Posts Tagged ‘LBS’

In Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting

In Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting

‘Meeting’ Warren Buffett: My trek to “The Woodstock of Capitalism”

 

It’s called the Woodstock of Capitalism. Others say it’s a gathering of Warren Buffett fans, wannabes, value investors and other finance professionals. However you want to describe it, the Berkshire Hathaway annual general meeting lies somewhere at the intersection. For me, attending was a bucket list event. I recall when I first discovered Warren Buffett. It was off Investopedia, during a college internship at Vetiva Capital, in Nigeria, subsequent to which my father bought me my first book on him – Warren Buffett Wealth by Robert P. Miles. Then, I was 17 years old.

Visiting Omaha was not a reason for attending London Business School (LBS) but I planned to cross it off my bucket list at some point in this life. It was my selection as part of a group of 5 out of 50 applicants to participate in Matthias Riechert’s value investing forum, that inspired me to make the 12-hr trip down. Arriving Omaha on a warm Thursday evening, after hours reading Seth Klarman’s Margin of Safety, all I could do was help myself to a good meal at one of Omaha’s legendary restaurants after visiting Buffett’s impressive house since 1958. Considering the  number of visitors to Omaha for this event (35-40k) represents almost 10% of this quiet town’s population, Air BnB and Uber were in very high demand.

Warren Buffett's house since 1958

Warren Buffett’s house since 1958

On Friday, I met up with Davide Conti, LBS MBA2017, who was attending the meeting with a few students from his exchange school, Wharton. We kicked the day off meeting with renowned hedge fund manager, Whitney Tilson. He spoke about the importance of studying failure as much as we study success, somewhat in echo of Charlie Munger’s saying: “All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there”. Sooner than later, he delved into the topic of marriage and divorce. We discussed the importance of accepting and dealing with our mistakes. He gave the example of how after taking the plunge and recommending an investment, he had to sell within weeks after a friend validly challenged his thesis. The ongoing disruption of industries was a topical issue (even throughout the trip), which follows on one of the major themes discussed at the recent GenerationE conference hosted by the LBS Tech & Media Club. We also discussed the role of incentives and compliance in controlling risk taking, when discussing Wells Fargo’s problems, as well as the importance of knowing and expanding one’s circle of competence.

After our meeting with billionaire Mario Gabelli, hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson and Wharton MBA students

After our meeting with billionaire Mario Gabelli, hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson and Wharton MBA students

We left for Centurylink Center, venue of the big meeting, to do some shopping, and unfortunately missed Warren when he swung by. We subsequently attended an investor briefing hosted by billionaire Mario Gabelli’s company, Gabelli & Company, and he had Q&A with us afterwards. Our next stop was the famous Yellow BRKers event, a gathering of long time Omaha visitors. To cap this day, we caught up with a big group of LBS EMBA alumni, many of which took the value investing courses at LBS and Columbia. We sought to spot Bill Gates and Charlie Munger at a far out location but to no avail. Nonetheless, it was a good evening, meeting more value investors and discussing their motivations to keep attending. We called it a night by 1:30am but needed to be up in 3 hours for the big day.

With LBS students (Davide {top right}) and alumni (Matthias Riechert {top middle}, Ninad, Konstantin, Melinda etc.)

With LBS students (Davide {top right}) and alumni (Matthias Riechert {top middle}, Ninad, Konstantin, Melinda etc.)

5:20am and we were alreaady on queue at Centurylink. Unexpectedly joined by a former colleague, we patiently waited for just over an hour to get in before sprinting across the hall to get seats on the lower ground. Suffice to say, organizers of the The Investors Podcast, Preston Pysh & Co., had shared a video recording of the sprint route to get the best seats. There were also strategic ways to game the Q&A session, with the hope of getting called upon.

With my 5am line-up crew (Davide Conti & Ildar Davletshin) outside the meeting venue

With my 5am line-up crew (Davide Conti & Ildar Davletshin) outside the meeting venue

Before the official programme kicked off with the funny video, I went to the shopping hall to watch Buffett throw newspapers with Bill Gates. While I couldn’t get close enough for a selfie, the Financial Times featured pictures of me in the crowd on its live event blog (see below). Overall, between Charlie and Warren, they answered over 50 questions from analysts, journalists and the audience. It was impressive to see the duo, who met at 35 and 29 respectively and are now 93 and 86, answer questions with such brilliance and humor. It was an endless flow of business, investing and life principles, some of which @LBSAfricaClub shared on its twitter page.

Caught on camera by the FT blog with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

Caught on camera by the FT blog with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

During the lunch break, we had drinks with the team from Robotti & Co, where we met even more value investors. After the Berkshire Hathaway meeting, we met up with another group of value investors (partly organized by Shai Darshati and his team at Manual of Ideas), then met up with LBS Value Investing Professor, Eddie Ransden, and ended the night at drinks with former Berkshire Hathaway employee and now investor, Ian Jacobs. As you can imagine by now, the quality of the network was truly impressive and I must say that for most people I asked, this is partly what keeps them repeating the yearly pilgrimage.

By Sunday, one could see that the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting is quite a big deal to Omaha. As people departed, the town gradually lost its buzz. Even at the peak of activities on Saturday, there was barely traffic anywhere. On the day, we first attended the annual meeting organized by Markel Corporation, an investing group structured similar to Berkshire but more willing to invest in areas Berkshire might consider risky. We then met with a diverse group of people partly attracted to the meeting by The Investors Podcast, and then debriefed with a group of LBS alumni including my value investing forum teacher, Matthias Riechert.

With founder of The Investors Podcast, Preston Pysh

With founder of The Investors Podcast, Preston Pysh

As I wrap this up, I’m on my way back to London, reflecting on what was nothing short of an impressive weekend. Some of my key takeaways from multiple discussions include:

1) Most value investors don’t use CAPM in establishing a hurdle rate for their investments. As Matthias puts it, “no billionaire ever got rich using CAPM”.

2) Reading and research diligence are absolutely critical to one’s success as a value investor. In today’s noisy world, independence of thought is necessary. As many, including Buffett, put it, a good investor shouldn’t delegate his research responsibilities.

3) In as much as companies trade at different PE valuations, growth rates should play a key part in making sense of the multiple while still seeking a margin of safety. As the debate around investing in companies such as Google and Amazon continues, it appears to me that the platformization of businesses will remain a disruptive force across many industries.

4) My best quote was from Charlie Munger: “fish where the fishes are”. Focus on the areas within your circle of competence as all you need to be financially well off are a few good companies that will compound beautifully for you over time. Value investing is simple but the diligence required lies beyond many’s reach.

Amidst all the interesting things I’ve done at LBS, some of which I’ve blogged about, attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting was indeed one of the most impactful. Although I unfortunately didn’t get to meet Warren Buffett personally, this trip brought to life for me our famous hashtag – #whyiloveLBS.

Outside CenturyLink Center, venue of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

Outside CenturyLink Center, venue of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

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What a break! Myanmar…is…amazing! To think that this country was largely closed for so many years, yet possesses such hidden and endangered monumental pieces of history, it deserves your visit. After my NEO survey (you do this early in your LBS MBA life) suggested I needed more adventure, I decided to go on the trek to Myanmar instead of the more popular Japan trek because of the former’s unique appeal; lay on top of that the lure of original Asian food and my continued interest in frontier markets. After grueling exams, a block week and minimal sleep, Myanmar did not let me down.

Me, trying to get a selfie with some incredible Pagodas in the background

Me, trying to get a selfie with some incredible Pagodas in the background

 

My fun notes…

When I took the first stab at this blog post, I had spent two days in the country and was drawing the curtains on an exhausting day in Bagan. Visiting the temples therein were the day’s highlights, coupled with using some of my negotiation skills from local markets in Nigeria to the benefit of my mates in local markets here.

On day 1, we met with a few prospective students of London Business School, had drinks with some diplomats and on-the-ground professionals, and helped ourselves to leisurely meals. I found the history of Myanmar’s political evolution quite interesting and reached the conclusion that solid execution of a clear and consistent economic development plan will be key to keeping the country’s economic momentum going and elevate it on the league of globally minded countries. On a separate note, one interesting observation was that the restaurants tended to have separate or combined Thai, Burmese and Western menus. While not fully sure why this is the case, I think it’s the outcome of receiving such a diverse pool of tourists over the years.

On day 2, we flew a small plane for 60+ minutes to Bagan from Yangon (former capital of Myanmar). Here we spent the day visiting ancient Buddhist temples (about 3,000 remaining vs. peak count of over 10,000), some undergoing refurbishment after a 2016 earthquake caused damage to legendary structures. We also took a horse cart ride round town to see more temples and watch the sunset from atop one of the town’s largest ancient temples. In-between and afterwards, we tried multicultural meals at different restaurants. Coming from London, the perspective on pricing was important. For the quality and volume of food we had, we found London about 3-4x more expensive – no surprises!

Sun setting picture of temples in Bagan

Sun setting picture of temples in Bagan

Day 3 was an early start. 5am and we were off to the fields for a hot air balloon ride across Bagan. The sights were incredible. There were at least 10-15 balloons in the air simultaneously. We found the operational quality outstanding and weren’t surprised to hear the manager of Balloons over Bagan say they operate by UK standards. Watching the sunrise over the many temples that litter Bagan, was, as you can already imagine, nothing short of beautiful. We subsequently grabbed electronic bikes, riding round town to take in more views of the ancient town. Overnight, we took a long bus ride to Inle Lake. Other than being chased by a stray dog late at night, it was a smooth experience.

Touring Bagan on electric bikes with my MBA mates

Touring Bagan on electric bikes with my MBA mates

Day 4 for me was one for conquering my fears. Since falling off a jet-ski in Miami in 2015, I’ve harbored some fears about extensive and potentially risky water adventures. Discovering that Inle Lake involved a lengthy boat ride renewed some of those extant fears but I braved them and went with the flow. Barring the occasional strong waves which sent the boat tilting one way and an engine misdemeanor in the middle of nowhere, it was a nice sunny ride. The town also boasts some ancient temples, some of which were also under repairs. Subsequently we visited a warm spring resort where I crushed any remaining water-related fears, thanks to encouragement from my MBA mates. This day ended with a cooking class, with some students taking turns to prepare Tempura.

We took an early morning flight on Day 5 to Ngapali (“Napali”), welcomed by video cameras of the local news stations. This was scheduled to be a lazy day. Ngapali’s main highlight is its pristine beach front. If I rated the previous hotels and days’ activities a B (due to my uber-high standards) then this day was definitely an A, with Bagan in close competition. We spent the day on the beach, in the pool and reading books (I was reading Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman, CEO of Baupost Group). As I reflected on the previous two days, I had learnt three things: 1) our fears are for the most part just a mental block, 2) confronting our fears openly in a safe environment where helping hands exist is often a sure winning strategy, and 3) it pays to be open minded, as help can sometimes come from the most unexpected places. The day ended with karaoke on the beach front.

Clockwise: A fisherman in Inle Lake putting on a show for us; Me in my rice farmer hat after the Inle Lake boat ride; Great shot of me by Hiroshi after a beautiful day in Ngapali as the sun set

Clockwise: A fisherman in Inle Lake putting on a show for us; Me in a rice farmer hat after the Inle Lake boat ride; Great shot by Hiroshi after a beautiful day in Ngapali as the sun set

Day 6-7 saw us head back to Yangon. This was another leisurely day spent trying food at really local restaurants, market shopping, visiting the first KFC location (a Zinger burger with fries and a drink costs GBP2.96 vs. GBP4.79 in UK), watching the sunset from the Shwedagon Pagoda (most sacred temple in Myanmar), drinks with the expat community, viewing colonial buildings and the stock exchange (massive building with only four listed stocks), trying out street food and wrapping up with a boat party.

Wrapping up an excellent trek to Myanmar with a water-fight themed boat party in Yangon

Wrapping up an excellent trek to Myanmar with a water-fight themed boat party in Yangon

Two random observations:

  • Justin Timberlake is really popular and is probably spoken about every day. If you want to say thank you in Burmese lingua, just say ‘Justintimberlake’ really fast!

 

  • With two students having forgotten their phones in the taxi and each time it was returned to our hotel, I couldn’t help but think the Burmese must be really honest people.

 

Needless to say, this was an incredible trip. Now that London Business School will for the first time offer a Global Business Experience (GBE) trip to Myanmar, this is a country I highly recommend for its unique experiences and growth opportunities.

Till my next post, “pyan tot mel”!

To learn about my serious takeaways from our trip to Myanmar, get on my LBS Student Blog page to read Part 1 – My serious notes.

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Over the weekend, a team of eight came together to pull off an historic feat for the Africa Club – win the London Business School (LBS) 2017 Tattoo Talent Show. Talk about diversity, the group comprised six nationalities: Russian, Nigerian, Jamaican, South African, British and Moroccan. (If I include Kadotien’s incredible voice over, then add Ivorian to the list). And what brought us together for Tattoo – a love for dancing and a strong desire to portray the beauty of African dance to the LBS community. In a nutshell, the performance not only displayed different African dance moves including Shoki and Azonto, but it was also a story of love crossing boundaries.

I must say that the quality of performances from the other clubs was incredible and choosing the top 3 must have been quite a difficult task for the judges but I’m glad that we won! We won despite having practiced for just a week and one member (guess who?!) having rehearsed all the moves in less than 24hrs before the show. So how did we do it, in the face of skilled professional performances from so many other clubs?

 

  1. We had a very dedicated dance captain in Ayo Gabriel, who coordinated the entire process and spent many hours in solo practice at home so that he could successfully pass the skills and energy across to his team. Equally important was that he had a very supportive team: Elena Zhukova and Eme Caiafas provided valuable insights on organization and dance steps; Ellie Stoneham, Monique Cheri Baars and Samantha provided much needed logistics support, particularly in sourcing fabrics and Simba; while Nabil Lahbil provided incredible energy and tremendous help bringing me up to speed with all the moves in less than 24hrs.
  1. There was tremendous passion across the team and the energy was electric. We didn’t set out to win but wanted to put on a really good show for the audience. We were cognizant that we were the last team coming up and wanted to leave a lasting impression on our audience. Through it all, we were buzzing with too many creative ideas for time to allow.
  1. Though we only met to practice five times, in reality, we put in significantly more hours in private. Speaking for myself, after only joining the team to rehearse our moves on Friday night, I spent time watching dance videos and our recorded sessions at home to master every step in detail. Such was the level of desire to put on an excellent show and to not let my mates down on stage.

 

Basically, I can summarize our success as being down to four key factors: dedication, team work, passion and hard work. I believe as with many things in life, talent can sometimes be overrated and life’s winners are sometimes those who are willing to put in the hard work that success demands.

On the night, given the spectacular performances, I believe every group was a winner. We all showed the beauty of embracing diversity and team work across the different programmes, and this is what makes the London Business School experience truly special.

Hats off to Professor Tahoun, our special judges and MCs, and to all of you for making #lbsTattoo2017 great again! Special thanks to Akitoye, Matthew, Jonni, Yemi, Solomon, Cheke and the club executives for all their background work making the rest of the Africa Club’s showing at the festival a truly memorable one.

Africa Club team - winners of LBS Tattoo 2017 Talent Show

Africa Club team – winners of LBS Tattoo 2017 Talent Show

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Term 1 ends. Random musings.

Posted by: Adesoji Solanke
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I survived! We made it through what has been nothing short of an extraordinary past few months. As the saying goes – time does fly when you’re having fun. But I remember vividly, days when I was drowning under mountain high and rising to-do lists and all I could say was: one way or another, I’ll make it to term end, and here we are. I must say, that nothing can sufficiently describe to anyone, the experience of the London Business School MBA other than simply experiencing it; and so far, many of my mates will agree it’s been busier than even a full-time job!

As I type this up, it’s the night just after a marathon weekend of final exams – grueling! Many are gearing up for what will be a phenomenal week at one of LBS’s flagship December treks, in Val Thorens – the Snow Trek (FOMO). Many are setting out with friends anew to countries around Europe and elsewhere, and others heading back home to family and friends. For others, it’s the perfect time to finally explore the UK and get out of the Baker Street bubble. And for some, it will be a holiday busy with case preps, interview preparations, networking, retrospection, planning for what comes next…and reading The Goal (-_-).

I envy the MBA2019s. As an MBA Student Ambassador, I was excited to congratulate some of those who recently received their admission offers from LBS. More exciting however, is that they will be first to explore the revamped LBS MBA offering. The option to waive the language exit requirement and tailor your core courses are some of the brilliant changes to the core MBA programme I sometimes wish were retrospective. Nevertheless, just as I found it reassuring to hear alumni say how much better the MBA is, now versus when they were here, I’m glad I can already convey a similar message to the incoming class.

How do you think about impact? So, we all want to be successful but to what end? What is the essence of our success and what will its impact be? As I draw the curtains on term 1 and look forward to an exciting year ahead, it is perhaps pertinent to draw on Stephen Covey’s Habit 2 in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Begin with the end in mind. Framing the end is often an ongoing process (and the GLAM course required us to do this) but it’s important to have it in mind as a guide for today’s actions and decisions. Excel’s Solver won’t optimize for you here (#DMDjokes).

Okay, this post is as random as the title suggests but I think it has achieved its objective nonetheless – to give an insight into the LBS MBA student experience. Thus, to you, my Japanese friends, and those gearing up for the Japan trek: ‘Meri-Kurisumasu’ and ‘Yoi otoshi o’! Sayonara!

My random study group - American engineer, Brazilian banker, British pharmacist, Nigerian analyst, Indian PR consultant, Italian consultant

My random study group – American engineer, Brazilian banker, British pharmacist, Nigerian equity analyst, Indian PR consultant, Italian consultant

 

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First I will introduce myself as this is my first post here: my name is Bruna, I am Brazilian and guess what… I was assigned to Stream B at LBS! I got a triple B here but still don’t know if the Program Office did it on purpose.

Before starting the MBA, especially after looking at the Programme Content, I had some expectations about how my student life would be. Some were totally mistaken and I’ll tell you all about this now.

 

1.Workload and Homework

 

Expectation: I knew the MBA was going to be busy with many different activities, but somehow we can’t really believe when others advise us… You look at the school website, the core courses and the program structure and it all seems totally manageable, totally fine! After all, we all had to work more than 10 hours a day, weekends and holidays occasionally. Of course, it takes some time to adapt to a new routine, but once it is established, I was sure it was going to be smooth.

 

Reality: Actually, there is no such thing as routine here! When you think you understood your weekly schedule, they just change everything on the next week. Thought I would never have classes at 8:15 in the morning, now I am having it for the next… well, have to check my schedule again. By the way, during the MBA you are going to say and hear this a lot! You are going to learn all about scheduling apps and methods to set up meetings. Get ready and find some space to install many apps in your mobile!

LBS MBA reactions reality cat too busy runnning bruna moreira

Source: reddit.com

 

2. Corporate Finance classes

 

Expectation: I do not have a Finance background and I knew a lot of my classmates would be aiming to intern in Finance positions. This meant high-level Finance courses since the beginning, no surprise! I thought it would be very, very, very hard to follow the classes.

 

Reality: I just loved the Corporate Finance classes! And I also think my whole class fell in love with our teacher Anna Pavlova, who read a Finance poem in our first class and proved we can have some fun in class (not as much as in a beach drinking piña coladas, but still…). Not that the content is easy, but it is taught in a way that everybody learns it smoothly.

lisa simpson in love bruna moreira reaction to LBS MBA

Source: giphy.com

 

 

3. Non-traditional post-MBA career opportunities

 

Expectation: My initial post-MBA goal is to continue working in Tech and Telecom and I thought it would be very hard to find opportunities for MBAs outside of the traditional Finance and Consulting industries.

 

Reality: Turns out that not only Finance and Consulting companies are talking about technology, but also the Tech & Media Club is one of the most active professional clubs at LBS. We seriously believe David Morris does not sleep! We get at least 2-3 career opportunities a week from him. And there are also jobs and networking opportunities coming from so many other Clubs: Industry, Net Impact, Energy, Infrastructure & Construction, Sports Business, and many regional Clubs.

cat confused with so many options bruna moreira reaction to LBS MBA

Source: unbounce.com

 

So, after all my research (I did a lot, believe me! Or look at GMAT Club and you’ll see it) before the MBA, I still had some wrong expectations. But it turns out to be really amazing and much better than I imagined! I am sure I did the right choice when I decided for LBS. I recommend you do a profound research and analyse how prepared you are before you start this journey. Then, just open your mind and dive into a new adventure.

 

Please leave any questions or comments bellow. I’ll be very happy to read and reply!

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End of First Term

Posted by: Aditya mehta
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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!

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How can I start a company that is going to be the next Google? Is it even possible for a normal person like me to do such a thing?

For me personally, no. Well now it might be, but if I asked myself these questions 3 months ago I would have said definitely not. I mean, I wouldn’t even know where to start, where to get the money from or who I should work with. In fact, I just had a bunch of good business ideas and thought “I’m going to start a business” without having a clue what my strategy was, who my customers were or even how I planned on making money.

So what has changed in these last 3 months? The answer is Business School. Three months ago I accepted my offer to start my Masters at London Business School and it really has changed the way I think. I mean, I didn’t even know what the Time Value of Money was. I literally thought if I sold my car and put the £5000 in a bank without touching it, that £5000 is still going to be £5000 in two years’ time when I buy new one. This isn’t actually true. In fact, when I got home after learning this I was like:

 

Surprised

 

For quite a while.

So I guess the question now is, should you go out and spend £28,000 per year (Masters) on business school fees to learn these important concepts? Well yes and no. If you can afford it, yes, I would highly recommend it – London Business School has been one of the best experiences of my life to date. If you can’t don’t worry. Over the next 6 months, I will be posting about every important concept I learn that I believe is essential in recognising how to become as successful as a Fortune 500 Business Leader. As long as you read all my blog posts, you will pretty much be learning everything I am, but saving yourself £28,000 per year . Stay tuned, follow me on social media and keep up to date with my blog.

Twitter: @umarahmed12

Instagram: @umarahmed122

Youtube: Coming Soon

Official Website: www.umarahmed.com

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Orientation Week

 

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!

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The Intern

Posted by: Ugo

This blog feels like an attic that I haven’t been to in years!!! Excuse me for a moment while I clean the dust…

 

broom

 

 

There… Much better now!

 

I’ve been quite busy trying to earn my keep as an MBA Intern. Between June and September, I had the privilege of working with Shell International Petroleum Company here in London. I worked with the Retail Engineering Team – the people that manage the construction and maintenance of Shell retail stations all over the world. During my first week on the job, I visited a station that previously belonged to a competitor but was being converted to Shell standards, what is called a ‘KDRB’ – Knock Down and Re-Build. Suffice to say, there is so much thought and effort that goes into the construction and maintenance of fuel stations that the average consumer neither knows nor sees. All we do is get in, buy fuel, perhaps go into the shop, use the restroom, and then get out. But setting up a retail station to ensure that customers get safety, speed and ease of use – well, let’s just say I appreciate that team a whole lot more!

 

Working with Shell was a marvellous experience. My first paradigm-altering experience was with the lifts at Shell Towers. You know the story about the janitor/cleaner that tells the engineer (or was it architect) that he could put the lift outside the building instead of inside it? At Shell Towers, the floor buttons are outside the lifts. That first week, I had to consciously resist the temptation to stretch out my fingers to input my destination after getting into the lift, even though I already had done that before entering the lift.

 

More importantly, I enjoyed the collaborative and consensus-driven culture that operates at Shell. In my mind, the culture is a clear expression of the principle that no single person knows everything. While working at Shell, I had numerous interactions with lots of people within and outside my team – and they were only too willing to help. People thought nothing of spending significant time with me to help me understand not only the project I worked on, but also, the ways of working at Shell. In addition, decision-making processes are structured in such a way as to get the opinions and buy-in of a number of stakeholders, to ensure that there is broad support for initiatives executed. Obviously, getting consensus can slow down the decision-making process, but I guess that’s the trade off you get – speed versus support. That’s one of the core lessons from Strategy & Operations Management – picking a strategy and executing it; it’s about making a choice, prioritising a set of values or system over another. You can’t have everything.

 

The other thing I liked about working with Shell was work-life balance. Days I would get in by 8.00 a.m, and my floor would be empty. Days when I left by 7.00 p.m, I was the last to leave. In addition, it is possible to work from home (obviously pre-arranged with your manager, and if your physical presence is not required at the office). I did visit the gym in the building on some days, but seeing as I’m still packing pounds on my body, I guess I didn’t spend enough time there!

 

It wasn’t easy leaving. I felt a good kind of tired on the last day of my internship – like I had put in my all, and my effort was appreciated. I worked with amazingly great people (time to name-drop) – Bernard, Pedro, Graham, Gena – thanks for the wonderful experience!

 

So what’s next? Year 2 of the MBA begins! But that story is definitely for another time – hopefully not as much dust would have accumulated by then.

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The final term of our degree at London Business School is already here! The MIM’s are back on the London Business School campus for the last time, with new study groups and some spectacular weather. It was really nice to see our classmates again and learn about where they had travelled to during the break.

We have just finished our first week of classes, owing to a Bank Holiday weekend for Easter. Our classes for this term include Strategic Analysis taught by Chris Coleridge, Entrepreneurial Management taught by Ben Hallen, Applied Microeconomics and Management Accounting. In particular, the Discovery Project assignment in our Entrepreneurial Management class is going to be one of the highlights of our term, as we will work in our study groups to present a 3-D physical prototype of our solutions to customer problems in a trade show. Various members of the schools network will attend this show to share their opinions about our solutions.

We also have several events and guest speaker series taking place this term. The Family Business Club has Alex Sharpe and Peter Leach speaking about the challenges and opportunities of working in a family business, whilst the Industry and Marketing Clubs have invited Laurent Philippe from Proctor and Gamble to give us insights about P&G’s strategy to build winning brand equities.

Finally, the MIM’s are also looking forward to the GIFTS Trips for the term, to Stockholm, Madrid and Paris. I’m really looking forward to going to Paris, as the focus on the trip is “customer experience” and we will be visiting the offices of Disneyland and Hermes. Overall, I have had an amazing experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my final term at London Business School!

 

 

 

 

 

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