Posts Tagged ‘EMBA’
Whether you are in Thomas Friedman’s corner walking on a pretty flat earth, or jumping obstacles with Pankaj Ghemawat on a bumpy and curvy one, there is one thing that that is certain; globalization is here and understanding it is more important than ever!
One of the most appealing aspects of London Business School and The Executive MBA is the focus they have on teaching and experiencing international business. Having returned from my third (and hopefully not final) international assignment it’s a great time to share a bit about what has been experienced.
At the end of year one, students are required to select an international elective from a portfolio of options; for many people this marks the end of the year one core learning. I selected to go to Argentina and also had the opportunity to sign up for an optional additional destination for which I selected Moscow. These trips have a specific purpose – to develop an understanding of the regional economy and get to grips with what challenges business faces in the specific region.
After landing in a chilly Moscow during early April I teamed up with students from our Dubai stream to work on a Big Data project for MTS, the biggest mobile operator in Russia. Unfortunately at the time, the decline in oil prices had already started to impact the ruble but rather than being in crisis mode it seemed people were ready to navigate the new realities being presented with a sense of perseverance. After all it was in 1998 that Russia went through a major financial crisis after defaulting on its domestic debt and so economic challenges were nothing new here.
A single week working in Moscow is short; especially when you are trying to get an understanding of a country that spans nine time zones. However it is just long enough to start understanding the business culture and the unique regional challenges. Furthermore, it was super interesting to explore the possibilities of Big Data for telecom operators and an honor to be able to present our strategic recommendations back to the company.
Coincidentally the Argentina assignment was the week following Moscow and so after a quick pit stop at Heathrow to pick up some more London classmates it was off to Buenos Aires. The scope of this assignment was very different; rather than working on a project for a specific company, we spent time visiting a local business school and a number of companies to get an insight into what drives the economic environment.
Argentina has a very colorful economic history and it’s definitely worth going to learn first hand. It was amazing to see how the history of Peron and the economic rollercoaster was deeply the engrained in peoples thoughts and how creative businesses had become to tackle todays deeply volatile economic environment. Kudos to LBS for providing the introductions to a number of great companies such as Globant, Clarin, YPF and many others. When reflecting on Argentina, it would also be wrong not to mention how AMAZING the steak is out there – its worth a trip back just for this!
The latest trip to Dubai was for an elective on “Thinking Strategically”. The course is also offered in London but if you can afford the time I thought why not make the most of escaping the UK winter and experience the Dubai campus and culture. Because the class was mostly made up from my Middle East colleagues, you naturally get an insight into the business environment and culture.
Throughout all the trips there is really a great opportunity to expand your learning and get an experience that you simply can’t get by staying in the classroom….. now I’m just looking forward to the next one….
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!
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!
Should I do my MBA at Harvard, London Business School, Wharton, or just carry on with my job and forget about this whole MBA business?
The 2015 Financial Times ranking came out today with the top three business Schools in the world being Harvard, London Business School and Wharton.
Before I answer the question “Do I need an MBA”, I have a question for you. Why do companies value MBA graduates from these business schools?
Do you think it is because they have a good education? Do you think it is because they are clever? Do you think it is because they have demonstrated some sort of social skills?
Of course these factors are important, but you can also have all of these things without an MBA.
I mean let’s take a step back and ask, what is the point of an MBA? You can pick up Josh Kauffman’s book ‘The Personal MBA’, do some online courses and get the material off a friend and you are pretty much learning the exact same thing right?
Well there are many arguments for an MBA, one of the main ones being the network you build, but the most interesting one I will focus on will be something I didn’t initially think of before having this conversation with one of the leading Strategy professors at London Business School.
Before I tell you what our discussion was about, I first need to explain the concept of a firm’s signalling policy. If a company like Facebook has a great project that they think they can make money out of, (e.g. the Occulus Rift), they can take on some debt to finance and invest in this project. When a company that size takes on the right amount of debt, the “markets” usually react positively. This is because people in the “market” are considered as “clever” and know that well established companies are only going to take on debt if they are sure they have a good project. In other words, they are putting their money where their mouth is, rather than being all talk and just make an announcement saying “we have a great project coming up that will make us a lot of money”.
In the same way an MBA student is kind of like a company. He/she takes on debt to pay his/her MBA tuition fees, which can take on numbers such as £60k+. Firms see this as a signal and place their trust in an MBA student’s abilities. They are thus willing to pay them six figure salaries as the signalling concept shows how strongly the MBA believes in his/her potential.
A lot of the world is based on beliefs and expectations of the future. This is just some food for thought for those who hear about how much it costs to do an MBA and think “Do I really need an MBA”.. “I mean Wow, that is a lot of dollar”.
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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!
So I decided to pursue an MBA degree. It is a thought process that many go through at some point in their careers. I did too. I even blogged about it. I finally decided to apply to the EMBA programme at the London Business School. Why, you ask? There were three very concrete reasons.
First was the structure of the programme. The modular format gave me immense flexibility. I could continue working and earning while I learnt. The format also enabled me to immediately apply what I learnt. Second was the nature of the programme. I am already past the individual contributor stage in my organisation. A General Management focus was just what I needed. Third was the brand name. Responding to the question ‘Where are you doing your MBA from?’ with ‘London Business School’ usually results in raised eyebrows (wonder, not suspicion) and a hint of a sense of awe. In fact, this programme fitted my needs so perfectly that I did not apply to any other MBA programme.
So, I started my application process. I have applied for full time MBA programmes at various top-ranked universities in the past. There is very less interaction with the admissions team until one gets an interview. With the London Business School EMBA, I had someone reach out to me almost instantly. The first thing I noticed was how nice she and everyone else I interacted with was. She was very courteous, knew all the answers to my (often frivolous) questions, and was prompt in her replies. It felt like they really wanted me to have a good application experience.
I went through the cycle of writing essays, re-writing them and then re-writing some more. The single most important piece of advice I can give you here, is that you must write from your heart. You’re combining so many pieces of information in your application that any discrepancies are visible almost immediately. Sure, you want to portray yourself to be the best candidate that you can be. But I think authenticity and honesty are valued immensely at the London Business School. I chose to focus on what I could bring that no one else could, on my unique story and on how much I would really love to be part of this programme.
Lo and behold, I had an interview call. I visited the Dubai campus on a scorching June morning. The interview started on time and I had senior programme members interview me along with the admissions committee. I liked the fact that selecting candidates was considered a task important enough to have such senior people present. They covered an exhaustive range of topics through their questions, and it felt as though they wanted to understand me from a holistic perspective. Now I recruit for my company, and have interviewed over a thousand candidates during the course of my career. But this was a different experience. I thought I was really good at reading people, but I came out of the interview with absolutely no idea of what they thought of me. I thought to myself, ‘These guys are good. I have never seen such a poker face.’
In the end, I didn’t have to worry too much. I got my offer, and I accepted it without hesitation. The poker faces have been replaced with warm smiles. Now, with two modules completed, I am even more confident that my decision to apply to this programme was correct. But more on that later.
A year ago, I applied to the EMBA Global Americas & Europe. While I considered additional programs, this one was the only I decided to candidate to. Reflecting on this, I remember the application period as being both challenging and exciting.
Since I decided to apply, the application process took me about 6 months. For some of my classmates, this time frame was much shorter (for fewer, longer) but here is how I roughly split my time:
- Preparing the GMAT: about 3 months
- Completing the program application: about 3 months
Preparing and taking the GMAT is a must do that each of us has been through. I’m sure that for some it was a no brainer and for others it was more painful. I have a business background and I am not a native English speaker: my experience is that it is mostly a matter of perseverance. Taken individually, all exercises are do-able but the time constraint is adding up a little of spice. I bought plenty of books and spent about 100h practicing after work or during the week end. Just don’t give up at this stage, if you don’t score as high as you want, keep practicing.
When I first logged in the online application for the program, I was excited about what the non-GMAT part that would be ahead of me. Each section of the application had its own importance and I wanted to make sure that every single form was properly and accurately answered. Part of it is mainly administrative and most of it is about you, as a prospective student and future global leader. The essays were key, not only for the application itself but also for challenging me about my goals. I went back and forth to my essays and shared it with a couple of friends. I wanted to be 100% confident about every single line I wrote and asked myself: what is this sentence adding to my application? How does it help the recruitment team getting a better understanding of who I am and gauge the value that I can add to the program? My recommendations letters were written by people who knew me well and I had no doubt that they would share truthfully their thoughts. When I clicked on the “Submit the application” form, I felt like I did the very best I could.
Two weeks after I submitted the application (1st round), I received an invitation for an interview at the London Business School. I was happy to have passed the first step and I looked forward defending my case in a face to face interview. I was clear on my motivations and prepared a list of questions I haven’t had a chance to ask. The interview was run very, very professionally by two members of the recruitment team. They knew my application in details and while the interview was more of a conversation, I felt positively challenged during one hour.
A couple of weeks after the interview, I received an email which started by “Congratulations, …”
Five weekends done of the first term. A number of assignments need to be submitted, time is getting tight, the social committee is planning a trip to Winter Wonderland, and Movember is visible in the classroom. Good times. I arrived at the concept for this post via two different situations. First, in the last session of the CSR/ethics module our spirited lecturer brought a guest speaker to class. He is an alumnus of the school who has set up a business that partners with the NHS to provide heart related services (RPHC). Beyond being impressed by the idea of his business I was reminded that I have a mild heart problem that has drastically changed the way I approach my day-to-day life since it started in 2008. Second, last Monday I was back in St. Barts Hospital to get an echocardiogram to track my progress. It is always humbling to switch from student to object of study as a nurse was discussing the structures of my heart with an apprentice technician. The sound of the machine is quite relaxing though, sort of watery, so I normally have a short nap while being assessed. Without a doubt, birth and death are the flip sides of the same coin, however, probably not standard in this day and age to spend much time thinking about it at the age of 25.
Anyway, as part of the reading for the last CSR session a happiness formula was proposed by Lyubomirksy et al to be the sum of:
S – a biological set point
C – the conditions of your life, and
V – the voluntary activities you do.
With regards to S, I will only say that I am certainly not the happiest person around by any yardstick. I am confident that my seat-mates in the class, my study group, or my colleagues could confirm that I am a bit grouchy.
I will focus my account of the C’s with two of its elements. On the one hand, I experience lack of control related to my heart condition which flares up in the most unexpected situations and reminds me that I need to be prudent. On the other hand, as I grew up and moved out of Peru, my circle of friends has contracted and now I keep in touch with a few meaningful individuals who I might not see all the time but who with I have a tight bond. With regards to my family I mostly communicate with my parents by Skype and my brother by email but I am probably closer with them now than when I lived in Peru with them. Finally, my girlfriend and I have settled down into our flat and I guess we have a blissful existence. No arguments, plenty of cooking and conversation, and a degree of faith that some things just work. Therefore, the other C that really resonates with me is relationships. In a way, the slowing down that resulted from my lack of control, has resulted in a positive change in my relationships, and an overall enhancement of the C-value of my formula. The adaptation principle in action.
What about the V’s though? I have just written an email advocating “process” KPIs instead of measuring outcomes. Some people might wonder if there is time for V’s during an EMBA, but surely V’s can help assess the quality of this whole process. I argue that there is always time and posit three examples of my own. Isn’t it annoying when someone says they are too busy to do something? I actively choose not to be in that group. First, I have decided that over the next 2 years I will teach myself basic Brazilian Portuguese. How? I will start with Duolingo. Come on, just do it, I try to take a lesson before starting to work, one at lunch, and two the evening. Why? Because in the future I want to work with Latin America and if you research why duolingo exists you might just want to join. Os meninos bebem leite! Os estudantes gostam de London! Second, I am trying to read a non-MBA book a month. Why? Because I think that literature allows us to expand our range of experience. When? Before bed, in the train, after lunch on the weekends, bit by bit. Third, I am going to volunteer for EnglishPEN. Why? Because I think what they stand for matters after growing up in Peru. When? Whenever they reply to my emails asking for further information….
We seem to live in a time of communal paralysis. Everyone wants to “do” but no one “does” in the belief that someone else will. I am looking forward to the last session of Managerial Economics so I can conceptualise this in terms of game theory. To conclude, I just wanted to say that I wouldn’t have embarked on the V’s had my C’s not changed back in 2008 and had I not opted to join the EMBA programme.
In last 15 years, I worked in IT for 13 years(my last company was IBM) and started 3 ventures in totally different industries. At all the 5 places( 2 job and 3 ventures) I got stuck after intial years of huge success. I could not expand my ventures beyond a point and also could not reach to my dream position in IT job.
I am a strong individual with all the right qualities in place, I am very determined, good decision maker( most of my decision were right), a high risk taker, very hardworking, organized, good in planning and all. I could not figure out what I need more to reach to a top most position in IT or start my own dream company and take it to the highest level. There were more questions than answers in my life.
Though I was ready to change myself and acquire new skill, I was clueless what to change and where were I going wrong. MBA was in my list for many years and now as I hit a road blocker, it was time to set aside everything and focus on learning. It was time to figure out how do Leaders are born and what they do differntly. it was time for a transformation. 3 months in LBS and everything started making sense to me. I could figure out all the missing steps in my last 15 years career.
I can see the gaps and I can answer all my questions. Now I know where I took wrong turns in my career and in my ventures. What I needed to do more and what less. I can see myself getting transformed slowly and gradually to the one I always wanted to be. I can see myself getting closer to my dreams and all my dreams are getting bigger and bigger day by day.
I have just come back from London where I attended one week long orientation for EMBA and I can’t tell you how happy I am.
I am not only happy with my decision of joining London Business School but also could see the enormous value LBS EMBA is going to add in my life in the next 20 months. I am ready for transformation, I told myself excitedly and I am proud to be part of LBS.
Looking back, few months down the line, it was beginning of September 2012 when I started my research of applying to top B school for EMBA. I started my research by creating a list of what I wanted from a school, apart from world class education and FT ranking of top 10. My list had few very important non negotiable criteria’s and few “good to have” criterias. I was looking for a school that could give me the most diverse classroom and international faculty as in the EMBA you not only learn from faculty but from your classmates too. The other things in my list were: more campus visits, a campus near India and once in a month study block. I also wanted the same MBA education and degree but in EMBA format.
I was also apprehensive about Middle East campuses of LBS and other schools but through my research I figured out that in LBS the faculty and education is the same in London and Dubai campus. By joining Dubai campus, I could do 3 core modules in London and a choice of doing electives (6 to 8) in Dubai, London, Hong Kong University, or Columbia Business School. I chose London Business School because it had everything I was looking for and now after orientation week I can say that by joining EMBA and LBS I have taken the best decision of my life.