Electives, electives

Posted by: Ly Le

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?

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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 -




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John F. Kennedy — ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’


At London Business School, I have learned to see from a managerial perspective. As the manager of a business school, one is concerned with the school’s reputation and the quality of education it provides to its students. Therefore, when admissions managers review applications, they often look for evidence of added value and how applicants contribute to the classroom and the wider LBS community.


The exact wordings of the essay questions on the application vary from year to year, but they are designed to help admissions managers to evaluate the following:


  1. Are you bringing in experience, professional and academic, that is rare among members of the community (N.B. the community of current students, and not the application pool)?


  1. Can you demonstrate that you have and will continue to exemplify the core values (communal, courageous, engaged, ambitious and eclectic) of London Business School?


  1. Do you show, through your application, convincing motivation behind your application and your qualifications aligned to the requirements?


  1. What do you add to the community of achieved and extinguished individuals that are the students and alumni of London Business School?


With this insight, now you can backward-design your arguments. Write your application from the perspective of the admissions committee; include details that are relevant to them, and leave out things that would distract them from appreciating your uniqueness. The application should be succinct to a point that, when they are done with reading it, they should be able to identify you in your own category.


The ability to create and communicate your own brand is highly valued by the admissions committee, as well as prospective employers. It shows self-awareness, strong analytical and communication skills, and a healthy does of self-confidence – skills that reflect problem-solving capability. Being able to communicate your brand in a way that emphasizes your value to the organization (e.g. London Business School) is even better.

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Part 2: How to come up with a multi-million dollar idea


1) How to start an unsuccessful business

2) How to come up with a multi-million dollar idea

3) How to convert my ideas into cash

4) Going from $millions to $billions


How do I come up with a great ideas? How do I start that business like Amazon or Dropbox? Initially I had no idea, but it is amazing what the brain can achieve if you just give it that little push in the right direction. This is the subject of this post and although its a short one, it will hopefully give your brain that little push it needs to help you come up with your next multi-million dollar idea.


A great business idea consists of one of two things:


1) Think of a solution to a problem people have and solve it


2) Look at a current solution to a problem and make it better


That’s it. Literally. Read these two points again and again – I cannot stress their important. You don’t even need to carry on reading the rest of this post.

If you do wish to continue,  lets just look at an example for each.

Dropbox was a solution to the problem “I can’t take my files with me wherever I go without having to transfer them to USB and carry this around with me”. Houston came up with a solution to this problem by allowing users to store data on the cloud and access it from any device, anywhere in the world- a solution now known as Dropbox.

An example for the second point is Apple’s iPod. There were plenty of MP3 players around at the time, yet iPod came in as a new contender and dominated the market. Why?

Because it was just a much better solution. It made listening to music, downloading music and updating your music easier and simple.

In conclusion, when thinking about new ideas, look at processes you go through regularly and think how can I make this less cumbersome? OR alternatively look at problems you face in your day to day activities which do not have a current solution and think, what would be a good way to solve this.

Once you have a bunch of ideas that’s great – write them down and ask yourself the two questions above.

These ideas however are no good if you cannot or do not know how to convert them into money. So make sure you stay tuned for part 3 where we talk about how to evaluate the profitability of your idea, figure out who your customers actually are and then use this information to determine if this is a venture worth pursuing.

Twitter: @umarahmed12

Instagram: @umarahmed122

YouTube: Coming Soon

Official Website: www.umarahmed.com

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If there’s one word that describes the world in the last two decades – the better part of my adult life – the first word that comes to my mind is Global. It’s the perfect accompaniment to anything business; as fries (or chips) are to fast food. Without global, any conversation of intellectuals in the business world is insipid and lackluster. The most expensive and exclusive gathering of world leaders and businessmen at World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos each year is a monument to the importance of this word in today’s vocabulary. But as with anything exclusive that gains popularity loses its appeal, ‘Global’ has been reduced to a common adjective in any and every context. So, when I was considering an MBA education and first heard of the EMBA-Global Americas & Europe program, my first thought was that this burger also came with fries.

Nonetheless, I chose the program for a) its class schedule – majority of classes take place in block week format, b) the expanded faculty and course choices at London Business School and Columbia Business School (the Asia stream of EMBA-Global includes HKU, Hong Kong in addition to LBS and CBS), and c) the ability to take electives in New York, London, Dubai and Hong Kong.

Eleven months later, just finishing the core curriculum I’ve now realized why applying to this specific program was the best decision of my life. While in block weeks, all sixty nine of us stay, eat, study and play together as a tight knit family. Everyone is genuinely overjoyed to see each other after the gap of a month and we profoundly miss each others’ company. Coming to the end of core has been a bitter-sweet moment, as won’t come together again as a class next until graduation. Neither do we all live in the same city to meet casually for a Sunday morning to catch-up over brunch. Being Global has its disadvantages too. But given the choice I’d choose EMBA-Global over any other; not least for two reasons:

Global means not only people who’re from all over the globe but also live all over the globe

Living in New York (well across the river from Manhattan in New Jersey), I could’ve easily applied for any of Columbia Business School’s programs. There’s the Friday/Saturday EMBA course – the equivalent of which exists at London Business School as well. Also, London and New York being two of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, I have no doubt my cohort would consist of people from all backgrounds and nationalities. But the reality is that they would still all live in London or New York if they were to show up for school every other weekend. My EMBA-Global class probably has the same diversity, if not more, except that these folks live in and travel from all over the world to attend classes. I have classmates traveling from as far as Johannesburg, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Moscow and Wellington (NZ) each month to attend classes in London and New York. We don’t discuss global issues – we discuss local issues from every person from around the globe. That’s a crucial difference, one that separates mere knowledge of the globe and a deep understanding of it. For what it’s worth, it’s like having our own WEF each month in London and New York.

A worldwide network of close friends in every major city in the world

One must differentiate between a diverse network and a global network to grasp the importance of this one. A diverse network that most business schools and programs foster brings together people from a myriad professions, educational backgrounds and cultures. The EMBA Global network is all that plus the added benefit of a diaspora of ‘Globals’ (as we are aptly referred to). Once you’re part of this elite club, you’ve got close friends in every major city in the world, on the ground, in the trenches for anything you need. Your scope widens and you start to think truly global. From a farming startup in Senegal funded from the US to moving from Paris to San Francisco for a new job to a founding a healthcare company in the Caucuses through expertise from the US to expanding a Dubai based education business worldwide – all from connections made in just our class – this program has opened doors for us that have far surpassed any of our wildest imaginations.

My own story is that I’ve recently launched a hotel booking startup with a classmate – we have offices in New York and Rotterdam, our development office in Latvia and we will likely pilot with a hotel in Portugal soon. I came in to this program thinking I knew what I wanted to do – get a decent MBA, learn new skills and grow my network to excel and advance in my employment. I jettisoned that idea somewhere along Term 1, as soon as I embraced the EMBA-Global community. I became the career representative for the class, doing my bit to help every one of us achieve whatever goals we set out for ourselves. I know I’m going to end up on a far different trajectory than I originally allowed myself to dream. This program catapulted my thinking, my skills and my potential light years ahead. Arguably that’s in part due to the superior institutions that I’m part of including the award winning faculty and the vast resources available to us, but I’m convinced that the success of EMBA-Global is more in part to the ‘Global’ than the EMBA.

After all, have you ever tried having a burger without fries?

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I’m back! I know, I know, it’s been a few weeks – but two posts in one term are better than none at all, I suppose, when there are so many things pulling you in different directions (term 2 has been as busy as term 1, but in very different ways – more on that later). It’s fitting to consider my blog posting frequency because this one is all about balance – juggling the many competing demands of the MBA and managing your stress levels. In my last entry I mentioned that I wanted to share three things that surprised me about the MBA experience with you, and this is the second one.

Lesson #2 – You don’t have to be stressed out – but it’s worth pushing yourself outside your comfort zone

Before the MBA I worried that particularly the first term would be horrendously stressful and exhausting. I had visions of study group sessions locked in stuffy seminar rooms hunched over Excel models at 3am (ok, I got that from those books I mentioned in my last post – must be what US business schools are like ;) …). Actually, it was a lot less stressful than I thought it would be. Yes, it was very busy, but you can control how busy, to some extent. You have to decide what to prioritise, and to remember, as my boyfriend likes to say, that ‘perfect is the enemy of good’. Of course you probably have to do that in your job too, but the all-encompassing nature of the MBA means that it’s even more crucial.

I think a lot of people, spurred on by the FOMO I mentioned in my first post, signed up to anything and everything and then ended up insanely busy. I probably made the opposite mistake. I was very careful to only commit to the few things I definitely wanted to do (and some that, after some agonising, I decided were also worth my time). In a way, I limited myself – only doing what I thought would improve my career prospects (such as being on the Industry Club committee), help me make friends and stay fit (e.g. joining the Women’s Touch Rugby team) or would keep me on top of my studies (going to many a Corporate Finance tutorial, sometimes even forsaking the free drinks at Sundowners to do so). This meant I was a lot less stressed than many, but on the other hand I think I didn’t really stretch myself or try new things. And I think those two elements are a lot of what makes the MBA an amazing experience.

So this term my resolution was to sign up for a few more things, get involved with activities that simply looked fun or interesting, and enjoy the process a bit more, rather than just focusing on the end goal of getting a a great post-MBA job or passing my exams. And I must say it has been an even more enjoyable term because of it. I competed in the Nespresso Sustainability Challenge, consulted for a Fairtrade coffee social enterprise as part of the Impact Consulting team, am helping create the first LBS MBA cookbook, danced Flamenco at Tattoo, will be competing in the inter-stream football tournament this coming Saturday and went to a whole bunch of interesting events, from design thinking with Professor Julian Birkinshaw to the ‘TEDx factor’ student auditions for the upcoming TEDx LBS. It’s been busy, but it’s been great fun.

Now term 2 is nearly over – and four exams are coming up next weekend (yes, exams on weekends are one of the joys/quirks of LBS MBA life) followed by Spring break with its many treks around the world. I for one will be heading to Thailand and Cambodia for some well-deserved rest and sunshine – so you may have to wait until next term for lesson 3. We’ll see, maybe I’ll log on from the beach…

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Posted by: Eva Spillebeen

Today is 5 of March, time flies by! It seems just yesterday when Career Services urged us to think about what professional career we wanted to pursue. Literally the first week you are questioned about your aspirations and targets and it never stops. This early wake-up call is a great way of forcing you to thinking about what you want to do in the summer and in the longer term. Spending enough time on this important topic is necessary and with all the fun in mind, best to start early enough!

The Career Services team is on the one hand composed of Sector Managers with a sector focus inviting companies to campus and giving more insights these companies actively recruiting at LBS. On the other hand, there are the Career Coaches that offer all sorts of training across sectors. Career Services is a very effective machine in assisting you throughout this journey.

career services

And they have a good incentive too, besides of course their enthusiasm for the job itself. The number of students graduating with a job in sight and even more, the pay increase students realize is an important driver of MBA rankings – bringing even more and brighter people to campus. This never-ending cycle can be seen in many topics, linking it to the brand strength of LBS. This could actually be an interesting topic for my next blog.


Workshops ranging from “Building your network” to competency skills interview training and from “What is your brand” to how to use LinkedIn are plentiful. There are even interactive workshops about how to physically approach people on networking event and you can use the leadership launch workshops I talked about before to know how to be convincing and powerful in meeting your potential future colleagues.

Some of these workshops may seem silly and you might not really like it either, but it is effective for at least one thing. They make you think about your future choices. Forcing yourself to say out loud what you stand for, what you want to be known for and how you want to use your skills is a great help in this process. Overall, you regularly take an hour to put everything in your perspective and build your thought process, something that is harder to do by yourself at night when London is calling ;-). So even if you are not fully convinced about ‘brands’ and the need for your ‘professional pitch’, at least these workshops force you to take that valuable time early enough.

notes brand

Peer Leaders

Career Coaches help you with interview training, discussing personal questions and the above mentioned workshops. To make more valuable support available, Career Services ‘employs’ Peer Leaders. If you go to business school, you will certainly notice that nearly everybody wants to change jobs. Put bolder, 80% of MBA’s could just switch into the previous job of a peer – albeit on a different level. Consultants want to join a corporate in marketing, marketers want to join a consulting firm. So who is better placed than your peers to support you preparing you for your new career path? Peer Leaders are fellow students at LBS offering coaching sessions in their area of expertise.

I am a Peer Leader myself. I share my insights with fellow students on working at a consulting firm and preparing for the interview process, help them with case and fit interview preparation. It is rewarding as you help your peers towards getting their dream job, you network with different people and you learn how to coach, mentor and give feedback. The gratitude is inspiring and it is a way of giving back to the school.

Company presentations & recruiting on campus

As of January (for banking and consulting it starts even as soon as September) companies come to campus for their presentations and start the recruitment process. Looking for an internship is as relaxed or stressful as you approach it. The key is to have a clear goal and prepare accordingly. I must say your get the right support, the right opportunities and the right preparation to just nail it!

It is amazing to see from the first row how the battle for talent and human capital is raging. Many companies are investing a lot of time into this recruitment process. Company presentations, coffee chats, case competitions, workshops, invitations to visit the offices and recruiting days on campus (yes, students don’t even have to move themselves). People even get flown to other sides of the world to see if they are a good match for the opportunity.

Recruiting is very costly and mistakes are even costlier. The cost for a firm to recruit the wrong people is enormous; training, mentoring, severance and opportunity cost, etc. That is why interviews are performed carefully and genuinely test on capabilities but also on personality. It feels fair as well, if you get rejected because you don’t fit into the culture it is probably for the best.

Alternative way of approaching

To tell the truth, the previous comments differ based on what you are actually looking for. There is structured recruiting and non-structured recruiting. Structured recruiting is performed by consultants, banks and corporates with leadership programmes. The opportunities are indeed presented on a plate and the companies actively target to recruit MBA students. This means competition is high, but generally the internships are well-paid and well-structured in terms of process, projects and execution. This is a good way to gain high-level visibility in the firm and start building your network as a high-potential.

Non-structured internships are abundant as well. The big difference is that you get these more through personal networks and pro-active searching. This means less competition but less structured recruiting and internships as well. Firms that don’t actively recruit in big numbers and that are less main-stream would end up in this category. You are the main driver for getting recruiting and defining what you want to get out of it.


All of this to say that people are very much into recruiting for the moment. Most consulting and banking offers have been accepted by now, while many corporates haven’t even started their recruitment. Indeed, time flies by and next week is already the second to last one of the second term! This means holidays are coming closer, which for me will be a two-week trip to Japan, waaaaah!

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In order to talk about how to start a successful business, let’s look at how to start an unsuccessful business. The top 20 reasons why people fail is shown in the figure below- take a minute to look at it before we discuss.




Surprise surprise. The number 1 reason why start-ups fail is because they do not listen to their customers.

Rule number 1: Before you even start developing and putting loads of money into your product, get a cheap prototype/idea and ASK PEOPLE WHAT THEY THINK.

Imagine you’re developing a first person shooting game. Go and ask people who play games like Call of Duty and Halo what they think of your idea. Don’t get feedback from Facebook friends whose favourite games are Pokemon and Mario Kart and think, well these people like it so I must be doing alright.. they are not your target customer!

First, figure out WHO YOUR customer is, and second, LISTEN to them. If they think the game is rubbish, then its rubbish. It doesn’t matter how cool the graphics are or the whether or not you can drive spaceships or what have you. If the people you want to sell the game to are telling you it is rubbish, go back to the drawing board and pivot.

Second, I won’t give an example of every mistake, but I will highlight some important points.

  • Get good co-founders: If you plan on developing a technology venture, then it is preferable to have one co-founder who is a tech guy, otherwise every time you need to make a change to the product (which at the beginning will be all the time), you will be relying on someone who doesn’t care about it.
  • Think of a business model and how you plan on making money.
  • Get investors on board so you have enough money to complete the product and don’t run out of money half way.
  • If the product is rubbish change it.
  • If you are only working part time, make sure some or all of the other co-founders are full time.


To conclude, the graph shows you how to start an unsuccessful business. Study it carefully, do the exact opposite of these mistakes, and you are well on track to starting a successful business.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we talk about how to actually come up with the best business ideas.



Youtube: Coming Soon

Official Website: www.umarahmed.com

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We all want our business HQ’s based in Silicon Valley or Wall Street, so I think it’s about time I talk about how one goes about starting from an idea and transforming that idea into a multi-million dollar business.




As you can imagine, starting a multi-million dollar business is not easy, so I have divided this post into 4 parts:

1) How to start a successful business

2) How to come up with a multi-million dollar idea

3) How to convert my ideas into serious money

4) Going from £millions to £billions

To answer the question “How do I start a successful business”, I will tell you how to start an unsuccessful business. Starting a successful business is simple- do the opposite. Next I will briefly talk about the best way to generate great ideas.

This is where most people do well enough by themselves. We all come up with great ideas, but can we convert these into serious bucks? The most emphasised concept I have learned at business school is that a great idea doesn’t really mean anything. Great ideas have no basis unless you can capitalise on them and transform them into viable businesses. We address this in part 3.

Finally once we have spoken about how to generate your initial £1m, the game begins. This is where people will see you making money and try to take your customers. In part 4, Going from $millions to $billions, we will talk about strategies adopted by players such as Apple and Google, that enable your company to remain competitive and invest in projects that will keep you ahead of the game, increase your market share, and grow your business.

Part 1 will be out soon- follow me on social media and make sure you don’t miss it!

Twitter: @umarahmed12

Instagram: @umarahmed122

YouTube: Coming Soon

Official Website: www.umarahmed.com



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Diversity, it plays a big role in the MBA. It is a powerful word that lots of companies play with these days, and they have a damn good reason for it. It has been proven – I would like to cite you the official source in the Harvard Referencing System, but I have no clue who actually did the study – that diverse heterogeneous teams achieve better results than homogeneous teams. You’ve probably all experienced it before. Talk to diverse people about problems you are facing at work and it’s sure you will get a lot of different solutions you could try out. If you are able to get these diverse people around one table, building towards a common goal, you have increased the likelihood of success and finding innovative solutions.

On a short side-note, you could even draw the analogue further. We had to read a book for Operations Management, ‘The Goal’, and this was also a key theme in there. Pulling you out of your traditional environment and taking a walk in your spare time, gives fresh ideas. You hear it so often that ‘while running I get the best ideas’.

Bringing in different perspectives, challenging traditional viewpoints and avoiding common biases, diversity does add a lot of value. Companies reach better results and therefore better performance, so business schools must then benefit from it as well. But how do they benefit? On many fronts the diversity adds value to the program. In class, you get to learn from people that see business problems in a very different way. The diverse experiences people have, guarantees relevant examples when discussing a theoretical business concept. Also you see how people cooperate in teams and behave in group.

Industry sector (pre-MBA)

Next to diversity in professional background, interests and targets, there is a high level of diversity in nationalities. Praising LBS for its international student body (65 nationalities in the MBA this year!), many people are getting important lessons in international and cultural awareness – so am I. Just as an easy example, I will never forget the first time I tried to kiss a Japanese or I was undergoing an intense hug from a Brazilian I barely knew. Those are only the basic aspects, so you can imagine what impact this diversity has on the experience of an MBA.

Nationality by region

If you have read the title, you probably think, when do we start talking about Belgium? Well in business schools, diversity means lots of fun as well! People are proud about their background and kindly share their culture. Everyone joins regional clubs, organizing activities like the Chinese New Year’s dinner party that is coming up next week. You get a privileged insight in how people celebrate and experience this. End of February there is a multicultural event ‘Tattoo’ across all programs and staff of LBS. People represent their country with a food stand and a dance performance. I really look forward to representing Belgium soon, although we still need a lot of practice on the dancing part. Another part is the diverse international treks people organize. I’m visiting Japan in the spring break, and multiple other treks are organized: South-East Asia, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Greece, Israel, etc. Be it professional or fun treks, they are all organized by locals, passionate about their country and eager to share it with their peers.

Coming closer and closer to the topic now J. We have 7 Belgians on the MBA program graduating in 2016, I think 5 on the MBA2015 if you count people with multiple nationalities. Combined with the MiM, MiF and EMBA program, there are about 20 Belgians at LBS.  We organized a Belgium trek, performing on ‘Tattoo’ and are looking forward to organize beer tastings and also probably a “cantus”, for those who know, a great piece of our student culture!

The Belgium trek in short: 25 students, 9 nationalities, 4 cities, 3 mini-vans, 2 company visits and lots of beers and fun!

We started our visit in Leuven with a walk past the Old market and the famous city council building. Beer being an important part of Belgian culture and AB Inbev a major recruiter of MBA students, we visited their headquarters in Leuven. After an informal presentation and touch point with senior management, we were taken on a guided tour around the factory. Ending the tour with a draughting course, everyone learned how beer actually should be draughted. Afterwards going to a bar serving more than 1000 different beers, you can imagine we had a great night.

AB Inbev

The walking tour or cycling tour discovering the great city of Brussels was followed up by chocolate workshop. It was a busy day as we went to Ghent in the early evening to visit a start-up. StoryMe is a young dynamic small company executing powerful promotion videos. They start from the principle that all complexity should be easy to explain. Afterwards, we enjoyed an amazing night walk through Ghent, which I would recommend to all of you if ever visiting Belgium. Our last day, op of the bill, we visited Bruges. Everybody was tired but still enjoyed the medieval breath of the city. We got a lot of positive feedback from satisfied travellers, saying it was a unique trek and view into Belgium and its culture. Mission accomplished!


Chocolate workshop

After having organized this trek early November, I understood the importance to visit a country alongside locals. You can bring an exclusive viewpoint and experience to your peers. There again, it is proven that diversity enables a superior experience at business school.

I’ll have to think about my next subject, but it might be about recruiting for an internship, as this is what everybody is currently concerned with. See you soon!

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