Posts Tagged ‘MBA’

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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LBS MBA and MIM students in Myanmar (Inle Lake region)

LBS MBA and MIM students in Myanmar (Inle Lake region)

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.

My serious notes (Quick takes on the economy, banking system and real estate market)…

  • The country reminds me of Ethiopia. Rather, what Ethiopia could be in a few years with a little flexibility towards foreign investments. Myanmar, a country of c.60mn people, is seen by some investors as the next growth frontier (IMF: 7.3% GDP growth in 2015) given its relatively lower wealth in the South East Asian region and the still basic nature of goods and services currently available.

 

  • As with many countries when they start opening up with an intention to attract tourists, the airport, hotels and restaurants are some of the early areas that attract investments. Myanmar possesses quite a decent and functional airport (significantly better than that of my home country, Nigeria) as well as a number of high quality hotels and restaurants connected by very good roads. The conscious attempt to develop the country with tourists in mind is quite apparent. While we went during low season, the number of hotels/resorts and feedback from locals suggests things gather significant momentum between August-January.

 

  • On a separate note, we heard about a heating up in the real estate market, largely demand-side driven. As I dug further on this issue, I discovered from locals that Myanmar is predominantly a cash-based economy. Also, real savings rate is negative, at the regulated 8%, considering inflation is 11-12%. Therefore, most of the professionals I met mentioned locals keep stacks of cash and/or gold at home or invest in real estate given the lack of low risk alternatives. This means that while the locals may be concerned about a bubble, the heating up could be sustained until maybe structural changes are made to improve the intermediation of the banking system.

 

  • While the average Nigerian has 3-4 bank accounts, it’s not uncommon to find a local here with no bank account; and where he/she does, its one bank account with balances sometimes as low as $10 equivalent.

 

  • The Kenyan government can take a cue from Myanmar on the negative implications of lending and deposit rate caps (13% and 8% respectively in Myanmar), to observe the stifling impact on credit availability to the private sector.

 

  • The banking system, with 14 private banks, is largely dominated by big business men, partly due to a shortage of alternative funding sources for their businesses. There are 14 other government-linked banking entities. Commodities (gold and other precious materials) are a key driver of economic activity and one professional mentioned that the military still has back-end control despite the 2015 elections which further entrenched democracy in the country.

 

  • The most incredible thing I discovered is that loan sharks here lend for as high as 12% per month. Even when the loan is collateralized with gold (sometimes kept in mattresses), the lending rate drops to only 8% per month! These monthly rates are almost equivalent to 100-150% per annum on the same principal, ex fees (NB: In Africa, micro lending rates tend to range 2-5% per month, on average). Clearly prohibitive and points to the weak intermediation role of the banks in this economy. One professional mentioned 1) that banks often ask for 200% loan collateralization, 2) prefer this to be land, and 3) the banks rarely have credit committees. Consensus seemed to be building among the locals that a banking crisis may be around the corner.

 

Was this post too boring for you? Then get on my LBS Student Blog page to read Part 2 – My fun notes!

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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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On the first day of orientation, we were introduced to the “why I love LBS” hashtag, which was started by the class of MBA2015. Alumni shared their reasons why they love LBS and these varied from getting the opportunity to change careers to enjoying sunny days on our campus’s front lawn. Current students have kept the hashtag alive as we continue to find new reasons to love this place on a daily basis. For this month’s post, I thought I’d share two of these reasons. Incidentally, this comes after one of the most exciting weekends of the MBA so far.

  • Weekend day 1: I hosted one of the largest conferences covering the Middle East in Europe

I had been working on organizing the London Business School 14th Annual Middle East Conference since August. The whole process was incredibly challenging but immensely rewarding. As the Vice President of Speakers, I had the responsibility of securing high-calibre speakers that could speak to the conference’s theme “Opportunities in Adversity”. After weeks of internal discussions, deep-dives into the team’s personal and professional networks and schedule-wrangling, we managed to secure an impressive line-up of 4 keynote speakers and 5 panellists. It was remarkable to see the London Business School brand at play – speakers were happy to clear their busy schedules and take long-haul flights just to speak at our student-led conference. It was also very rewarding to see our hard work come to fruition on the day of the conference with attendance that included ambassadors and guests traveling to London just to attend the conference.

  • Weekend day 2: I competed in a global business school private equity competition in Amsterdam

As part of the London Talk series at LBS, I attended a masterclass on body language and tools and techniques for becoming an influential leader a couple of weeks ago. The class involved jumping, shoving and yelling in different accents. But at the end of the masterclass, we were left with actionable advice on how to become more impactful leaders and speakers. I had the opportunity to use these tips over the weekend as I flew to Amsterdam, along with 3 classmates, to compete in a global business school private equity competition. We had to present our investment proposal to a jury of ten practitioners from the industry and a room full of our competitors. Putting the techniques we’d learned into practice, we delivered the best presentation of the day with rave reviews from the judges about our presentation style. I had never been afraid of public speaking but it had never been my favourite activity, either. However, after all the different public speaking experiences I have had at LBS so far, I am now very excited about the prospect of delivering presentations and speaking to rooms full of people.

After this very eventful weekend, I felt a sense of achievement but more importantly excitement about the opportunities LBS will continue to offer me. At the end of month 3 of the MBA, we now realize that the education we are receiving extends beyond the classroom. We are pushed beyond our comfort zone everyday. We are thrown into new environments equipped with the tools to succeed and thrive. We are taught to revel in challenges. And that’s why I love LBS.

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Getting involved!

Posted by: Pete Mackie
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Hi there! My name is Pete, and I am part of the MBA 2017 class. As one of the new MBA class, we might only just be finishing Week 4 of the autumn term, but we’ve actually been on campus for eight weeks now and that time has just flown.

During this time we have met hundreds of new people; started core courses; taken part in numerous career service sessions; and attended never ending employer presentations & networking events. Finding some free time amongst all of this is difficult, yet somehow we also manage to try and participate in the hundred odd clubs that are active on campus.

One of the clubs I was immediately drawn to was the Energy club. Whilst I have no professional experience in Energy, being a Scot from Aberdeen, I have an innate interest in the industry. As such, I wanted to get actively involved with the club and there was no better way than in volunteering for the committee.

Therefore, having only been on campus a couple of weeks, I applied for a VP Sponsorship role responsible for helping to raise finances for both the club and the Global Energy Summit – the club’s annual flagship event that draws together over 300 attendees from industry professionals, policy makers, academics, students and advisors. The 12th edition of this Global Energy Summit is to be held on the 6th November and so new MBA’s, MiM’s and MiF’s were quickly enlisted by the 2nd year MBA committee members to help out.

Being successful after an interview, I was quickly thrust into searching out sponsors for the event, always a challenging task, but more so when we have below $50/barrel crude oil prices. However, now is also a perfect time for a summit with the theme “Global Energy Markets: Shifting Economics.”

Fortunately we have a strong 2nd year team, commendably led by Bilal and Thiago, who had already done much of the heavy lifting before their summer internships helping us to gratefully secure BCG as well as AT Kearney and Accenture as Sponsors of the GES.

It has been fascinating to watch our team of 19 come together, and I am amazed at the effort of the Marketing, Operations and Speakers teams in building what is shaping up to be a truly remarkable event. With Keynote speeches from David Kotler, CEO of Delta International, and Spencer Dale, Chief Economist at BP, already secured in addition to the many distinguished speakers on each of the panels, the summit will be incredibly insightful.

At each of our regular catch up meetings, there is an impressive attention to detail, from ensuring an interesting balance of speakers and panellists to organising venues, stages, audio visual equipment, and it is clear everyone is pulling in the same direction. All of this whilst trying to manage a tight budget!

Although everything is shaping up nicely, there is still plenty to do and our sponsorship team is still out there trying to secure additional sponsors – with more sponsors we can improve the event further, such as getting it filmed or hiring better audio visual equipment, and therefore there is no time to sit back and relax.

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Seniors and Symphonies

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and I’m still sober!” – Peggy, North London Cares

 

The #LBSforLondon crew were in for a real treat this past Friday. To kick-off the weekend of community volunteering, 15 LBS-ers traveled to St. Luke’s, Islington to enjoy a piano performance courtesy of  London Symphony Orchestra.

 

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Even better than the classical Russian program (featuring Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Scriabin) was the company – seniors from North London Cares. The seniors were so welcoming and engaging – it was almost like my own family were here (and not five time zones away!)

 

NLC aims to fight isolation and loneliness for our older neighbors by building cross-generational connections. They offer a full suite of activities (stay tuned for updates from #LBSforLondon Saturday and Sunday!) with the belief that both generations can benefit!

 

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Following the symphony, we enjoyed traditional fish and chips and a pint or two. I’m a bit embarrassed to say we were outdone on the drinking front (c’mon LBS!).

 

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#LBSforLondon may be one weekend, but North London Cares works year-round! Click here if you’d like to get involved, and spend quality time with our senior neighbors.

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Inaugural LBS Cricket Club

 

As a red-blooded American, I was slightly surprised, but excited, to see an NFL game here in London this past weekend

But where did I spend my Sunday? Not explaining third-down conversions or play action. Instead, I had a very proper introduction to the institution that is Cricket.

I, along with 6 other MBA students, participated in Silver Sunday at the Mecca of Cricket, Lords.

 

Silver Sunday is an annual initiative by the City of Westminster to engage our 65 year + neighbors. We were lucky enough to join in one of the events – a tour of Lords, followed by tea (obviously), and an inter-generational cricket match.

Lords is just around the corner from LBS, and has just celebrated it’s 200th anniversary (how many NFL stadiums can say the same?). Matches can last anywhere from 3 hours to 5 days – mind-boggling for someone with a 4-quarter attention span!

 

Tea Time

Our companions for the day were local seniors, with various levels of cricket-fandom. Many were visiting Lords for the very first time, but we also had a former professional Scottish player who was happy to explain the rules!

By the way – are you interested in a membership at this lovely field? You better get a head start – there’s currently a 29 year wait list (after a referral from a current member, and an interview to demonstrate your true love of the game!). The good news- ladies are welcome as well, at least as of 1999!

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Hi all!

It’s been a while…

But as some 2nd years start getting back to campus and they find that they don’t know half of the people anymore, I thought I would take the opportunity to give a couple of tips for those 2017 that have just joined.

  • FOCUS. The first year will fly by fast. There a million events, a million opportunities, a million treks and a million clubs that want your help. And there there are classes, and recruiting, and… So focus. Choose your battles.
  • FOCUS. Now seriously. Even if your focus is exploring. If you look at the Event calendar, maybe there are something like 10 events a day. Which means that unless you have come up with a gadget that allows you to be in several places at once, you will have to choose.
  • FOCUS. Remember it. You won’t be able to say I didn’t tell you ;)

 

And to make it easier… I have compiled a list of all the trek invites I receive during the first year. I will not claim it’s 100% comprehensive, because I simply did a search of the work “trek” in my e-mail, but at least it will give you a start. And it will allow you to know what’s coming so that you don’t sign up to something without knowing what was coming, and then discover what was coming is what you really wanted to do.

So there it goes. There are leisure treks and there are professional treks (those in which you visit companies, network, etc). I have marked the professional ones (I know of) with an asterisk. Note that the dates were the dates of 2014/2015 but it will give you an idea.

Term 1:

*New York Banking Trek: 27/10-29/10

Belgian Trek:07/11-09/11

*Switzerland Industry: 27/11-28/11

South Africa Trek: End October

*China PE/VC/Tech Trek: 16/12-24/12

*Hong Kong Trek

Snow Trek – at the end of Term 1

Term 2

Japan Trek – 29/03-04/04 – Spring Break

Brazil – Spring Break

SouthEast Asia: 28/03-05/04

Poland: 12/04-17/04

Thailand – Spring Break

Africa – Spring Break

Ski Marathon Trek: 06/03-09/03

*Paris Luxury Goods: 25/02-27/02

*Commodities Geneva: 25/02-27/02

*Swiss Healthcare: 18/02-20-02

*TelAviv Tech & Entrepreneurship: 23/03-26/03

*Silicon Valley & New York: 23/03-04/04

*Italian Luxury Trek: 03/03-06/03

*Dubai Energy Trek: 07/03-10/03

*Singapore Corporate: 30/03-02/04

Term 3

Greek Sailing Trek: 30/05-05/06

Malta:29/05-01/06

Moscow:28/05-31/05

Spain:16/04-19/04

Italy: 14/05-17/05

Portugal:14/05-17/05

*Berlin Start-up Tech & VC: 09/04-12/04

MBAT: 07/05-10/05

 

And I am missing some… in summer there was the Colombia Trek and the Turkey sailing trek, and I know that there was also a Dublin Tech trek, although I don’t know the term.

Plus so many more! In Term 3 lots of ad-hoc treks pop up, specially among those that have already finished recruiting and have some more time off.

The point of all this?

FOCUS. And welcome to campus!

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Belgium Trek (and diversity)

Posted by: Eva Spillebeen
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Diversity, it plays a big role in the MBA. It is a powerful word that lots of companies play with these days, and they have a damn good reason for it. It has been proven – I would like to cite you the official source in the Harvard Referencing System, but I have no clue who actually did the study – that diverse heterogeneous teams achieve better results than homogeneous teams. You’ve probably all experienced it before. Talk to diverse people about problems you are facing at work and it’s sure you will get a lot of different solutions you could try out. If you are able to get these diverse people around one table, building towards a common goal, you have increased the likelihood of success and finding innovative solutions.

On a short side-note, you could even draw the analogue further. We had to read a book for Operations Management, ‘The Goal’, and this was also a key theme in there. Pulling you out of your traditional environment and taking a walk in your spare time, gives fresh ideas. You hear it so often that ‘while running I get the best ideas’.

Bringing in different perspectives, challenging traditional viewpoints and avoiding common biases, diversity does add a lot of value. Companies reach better results and therefore better performance, so business schools must then benefit from it as well. But how do they benefit? On many fronts the diversity adds value to the program. In class, you get to learn from people that see business problems in a very different way. The diverse experiences people have, guarantees relevant examples when discussing a theoretical business concept. Also you see how people cooperate in teams and behave in group.

Industry sector (pre-MBA)

Next to diversity in professional background, interests and targets, there is a high level of diversity in nationalities. Praising LBS for its international student body (65 nationalities in the MBA this year!), many people are getting important lessons in international and cultural awareness – so am I. Just as an easy example, I will never forget the first time I tried to kiss a Japanese or I was undergoing an intense hug from a Brazilian I barely knew. Those are only the basic aspects, so you can imagine what impact this diversity has on the experience of an MBA.

Nationality by region

If you have read the title, you probably think, when do we start talking about Belgium? Well in business schools, diversity means lots of fun as well! People are proud about their background and kindly share their culture. Everyone joins regional clubs, organizing activities like the Chinese New Year’s dinner party that is coming up next week. You get a privileged insight in how people celebrate and experience this. End of February there is a multicultural event ‘Tattoo’ across all programs and staff of LBS. People represent their country with a food stand and a dance performance. I really look forward to representing Belgium soon, although we still need a lot of practice on the dancing part. Another part is the diverse international treks people organize. I’m visiting Japan in the spring break, and multiple other treks are organized: South-East Asia, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Greece, Israel, etc. Be it professional or fun treks, they are all organized by locals, passionate about their country and eager to share it with their peers.

Coming closer and closer to the topic now J. We have 7 Belgians on the MBA program graduating in 2016, I think 5 on the MBA2015 if you count people with multiple nationalities. Combined with the MiM, MiF and EMBA program, there are about 20 Belgians at LBS.  We organized a Belgium trek, performing on ‘Tattoo’ and are looking forward to organize beer tastings and also probably a “cantus”, for those who know, a great piece of our student culture!

The Belgium trek in short: 25 students, 9 nationalities, 4 cities, 3 mini-vans, 2 company visits and lots of beers and fun!

We started our visit in Leuven with a walk past the Old market and the famous city council building. Beer being an important part of Belgian culture and AB Inbev a major recruiter of MBA students, we visited their headquarters in Leuven. After an informal presentation and touch point with senior management, we were taken on a guided tour around the factory. Ending the tour with a draughting course, everyone learned how beer actually should be draughted. Afterwards going to a bar serving more than 1000 different beers, you can imagine we had a great night.

AB Inbev

The walking tour or cycling tour discovering the great city of Brussels was followed up by chocolate workshop. It was a busy day as we went to Ghent in the early evening to visit a start-up. StoryMe is a young dynamic small company executing powerful promotion videos. They start from the principle that all complexity should be easy to explain. Afterwards, we enjoyed an amazing night walk through Ghent, which I would recommend to all of you if ever visiting Belgium. Our last day, op of the bill, we visited Bruges. Everybody was tired but still enjoyed the medieval breath of the city. We got a lot of positive feedback from satisfied travellers, saying it was a unique trek and view into Belgium and its culture. Mission accomplished!

 

Chocolate workshop

After having organized this trek early November, I understood the importance to visit a country alongside locals. You can bring an exclusive viewpoint and experience to your peers. There again, it is proven that diversity enables a superior experience at business school.

I’ll have to think about my next subject, but it might be about recruiting for an internship, as this is what everybody is currently concerned with. See you soon!

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