium that has attracted top industry names over the course of its eight-year history. We are expecting similar successes for this first event in the UK and continue to get excited as we move forward with our planning.”
– Harriet Thayer, 2014 Global Sports Symposium Co-Chair
The 1st annual Global Sports Symposium (“GSS”) takes place on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at Emirates Stadium in London. The registration page can be accessed from our site: http://www.sportssymposium.org or here.
We hope that you share our enthusiasm for the 2014 Global Sports Symposium and that you will be able to join us and help spread the word. If you need an extra push to take the leap and attend these events read: 10 Reasons Why Uni Students Should Attend Conferences.
Follow us on Twitter @SportsSymposium and our dedicated hash tag #GSS2014, to keep up to date with The Global Sports Symposium.
With Spring (and occasionally, sunny weather) finally upon us in London, here’s a list of some warm weather activities for current and future MiMs to enjoy throughout London:
1) Brick Lane Market
Brick Lane Market is basically a giant flea market near the heart of Shoreditch High Street. With tons of stalls and warehouses selling antiques, vintage clothes, and all sorts of accessories, it’s a great place for some unique finds. They’ve also got an amazing food hall with pretty much every type of lunchtime snack you could think of!
2) The Color Run London
This year, a large group of MiMs will be participating in London’s Color Run! The Color Run is “a five-kilometre, un-timed race in which thousands of participants are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometre. The fun continues at the finish line with a gigantic “Color Festival,” using more colored powder to create happiness and lasting memories, not to mention millions of vivid color combinations.” This year, the Color Run will take place the first weekend of June at Wembley Park!
3) Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Right next to our own London Business School Campus, the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park is the only professional, outdoor theatre in Britain. And it offers a range of events and performances starting from May through to September. This year’s productions include To Kill a Mockingbird, Twelfth Night, and more. This year, students can also grab discounted tickets for preview performances!
Tickets for the 12th Annual Middle East Conference are now on sale:
The London Business School Middle East Club is delighted to invite you to the 12th annual Middle East Conference.
The theme of the 2014 Middle East Conference is “Bridging the Gap“. We would like to offer you an unparalleled opportunity to engage with the region’s leading CEO’s, entrepreneurs, financiers, innovators and leaders through five keynote speeches and a panel session on the future of Islamic Finance held by professionals from J.P. Morgan, Strategy& (Formerly known as Booz & Company), Cobalt Underwriting and King & Spalding, which will be followed by a networking reception.
- HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Former Saudi Ambassador to the United States and Founder of the King Faisal Foundation
- HE Riad T. Salamé, Governor of Banque du Liban
- Shaikha Al Bahar, Deputy Group CEO of National Bank of Kuwait
- Dr. Saad Al Barrak, Chairman of ILA Group and former CEO of Zain Group
- Joe Saddi, Managing Director at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company)
The Conference will be held on Friday the 30th of May (1PM-8PM) at the Landmark Hotel in London. For queries, please contact: MEC_LBS@london.edu
Register for the Conference here:
The final term of our degree at London Business School is already here! The MIM’s are back on the London Business School campus for the last time, with new study groups and some spectacular weather. It was really nice to see our classmates again and learn about where they had travelled to during the break.
We have just finished our first week of classes, owing to a Bank Holiday weekend for Easter. Our classes for this term include Strategic Analysis taught by Chris Coleridge, Entrepreneurial Management taught by Ben Hallen, Applied Microeconomics and Management Accounting. In particular, the Discovery Project assignment in our Entrepreneurial Management class is going to be one of the highlights of our term, as we will work in our study groups to present a 3-D physical prototype of our solutions to customer problems in a trade show. Various members of the schools network will attend this show to share their opinions about our solutions.
We also have several events and guest speaker series taking place this term. The Family Business Club has Alex Sharpe and Peter Leach speaking about the challenges and opportunities of working in a family business, whilst the Industry and Marketing Clubs have invited Laurent Philippe from Proctor and Gamble to give us insights about P&G’s strategy to build winning brand equities.
Finally, the MIM’s are also looking forward to the GIFTS Trips for the term, to Stockholm, Madrid and Paris. I’m really looking forward to going to Paris, as the focus on the trip is “customer experience” and we will be visiting the offices of Disneyland and Hermes. Overall, I have had an amazing experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my final term at London Business School!
The spring break is about to end. In a few days holidays will be over and MiM’s will once gain be back on campus for another term of hard work, group projects, networking, job searching, partying and great moments that we will remember forever.
The last two weeks of holidays reflect properly the multicultural and international environment of our community. I was impressed by the number of traveling, networking or volunteering treks that occurred during spring break or that will occur in the upcoming months. I saw pictures of MiM’s taken in Poland, Bulgaria, Morocco, Cuba, South-east Asia and other places around the world during the Spring Break. This reflects the diversity of cultures in the program and also the desire of MiM’s to get to know new places, cultures and perspectives. Definitely a good feature in an increasingly global world.
When reflecting on my experience as an LBS student, what I like the most is the possibility of getting to know people from literally all over the world. I guess that apart from the UN general assembly is hard to find a place as diverse and multicultural as our campus in London. The possibility of exploring cultural differences and learn from different perspectives and views in one place is an invaluable experience that justifies on itself spending one year at LBS, but we tend to value this only when we are far away from this environment. During my holidays in my home country I realized that I was always telling my friends about the conversations and enjoyable moments I had had with my fellow MiM’s during last term. Unfortunately, our program will only last for two more months, but I am sure that the bounds created during this year in London will perdure and influence my future path and career. I know they have already influenced my views on the world.