Friday, December 19, 2008.
“London Business School Decision”, that is what the subject line read as i stared at my GMAIL inbox with hope, anxiety and fatigue (almost certainly due to the zillionth time i was hitting F9 to refresh my browser window).
The pause till the mail opened up felt like a frozen moment in time.
“Dear 2011 Admit,
The Admissions Committee are absolutely delighted to
offer you a place on London Business School’s MBA Programme,
starting in August 2009 (MBA2011).
The range of emotions i had experienced from the day of application, after the short-list interview, upon receiving the admit email and shortly thereafter can be summed up as Anxiety, Ecstasy and Tranquility.
As i look back at my London Business School experience since then, the emotional journey has very much been the amalgamation of the same. Anxiety was the dominant emotion when i embarked on the MBA leaving behind a cushy job amidst the financial meltdown. Life inside and outside the classroom, which i spoke about in some of my earlier blog posts, was nothing short of Ecstasy. Two years on, equipped with greater clarity of thought, self-awareness and business knowledge i find myself better poised to make sense of the journey [life] ahead. Akin to attainment of nirvana for a hermit, though less spiritual, i find my self in a state of Tranquility.
In my earlier posts you have read about my study group and
heard about the exploits of some of my stream mates on the cricket field. In my
final blog piece on this subject i.e. “Inside the Classroom” i want to
introduce you to everyone else in my stream (i.e. Stream A)
Beyond just the effort on my part, it would be uninteresting
for you to hear me rant about 80 students. Thus I am making a humble attempt in
classifying my stream mates into 4 groups – Brainiacs, Stalwarts,
- Brainiacs – Rightfully as the name suggests these are the intellectual
wizards who advance classroom discussion with their thought-provoking and
insightful contributions. Some of them volunteer their time and expertise in
conducting tutorials (on quantitative subjects such as Economics, Finance and
Accounting) while the others conduct career panels and interview prep. Sessions.
Key traits – humble, self-less and intellectual
- Stalwarts – If Braniancs are the mavericks inside the classroom then Stalwarts are the mavericks outside it. This bunch craves competitions (rowing, soccer, consulting case-study, marketing strategy etc.). Their accomplishments exemplify the diversity of talent at London Business School.
Key traits – passionate, action-oriented and winners
- Socialites – They plug the gaps in a student’s life at B-School. After all there is more to B-school life than countless cases and incessant job-search. Give them an excuse to party or plan an escapade out of London and they will be your bosom buddies The social crew in my stream are debonair party planners – birthday’s, stream socials aka dinners/BBQs, weekend trips to Italy, France, Holland etc., you name it and they will make it happen!
Key traits – outspoken, gregarious and humorous
- In-betweeners - Indeed this is a quirky bunch – late to class if not absent from class It’s hard to typecast these people as their moods and behaviors oscillate across the continuum between Braniacs and Socialites. They show flashes of brilliance across the board and are driven more by challenging the norm than following the herd.
Key traits – unconventional, idiosyncratic
Winners of the “Study Group Love” Awards (Stream A) – Thanks to the Stream A Social crew!
Seb, Tat, Stas, Balazs (Jeff and I are on the certificate :))
This may sound paradoxical but in this blog entry i am going to take a setup outside the classroom to shed some light on "Inside the Classroom" experience.
This weekend members of the London Business School Cricket Club organized an inter-stream cricket tournament at Regent's Park. The event drew 8 teams – one from each of the 5 streams from the MBA 2011 class, 1 team from the MiM 2010 class and 2 from the MBA 2010 class. The format of the game was tweaked to accommodate a rare occasion when so many people could get together willingly of course, to 8-a-side in a 7 over game.
The day long knock-out tournament culminated in the finale played between Stream A (technically the 2011 inter-stream champions) and an assorted 2010 team of seniors.The picture below captures the camaraderie and spirit of the runners-up team from Stream A.
- William – Wicket-keeper extraordinaire!
- Barry – Ice-cool, ideal for pressure situations
- Karhik – Buoyant and adaptive
- Rajesh – Spin linchpin of our team
- Varun – Captain & MVP (match-winner)
- Sid – Economy bowler who milks wickets
- Shankar – Precision pacer
Back Row (Left to Right):
- Sebastian – All-rounder & MVP (match-winner)
- Rafael – Mexican fieldsman
- Sanjeev – the guy who takes the hits (literally) while his peers hit the ball
- Maxime (hidden from view) – Canadian discovery & MVP (a lusty hitter and cheetah like fieldsman)
- Andrew – Dependable like Dravid
- Hajime – Terrific fielder and perhaps the first Japanese with a 100% score rate in MBA cricket!
PS: The views reflected above are entirely my own and in no way are intended to judge my honorable stream-mates each of whom i am pretty sure would think is worthy of an MVP rating, at least on the cricket field
First of all thank you everyone for the terrific response to my 3 part series on why i chose London Business School.
From here on i will be kick starting a new series of posts to share insights from my class room experience at London Business School. Bear in mind though that this series is more about my classmates than me and the answer to that will become apparent in due course of time
For the first year, the entire MBA cohort is divided into 4 to 5 streams and each stream is divided into study groups of 6 – 7 students. At least for all the core courses in the first year everyone works in their pre-assigned study groups and follows the stream specific lecture schedule. Nothing in my view is more reflective of the class room experience at London Business School than its DIVERSITY!
Below are some raw statistics representing DIVERSITY in my study group of 6
- 6 nationalities (across north america, europe and asia)
- 6 professional backgrounds (across consulting, investment banking, software and retail)
- 3 academic backgrounds (across economics, engineering and computer science)
- 83.3% males, 17.7% females (in absolute terms 5:1, remember % are generally misleading :))
Let me further elucidate the diversity of my study group mates with the following 1-liners
- Anastasis – debonair gentleman and leader
- Balazs – rare blend of IQ and EQ
- Jeff – whiz kid on track to emulate Buffet
- Sebastian – entrepreneur who could very well be the next Vijay Mallaya
- Tatiana – fashion starlet with a gift for congeniality
Stay tuned for the next post in which i will share more such interesting people from my stream.
"Humility is a strange thing. The minute you think you've got it, you've lost it."
- E. D. Hulse
Honestly I haven’t been more conscious of my financial
health until some rudimentary arithmetic allowed me to visualize the impact of
pursuing MBA studies on my balance sheet (at least for the duration of the
course). The location and duration of your MBA programme (actually prestige of
the school too; please don’t label me narcissistic or pretentious for saying
so) will have a bearing on the financial squeeze you will face. This is an
unavoidable eventuality or should I say a necessary evil (but wasn’t the greed
for money the root of all Evil!). The weak dollar and pound in a global
economic melt-down did work in my favour!
Leaving aside the financial matters, for me an MBA is a
significant social investment too and that brings me to the final dimension
governing my choice of business school. By now I had settled for 2 schools from
the original list of 8. By virtue of its location, studying in London was a big
draw due to proximity (in terms of ease and cost of accessibility) to places of
travel in UK and Europe. I had travelled to some place in Europe for work and
was enamoured by its old-world charm and history that I found was diminishing in
the rapidly modernizing Asian economies. Such diversity was hard to find in
North America either.
London Business School is at the heart of cosmopolitan
London and offers a vibrant and bustling social life. Additionally, London Business School offers a
plethora of student
clubs to hone one’s professional skills and nurture one’s sporting/artistic
talents. It may seem like blowing one’s trumpet but check out The Sundowners Club to
discover for your-self another unique facet of social life at London Business
I knew for the above reasons (please see the
previous posts on this topic as well), when I was offered a place on the
programme, that I had to look no further.
If we ascribe to the view that Life is a Journey then an MBA too is essentially a means to an end. With an exception of a few who are genuinely devoted to charitable and social causes, the post-MBA vision (hopefully reality too!) is unequivocally characterized by some tangible manifestation of professional acceleration that improves our economic and social standing.
As expected, leading business schools invest heavily in student career enrichment activities ranging from career counselling (including basics such as resume-writing, interviewing and case-study cracking skills), professional networking initiatives, internship programmes and campus-hiring events. Thus narrowing down the short-list of business schools further to 2-3 schools warranted more than a perfunctory glance at the impressive internship and post-MBA job statistics advertised by these business schools.
The MBA programme at London Business School is different in that its curriculum is interspersed at regular intervals with industry-linked projects such as the Shadowing Project and Second Year Project. This is in addition to internships which are de-rigueur in virtually every MBA programme. For me it was uncommon to find comparable industry-academia feedback mechanism that will allow me to validate class-room learning with practicality almost continually for the duration of the MBA programme while providing enhanced avenues for professional networking (and source of student-income too ).
Another important consideration for me was the global reach of the exchange programme at a business school. The International Exchange Programme at London Business School has links with leading schools across the globe (which means more choice for students). The only catch is that only one-third of the MBA class is eligible (based on merit) for it, which is good in a way that it avoids marginalization of the exchange programme as an overseas vacation (though experiencing life at another business school would be the primary motivator for me).
This series of posts is intended to present an unadulterated insight into my decision process in searching for a business school and resolving the paradox of choice I was faced with.
I view my life as a sum of its experiences – part academic, part professional and part social (not necessarily in equal proportions though; that’s something everyone arbitrarily or innately defines for themselves I believe). Thus my choice of business school was largely governed by the impact of 1-2 years of post-grad business education on me across these dimensions.
Having lived, studied and worked across Asia I was looking to gain an experiential perspective of society and business in a different geography. I embarked on the search for the right business school by preparing a list of 6 – 8 leading schools from North America and Europe. Given that each of these schools had an equally glorious, renowned and global record of business education (based on research, quality of academics and folklore) it was difficult to tell them apart objectively. Generally speaking I would expect these schools to prescribe similar text-books and readings from the same pool of luminaries and have equally distinguished faculty with ingenious methods of instruction to stretch the intellectual faculties of students. So I whittled the initial list down to 4-5 schools based on diversity of their student population based on academic, professional and geographic backgrounds. To me greater diversity of the student population meant an incredible and rare opportunity to maximize and accelerate my learning of life’s unwritten teachings from the collective experiences of others.
Below are some statistics that illustrate the richness of student and faculty conversations I was looking for in my MBA programme.
Fact: 1,300 students from 121 countries
Fact: 28,000+ alumni across 120 countries
Fact: 59 languages spoken in a single MBA class
Fact: 89% international students in MBA2009
Fact: 140+ faculty from more than 30 countries.
(Source: London Business School MBA Brochure)
I recommend you take a look at the above brochure for more vivid statistics highlighting the unique composition of the MBA class and get a snapshot of the eminent faculty at London Business School.