Posts Tagged ‘first year’

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3 Seconds of Impact

Posted by: Yang
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‘When you meet someone new, you have 3 seconds to make an impact, after those 3 seconds, your audience will have made a judgment about you.’

These are the words from one of the course lecturers during Orientation, and these are words that made me shiver. Well, almost. So, 3 weeks into the term, there is nothing that I can hide from people? Is there any chance for me to salvage those hapless blunders that I made in those tentative networking events? Ever since joining the school, we all have doubted ourselves and found out about the prospect of life changing decisions. (we are not there yet, but realizing the inevitable is overwhelming nevertheless!)

So what are my first impressions of London Business School?

The People. It is the people that count – The Dean (some of us have got pictures taken with him – jealous!), the teaching staff, and the fellow students. I am probably going to say the same thing that every LBSer says but, no one is the same! What more, it helps you to realize how different you are, and fortunately, this is where your journey begins and the first foundation to build your unique selling points.

The Perspective. LBS thinks globally. This is not an English business school or even a European one. Conservatism has no life here. Every new story is treated with fascination and every new methodology triggers serious intellectual interest. Everyone feels appreciated here and is motivated to contribute. Ever heard of Renaissance? Something of this sort is happening here.

The Fusion. London is a melting pot. Blahblahblah. Everyone has heard of it before. But the message I want to convey is, it is difficult not to have a sense of belonging here, for it is a truly global city. While the campus may be relatively quiet for London (with a beautiful scene across the park!), stepping onto the street and you have – the world. Of course this is where businesses prosper, but art, language, culture and history all have a place here. Is it the economics that drives everything else or the other way round? Hard to decide, but what LBS is about is to think openly, about business, about society, and about people.

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Three and a half months sounds like a short time. Think back over your last three and a half months. It went by pretty fast, didn’t it?

Tomorrow, I wake up in Shanghai at the start of three and a half months there on exchange. I expect at the end of my time there I will wonder how it’s gone so fast. But now, as I think of the 110 days I will spend in the Middle Kingdom, it seems anything but short. I imagine my first day; explaining to the taxi driver where to go, struggling to open a bank account, get a pre-paid sim card, order food from a non-picture menu. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly looking forward to the experience. In fact, it’s because of all these little interactions that I’m more excited.

Previously, I had been thinking of this as one great big experience. And that is true, but it’s also an enormous series of small, individual events too. Events that need to be swilled around in the mouth, reflected upon and savoured, like a fine wine. Because otherwise it can all go past so quickly and you are then faced with looking back at what you know was a great time, but what is also a hazy jumble of fused events.

As the 2014s start their MBA’s, I offer them my advice: savour everything you do. Take the time to reflect on that lecture, the party, that conference, the job interview. Recall the emotions, the vibe. Remember who was there, what was said… what the weather was like, the smell in the air, the song that was stuck in your head. Let those memories form; if you do, they will solidify with time. Then, when you look back and wonder where the time went, you will be able to answer yourself.

I think that is definitely worth doing. And I hope to do the same on exchange.

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The long silence…

Posted by: AK

…comes to an end as I publish this post. Today, when the workload at my summer internship workplace wasn’t too intense, I decided to take a step back and think of things I’ve been losing out on during all these past weeks and months. And the school blog was one of those things!

The reality is that:

1) Among other things, blogging trickled down to a lower rank on the priority list. As much as I want to say that my involvement over the last term was fairly all-rounded — clubs’ programs and conferences, competitions, student ambassador programs, sports, course work, London partying and get-togethers etc., the truth is that I did very little of any of these activities. I was mostly busy with the part-time work in London, and the rest of the time was spent doing assignments and course activities. <More on the part time work below>

2) When you see others posting on the blog, you feel less guilty for not having contributed. Some also term this as the social loafing. I soon realized that the blog remains active – irrespective of me posting or not.

3) In the early terms, like any other overenthusiastic kid, I ended up taking loads of responsibilities: overloaded myself with electives (in the attempt to front-load course work), joined several (well, more than several) clubs, organized and attended speaker talks, attended and spoke in the MBA information sessions, participated in competitions and social events etc. And with all of this – obviously the blogging frequency suffered. Gradually, all of this not only affected the lifestyle but also caused distraction. And what I eventually realized is that while variety is good, some degree of focus is equally important.

Last 8 months or so, I decided to focus. I came to LBS to learn new things in life, and therefore, in the attempt to diversify the resume and learn new things (not as much to make the bucks), I started working part-time in January, and continued to do that for six months — i.e. before I started my summer internship. Since a number of people have asked me to share experiences on part-time work during the first year at LBS, I decided to summarize my take here:

a) In the last one year, the best thing I liked about LBS is the level of flexibility it offers. And how one can juggle the courses alongside the part-time work. It’s actually quite simple, especially if you attend all the classes and do the assignments sincerely.
b) Juggling part-time work alongside summer internship process can be hard. Summer internship process starts around Oct-Nov, and until you have the final offer, it can keep you busy — depending on how many internships you run after. I was quite selective in what I applied to — applied to a total of 7 roles, and interviewed with 4 of them. I therefore had all the time for the part-time work — when most others applied for a large number of summer roles.
c) Depending on the work load, part-time work does mean that you lose out on social events and activities. That’s a compromise you need to make early on
d) A ton of part-time opportunities open up on the LBS discussion forums and career portal. Typically, there are more opportunities to work with start-ups, but there also are opportunities to work on bigger assignments once in a while – so it’s important to closely follow the platforms. Ofcourse, if you can source something through personal connections – that always helps.
e) Finally, how you source an opportunity, what you do and how much you make, significantly depends on your reason to work part-time – an attempt to diversify profile and learn vs. need for funds

Well – that’s it for today. I do hope that the next silence won’t be for long, and you’ll hear from me soon!

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Yesterday, straight after the investment class, about 30 of us (the MiF PTs 2013) ventured to a nearby Chinese restaurant to celebrate the new 4709th Chinese year of a black water Dragon by tossing and eating yusheng (鱼生) and wishing each-other great things in the year to come.

These festivities made my mind wander back to 2011 and re-evaluate things that happened in the past 12 months. Same day last year I was with one of my bffs (who was born on the same day, month, year as me) sipping negroni on Piazza Campo de’ Fiori in Rome.

One year and one day ago I was switching off the electricity in my London apartment, being forced to leave the country due to a recent change in visa requirements, as Mr. Cameron continued to bring to life his pre-electoral commitment to put emigration under control.

One year and two days ago I got a letter from Peter Johnson, congratulating me on being accepted to the LBS Masters in Finance course. Having taken the GMAT only 3 days prior to that, the news was a complete shock. I was at work and had to find a remote meeting room to allow myself a loud and cheerful celebratory dance. It felt really-really good.

So here I am now, in the very middle of it, and my experience so far cannot be farther from my great expectations in two major points:

First, the reason why I took the course was to advance my finance skills without getting too much fluffy stuff of MBA programs. I took corp. fin, accounting and macroeconomics in Chicago Booth, which was great and made me want to do a CFA. But when the bricks books arrived, I found myself deviating towards more healthy activities rather than spending my free time sitting on my bum trying to take in tons of information without an opportunity to ask a question. That interaction-lacking method of studying was depressing and put me off for a while. Similarly, I thought of LBS’s MiF as a painful remedy for those who felt the need to extend their knowledge in the field. I couldn’t have been more wrong. If you ask me now, what it’s like to do a MiF at LBS, my first word would be FUN. And you’d better take my word for it.

Second, it is not all about money. Our strategy professor, for example, is specializing in sustainability, and we spent 1/3 of the course discussing the benefits of green initiatives with representatives from Goldman Sachs, as well as hearing success stories from the industry; (some other time was spent modeling the prospects of Internet dating). And this responsible and reaching-out attitude is not being pushed top-down, – all the students in one way or another are involved in charity work, with some great successes like our co-student C. Coghlan’sGrow Movement”.

To sum up, although I am writing this now, I don’t feel any pressure or need to try and convince you to apply. The guys who I have met so far have so much in common with me that it feels like fate, so if you are supposed to be in LBS – you will get there one way or another. Doing a postgrad course, especially when it involves migration to a different country, is a big change. And there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order. (that’s not me, that’s Nicolo Machiavelli)

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One more to go

Posted by: AK

Instead of waiting for the exams to end, I (for a change) decided to post something before the final – and the most dreaded – exam of Term 1. The exam is due tomorrow morning, i.e. in 19 hours and 20 minutes from now. Given the intensity of this course, counting every minute is actually pretty important.

Never thought reading financial statements will be that hard until I took the Financial Accounting course this term. Both the professors for my stream – Maria and Oktay – did make their best efforts to make the course content interesting and easy to understand. Am certain (and happy) that I have learnt quite a bit of accounting. Still deciding on whether I want to take Financial Statements elective (advanced accounting) in one of the next two terms of Year 1.

Sorry for the mum over the last month or so — had been keeping busy for most of the time, and for the rest, I was lazy. The month was eventful – started networking for internships, participated in one of the competitions (sadly, my team lost), got involved with some of the club and student association activities, attended MBA information sessions to share insights with prospective candidates, and last but not the least, worked on course work and assignments. Outside the school activities, Squash and outings with friends keeps me busy. London is cold now and days are shorter – so that is another discounting factor.

Over the next 3-4 weeks, I’d be traveling – really looking forward to be back home. Will (hopefully) not let the travel stop blog updates.

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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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MiM2012 orientation was packed with useful career development programs, personal development programs, keynote speakers and of course, evenings at the Windsor. As I look back on orientation week, one message seems to really resonate….Network. Network. Network. And did I mention Network?!

During the first month at LBS I had the fortunate opportunity to hear successful networking stories that showcased the value of building long lasting professional connections. Whether you use networking as a form of job-hunting, a learning opportunity or making new friends, networking never fails to reap professional benefits. In the beginning I was hesitant to walk into a room of strangers in business suits and really put myself out there. However, as one of the keynote speakers so aptly put it, “just be yourself, but with skill”. Already, LBS has helped in harnessing my skills and clarifying the process of networking. I mean, that’s one of the great things about studying at LBS, there are infinite opportunities to make new connections, to hear about others’ experiences and to make valuable lifelong relationships that render beyond Nash lounge and Taunton library. I had the fortunate opportunity to speak with senior executives, managers, and recruiters across all industries including Johnson & Johnson, Accenture and Deloitte. And to think, the program has just begun!

I look forward to continuing to develop my networking skills, whether I’m at the Windsor this evening or the FINCO event later this week.

Happy Networking!

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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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Warmed up!

Posted by: AK

Having worked for over five years, I always wondered what it must be to go back to studies. In all those pre-MBA information sessions, one question that I always wanted to ask was if the school tunes us well before throwing us into the whirlpool of actual courses, assignments and other b-school activities. But the fact is that I never asked that question. At that time, I thought it was important to ask questions that are ‘academically intelligent’ and not ‘academically trivial’. With two weeks into the program now, I answered that question — because I do feel warmed up and tuned at this point.

In past, I’ve had the opportunity to coordinate, manage, and attend some of the most professionally run programmes and events. But my experience over the last two weeks beats all of them hands down. Clearly, the school did put in a lot of effort and thought into structuring our pre-term. The pre-term not only covered the variety, but also reflected the intensity. It not only focused on quantity, but also assured quality. While the pre-term covered the obvious b-school courses, e.g. general management and finance, it also focused a great deal on training us on leadership and team building through team simulations and leadership lecture series, coaching us on effective presentation and communication techniques, highlighting our real baseline through detailed feedback and personal development coaching, and more importantly, relationship building by setting up platforms for new students to interact with each other.

On the contrary, one of my friends, who recently joined another leading global business school, told me that he was quite unhappy with his school’s pre-term phase because all he was being taught was basic mathematics, excel, finance and related topics. As much as I realize that such schools might just cover some of those things at a later time, the situation strengthens my belief that LBS is one of the few schools that is focused on developing an individual’s all-round personality, and producing dynamic leaders right from Day 1.

The first two weeks of the program have been clear highlights. I not only feel tuned to take up the challenges ahead, but also warmed up to learn from those experiences.

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Time travels

Posted by: Harpreet

At the end of my first two weeks at LBS, I am confused about the speed of time here. In a sense it has just zoomed across; in one blink the first two weeks are already over. On the other hand, so much has happened over the past few days, it is hard to believe that its only been just a couple of weeks.

I won’t kill any of the surprises that you can cherish once you are here. But I must point out a few things that have fascinated me in this short time frame, about the school and also the city. So the three things that have stood out about the school for me:

  1. The institution’s capability to manage efficiently and effectively: From the power-packed orientation to our classes, from the famous away day to the club kick-offs, from career services events to complex simulations, everything is organized fantastically by the school. The prior arrangements for each thing happening over here seems to happen pretty much magically. As students, we never get to see any hassles, any panic situations. But the fact that each single thing is such super smooth, it is hard to not to appreciate the brilliance of the school staff. These guys definitely know a thing or two about management, and I will be happy to learn from them :)
  2. The thought that goes into designing each single activity: If the school thinks a student must learn a specific management principle, they go to any limits in making sure that the learnings are deep and long lasting. So that has resulted in exciting group simulations, physical team activities, interesting games, range of intelligently selected case studies, provoking class discussions, etc. etc. One can easily see the amount of thought and effort the faculty puts in here to make sure the lessons don’t remain words but become an integral part of our decision making forever.
  3. Diversity: I know you have heard it over and over again. Even at the risk of you stopping to read this post right away, I have to mention this. It does not get any diverse than this, period! There is no dominant nationality. I have friends now from Israel, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Venezuela, Portugal, and many many more countries (of course including States and UK :) ). Professions? From serial entrepreneurs to professional sportsmen to armymen to tech geeks to large businessmen to social entrepreneurs to media guys to the regular bankers and consultants, and everything in between. The breadth and depth of class discussions here is enriching and inspiring. If you want to learn to work in a multi-cultural environment, it seriously does not get better than this.

Apart from these serious things, there is ample amount of fun as well (on most times, much more than optimum :P ). In the next post I will try to capture that and also, what all  is making me fall in love with this great city called London.

There is so much to write and so much to share; the only challenge is time. It does travel. At what speed, I am still confused :)

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