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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Sports & Fun
After the more serious post of last time, this will cheer you up and make you wonder why you aren’t already here! Sports is one of the many corners of my previous blogpost’s picture. Depending on your preference you attach importance to juggling sports and the accompanying fun into your schedule. Or at least, that’s true for the sports part; you will never be able to escape the fun part!
Start to Run, Color Run and LBS Mile Trial
Sports have not been very high on my to-do list before coming to London, I said to myself I was working too hard to free up time. Positive stimulations and a friend sharing a ‘start-to-run’ podcast, my good intentions drove me towards starting to run in London. As I was not much of a runner before, I didn’t know I would be still running and enjoying it as much as I do. I started swimming as the school has a great swimming pool and that was my favorite sport, but running took over quite quickly.
My brand new first running shoes since high school
Halfway through the first term, a classmate organized for an LBS delegation to go to the Color Run in London. I was not quite ready for my first contest, as I was still following the podcast forcing me to alternately run and walk during 30 minutes. But I was quickly told it is more fun than really running. That’s exactly what it turned out to be, and I did finish my 5 km, alternately running and walking while having a lot of fun with my classmates. You can find proof below
The running club at school also organized the LBS Mile Trial. A contest between streams (the MBA has 5 streams of each ~80 students) and staff or other programs to run the most miles together in November. That’s when I downloaded Strava, my running app now joining me on all my runs – even if the weight of my smartphone in my pockets is sometimes more than what my running pants can actually hold. Yeah I know, I definitely need to buy some better equipment. My contributions to the Stream E result were only minor, but it does feel good to have come fourth at the contest. How do they say it again, participating is more important than winning!
Women’s Touch Rugby Club goes to Fontainebleau
Discovering a sport I never knew existed is and playing it twice a week shortly after, is rather unusual, except at LBS. The WTRC is an active club recruiting many women to join not only to play together but also to have fun and prepare for the recruiting season. Our great coaches have put a lot of effort in learning more than 50 newbie ruggers how to perform a three-man drive, pass smoothly and to score a try, or try to score a try! I have eternal respect for their patience and what they managed to achieve. Thanks to Snatch and RuPaul for your dedication.
Very quickly we played a mini-tournament in London and took it internationally with a tournament at Insead. We travelled for a weekend with the Eurostar direction Paris and Fontainebleau and kicked Insead’s ass! Together with some party, it was the best cocktail for fun!
In the picture below, you can see that we quite outnumbered the Insead women! They were luckily joined by some guys to make us able to play against them at least. LBS rules!!
People ask sometimes how transformational the MBA experience can be, and I must admit it certainly works for me. Already on this single corner of the different facets of the MBA, I feel being in London spending precious time around all these great people makes you do crazy stuff!
Next time you’ll hear something more about the famous Belgium Trek that the Belgians organized in the first term. I must say, a big success story! Just to keep you interested!
There are many facets to pursuing an MBA. Juggling with your precious time is one of the most important one. This picture sort of shows the challenges you will face! An improved version of the one you’ve probably already seen ;-).
Next week I’ll be writing about the sports and fun aspect, but let’s now focus on the academics of an MBA.
Not taking the pre-term into account, you will follow six core courses before Christmas of which five run regularly every week. The last one is the Leadership Launch, about which you’ll find lots of information on the LBS website (Leadership Launch). Five courses of 2:45 h, including a well-deserved break of 15 min, means only a small 14 h of classes each week. So, plenty of time for your other obligations mentioned above, I hear you think ;-).
Catch up with courses via the tutorials
Every week there are tutorials for those who are struggling with a core course such as Corporate Finance or Financial Accounting. It is a good way for you to ask questions, go over a certain exercise again with a tutor and use crowd-sourcing to discuss your insights. I must say, every professor up till now has been very open to receive direct questions. Even the more advanced students that have follow-up questions are welcome to discuss those with the faculty.
Execute pre-readings and home-works, often with your study group
In order to have an interesting class discussion, some courses require pre-work. Be sure you will develop your fast reading skills to cope with this. Various courses require solving cases or problems with your study group, knowing LBS puts a lot of effort in developing this mentality. All study groups represent a perfect mix in terms of geographies, background, languages, interests and future aspirations – Don’t ask me how they manage this. This leads to challenging discussions and working together.
Two weeks ago we had our second and third mid-term exam combined with a break week. This allows you enough time to revise your study material and even some time for travelling. Many people went home for a week, other took the opportunity to do day-trips around the UK or fly towards a European city. Various tutorial sessions are organized by the school and even students organize sessions for fellow students to help out.
We have just passed our two first rounds with the new electives bidding system to choose up to five electives to complement core courses in Term 2 and 3. Thanks to my genius bidding strategy I got into my preferred three classes :- )! Looking forward to these electives next term as class discussions will become even more valuable during these courses.
You see, in the end when I talk about the academics, you actually talk about crowd-sourcing, available professors, strong study groups and interesting class discussions. People, people, people.. It is obvious; it’s all about the people and be assured that you will be shaped by the people around you. This is why you need to choose your school wisely and LBS served me well up to this point ;-)!
Before coming to London, I worked as Senior Consultant at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants in Brussels and traveling around Europe to execute strategic and cost reduction projects in various industries. I engaged to work with disadvantaged job-seekers and to coach an entrepreneur (Check out his venture at Tripodmaker.com). Currently, you can find me in my free time around friends, discovering London, eating chocolate and working for the Industry Club. And as you might have noticed just recently, blogging about my experiences at LBS! To make it more personal by looking back at my most recent Leadership Skills session, I share with you my work-in-progress motto: “I want to empower people and generate buy-in by showing an energizing and ambitious personality”.
These first two months have been amazing and overwhelming. I hope this blog can capture at least 10% of this journey. Seeing all fellow MBAs together last week on our first London Talk around our class theme Big Data was a reminder of how fast it all has been going. The scene made me think about my “first day of school”, walking into Old Billingsgate Market but seeing only a handful of slightly familiar people. Of course I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know everybody yet, but looking into so many familiar faces was shocking and heart-warming. This crazy small community in greater London will not let me go for another year and half and I like that prospect!
Proud as I am, I don’t want to leave without this little joyful side-note. Our stream (one of five groups of ~80 MBAs) won the People’s choice award at the Bollywood dancing competition of our yearly Diwali party! Yeah!
Let me come back to you with more elaborate stories soon. Blogging is, next to pursuing my MBA, a new venture for me! Please let me know if you have any remarks, comments or recommendations. Not sure if this is the consultant in me talking or how it is supposed to be done in social media ;-). I must say, I am as excited as you to go through these ventures together!