Posts Tagged ‘Clubs / Events’

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Five weeks into the MBA

Posted by: Ingrid
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Just five weeks into the program and it seems to me like ages. This time has been incredibly intense.
It all started with orientation week, which was in itself a memorable experience. The tone was set: the MBA is about stretching our comfort zone.

I have indeed felt a bit uncomfortable in class, but I have learnt so much. All the faculty members I have seen so far are inspiring and entertaining – great speakers. I found that I can even like finance and accounting.

I have met amazing people, and discovered that each of them has something to teach me. It is a very humbling experience to discover that all of your 406 classmates are so smart and have extraordinary stories to tell you.

I had to do many choices. I refrained myself from signing up everywhere – my favourite clubs kicked off on the same day anyway. The number of opportunities here is really incredible.
I can feel the pressure building up a bit. Besides academics and assignments, there are career services events, case competitions, club events, social events… and parties of course!

It feels strange to be back in school after so many years, but here it feels good, really.

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Just over two weeks have passed since TEDxLondonBusinessSchool took place. An initiative of the Marketing Club, this year marked the second installment of what has become a flagship event for the school. A team of students from across the MBA, MiM, and MiF programs worked together for nearly eight months to organize a full day of engaging talks and presentations.

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The theme of the conference was Regenerate with each presentation tackling this concept in a slightly different way. The opening session of the day focused on Regenerating Engagement. Among the highlights was a conversation between host Sean Phelan and 16-year old entrepreneur Nick D’Aloissio, who has invented a new technique for summarizing information. A review of developments in the online finance world by LBS alum and venture capitalist Nadeem Shaikh also got people talking.

In the second session of the day, speakers explored the concept of Regenerating Communities, including a talk on how genomic research will impact our lives, and a discussion of the London riots last year. After a lively lunch break where participants were free to mingle and network over tasty food, the focus was on Regenerating Business. Goldman-Sachs-trader-turned-leftwing-economist Lydia Prieg spoke about the need to regenerate capitalism while CEO of the British Banking Association Angela Knight offered her take on the fallout from the financial crisis the path going forward.

The last session of the day featured a series of talks on Regenerating Culture. One highlight was a charming exploration of Bharatanatyam dance by LBS student Pancham Gajjar, and another was a presentation and live painting by American artist Alexa Meade.

Our venue for the event, the Bloomberg Auditorium on Finsbury Square, was bursting at the seems with a capacity crowd of 300 people. Tickets sold out in just three days with the audience made up of business leaders from a wide range of industries including advertising and PR, consulting, finance, FMCG, energy, and the non-profit sector, as well as current and former LBS students and faculty.

The TED movement was founded in 1984 in California as a platform for sharing ideas related to Technology, Education and Design. Since then it has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon with several major TED events each year and hundreds of TEDx events around the world. Staying true to the original concept of “Ideas Worth Spreading,” the TED philosophy is all about short, engaging, and compelling presentations designed to get the audience thinking. With TEDx conferences, like the one hosted by LBS, the x means it is an independently organized event but follows strict TED guidelines.

Plans are already underway for the 2013 edition of TEDxLondonBusinessSchool including a bigger venue to accommodate the increased demand. Stay tuned for more info and get in touch if you’re interested in being involved!

Ira Dubinsky (MBA2013) was a member of the organising committee for this year’s TEDx and has been named Chair of the event for 2013.

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One of the things I’m pretty certain every LBS student puts on their application is that they will participate in organising one of the many conferences we host each year. There is, afterall, a conference for every taste. It sounds like such a great idea at the time and it’s an easy thing to put on an application. Especially when you can point to similar events you’ve organised in the past.

And then school starts. You do decide to follow through with that statement in your application. Albeit, for a conference in a completely different industry. At first you have grand plans for where it will be and who will attend. Do my notes deceive me? Was I really thinking we would be hosting Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, and Rupert Murdoch at the Royal Albert Hall? Well, someone did say you should aim for the stars…

And it was with these grand aspirations that we embarked on preparing the LBS Technology & Media Summit. This planning stage was perhaps the most fun – dreaming up the format, the location, the people we wanted. And it’s probably no surprise that it did not take long for us to get a reality check. Or rather, a series of continuous slap downs like some sort of Stonecutters initiation ceremony.

Over the following months you are greeted by what seems to be more setbacks than steps forward. When you think you’ve found that perfect venue, you realise it’s not available on the date you want, or it’s outside of your budget. And then the same applies for backup options 2 through 10 on your list. You wonder if it’s too late to pull out as organiser. And then when you do have your venue, you realise that you’re now only a couple of months away from hosting it and you must now scramble to find speakers.

The aspirational targets quickly fall away, but you realise if you scratch the surface just a little to get below the rockstars, there is an amazing array of talent right on London’s doorstep. At first it’s like a smorgasband of who to choose from. Where to begin? They all look so good! Inevitably, though some say no, others take an age to respond. And then other suggestions arise later down the road. You do wonder if it’s worth all this effort as the initiation slaps turn into a more of a long grind. But slowly and surely you build up your panels and lock in your keynote speakers.

And then you take a moment to breathe. You look at what you have achieved so far. An excellent venue, an amazing lineup of speakers. You are confident that this will be an exceptional event. There is but one thing missing: the attendees.

With a lineup like this, it should sell itself. There is an early flurry from students. But then it slows. You blitz alumni and students with emails; that helps, but you know you can do better. You become inventive; who else can we target, how can we reach them? It’s like an applied class mashing together strategy and marketing concepts. And strangely enough, after all your hardwork, they do come. And from all walks of life; they fly in from Spain specifically for it, they come from other MBA schools, their visit happens to coincide with their London visit from San Fran, they come from companies I have not heard of.

And you take another moment to breathe. By this stage you have taken the Boy Scout’s motto to heart: Be Prepared. You run through the event in your mind at all hours of the day; sometimes even in your sleep. You wonder what could go wrong, how you would recover. The conference day arrives; it goes by in a blur. You are half aware of what the speakers are saying; you’re furiously trying to tweet their insights (afterall, again, this is a technology and media event). You wait for something to falter; it doesn’t happen.

And it becomes a natural high.

Those times you wondered if it was worth the hours, the stress, the lost hair; you realise that it is. For so many reasons: the knowledge that you’re contributing back to the LBS community; the positive feedback and compliments that you receive from attendees; the opportunity to listen and learn, and sometimes hear heated debate; the fact that perseverance has paid off; the chance to work with your amazing and talented classmates; the ability to push yourself and grow (and potentially fail too).


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Enter the Valley

Posted by: James

In decades to come, people will look back on this time in history and they will ask where you were in the heyday of the internet. You might say something like Silicon Roundabout or Silicon Alley, but those names, that use of Silicon in the title is misleading at best – traitorous at worst; Silicon Valley is the heart where the action lies. Like the days of the goldrush, there is only one true place to be, to be amongst the revolution, in the middle of the action, and that place is San Francisco (or just down the road in the Valley).

And that is where the intrepid travellers of the LBS Tech Trek headed for Spring Break. We set off with our pickaxes and pans, or rather, our iPads and styluses to visit the companies setting the trends for the interweb. Who did we visit you ask? A rock star list of: Google, Twitter, Linkedin, Zynga, Dropbox, Kleiner Perkins, Tesla, 500 Startups, and more.

It was an interesting and eye-opening experience visiting these companies. It is not until you enter the Valley that you start to understand the vibe that reverberates up and down State Highway 101 and around the offices, shops, cafes and homes in the Valley. Conversations in every coffee shop, every restaurant, every street corner mention something about coding, user experience, venture funding or some variant thereof. As it was explained to us more than once, the Valley is a hotbed of innovation that does not so much move through cycles, as it does leap and bound through them. Companies can bounce ideas around, fail, and pivot to new ideas and business models faster than anywhere else possible.

And there lies the second common message shared with us: the acceptability of failure. It is acceptable, nay, it is almost a rite of passage to have failed; risks must be taken to discover what is achievable. Can Silicon Valley be replicated in other parts of the world? We received mix perspectives on this, but it was universally agreed that a prerequisite is that the culture of failure was a necessary building block that would have to be copied. Will it happen? It takes quite a heroic effort to change one’s mindset from risk-averseness to investing in inherently risky ideas. We shall see.

It is a remarkable place and an incredible experience.


A quick nod to the company offices themselves, afterall, the perks received at these companies are legendary. And sure enough, they did not disappoint: Google has a beach volleyball court taking center stage at their offices. But that was only the initial taster we saw; across the companies we visited there were company bikes to ride between office buildings, scooters to glide between office rooms, meeting rooms stacked high with lego, band rooms filled with guitars and drums, m&m dispensers, a coke machines that poured over 100 flavours, and of course the obligatory ping pong table.

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Given my interest in both business and social issues, I have been exploring the varying definitions of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship.

Antonio Meloto, the founder of Philippines-based NGO Gawad Kalinga, recently spoke to a group of students at London Business School and discussed some social enterprise success stories his organization has helped create. For Gawad Kalinga, social enterprise means fostering businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible, as well as profitable. Meloto spoke about how companies should seek optimal profit as opposed to maximum profit. He put forward a vision of business where the primary purpose is the common good. No doubt this vision will be compelling for many people, and it’s great that Meloto and his team have been able to recruit and train a large number of young entrepreneurs that share such a vision; the impact on the Philippines has clearly been very positive.

But I’m left questioning whether this vision of a more caring form of capitalism – one that aims for broad societal welfare as much as it does shareholder profits – is realistic. Is this approach really sustainable in the big, bad world of business? Is it scalable beyond a micro level? I worry that social enterprise is being heralded as a panacea for economic, social and environmental problems when in reality it only works in some very specific cases. These sorts of questions have also been floated in a core MBA class I’m taking this term called Business, Government, and Society. As we examine topics such as competition, regulation, and corporate responsibility, we are struggling to square the circle that results when you combine unbridled capitalism with a genuine desire to do good.

There is another meaning of social enterprise that I find a bit more troubling. Much of the commentary that lauds social entrepreneurship seems resigned to the fact that governments can no longer afford to administer programs. Social enterprise is presented as an alternative way to deliver programs and solve societal challenges such as homelessness, a lack of healthcare, or environmental disaster. This approach posits that private-sector entities can use their entrepreneurial spirit to do more good than government can. I worry about social enterprise, sustainable business, and corporate philanthropy supplanting the role of the state. In my opinion, this is a dangerous path for two reasons.

First, this approach ignores the democratic benefits of governments and civil society. I’m the first to admit the public sector and civil society could benefit form a little private sector thinking. Many government bureaucracies and most NGOs are bloated, inefficient, and have failed to adopt some of the improvements in management practice that the private sector has benefited from over the last 50 years. But injecting a little business efficiency into government is not the same as replacing government with business when it comes to administering services. Governments are elected and accountable to the public and civil society organisations are governed by their membership; both are open to all but the same cannot be said about corporations.

Second, and more importantly, resolutely concluding that governments can no longer afford to administer the services we expect of them means accepting that existing taxation policy cannot be changed and that the unbelievable disparity between rich and poor is here to stay. The truth is that the state’s ability to build affordable housing, fund healthcare services, take care of an ageing population, or regulate environmental law relies on public policy decisions we make collectively. Rather than throw our hands up and turn to business to solve the problems we’ve created, why not sit down and see if it still might be possible to do it ourselves, together?

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There’s no doubt about it that LBS is a culturally diverse place. I know the statistics get thrown around a lot, something like 90% of students are from outside of Britain and represent around half the world’s countries. Whatever exactly those statistics are, there is nothing quite like being distanced from your home country to heighten your desire to identify with that place.

I look at my fellow kiwis in Britain, and the patriotism – or at the least the desire to identify with New Zealand stereotypes – is unlike anything ever seen back home. There is suddenly a huge desire to watch every All Blacks game no matter the hour of the day, to celebrate Waitangi Day (the closet we come to having a national day), and to dress in all manner of clothing with New Zealand iconography, whether that be an All Blacks jersey or a sheep costume.

To harness all this excitement about our own cultures, and our desire to show it off to others, LBS organises ‘Tattoo’. An evening celebrating the different cultures on campus through food stalls, song and dance, and a fashion show.

And what an evening it was! I arrived nice and early as I wanted to gorge myself on food by eating my way around the world. And I preceded to do exactly that – first up the North American stall with a big fat pig roast! Japan for sushi. China for Peking duck. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore. Then Brazil, and the rest of South America. Iran. Israel. Back to Brazil. Hungary, Turkey. And then finally back to the Australia/New Zealand stall to finish it all off with some pavlova; the debate as to which country invented it first being put to the side for the evening.

Between all this eating and long after my belly was stuffed full, we watched the main event unfold; the Tattoo talent show. And the talent really was incredible. Every country up on stage getting their groove on in some form or another: the Chinese dragons dancing to LMFAO (my personal favourite), the Americans hip-hopping to MC Hammer, the Brazilians getting their salsa on, the Italians singing opera, and many more. Not to mention a loud and fearsome haka performed by the New Zealanders!


The fearsome haka

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Life After Class

Posted by: allison_s

The midterm chaos is over, stats assignments are submitted, most applications are pending….What now? Life at London Business School as a MiM student doesn’t stop there….

MiMs have been quick to make their mark at LBS, becoming club officers, running for Student Association Reps, competing in business case competitions and even spearheading their own initiatives. MiM students have co-founded new clubs such as the Photography Club, arranged for inspiring and unique speakers such as Gene Simmons and taken part in social initiatives such as the Volunteers Club Toy Drive. The energy and determination of the MiM 2012 class is truly inspiring.

One of the initiatives I am currently enjoying is taking part in the Impact Consulting student group. The group is committed to making a positive social impact by providing consulting services to organizations with high economic and social development potential. Projects are comprised of student volunteers, across all LBS programs, that are interested in making a valuable contribution, developing their consulting skills and learning about the social sector. I’m working with a group of 5 students, from the MiM and MBA programs, on a Marketing Project in South Africa. It really holds true, that learning and skill development continues far beyond the classroom here at LBS. It’s also been a test of my ability to juggle and balance multiple responsibilities at once. The first few months we were bombarded with opportunities and quickly we’ve had to prioritize where we want to focus our efforts. It was a hard process, and I often wished to be many places at once, but I’m very happy with the initiatives I’ve chosen…to be fair, you really can’t go wrong.

So what about life outside of LBS? Yes. This does happen…occasionally.

A typical weekend could involve touring TATE Modern free of charge, exploring the delicious food stalls of Borough Market, scoring cheap last minute tickets to Jersey Boys, catching Yann Tiersen in concert at the Roundhouse Theatre or a night out with fellow MiMs arranged by our MiM Social Reps. I could go on since every night in London has been completely different.

With that said, I need to get back to work and then off to Covent Gardens for dinner!

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Gene Simmons X 1000

Posted by: Chemi

Yesterday I was one of the 200 happy LBS students who attended the lecture of Gene Simmons, the leader of the band “Kiss”. It was an hour and a half of pure charisma and the highest self confidence I have ever seen. You could see right from the start that there are some more humble people than him: “I am not used to appear in front of people who haven’t paid to see me”, and then a 10 minutes video clip that mentions the name “Gene Simmons” every 10 seconds. At first I felt a little uneasy with this spectacle of arrogance. But then Gene (can I call him that?) managed to conquer me and the rest of the crowd with his sense of humor and unique view on life. His arrogance is part of the show, and who else can behave like that if not one of the biggest rock stars ever? As Gene said “I am saying my name all the time and I don’t care what you think about it. At the end you will go out from here with one thing in your head: Gene Simmons”. He was so right…

Another person who spread some stardust in his lecture at LBS is the Spanish chef, Ferran Adria, who was included in TIME magazine list of “The 100 Most Influential People of Our Time.” I must admit that I have not heard about Ferran Adria before, but his arrival to LBS a month ago caused a lot of excitement among many students here.

However, not only world class celebrities arrive to guest lectures at LBS. One of the best things of being a student here is the access you receive to the events organized by the school or by the student clubs (Gene Simmons event was organized by the Retail & Luxury Goods Club). No matter whether you are MBA, MiF, full time, part time, executive or on exchange program (I think) …you are part of the LBS community, and can receive notification and register to every event. Another great event that I attended recently was about private equity Investments in the emerging markets (organized by the emerging markets club). Senior representative from Actis presented an interactive case study about evaluation of two potential deals in Brazil and India. It was very interesting, and through the case I could really understand the way PE firms analyze deals.

Not all the events take place at LBS. Recently I attended a panel discussion about the European crisis in Bloomberg offices. 50 LBS students received free entrance for the panel. In addition to listening to an interesting discussion from five finance experts, I enjoyed Bloomberg’s notorious hosting during the reception…  

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The annual alumni sailing challenge

Posted by: James
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The alumni had issued their challenge; can this year’s students beat them in the annual alumni sailing challenge?  It had supposedly been done only once before – and then, the rumour goes, largely because the students had a medal winning/America’s Cup sailor to guide them to victory.  The odds were stacked against us.  One of our crew acknowledged the only boat he had ever been on was a ferry.  But we approached it with optimism and a sense of fun.

And fun we had.  The regatta was spread over a series of races on the Saturday and Sunday.  We met on Friday night for some team bonding over pizza and beer.  And then had an early start on the Saturday to practice tacking and gybing and getting everyone use to their positions.  Then, at 10.30 we were off – over the start line and racing for glory!

There’s no need to go into the details of the races.  Though we did have a blast.  There was constant confusion as a barrage of sailing vocab was yelled across the boat – it not always accurate (yes, I’ll take the blame for that).  But the important thing is that we were moving forward and we weren’t last.  We even succeeded at sailing the spinnaker up.  That was great to see the big bag flying and moving us even faster forward.  The final result? The alumni won – not just against us, but against the entire fleet of 17 boats and took home the trophy for doing so.

On the Saturday evening we went out for a dinner with the alumni and this was our real opportunity to get to know them better. It’s a small but strong club where the alumni really make their presence known – this is essential for learning from their experience on the big boats and for lending us a skipper.

I’m looking forward to more racing with the LBS Sailing Club.  And next time we meet, the alumni better be watching out.  We’ll be close on their tail for victory!


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Rendezvouz with Reality

Posted by: AK

Things are really picking up at the school now. The courses aren’t particularly making life intense, but what is keeping most of us busy is our participation across school clubs, commitment towards interests (sports et al), focus towards building resumes and understanding career opportunities, and last but not the least, effort to explore the city. I’ll stick to the first point in this post — participation across school clubs, and may be cover the other points in future posts.

School clubs are a fantastic way to stay up-to-date and improve on areas that interest us, and importantly, meet like-minded people from the school community. All these clubs are student-run, so every club has an executive committee to lead and manage the club operations. First year students (i.e. people like me) apply to these executive committees, and get selected through a rigorous process. This rigorous process in recent past was the “Rendezvouz with Reality”.

Over the last few weeks, I had put in few applications. These were for clubs that I was really keen to work for. Every club that I prepared the application for, I was confident of making through the finals. Well if you ask me why, I probably don’t have an exact answer. But to put that confidence to words, I thought I had relevant experience and great ideas. Well – the selection teams across those clubs didn’t exactly agree. And I was ultimately selected to none. On making an attempt to understand why that happened, I figured that the answer is simple — LBS is a community of highly deserving and ambitious bunch of achievers. And no matter what one’s experience, abilities and ideas are, there are many others who are equally good or even better.

To be honest, I feel fortunate and humble to have realized this early on. As much as one wants, there are no easy rides anymore. And that’s what is reality!

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