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On Personal Attention at London Business School

Posted by: Kobby
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Even though London Business School enrols hundreds of people
in its degree programs, the school gives its MBA students a lot of individual
attention. I certainly didn’t expect as much personal attention as I’ve enjoyed,
and I've been pleasantly surprised. So far, I have had one-to-one sessions to
discuss my CV, my life and career goals, and some of my personality traits
among others.

I showed up at my CV one-to-one session half-expecting a quick
glance through my achievements and perhaps a pat on my back. No such luck.
Instead, I sat and visibly cringed as the lady from career services read my
résumé out loud. I quickly decided that the CV needed (a lot) more work and
signed up for "CV Surgery," a second individual appointment where another
pair of eyes and mouth read my CV out loud again. But this time, I cringed
less.

I also signed up for one of the prized one-to-one sessions
with Mohan Mohan Mohan (that's his name, honest). Mohan is a wise, old man, a retired P&G executive with enough energy to power the campus for a week. He spends some of his time counselling London Business School students on their life and career
goals. We chatted for an hour about what really matters to me – contributing to
Africa’s development and its economic boom, which I'm betting will happen in my lifetime – and discussed career options that could help me realize
these goals. Like many other students who’ve met Mohan, I left with a greater
sense of purpose and new ideas for how to navigate an uncertain job market and get all I want out of my MBA.

The half-hour I spent discussing my personality with a
consultant felt strangely similar to what I imagine therapy feels like. We used
my 360-degree personality feedback from my former colleagues at Nielsen as a
means to assess my positive traits and identify a handful of “personality
challenges,” which could make me a more effective leader. For instance, I’m
generally unassertive and can appear indifferent to issues, even when I am
interested. Not surprisingly, this is a potential liability for someone who
dreams of influencing a continent.

For me, talking to others is one of the best ways for me to
think through issues. Be it improving my CV, discussing my life goals and career
strategy, or sitting through personality therapy, the one-to-one sessions at
London Business School have been as insightful as they have been beneficial.

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Statistics…Party Time!

Posted by: Kobby
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DISCLAIMER: I spent a few days writing the following blog. Last night, I went to put it up, and discovered a pretty funny coincidence: my fellow blogger, Rebecca, had written on the exact topic I’d chosen and posted two days before; must be the water we’re drinking here. Frankly, I found her piece more interesting than mine, but I figured ‘What the heck. I spent the time to write this, I’ll post it anyway.’

Before classes officially started this term, I hadn’t sat in a classroom in over four years. So it was with a tentative eagerness that I approached the first days of class. This tentativeness only got worse when I picked up my class schedule for September term and realized that my first class in business school was going to be Business Statistics.

Now, I don’t care what word you put in front of it, statistics is statistics; and all I know is that it completely kicked my butt all over undergrad – and I majored in Math. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the course was broken out into five six-hour blocks. At this point, I might have been forgiven for presuming that with 30 hours of stats, September 2008 would not be one of my brightest spots. It was against this backdrop that I walked into my first MBA class, and into the domain of Catalina Stefanescu, Ph.D.

So it came as a bit of a surprise – albeit pleasant – as we delved deeper into the course, that I was hanging in there. By the end of the second class, I had a significantly deeper understanding of statistics than I ever had in three different undergraduate stats courses – no exaggerations here. I’m certainly not a pro yet; but it sure is great to understand what the heck you’re doing when you’re using a t-distribution to calculate the standard error of a sample of data. I’m sure a lot of this is because I’ve finally been able to connect hitherto disjointed concepts floating about my noggin. However, I also credit the faculty, whose direct application of theory to real business scenarios makes the subject more tasteful palatable and succeeds where others have failed in getting me to understand this material.

Thus far, I’m impressed with the general quality of teaching at London Business School. Sitting in lecture theatres here has been a meaningful experience. Not only have I learned the material, but I appreciate the benefit of learning by experiencing practical applications of theories. I’m thrilled to discover that so far, LBS is offering exactly the type of learning I want and need for myself.

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The Ultimate Global MBA Experience

Posted by: Kobby
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One of the distinct selling points of the London Business School MBA is the ‘global’ experience it touts. In an increasingly interconnected world, getting that global perspective was among my top reasons for applying to and choosing this programme.

Every day I have spent here, I have felt that global experience in a tangible way. I have met people from Argentina through Zimbabwe, all very accomplished, and all really cool to share a beer a conversation with (seriously!). My class alone has representation from 60 countries, and about 90 percent of the students come from outside the United Kingdom. This is as rare a phenomenon among MBA programmes around the world as it is special.

My study group, like the typical London Business School study group, reflects this amazing diversity of cultures and professional backgrounds. There is Julie, the French veterinarian, Wayne, the Taiwanese political campaign manager, Adolfo, the Peruvian private equity investor, Lauren,  the American engineer, Davide, the Italian consultant, and yours truly, the Ghanaian entertainment researcher. We all look and sound very different, but the one homogenous trait I’ve found across my study group (and indeed across the student body) is in their respectable accomplishments and their drive to achieve even more.

So far as I’m concerned, London Business School walks the talk on providing a truly global MBA experience. With such cultural and experiential diversity, I expect (I think, reasonably) to encounter many approaches and points of view in anything I do. And it’ll never hurt having friends and alumni contacts who span the globe.

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Getting Familiar with a New Place

Posted by: Kobby
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Preparing for the start of term has turned out to be an exercise in familiarising myself with
the mundane. I arrived in London three weeks before the start of class to give
myself time to get acclimated to life in a new place.
After arriving at 8AM with little sleep during my 10-hour flight from Los Angeles, I had a brilliant
idea to beat jetlag:  fight sleep during the day, easily fall asleep at
night, and awake the next morning on GMT. I failed spectacularly, passing out
mid-meal during lunch with a friend.

I’ve had to adapt in several ways. I’ve swapped my Nissan and LA traffic for an
Oyster card and commuters thronging London’s tube systems. Where I once
confidently strutted across roads, here, I’ve felt quite comical when midway
through crossing a road, I’ve been startled by a speeding car bearing down on
me from the ‘wrong’ direction. I’ve also
traded the bright, sunny weather (five rainy days in two years) for four wet
days in my first week in London.

Even though we take the mundane for granted, in a new place, sometimes, the smallest things can be the
most jarring, and I’m learning that by letting go of what I’m used to, I’m taking an important step towards opening my mind on a bigger level.

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