Posts Tagged ‘Academic’

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Relevance Watch

Posted by: Yang
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Your correspondence deliberately delayed this blog entry until this time, nearing the end of the term. On several occasions during the term, I had the urge to share with the outer world about the experiences on the MiM programme, the nights out, the inspirational talks and interesting insights about the business world. However, for those of you who are reading the blog, most of you are interested in what the programme offers, the skills you will gain that will land you the dream job. I feel that the programme will be helpful only if one can look beyond the surface of everything that is happening here – keeping relevant what you do at LBS in your job hunting journey is vital to career success.

So the three courses in the first term are Leadership in Organisation, Financial Accounting and Management Analysis & Systems. Sufficient to say, having a social sciences background I found the latter two more challenging. However, the material in the Leadership course is still fascinating. I have a slight worry that at this stage of my career, decision making and influencing other people may not be readily practiced in my first job. However, I often find myself applying Leadership material in interview practices and job applications. I know for sure that 5 or 10 years down the line I will be looking at the course and planning my next career.

In contrast to common wisdom, I actually think Financial Accounting is fun! Part of it comes from zero accounting background, but I did feel that figuring out entries on the balance sheet is a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle. What also works is that the examples are highly relevant, and being assigned to read financial news every week, and look for articles related to the current accounting topic put things into perspective. The message I take from the course is that qualified accountants are not only good at working with figures, but also have business sense and an ability to take an ethical approach in business.

Management Analysis & Systems is about statistics, in business, in a practical sense. We have covered basic statistical theory but the main component of the course is working on an excel model and being able to come up with innovative business ideas from it. Working on MAS assignments have been the most challenging so far, but most of them are done with study group mates. Again, LBS teaches something that is not mentioned on the course syllabus – being able to work efficiently in a team, being able to understand each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and being able to contribute to a team are what is essential in not only business but in life.

So this is a summary of what I perceive of the academic side of LBS so far. For all of you who are thinking of applying, I am sure you are all bright enough to handle the technical side of the course. What will add value to your professional development is really what you learn after the classes and what you can build on from the classes. LBS is the only place where working hard is not sufficient; but working intelligently will reap greater rewards.

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If there were such things as “test drives” or “samples” on offer, people would be spared the excruciating challenge of choosing which Business School to do an exchange in or even give tens of thousands of internationally traded currency.

In the past 5 years I managed to attend 3 pretty hot schools – London School of Economics, Booth School of Business under the University of Chicago and now – LBS. So I can compare them across some important points; but I beg you to not ask for a ranking, OK? Finding flaws is a tough enough task already – they are all close-to-my-heart-alma-maters, and I will stand up for them against even minor offenders until the very end, like Hector for Troy.

Location
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Booth has 2 campuses – in downtown Chicago – for those who prefer combining work with pleasure evening courses; and a Hyde park campus on E59th, which is very south, if you know what I mean. So south that I once had to sleep in the student’s lounge because I was too scared to get outside and walk home.
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The West End location of the LSE will make sure that by the graduation time you turn into a musical connoisseur. If only you did not have to run from one building to another under the rain to change lecture rooms.
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Baker Street tube station is great for connecting with all the significant spots in London, while being in a quieter area, with a personal and private Regents park.

Sports
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Booth can boast its access to the University of Chicago fitness facilities – think classic American football, basketball, baseball fields, boxing arena, full size swimming pool with 20 lanes, gym with at least 100 cardio machines and countless iron-lifting options, cheerleader team, etc! Everything you dreamed about (or saw in movies) and more, which can compromise the amount of time you spend in the library.
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To work up a sweat from any form of team sport at LSE you will have to go to Berrylands (a berry-less village 25min away from Waterloo station on South-West trains). Training standards however make up for it in full.
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Having a game of rugby in Regents Park, or a round of cricket on the Lord’s Grounds sounds super fun; going to a midget gym + swimming pool in the basement of the library – not so much. But I guess it works…

Speakers
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Booth did not live up to my expectations, I ended up not going to a single event.
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No other place can compare to the quality and quantity of LSE speakers. Ever. The only problem is that here a concept of an “early bird” is taken quite literally – if you want to give celebrity speaker a listen – you need to come and physically stand/sit/lie in a queue. Sometimes for a very long time. Before dawn. I remember getting to the School at about 4a.m. only to find myself number 12 in a queue for Alan Greenspan (back in 2007 J), which was to open at 7. The best part is that all the speakers become exceptionally friendly when within the LSE walls, so if you dream of a Soros’s signature – you are guaranteed one after his lecture. Together with a photo. And a kiss.
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LBS is a good cocktail of speakers and conferences across all industries, country leadership and even celebrities. Business and theory come holding hands to all the events. Students also ogranise industrial tracks around the world (e.g. entertainment track to Hollywood, high-tech track to Sillicon valley).

Lectures
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Many lecturers at Booth are held by its Nobel prize winning alumni, who cover all the material in class to such extent that no books are required to get a top mark at the exam.
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Attendance at the LSE was obligatory, but majority of time was spent on deeply theoretical concepts as well as guidance of how to approach self-studying.
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LBS lectures (at least the core MiFPT ones) are the most engaging and fun I have ever come across. Really.

Self study
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Booth has the best study area, kept pitch-dark and thus extremely quiet. Assignments are marked very quickly and the results uploaded to the web portal almost immediately (IT services are outstanding). There is also always an option of studying on the beach.
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LSE is known for its largest in the world Business and Social Science library with a famous spiral staircase. It is open to LBS students as well, as both schools are under the umbrella of the University of London.

Examinations
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Booth MBA exams seemed like a vacation – you are even asked to put your name on every page of the paper.
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LSE scores for the toughest exams, most of which take place in summer, even if a class was in autumn. Anonymity approaches MI5 standards. Getting a distinction is next to impossible.
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LBS only allows to re-sit the core courses, but some electives will give you a take-home exam.

…to be continued

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Relevance Watch

Posted by: AK

Never did I understand any news article better than the one I read early this week. And I typically tend to read a lot of these articles. The biggest barrier to properly understanding an article is the “artificial” culture of immediacy around. My attention span has reduced so dramatically that I seldom take the time to understand “so-what” from any of these articles.

But then early this week, one of the courses at the school – Financial Accounting – forced me to read a news article thoroughly, and make sense of it. As a part of the course, every study group (group of 6-7 people that works together on all the assignments in the first year of MBA) is required to search and share articles that are relevant to the course material. We call this searching and sharing of articles as the “Relevance Watch”! And it was during one of these hunts, that I re-read an article – (probably) first time ever in my life – to make good sense of it.

The article was about Kingfisher Airlines in India. Kingfisher is facing declining business, holds huge debt (that doesn’t seem to be getting paid off), and is allegedly following bad accounting procedures. The business has been losing money year-after-year but the management counters the argument by announcing a positive EBITDAR. The long held operating leases, and other non-cancellable cash obligations, if added to the liabilities, make the company’s equity value negative. The management is taking steps to convert some of the debt (such as optional convertible debentures) into equity. Finally, the airline is capitalizing maintenance costs of engines of aircrafts that are under operating leases – which doesn’t seem to make sense. Although the company thinks that the accounting practise is in-line with other international airlines such as British Airways and Malaysian Airlines.

The article was interesting, but what I found more interesting was the fact that I took the time to read re-read the article and learn from it – something I should be doing more often. Am glad that the London Business School is changing my habits, which I hadn’t even thought of changing in a long time.

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iLBS

Posted by: Wouter

You don’t have to be a fruit lover or carry four iDevices at all times to acknowledge the void the passing of Steve Jobs has created. Virtually everybody who is remotely related to business and/or personal development finds inspiration in some of the legendary tech pirate’s mantras. MBA-students spend the better part of the day on both business and personal growth, so projecting key learnings from the first 6 weeks through quotes of the master can shed some light on LBS-life for applying students. (Noticed there’s even an App in the word applying?)

1. It’s wonderful to have a beginner’s mind.

Honestly, before the program started, I thought I was a citizen of the world with brought interests and a keen understanding of what business and society was about. It was only until I started hearing the million life stories of MBA-peers that I realised how small the micro-cosmos actually was I had been operating in. There is so much going on, and so many things to explore, that it makes one dizzy just to think about it.  Nothing more refreshing than biting for the first time in a new and unfamiliar subject! Understanding bond markets, grasping the dynamics of rugby or seeing for the first time words appearing from behind the previously mysterious Cyrillic letters of a Russian sentence comes close to magic. It’s like the world is finally telling you some of its precious secrets.

2. You can’t connect the dots forward – only backward

Most incoming MBA students march to LBS campus with the determination of an undaunted army: sharp objectives, a clear strategy, and a list of activities/clubs & courses that needed to be attended to guarantee victory. As the weeks roll by, resistance to deviate from the plan lowers. Interest is sparked in areas that were not part of the battle plan… Loss of focus?  Should I panic?

I would argue that you have to follow your gut and try out new things. Take risks. Have faith that whatever you undertake now makes sense, maybe not today but at some point in the future. Join an Art club, date a Kazach girl, eat with your hands, take acting courses, represent your class in a political role or compete in a stock pitch. Executive Summary:   “S  t    r    e    t    c   h   ! “

3 Say no to a thousand things

The previous point doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make choices. Remember the time you went to a nice all-you-can-eat-buffet and you actually tried to eat it all… a stomach ache for sure. It’s essentially about making choices (There’s no Kazach girl in my agenda)! New things don’t come easily, and consume more energy than a tuned Hummer. So choose and engage. Engage and marvel. Marvel and blog (optional).

4. Stay hungry, stay foolish

This one’s so much larger than business school (and doesn’t relate to the all-you-can-eat buffet above). It’s about identity, curiosity, humbleness  and fun. Don’t become the sleek suit you’re wearing, don’t turn into the list of A-brands on your resume.

5. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

V.I.T.A.L. Especially in the MBA context. This study is probably the biggest gift you will ever offer yourself. An endless pile of minutes and resources to find your voice, to carve your personality, to finally chase that dream (job). Don’t get caught by trends (Private Equity seems hotter than the iPhone 5!), peer pressure, time pressure, juice pressure (unlikely). If you want to fool yourself, there are way cheaper ways to do so. You’re smart, check. You’re articulate, check. You’re maybe even good looking… Stop proving points. More importantly it’s you-time, the real you-time! Enjoy.

Wouter 4S

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My MiF experience after one month

Posted by: Jon
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Four weeks down and none the worse for wear.   Intro day and the first week were a breeze; it was great to meet my classmates and small group members.  Away day and the ensuing barbeque was so much fun; a really positive day with great weather and fun activities.  It was great to get to know people outside of school so soon into the program.

The first few weeks of the program are mostly prep courses — accounting, statistics, and Personal Assessment and Development (PAD) — as well as a huge amount of Career Services work.  The classes take up a lot of time but outside of class there is little work.  Most of our free time is spent doing innumerable revisions to our CVs and cover letters in preparation for the CV book publishing date and on-campus recruiting (starting in a week and a half).  We had a great class on networking.  The PAD class was tremendous; we all left feeling the professor was spectacular and wishing we had more.

We’re now into the core curriculum — Financial Accounting and Analysis, Investments, and Corporate Finance — and we only have one 3-hour class each day, but more than enough work outside of class to make us constantly busy.  We’ve still managed to find time to work out, see London, and spend a suitable amount of time in the Windsor Castle.  The classmates who know London organize an open invitation to a different pub in London each week; great for seeing the city with people who are developing into our close friends.

Next week is an Investments mid-term.  Hard to believe one month has already passed.  It’ll be December in no time.  Best to work hard, spend time with friends, and make the most out of the short program.

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I did struggle to decide… between the different schools. Going to London sounded scary to me as people kept on telling me about its stagnant economy, the conservative and uptight style, and even the endless raining days. However, I finally made the decision and came here, and now I am pretty sure that it was indeed one of the best choices that I’ve ever made in my life. Well, why I chose to be here? 
   

I chose LBS, for the global mind. Sometimes it’s just so easy to consider that global equals the U.S. But you know, it’s not, at all. In LBS, British students were never quantitatively preponderant. As a matter of fact, in our class – MBA 2013, we have 405 students from 66 countries speaking 45 languages. Impressive! Huh? As for my study group, we six persons are from Australia, Israel, Serbia, Spain, US, and China. Working in such global teams, how could it be possible of one person not be able to get a truly global view? 

I chose LBS, for its academic rigor. There is no doubt that LBS has very strong finance programs. Also, the school highly values teaching as well as researches. The core courses are well structured to provide us with solid foundation of finance. See, just at this moment, I have a thick binder of corporate finance on my desk, and pages-long cases are waiting for me. It’s challenging, maybe a bit overwhelming…but we came here to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone, didn’t we?  

Last but not least, I chose LBS because of London. “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. “ This was from Samuel Johnson and was put at the very first line of Lonely Planet London. So many things are going on here. A lot of fun, every minute. London is crowded, quiet, historical, modern, financial, artistic…It’s so dynamic, and such a cosmopolitan city.

In one word, simply trust your own feelings when you choose the school, just like choosing your partner. Choose the one that YOU like most, no matter what others say.

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It was only when Business Week tweeted its article on business schools getting all a-twitter about social media that I found out that LBS is about to launch its own social media elective, which kind of proves the point that LBS should be launching a social media elective.

 
Despite being entirely unqualified to do so, I predict that social media will become fundamental to the running of any business within a few years (or at least any business that requires communication between two or more people, which, in my opinion, is just about any business).  Why is that? Because, like it or not, Web 2.0 communications is easier, faster and cheaper than any of the media it’s up against. The volume of objections to using the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for business has been all but drowned out by the clamour to be the first to know which NOTW staffer will be next on the chopping board, to push job specs out to ever-wider audiences and to publicly scold BoJo for not heading back to his precious capital in time to grab the limelight from disaffected youth exercising their human rights to Nikes and iPad 2s.

 
More importantly, the world of social media is evolving faster than that of any other medium, so if you’re not convinced that this is the best way to communicate, you soon will be. Google has already spent $585million on developing Google Plus (its own social network), while the Royal Mail’s annual budget is conspicuously lacking a half a billion ‘get more people to send letters campaign’.

 
So where should business managers be looking if they are shopping for social strategies? I’ve dug out a few ideas from the vault at the B2B Guide to Social Media.

* To communicate with the public, think Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

* If you’re looking to speak to other businesses, try LinkedIn, Twitter and company blogs. 

* For engaging with your own employees, look at Yammer, Jive or industry-specific networks, such as RCEuro for the recruitment sector.  

* If you want to build links to your website, consider article marketing on the likes of eZineArticles and GoArticles. 

* To teach and learn, try YouTube. 

* For getting bums on seats, experiment with Gowalla and Foursquare. 

* And to drive sales and generate leads using social media, look at Groupon.

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Last week I finished my Block Week for Financing the Entrepreneurial Business.  Block week is a module option of a whole course squeezed into one week of lectures.  This makes it very hectic!  Between cases, readings and classes, you have no time to see friends/family for that week – you will eat, sleep, drink the course!

I have taken a block week before but this was different.  Professors Anthony Ross and John Mullins led the course and they cold-call!  The worse is that if you don’t know the answer or if you give a “not well thought-out” comment, they linger on you until you provide the right answer.  This can be very unnerving but nobody said that B-school was going to be easy!  I think the class kept me on my toes so I can make certain I get every ounce of skills/tools I would need to start a new venture – well at least to finance one.

So to all prospective students – don’t think B-school will be a cake walk!  You will be amongst the smartest peers you have ever met and the professors expect the same quality, energy and passion out of you!

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It’s only three months into JEMBA2012 and it’s been something of an eye-opener. I don’t want to come across as arrogant (I’m way too awesome for that), but for some reason I had expected to breeze through the course. I’m an entrepreneur, I already run a business, I’ve learned all that stuff ‘by doing’ (i.e. the best way), and the MBA was going to simply reconfirm what I’ve been managing up to now, while introducing me to some cool new people.

I can categorically say that the MBA has not lived up to my expectations. Far from reconfirming that I’m running my business like a pro, the MBA has challenged EVERYTHING and knocked my confidence considerably. Every fortnight I find myself in a room surrounded by 77 over-achievers who all seem to know everything (even stuff that’s not in the textbook – how do they do that?). From accounting to talent management I don’t have to look far to find someone who has done it before, better than me, and has a way more interesting story to tell.

In such a short time, the course has overturned my thinking on so many elements of how I run my business and I have to keep asking myself, how the hell was I doing it before?

We had a class visitor last week – he runs his own design agency and asked me whether EMBA was worth it and how I managed the time. My answer was yes, the time is a real issue – my friends see a lot less of me (somehow they are surviving), Klaus’s piano lessons are on hold, and my boyfriend has become an expert in most household chores (worth it just for that one ladies).

But TopLine is benefiting already. Our new HR management and recruitment system has been largely influenced by Dr Dan (someone please tell him about the honourable mention before he marks assignment 2) who has introduced me to the wonders of the Wonderlic (hint hint if you’re one of the candidates coming in for an interview at TopLine next week) and has changed my approach to industry benchmarking surveys (I used to use them to guide on how to position TopLine. I now use them as a guide to how to differentiate TopLine).

My accountant no longer feels the need to bring an abacus to meetings as I finally ‘get’ the balance sheet, income statement and cash flows. My knowledge of Excel has skyrocketed to a confidence interval of at least 95%, and while I haven’t yet found a way to apply anything from Microeconomics to TopLine, it still feels good to have read the textbook and sat through David’s lectures.

But what has probably been most useful is the networking. For some reason, every one of those 77 high-fliers is willing (even keen) to share their experiences and knowledge. From the change management expert who offered to look over my recruitment strategy to the PR manager in a large telecoms company who has agreed to share his experience of being pitched by PR agencies (so so useful!). TopLine is a lucky little business. My only concern from now is whether I can handle the pain of the next two years where a whole host of other things I’ve been doing wrong all this time will no doubt be revealed to me!

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2nd Term…

Posted by: Rishi

…I have only one word for it – INTENSE!

Things have definitely ramped up very quickly: four electives (each of which have case analysis due every week), job search, networking and the MiF project.

But on the positive side, the market is improving so there are good signs from employers.  Plus, the electives are really great.  I was talking to some IEPs (International Exchange Program students from other major business schools) and they mentioned that one of the aspects they liked about LBS was that LBS’ method of teaching incorporates guest speakers (real life practitioners) giving talks to the class about the topic currently being taught.  Makes theory more practical.

Ok…back to the MiF project.  More to come later!

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