Having just finished exams it now seems an appropriate time to sit down and pen my next LBS blog post. Since I wrote my last piece at the end of October, things have been extremely busy. If you’ve never been to graduate business school, it’s hard to imagine what I really mean – so I’ll try, if I may, to paint a visual image. Imagine listening to the CEO of Kraft-Heinz Europe, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, explain the intricacies of their regional strategy and the challenges of expansion and market segmentation. Imagine presenting a project on data analytics in front of your peers and professors, outlining a financial model that links box office revenues to casts and budgets through a series of statistical tools and analyses. Imagine providing consulting and advisory services to an international charity that provides world-class surgery to children with congenital heart defects from the developing world. Imagine sitting in five hours of back-to-back lectures in financial accounting; picking apart Tesla’s financial statements to uncover some of the issues within their business. Imagine attending a panel discussion from six consultants from leading firms discussing future trends in the world of digital healthcare followed immediately by an event by McKinsey on Digital Transformation.
Now imagine, that all the above events, occurred in one day. This was one day in the week following my previous blog post.
I therefore can’t possibly begin to describe by sheer exhaustion nor talk about every insightful lecture, inspiring speaker or interesting experience I have had as the winter term draws to a close. There have definitely been several highlights: Attending a presentation by Fernando Fischmann, CEO and Founder of Crystal Lagoons was certainly a most interesting discussion. Fischmann, a biochemist by training, has created a technology in which to sink artificial lagoons with crystal clear water to provide lakes for recreation in resorts, public parks and residential developments throughout the world. In only a few years Fernando has created an intricate global monitoring system for his pools and generated billions of dollars in revenue from projects across Latin America and the Middle East. With ambitious plans for expansion and a vision to transform the renewable energy sector using his technologies, Crystal Lagoons is certainly an enterprise that makes any business-savvy student or budding entrepreneur sit up and pay attention.
The LBS Healthcare Conference at the Royal Society of Physicians this year featured a stellar line-up of pharmaceutical and biotech celebrities. Jane Griffiths, Chairman of Janssen EMEA (J&J’s pharma division) opened this year’s discussion on precision medicine and the future of personalised healthcare. Panel discussions followed, chaired by charismatic LBS professor Nicos Savva with particularly insightful perspectives from Roy Katso (Director of GSK Innovation) and LBS super-alum Chris Meier (BCG). Jackie Hunter, CEO of Benevolent Bio, passionately delivered on applications of machine learning in healthcare whilst Dr Junaid Bajwa (MSD UK) adjusted the lens of the discussion to focus on systems and providers of healthcare and the potential impact of personalised delivery. A great opportunity to hear the trends and updates currently underway in the world of bioprocessing and a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.
Other highlights over the past few weeks have included a lively debate by a panel of Israeli Venture Capitalists who collectively have backed some of the biggest names to have come out of the Start-Up Nation in recent years including Waze, SodaStream and Checkpoint. Representatives from Dalberg Consulting and their private equity arm D.Capital presented thought-provoking case studies on the challenges of social impact investment. From supporting a Kenyan microfinance business, to designing a democratic election system for the Congo and driving agricultural development in Benin, the world of social impact investing and consulting is fraught with unique challenges in addition to the usual array of obstacles. As one of the leading players in the sector, Dalberg is working to drive change as well as profitability in a diverse range of areas across this hostile environment. When contrasted with a fascinating presentation by the Attorney General from the Hong Kong Embassy on trade and investment opportunities on the island-powerhouse you can begin to construct a mental image of the kind of holistic business education that life at the LBS has to offer. All this is quite aside from hours and hours of lectures in Finance and Organisational Behaviour and the endless exams and assignments.
But all that is on-hold for now as I write this from a coffee shop in the trendy Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood in San Francisco. I have just begun a Global Immersion Field Trip for a select group of students to visit the global innovation hub of Silicon Valley. This week’s whistle-stop adventure will take us from projects at Stanford to presentations at Apple. From the heart of the Googleplex to the brains of Andreessen Horowitz. As I watch the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge, dawn is only just breaking on what is sure to be an exciting week ahead.