Posts Tagged ‘Academic’
We didn’t even realise the second term had ended. We had gone through three modules of pretty heavy topics in the last three months. Maybe it was because of the last quarter of the financial year, which in India ends on March 31st.
After a month-long winter break, we kicked off the January module with an accounting exam. This was followed by three courses running in parallel – a first for us until now. Macroeconomics, Strategy and Decision Risk Analysis. We had exceptional professors for all three courses, but these are subjects most people have no experience with. We really had to focus to keep up.
The January module included an amazing boat party which I already talked about in my last post. One good thing is that the program team decided to do the February module at the Sofitel Palm. This is a gorgeous hotel right next to the Atlantis on the Palm in Marina. It certainly added a bit of glamour to the course.
The batch after us were having their first Dubai module at the same time, and they were at the same venue as well. We got plenty of chances to interact with the incoming batch over the week. We even had a mixer at the Sofitel. Alumni were also invited for good measure. The program team worked overtime to ensure a smooth experience, although a sandstorm brought in some drama towards the end of the module.
The March module was only four days long and went by quickly. The career-related events were happening in full steam with Mariam joining the London Business School team. Everyone seemed to appreciate it. Dubai was starting to heat up as well. We also went through some experimentation with catering vendors, and I was the de facto vegetarian club representative. Fun times.
The courses were heavy, but very informative and excellent. The quality of professors continues to amaze. I used the learnings from the strategy class and was able to significantly improve the working of my business.
On the networking front, the EMBA program continues to exceed expectations. I have actually been able to do business with some of my classmates and even have a couple of offers for funding my start-up. This has given me a lot of confidence in the strength of the network.
As the third term begins, I am filled with a sense of nostalgia and excitement. Nostalgia, because seven modules are over and we have only three left. How time has flown! Excitement, because it will be time for electives soon. I can’t wait to attend classes in London, New York and Hong Kong. Meet new people, learn new things and explore new cities. Here’s to an exceptional third term!
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?
After a (very) long winter break, it is time to talk about the first term. We are now done with four out of the ten core modules in Dubai and I must say that time has flown by.
After the orientation week in London, the mood was jovial when everyone met each other in Dubai. Seating was assigned on a chart. With a class of over 50 students, it was a good way for our professor to remember names and measure class participation.
We attended a variety of core courses such as Developing Effective Managers in Organisations, Financial Accounting and Managerial Economics. Some professors were an instant hit, some grew on us. But overall I would say that the quality of teaching was excellent. Though some courses were more valuable for each person than others, overall the first term has definitely added a lot of value.
The first three modules were crammed into two months, and the pressure on time really tested everyone. Suddenly the euphoria of the orientation was over and we were down to business. Most modules started with an exam for a course from the previous module, and that did bring the realisation that we were indeed in a rigourous academic environment. Some of us hadn’t taken an exam in years! I think we are used to it by now. We also make sure that the harder we study, the harder we party afterwards. After the first three modules, the schedule has become more manageable with one module per month.
The social reps have organized a couple of great events so far. An authentic desert safari with dancers, amazing food (including camel meat!) and an exceptional ambience was a lot of fun, especially for the out-of-towners. This was followed up by a boat party with excellent music (provided courtesy of our classmate Omar), superb food and a mind-blowing view of Dubai Marina thrown in for good measure. The Student Association put up an excellent Christmas party as well.
For me, the networking was the most exceptional part of the first term. In addition to the events organized by London Business School, the countless lunches, dinners and cocktails enjoyed with my classmates will always be something to remember. I have got to know a lot of them at a personal level. I’ve met many spouses and children and had the pleasure of visiting some of their homes too. The warmth and feeling of bonding is what I look forward to the most when coming back to Dubai.
Though I can’t wait to keep coming back, I can’t help but think that we are almost halfway through our core courses. For most of us, this will be the last degree we undertake. The fact that such times may not come back again makes me want to absorb as much of what is there to offer as possible. Here’s to an exceptional second term!
Following up on my last post, I had a couple of months to spend after being accepted into the LBS EMBA programme. I spent these months doing two things.
One, I spread the news far and wide – to friends, relatives, and colleagues. I simply loved the sense of awe I would see in people’s reactions to the news. It reinforced my belief that this was a great programme to be a part of, and made me feel more confident of my decision to accept the offer.
Two, I had spent all of June in a nervous state, afraid to think about how life would be during and after the EMBA programme. I didn’t want to jinx it. Now, I allowed myself to slowly become more and more excited. As each development happened, be it a welcome email, an update of some sort or access to the portal, the reality dawned upon me that I was about to go back to school. I spent hours reading about LBS, London and Dubai. I explored the portal until there was nothing left to explore. I joined student groups online. I read discussion boards. The best part was, I enjoyed every bit of it.
Finally, the time came to depart for London. I was at the airport checking in my bags. The check-in attendant seemed disinterested, until she asked to see my UK Visa. She had never seen a student visitor visa before. She asked me, are you going for school? I replied in the affirmative. She then asked me why I was going only for a week. As I explained, I saw the same sense of awe in her too. “How cool!”, she exclaimed. She wanted to hear all about it. We had to end our conversation prematurely, as there were people in line.
Anyway, I got to London a couple of days before the first day of orientation. I wandered around the city on the first day. Though I had been to London four times before, I had always seen it through the eyes of a budget traveler. The neighborhoods around LBS were something new for me. I loved every bit of it. The second day, I wandered over to campus. At first, I was hesitant to enter. In India, random people just don’t get allowed to enter the campus of a university. You have to have an ID card or a very strong reason to be allowed inside. The gentleman at the reception smiled and asked me if he could help me. I told him I was looking for the EMBA registration desk, and he showed me where to go.
I walked over, smiling for no reason. As soon as one crosses the garden between the buildings, there is a wonderful sense of calm. No street noise whatsoever. I signed in, collected my iPad (which was completely unexpected) and hung around to talk to a few other people who were also signing in. Then I walked back to my hotel like a child who is just returning from a toy store, with my iPad in one hand and LBS welcome kit in another. I slept late, excited about the next day.
The first day of orientation was quite a bit to handle, even though it was only an evening. We had a wonderful speech by the Dean followed by welcome drinks. I remember standing in a corner, observing people. Everyone seemed like such a rock star. I felt a sudden pang of inferiority. Now I knew why they had welcome drinks. A glass of wine gave me the courage to socialise. I realized that everyone probably thought the same, and started talking to people. The discussions continued into the night at the hotel bar, and did so all week. It turned out to be one of my favorite things about orientation week.
Over the next few days, we had a series of interesting talks by various professors and alumni. Talks about school, career, life after LBS and what not. We also started our first modules, Leadership Skills and Understanding General Management. The professors were top-class and really knew their subjects well. I especially liked the fact that in spite of the research background, they were able to connect real life situations to what they were talking about in class. The examples came from diverse geographies, industries and experience levels and kept the discussions animated and engaging.
My agenda for the week was to talk and connect to as many people as possible, be it faculty, staff or students. I focused on those who were part of the London stream, simply because it would be a while until I got to see them again. “London or Dubai?” became the most frequently used phrase in my vocabulary for those few days.
At the end of the week, I was exhausted, excited, impressed and humbled. Exhausted, because I consistently chose socializing over sleeping. I was always one of the last few to leave the hotel bar after many interesting conversations. Excited, because the orientation week really set a tone for what lay ahead. I couldn’t wait to go to Dubai for the second module. Impressed, by the calibrof the staff, professors and classmates. I can safely say that I did not meet two people who had done the same thing prior to their EMBA. Humbled, because I was considered good enough to be part of this fantastic group of people. I thought I had achieved a great deal up to this point, but the stories I heard told me there was so much more that my classmates have achieved. Being one of the youngest in the class, I think it’s a good thing. I have the most to learn, and I will have the most time to apply what I learn.
The point that stood out the most for me was the complete lack of arrogance. LBS also did a good job of making it clear that being part of the EMBA program should not lead to a sense of entitlement. They didn’t need to, the class as a group seemed like some of the most down-to-earth people I have met. I go back home eagerly anticipating what lies in store during the next module. I just can’t wait!
The final term of our degree at London Business School is already here! The MIM’s are back on the London Business School campus for the last time, with new study groups and some spectacular weather. It was really nice to see our classmates again and learn about where they had travelled to during the break.
We have just finished our first week of classes, owing to a Bank Holiday weekend for Easter. Our classes for this term include Strategic Analysis taught by Chris Coleridge, Entrepreneurial Management taught by Ben Hallen, Applied Microeconomics and Management Accounting. In particular, the Discovery Project assignment in our Entrepreneurial Management class is going to be one of the highlights of our term, as we will work in our study groups to present a 3-D physical prototype of our solutions to customer problems in a trade show. Various members of the schools network will attend this show to share their opinions about our solutions.
We also have several events and guest speaker series taking place this term. The Family Business Club has Alex Sharpe and Peter Leach speaking about the challenges and opportunities of working in a family business, whilst the Industry and Marketing Clubs have invited Laurent Philippe from Proctor and Gamble to give us insights about P&G’s strategy to build winning brand equities.
Finally, the MIM’s are also looking forward to the GIFTS Trips for the term, to Stockholm, Madrid and Paris. I’m really looking forward to going to Paris, as the focus on the trip is “customer experience” and we will be visiting the offices of Disneyland and Hermes. Overall, I have had an amazing experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my final term at London Business School!
Over the last semester, MiMs studied Entrepreneurial Management – all you need to know when innovating and aiming to launch your own start-up. This module has been full of real-life knowledge that I found useful as we studied cases which were debated extensively in class and had an entrepreneur speak to us each week regarding their journey and lessons learnt. This included how to finance ventures, value an idea and create the ideal team.
Perhaps the best example of practical application was the ‘Discovery Project’ that teams undertook to come up with an innovative idea that addresses a pain point in the consumers lives and design and develop a business model to fill that market gap. Culminating weeks of market research and brainstorming was a Tradeshow presentation at London Business School where entrepreneurs from the LBS Incubator program judged the ideas.
Winning ideas included a student discount app for establishments near universities, self defence mobile accessory for women and a website to help people undertake courses for personal development.
What I most enjoyed through this whole experience was actually going through the processes that are required before beginning a business and being able to understand what are my strengths and weaknesses throughout the journey. Since we worked in a team, we were able to balance the skills required to design the product, undertake market research, and produce a financial forecast and business model.
This is just one example to showcase why I feel the MiM is a great degree in management because it does not only cover the theory and frameworks for business but also equips you with the practical information required to apply this knowledge.
After about 2 years attending an Executive MBA program at London, I felt like I needed to end it on a high note. Having completed almost all my electives, I wanted to achieve a threefold final purpose: 1. working again with a faculty I did enjoy learning from, 2. bringing something practical from LBS to my company and 3. deepening into a subject useful for my career path.
Finishing my Executive MBA, one of my concerns has been to look back on these two years and show my company that the time spent away from the office was worthwhile. Moreover, at this stage, enjoying a very interesting job, I wanted to be sure about what would be my next job and be able to provide HR department an accurate image of my expectations.
After some realignments done on my project’s outline with David MYATT, I worked closely with my colleagues at the office in order to use Strategy and Managerial Economics academic frameworks in our professional context. It lead to a double production: a) a thorough assessment report on Energy Efficiency markets my company is targetting, and b) a practical approach to figure out how profitable it is to break into some submarkets.
At some point, I smoothly met my three objectives. And it turned out to even go beyond my expectations. Indeed, this work not only offered me the opportunity to base discussion on tangible content about my next job, but people who read it also invited me to share my thoughts more regularly. That’s why I decided to launch a professional blog on Smart Energy Efficiency, in order to help SMEs sell Energy Efficiency solutions (http://smartenergyefficiency.eu/).
I haven’t chosen yet what will be my next job. All I know is that Independent Project elective has been for me the highpoint of this Executive program. It has simultaneously made my Executive MBA’s payback more tangible for my company, and shown what I want to do next very explicitly.
As a MiF student, my elective horizon mostly includes materialistic side of things, so the closest I got to entrepreneurship was through Financing Entrepreneurial Business (FEB) and PE&VC. I will focus on the former.
If you need a sexy £1bn idea for a start up – FEB will not give it to you. The class will, however, nurture growth of the body parts* required to venture out independently. The remaining components of a successful businessman recipe (according to the CEO of Marks & Spencer’s) – brains and heart – you will have to provide yourself.
FEB is one of the hottest courses, offered to most programmes. And yes it can be “soft” and “situational”, and there is no recipe for success. It’s based 100% on business cases – all of which written in LBS – and every discussion followed by a leading character from a case briefing on what happened next and answering questions, which adds enormous value #ibetHBSdoesnotdothat!
One of the cases covered erecting a gas pipeline in Baltic Sea to compete with the mighty incumbent “Gazprom”. On the way to class I formed my recommendation to the start-up company along the following lines: “you guys are nuts – forget this suicidal idea, flee to an uninhabited island and pray for the serious men in black to not pursue your case”. I have then seen that very guy who came up with, what appeared to be, a very profitable idea – and he looked very fit, more than just sane.
These days B’ schools position themselves as essential for career growth acceleration (think consulting, investment banking and increasing number of industrial titans), with majority of graduates spending their lives looking after one side of business only. But essentially, borrowing some Shakespeare, “what’s in a name?” – a business school should teach how to manage company’s affairs throughout, from its dusk to dawn.
At the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, and knew that sooner or later (rather later than sooner), I will definitely establish something with my name on it – like a coffee shop which my grandchildren will run. Talking about coffee shops – if you work in the City you probably know the place that has THE best coffee (and tea – served with a timer to ensure the real experience) and THE best atmosphere - Association on the Creechurch Lane. And you know what – the founder is an LBS alum – MBA 2004 graduate, investment banker in his previous life, who also took the FEB class. He was kind enough to share his curious experience, while his team was brewing an excellent flat white for me:
- Were you planning on being an entrepreneur before joining LBS? - “Yes, I always wanted to build my own business and almost jumped into a venture prior to coming to LBS (but glad-fully didn’t because it was not a great idea). I have never been excited about a ‘career’ or been motivated to be an MD in a large organisation“
- Did you see LBS as a “tool” to increase your chances to succeed? – “Not particularly. LBS for me was a time to take stock of where I was and think about where I wanted to go. It’s an expensive way to take time out, but I felt it would be a more fruitful time than another two years in consulting (which was my pre-MBA job)”
- Did LBS inspire you? – “LBS confirmed for me my interest in entrepreneurship and at the same time my lack of enthusiasm for a structured career. Having said that, I spent the 6 years after school in structured environments (investment banking and then PE) – these were places to ‘park’ myself waiting for inspiration to come!“
- You mentioned that in reality it’s different from what you anticipated? How? - “I am not convinced plans and strategies often work out exactly as put down on paper, which is fine because I don’t think that is the purpose of building a strategy / plan – the purpose is to educate yourself and generate justification for moving in one direction and not in another. Hopefully you get the broad brush strokes right, if not the details. For me, the specifics have turned out different than I expected, such as where I spend my time and the way customers have responded to our offering has been somewhat different than expected (some things more popular than I thought, other things less popular)”
- Any advice?
i) on starting up “Have enough funding to manage through your worst case scenario and strike a balance between listening to others and believing in your own convictions (that balance should be informed by your understanding of what you are good at and what you are not good at)”;
ii) on investing “Spend the most time getting to know the people leading the business you are investing in (in most cases it is the people you are backing) and make sure your expectations are aligned in all business outcomes”;
iii) on MBA’ing “Know why you are doing the MBA – tell the business school what you want, but be honest with yourself why you’re doing it – it’s too much time and too much money to be doing it for the wrong reasons”;
iv) “Starting your life as an entrepreneur has a wonderful honeymoon period, which is very novel and exciting, but after a few weeks this is replaced by a sense of responsibility that absolutely nothing happens unless you drive it. That is exciting and daunting – it’s good to have a business partner through this period so you can motivate each other. If you are all alone (as I was) you need to hold firm to your convictions in your business ideas and why you left behind perfectly good employment to do something so uncertain“
* guts / balls – pick your own
The first day of school is always special and I was really excited on my first day as an Executive MBA (EMBA) student at London Business School. Heavy snow greeted the London and Dubai EMBA class, who had come together for the first day of the orientation week on a cold Sunday in January. The weather could not dampen the enthusiasm of the 130 students who had gathered in the Dining Hall for the welcome address – there was a buzz in the room with handshakes and enthusiastic introductions.
As the week progressed, I realised why London Business School was described as an ‘aah’ school by the Dean in his welcome address (‘aah’ being the standard reaction when you mention LBS as your alma mater!). You look around the class and every student is an Achiever– a mix of entrepreneurs, directors, VPs, project managers and students in various other leadership roles. I absolutely love the class debates where everyone has a different perspective on analysing a case study – viewpoints that are so different to mine that every lecture has been a great learning experience.
Another impression I have carried from the Orientation week is that the quality of teaching is absolutely fantastic – I really enjoyed the Leadership Skills course run by Dr. Margaret Ormiston and the Understanding General Management course run by Dr. Yiorgos Mylonadis. The teaching standards set in the first week are high and if all our professors are this good, then it will be a really enjoyable (and challenging!) 20 months.