Posts Tagged ‘Career / jobs / work’

Times are still tough for Financial Services. People on my course nervously check their blackberries, wondering if their roles are at risk. My own employer slashed 950 jobs in a country with population of 4mln last week, with my own role relocating back to London (FYI I moved out of London due to visa problems in January this year). I am happy of course – it will be the grand finale of my commuting, but for some this can be nerve-crashing and depressing. Many however admit, that being at the LBS and having access to its career services helps the medicine go down.

LBS career services transform even a small fish into an interview shark every big name recruiter would kill for, no matter if you are interested or not. The team has done it so many times that it’s obvious that they got their recipe right. So what’s on offer for the MiFs?

- Peer Leadership Programme aka PLP, runs all year round. Here second year MBAs from our dream jobs (which can be nothing else but PE/IB/AM or for the outside of the box dudes – consulting), informally look at your CV (“did your granny write this?”), CL (“do you really think being interested in soap operas gives you an edge?”) and advise on your seduction approach (“fuchsia is indeed a nice colour, but not for your three piece suit”). What I found most useful was the insight on the corporate culture of your dream employer, knowledge of which makes your application shine.

- Networking workshop – 3.5 hours of intensive training focused on increasing the likelihood of you being remembered and liked (added on LinkedIn), arousing genuine interest of people around you and key (LBS exclusive and very secret) skills on how to stand out or the crowd, including exercising with weights to make your smile last longer, practicing handshake specific for your career choice, effective elevator speech in parallel with 3 other people and, of cause, memory training oriented on memorizing 50+ phone numbers from the first attempt. (just joking, haven’t been to the session yet – its on Nov 5th)

- Guidance on how to write a CV, a CL, define your unique selling proposition and survive assessment centers. These are so thorough, that you will have to dedicate a full working week (think IB working hours) to ensure all the little (but very important) component are included. This is quite a dangerous exercise as it makes you fall in love with your CV so much, that you start quoting it to your friends and end up sending a copy to the Man Booker Prize competition.

- Finance one-to-one with Roger H. 30 minutes of coaching from a crème de la crème of the industry. Could be done over the phone. Having mine on the 10th, aaaaah…

- And finally there is Career Portal, where you can see job adds from all over the world (!!!). Tastes do differ but the portal caters for all shapes and sizes, with many positions looking specifically for LBS folk, without postings outside of the Portal. It also stores all the previous presentations made in the school, provides advice on visas (who needs those?) and supports you in negotiating your offer.

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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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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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Being Sloan

Posted by: Kristen

Ok, so I haven’t posted here for a while and I hate to say that it’s because I’ve been too busy, but as my Sloan colleagues will know – we really have been busy! And I selfishly took the whole weekend to not do any schoolwork (aside from reading the 8 articles that are assigned for today’s start of an optional block-week course).

Although I’ve learned many things about Leadership, Strategy, Marketing, Finance, etc. over these last 10 weeks, I’ve also learned a lot about my identity as a Sloan Fellow and the value afforded by my prior professional experience. Although there has been some debate in our class regarding the relative value of the Sloan vs the MBA “brand,” I’ve realized how glad I am to be a Sloan.

After sitting next to an MBA student on our way back from a “trek” to a regional affiliate of a multinational organization, I discovered that we Sloans have it pretty good in many ways. The vast majority of the attendees on these treks are MBAs and we had been asked to rate this one on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best ever. Although it was only my first trek with LBS, I would have given it a 3, based on the fact that if we’re to believe what we’ve been taught in class, that people are the most important asset of a company, then I didn’t particularly feel like this company thought of us as potentially valuable assets. To be fair, they did have some senior managers available for us to network with, but at 3 in the afternoon with no food all day (other than coffee and biscuits at our arrival), we were offered only stale doughnuts and wine, weirdly enough. In my experience, having seen the spreads that companies put out for their own employees or external VIPs, I was a bit surprised that there weren’t at least some sandwiches. In addition to the food, I found the presentations to us to be somewhat lackluster, held in a neighboring, similarly lackluster building in the middle of nowhere. The organizer even thanked two of the presenters for speaking at such short notice (citing how such “agility” is valued there). That plus some other signals made me suspect this company may not have planned things out terribly well.

Interestingly, my MBA friend rated it as a 4.5. She said she’d been to many of these things and that they’re not often well-organized by the hosting organization. She confirmed that the food is often minimal or lacking altogether, which is why she recommends to her colleagues to bring snack bars on these treks. She also said this was the first time there had ever been wine (I think this may have boosted her scoring of the trek by at least a half point). If being an MBA from one of the best schools in the world isn’t enough to get you sandwiches, then being an MBA may not be as easy a ride as some of us may have thought, despite the awareness of the brand. This all made me realize how truly valuable prior professional experience really is. It will be no piece of cake for us Sloans either, but I believe our many years’ experience will give us a big advantage in getting to where we want to go. Our experience informs our judgment for the better although we may not always realize it. I, for one, am very glad to have it.

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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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At LBS, I went to numerous presentations for Bulge Bracket Investment Banking and almost everybody warns the prospective I-Bankers of the ridiculous hours they work as Analysts/Associates – 90…100…110! This made me seriously wonder the accuracy of a valuation of an Associate working on a multi-billion dollar merger who has not slept in two days and has the pressure of a daunting MD breathing down his neck to finish the work. Granted the pay with bonus is pretty good but is there a way to balance decent pay (I know this term is relative for the banking industry) with workload that will let you sleep at least 6 hours every day? Working these many hours for couple of years will surely burn many people out!

Let’s say a 1st year Associate makes a base salary of 65k gbp with a 100% bonus (which makes total salary package of 130k) and works 100 hours a week. If 4 associates are assigned to do the same work as 3 associates, they would be making 65k with a 50% bonus (package of about 97.5K) and working 75 hours a week. This workload is very manageable (similar to what Tier 1 consultants work) and still gives them a decent salary. To boot, the Associate will not be in constant stress so will be less likely to make mistakes and potentially will have time left to do other “non work” related activities.

Problem solved?

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Armed with the shiny new MBA degree (well not quite) marching we went into a world of dreams and opportunity (well not quite). But at least I have a visa and a temporary 3-month paid project.

The graduation ceremony was impressive. The champagne reception afterwards even better. And the summer ball was truly amazing. It was great having a jug of pimms with my parents and sister at the Windsor Castle Hotel right after graduation. It was also great taking pictures with my family and in-laws in LT1 and reminiscing about first year core classes. I was a bit surprised that we didn’t actually get any sort of degree/letter at the actual ceremony (they will mail the degree later). But our names did get printed in the Times that day :).

The lack of a job was closing in on achieving “emergency” status. To be honest I managed to get 2 offers within the month after graduation. But they either paid too little to cover my loan or required me to move to a country where language and taxes were a problem (more so than in Britain!). So I took up another short-term project in London, with an IT company that I liked. Hopefully within the next 2 or 3 months I will be able to land a nice permanent job. The market is improving, but its still not easy out there.

The other feared battle was the work visa. This was actually not bad at all. I managed to get it fairly soon, though it did cost a fair bit. Only wish I had known earlier that it was possible to get a premium appointment and get the visa on the day. But I was lucky and still managed to get it within 4 days (read more about my visa experience on my travel blog here).

It’s a little hard getting used to not being a student any more. Many of my friends are now moving away from London, and I’m busy with regular farewell parties. But I still go to campus once in a while for Gym and keep meeting with those classmates that remain! There is a lot of change and hard work ahead, but I am looking forward to it.

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Case Study: Running a business during the MBA

Posted by: Alex
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As we quickly approach the end of our first year at London
Business School, I decided to ask a colleague student to reflect on the MBA
experience from a very unique point of view – entrepreneurship. Unlike many
other MBA students, Guy runs his own business alongside the demanding studies.
He started an online business few months before joining the MBA programme called
DocoArt,
that enables customers worldwide to upload personal photos and have them converted
to handmade oil paintings on canvas (or simply buy a stunning reproduction).

1.
LBS is known for its strength in the finance education. Is it also a place for
future entrepreneurs?

Finance education is indeed a very strong aspect of the
school, yet to be ranked number one in the world requires diversity of
strengths. The entrepreneurship resources at LBS are truly unique and provide an
amazing springboard for entrepreneurs at any stage. For me, the access to world
class faculty members, the supporting community of students, alumni network and
investors are amazing resources to benefit and get inspired from.

Moreover, the financial education is extremely important
especially for entrepreneurs that many times have great idea but fail to have
the financial understanding of their businesses. My view on my small business
has changed tremendously since I first stepped into the MBA programme.

2. Could you highlight some of the changes you did in your business as a
result of insights from your studies?

Although I established DocoArt
just before coming to London Business School, many changes have been done in by
business based on the things I’ve learned in class. For example, I managed to
improve the marketing strategy that we had using ideas I first encountered in
the Marketing Core class, such as customer segmentation, targeting and
positioning.

With new tools from the Corporate Finance classes, I can now
plan proper leverage of future projects or the company as a whole.  Every class I have taken and every student,
professor or alum I have spoken with enhanced my knowledge and business view on
my venture or any future ventures I will have.


3. MBA course is usually very intense. How do you find time to work on your venture?

Time management is one of the most important ideas I have
learnt and improved throughout the course. The MBA course is indeed intense,
and thus forces you how to plan your time with great care. You learn how to be
more structured, how to reduce ‘noise’ and how to focus on tasks with high
priority – skills that are highly important for all post-MBA jobs.


4. Is being located in London helps you to promote your business?

Absolutely! The UK market is one of the main targets of DocoArt.
London itself is an international business centre that provides you with access
to financial, marketing and operational resources, along with networking and
opportunities to enter new markets. The density of businesses from the creative
industries in London is just another evidence for all these benefits.

 

5. Are there any specific electives that you are taking or
about to take that can help entrepreneurs make better business decisions?

London Business School offers a range of electives
for entrepreneurs that shed light on all aspects of starting and running a
venture. I plan to take the Financing an Entrepreneurial Business and Managing
a Growing Business electives. I believe these will contribute the most to the current
state of
DocoArt.


6. What would be your advice for prospective students who are interested in
an MBA to become entrepreneurs?

Doing the MBA will increase significantly the chances of
your future business to become a success. You will gain well rounded business
knowledge, earn a great network of students, alumni and faculty to support you.
Finally it will open your mind to explore new ideas and opportunities which
were not available for you in the pre-MBA setting.

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Ready, Set, Rat Race!

Posted by: Jenny

I’m here in the library but I’d like to take a break from midterm cramming – which admittedly is difficult when you still haven’t quite gotten over the Halloween party mode. Let’s talk about internships for a bit. Yesterday I submitted my first application for an internship. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. It’s only November, barely 3 months in and we’ve already started the race for that much coveted investment banking/private equity/consulting summer associate position. Ready, set, rat race!

I have to say that contrary to popular (hopeful) belief, being at LBS does not mean a job will land on our laps like manna from the heavens. This is in no way saying that LBS does not help us at all with finding jobs – because they do – CV, cover letters, interview prep, etc – Career Services will bend their backs for us and we are of course eternally grateful. The trouble however is that we have to know first what we want to do, and then we can go to them and ask for help. Unfortunately there is no surefire formula to have that what-do-I-really-wanna-do-with-my-life epiphany. And no, there is no direct correlation between the number of hours spent at the Windsor pub and the degree of certainty of one’s future. Let’s stop fooling ourselves.

Anyway, I came to LBS two months ago thinking that I would not go back to anything remotely related to banking anymore and go to non-profit instead. Naturally though, with all the company presentations and club infosessions taking over my lunch and dinner schedule, combined with a realization that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to press the restart button in my life – I actually decided to take a peek at what’s out there. And I peeked. And then I clicked the submit button. Sorry, non-profit. Yesterday I applied for a banking position. Yes, I’m a sell-out.

But wait, what’s the thought process here?

Two weekends ago I decided I actually needed to sit down and THINK. So I did. For an entire day. I sat down, made a spreadsheet with different colors and laid out my Plans A, B, C, and Z, and noted the pros and cons and the deadlines and requirements for each. (Yes, I'm that much of a geek.) So the results: PLAN A is UN, World Bank, IFC. PLAN B is Consulting (non-profit sector). PLAN C is my safety jobs (which is still empty at the moment). And PLAN Z – Z being Zee Wildcards – are my much beloved banks. The banks made the cut because – who am I fooling here – Zee money iz good. End of story. Again, yes, I’m a sell-out.

A friend said that it’s ridiculous that my spreadsheet spans all sectors – Finance, Consulting, and Industry. It’s like I’m covering all bases, LOL. I know, it’s crazy. It’ll be tough, but that’s no reason not to do it. No one has ever won a race while sitting in the pits (or something to that effect – hey I do remember something from MOB class!) I tell myself that at least I have a colorful spreadsheet to start with!

Alright, enough with the craziness. Back to midterms.

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Posted by: Don
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Hi all,
so I finally had to pack my bags and leave London after almost 2 years. It was a very strange feeling – I had a great time and liked the area and flat. But most of my friends have previously left London – due to the economy far fewer graduates of the 09 class have found jobs in London. The transition period was marked by 6 weeks of intense training (aptly called bootcamp) by the bank, including weekly exams. I met a lot of people from all over the world – very similar to the MBA experience. But whenever I went back to school (to go running in Regent’s Park, for example) I realized that the new class has already arrived – definitely time for me old-schooler to move on.
I had 22 hours stopover in Munich to see family and friends en route to Singapore. While going down the escalator to get my luggage I saw a huge advertisement by the company Linde, reading: Welcome to Munich, see you in Singapore. How funny that they especially put that up for me …
After another 12 hours I was back in Asia. Back to service country (the cab driver tried to sell me his country as superior to Hong Kong, what a change to the usual unhappiness of London cab drivers) and great food (proper spicy Lakhsa within 5 minutes!) at food courts for next to nothing. Back also to 32 degrees and 90% humidity!
So, after two more days of training and networking I will be relocating to Hong Kong and on Monday start my first full-time rotation. 3 more months of rotating and I will have my final desk. A long journey is slowly coming to an end …
To the incoming class of 2011 – welcome! Enjoy the ride and the experience and make the most out of it – everyone in their own ways.
Take care,
Don

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