Posts Tagged ‘Study Groups’
Landing in London the night before the first day of orientation, I literally had no time to catch my breath before I was swept into the whirlwind that is London Business School! Walking into City hall amidst a chattering, buzzing group of new LBS MiMs, I instantly felt like part of a community, with the most unbelievably diverse group of people I had ever been around. It wasn’t just the fact that we accounted for more than 50 nationalities, it was the languages, the experiences, the undergrad majors, the internships, the perspectives. Coupled with the fact that everyone was incredibly warm, curious, open, energetic, and just plain fun, I knew that this was going to be one of the best years of my life.
I quickly learnt the art of time management. It’s quite incredible, the number of activities one can sign up for on a daily basis. Class, club activities, recruiter events, case study sessions, parties, sundowners, and the general discovery of this wonderful city. It became clear however, that as alluring as they all were, I had to carefully plan my day so as to meet all my commitments. The result was a very populated calendar, but very fulfilling days.
And yeah, I must mention my study group. To provide some context, every MiM is assigned to a study group of about five or six people. Since we are given a plethora of group assignments, simulations and presentations, one ends up spending a lot of time with their study group. I simply loved mine. It’s amazing how it was never a competition, but always a collaboration; how motivated everyone was; how much you can learn from each other; how deep, enduring friendships develop. Yes, we spent hours locked up in one of LBS’s many meeting rooms debating on the finer points of statistical modelling, but also spent a memorable evening dining on chicken and wine. I speak nostalgically because I’m going to be assigned to a new study group next term. While I’ll miss my old study group, I’m excited because I know I’m up for a whole new fascinating experience.
To be perfectly honest, I had no idea how much one could grow in such a short time. I’ve only spent 3 months here at LBS but the experience has been immensely transformative. I can’t wait to see what the second term will bring!
Three weeks in and I am loving it! I could not have been happier with the decision to come to LBS. The environment is exactly what I hoped for – dynamic, warm, engaging and collegiate. On a daily basis I am interacting with so many truly exceptional MBAs from every corner of the world that I am both humbled and inspired!
In lectures I almost feel sorry for professors juggling the enthusiastic contributions of 80 articulate MBAs eager to bring some new insight to classroom debates. From the campus corridors to Facebook pages, collaborations spring up continuously on everything from the latest clean technology idea to how to negotiate the best student discount for the London Underground.
In the background, the programme office elegantly attends to the intricate details of over 400 individual timetables. Invitations to networking events with top firms pop into my mailbox almost daily. Student led club activities ranging from Entrepreneurship to Finance to TEDx compete for my evenings. I am literally exhausted from partying. Quite frankly, virtually everyone on campus is enormously accomplished, enthusiastic, enterprising and genuinely nice. This is going to be an exhilarating two years!
Term 1 ended in a tizzy! I have never had a more challenging academic tenure or a more demanding social life, packed neatly into 3 months. Come April, I packed memories of my Term 1 ‘all-nighters’ in the library and the Windsor Castle pub and headed home. Term 2 will definitely be easier…
Term 2 whizzed past in a ‘motion blur’! The core courses were significantly reduced and my electives occupied a significant mind and time share. Electives meant studying with a new cohort of people – with a new study group of mixed blood… from courses across the school. This was a bitter-sweet experience! The term 1 battlefield was still fresh with blood shed during Sloan study group ‘guns and roses’ sessions. We had called each other names and sworn ‘life-long’ enmity, yet combated deadlines together in the still of the ‘last’ hour, drunken each other under the table and sometimes even found soul mates! And here was this new cohort of young blood (MiMs, MIFs, MBAs and Exec MBAs) to deal with to pass Term 2 electives. Let the war-games begin!
If you have studied business education or worked in a study group before, I have probably lost you to nostalgia already. Some of you might even be calling your soul-mate long distance just about now! So adieus amigos!
For the rest of you, study groups are extremely tricky swamps. ‘No-hierarchy’ flat groups, forced together without any ‘for-profit’ motivations… often resembling ‘headless’ chickens with sharp and shiny canine teeth!
However, interacting with the younger LBS blood in Term 2 study groups made me come face to face with my ‘mirror-mirror on the wall’ moment…
In one’s twenties, a business program mirrors ‘who and what’ to expect in your new workplace and arms you with ammunition to best deal with the external enemy to reach given goals.
At a more mature age (and you thought I would reveal our age? Fat chance!), a business program mirrors ‘who and what’ we have become fighting that workplace. It arms us with ammunition to best deal with the internal strife and redefine goals (as we all know by now – monetary goals are mere carrots; there has to be more to this rat race).
Term 3 will be all about stepping back from the battlefield, arriving at that elusive goal that would probably define a deeper meaning and lunging forward.
As the Sloan class of 2012 dives inward, the clock is relentlessly ticking away and we must remember to savour the last few months with our sworn enemies and soul mates! For, at the end of the day, isn’t that what life’s really about?
I’m now four from eight.
That first email that comes through offering you an interview is an incredible confidence boost. You finally realize that firms don’t all start their emails with “Thank you for your application. However…” Your foot is in the door, quite literally in some cases when firms host interviews at their offices. But again, a reality check quickly follows. Afterall, this is only a foot in the door; we’ve been reminded numerous times that this is only the first step along a tough and merciless road (nevertheless, a significant step, that could, I feel, be measured in comparable size to those taken by Neil Armstrong). We’ve been culled down to a select few for the first interview. Following that an even more ruthless cut will ensue, succeeded by a minority who are left standing at the end. It sounds like something even Gordon Gekko would be challenged at.
A series of interviews now face me. But what does a consulting interview comprise of? The core is the case problem. These usually start with the premise that the CEO has asked for your advice to solve their problem, whether that be falling profits, market entry, a potential merger, or some other scenario. Your role, no, your duty, is to identify the crux of the issue and resolve it in the short space of 30 minutes or so.
So how does an MBA student prepare when one has succeeded at making it to this first round? Thankfully, it is not too hard, it just requires persistence. You must first turn your head and open your eyes to see all the hopeful study partners all around. I am immensely appreciative for the collaborative and constructive help of my fellow classmates. They, like you, are wanting to succeed. And perhaps in the most illustrative example of a ‘win-win’ scenario, you buddy up and test each other on sample cases. And you do this until you are verging on being repulsed by their company and constructive feedback. You wonder if you even want to be a consultant after you have long forgotten and given up counting the number of cases you have burned through. In these weeks of recruitment you will see the best and worst of your classmates – the built up pressure and stress in their frayed nerves and short tempers, the highs from crushing a case, the lows from screwing up the maths worse than their thirteen year-old cousin. Don’t forget, they see the same in you.
And through all this, you strengthen those connections with your classmates; an incredibly perverse bonding experience.
Now bring it on.
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.
Aug 16th, the day I arrived in London, one week ahead of starting my new master degree from LBS. The programme is called Master in Finance, so called [MiF]. 2 months ago, I was not fully convinced by the idea of applying to this programme proposed by my fiancée (now wife~). I hesitated to do so because I was in a great job with an asset management firm in Singapore. Unless it is really a top programme, there is no reason for me to give up my job and spend so much money and one year to do this. But it is a valid request from my wife since she is working in London and we all think it is not good for both of us as a married couple. Anyway, I got the offer from LBS.
After 4 weeks of the programme, I was fully convinced that this programme is definitely the world class and I made a great investment decision. Staffs are helpful; all classmates have great background in financial industry. For example, in my study group, there is one management consultant, two portfolio managers, one private banker and one investment banker. Amazing combination, isn’t it? And the whole class represents 38 nationalities and everyone has a very good track record in their own career. I feel very proud to be part of such a group and I know it will be a journey full of fun and challenge of course down the road.
Out of class, there are more than 80 clubs for your choice. There are finance, investment management, real estate, entrepreneurship, and PE/VC clubs if you are looking for jobs and future business partners. And there are also a lot of other clubs for cultural and sports lovers. I am sure you can find people who share the same interests and passions with you from this wide range of clubs.
I will enjoy myself as much as possible and will share more interesting stories with you guys.
A year ago, while I was researching different business schools to apply to, I came across the terms diversity and study group a lot, while reading about LBS. I always wondered, why LBS the LBS study group experience would be so different and what was the big deal about diversity?
It’s only when I came to LBS, I realized that I was wrong. Unlike many other schools, the people at LBS were truly diverse, in terms of nationalities, professional qualifications, interests and hobbies. Moreover, to my surprise the people were not only smart and accomplished but incredibly friendly and helpful as well. To top it all, each study group is carefully picked to ensure that you spend your whole 1st year doing projects with an extremely diverse group of people.
Still not convinced?? Well, guess what happens when you put the following people in a team and ask them to compete:
• A Greek Phd in electronics who has designed advanced medical monitoring devices
• A French animal welfare professional, who is an expert on bears and can speak 6 different languages
• A Scottish Doctor, who has worked in Hospitals as well as Cruise Ships and is an excellent surfer
• An American Banker who has spent a considerable time working in Brazil and Dubai
• A Mexican venture capitalist, focused on investing in social enterprises who is also a wine enthusiast and an avid football fan
• A Chinese sales and marketing expert with 5 years of experience in selling consumer goods in China
• An Indian game designer and entrepreneur with some experience in financial services
Well, that is a typical study group at LBS, who typically take some time to get comfortable and then they get together to win bottles of champagne!!!
I had spent the previous three months backpacking through Asia, enjoying a long holiday before the hard work and long hours at school began. I didn’t expect it to be such a quick return to reality though; my to-do list was expanding off the page by the time I landed at Heathrow. Flat-hunting, furniture buying, collecting bags scattered with friends across London, reminding myself how to do maths, meeting future classmates, and perhaps some sightseeing if time allowed.
London is an amazing place, steeped in history, but finding a flat so that you can be part of that history can be a soul-destroying experience. I quickly learnt that the standard of accommodation exceeded my initial budget and the value offered was sub-par. But persistence pays off and with some more searching we secured a good pad close to school. Finding flatmates is a far more enjoyable experience though; LBS organised a flat-hunters pub crawl in the two weeks prior to orientation. It was a brilliant way to meet my fellow classmates and find those in the similar position of searching of a flat. Through the pub crawls I found my future flatties, an oil tanker captain and an economic consultant.
Now I just need to tick off those remaining to-do items on my list.