Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

So, I am discovering how difficult it is to find content for blogging. As life here at LBS becomes busier by the day, it has been hard to find one unifying theme, other than frenzy!

Friday however, ended up being a perfect day, from a life and a blog-posting perspective. I have three particular moments from the day to share.

First, during ‘Leading through Conflict’. In our group of ten, we were challenged – with ten sheets of newspaper spread out on the floor, each of us was required to touch the newspaper, and have no body part touching the floor. Easy, right?

Then, of course, two sheets were removed. Even with eight remaining, it wasn’t too hard to share across ten pairs of feet. But for the last round, we were left surrounding one lonely scrap of newspaper.

It was pretty apparent we wouldn’t all be able to fit. Before we started arguing about who was going to get to stand on it, I suggested sitting on our chairs to avoid the floor, and holding the paper with our hands. Score one for teamwork.

The course was about managing potential conflicts, but for me, it was a neat illustration of a wider point about the state of the world. In our post-exercise discussion, we observed that we didn’t particularly cooperate when it wasn’t necessary, when there was one newspaper per person. However, when resources got scarce, we not only instinctively recognised the need to cooperate, we also managed to rapidly innovate.

My takeaway was that the normalisation of global resource scarcity should naturally give rise to better and faster forms of social innovation. I came to LBS wanting to be challenged and to explore such ideas further, but I had imagined that only like-minded friends would geek out about social impact with me. It’s heartening to know that this is a place where I can learn specific lessons even from my general courses.

But away from those lofty thoughts, Friday was also an opportunity to come back to the real world, and remember that it’s not all about philosophy at LBS. I then travelled across town to our LBS for London charity, Equal People.

We spent the afternoon in the company of Special Educational Needs users, supervising their use of the internet. We helped them with e-mails, and introduced some of them to YouTube and in turn, they gave us a fascinating and refreshing perspective on life in London.

I think this ended up being a great B-school moment because it was a real-life example of how the diverse social and learning environment at LBS does not just stop at the campus threshold, and that away from academic theory and career goal-seeking, it’s important to step outside of what can sometimes feel like an ivory tower existence.

Finally, as I wandered back through Notting Hill, I stopped by a Vietnamese street food stall. It was 4PM and I hadn’t managed to grab lunch so I was starving.

Whilst waiting, I remembered an article about one of my strategy professors researching the behaviour of market stall traders in India. I struck up a conversation with the owner about where she would like to set up shop – it turned out that they’d in fact been seeking to open a fixed premises, but weren’t sure about where the best location in London was, and whether they should target lunch trade or dinnertime…

A real-life business, identifying their market, understanding their customers and making choices which will affect the way they run their business… sounded a bit like a strategy case to me! I left them with an e-mail address, and took away an awesome bún thịt nướng (pork noodle salad). I am already looking forward to sharing some of my b-school learnings with Nha Trang kitchen.

As a group, at LBS we describe ourselves as eclectic, engaged, ambitious, communal and courageous. Friday had a little bit of all of that, and it’s these encounters that I think really typify the LBS experience.

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The last couple of weeks have been a bit more packed than usual for me. Lots of readings and assignments – as we approach the end of the second term for the September EMBAs – and a particularly demanding time for the team I work for as we are mid-way through a bid for the Scottish rail network. Some interesting things came to mind during this busy period.

First, I stumbled upon the blog of a full-time MBA student from Peru who wrote a short piece as a tribute to her grandfather – a giant of business in Peru – who had recently passed away. For those of you who speak Spanish find the link attached here. I was touched by what she wrote for a variety of reasons, one being that I am very close with my grandfather (who I send postcards every two months or so). I wanted to highlight two ideas from Lucia’s blog:

• She characterises her grandfather as a “Monday Person” – those who start every week with massive enthusiasm about their work and projects
• She emphasizes her grandfather’s love of his family and country.

When I think of my earlier post about a career worth having I see that I didn’t factor this into my decision making formulation. I thought briefly about this – while on the train to Glasgow – and I came up with some interesting ideas:

• To the extent that there are parts of my current job that I really like, I definitely couldn’t be described as someone with contagious enthusiasm for what I do. It’s scary to consider that the times when I’m more in flow happen when I am pivot tabling our performance data sets for analysis purposes!
• It’s clear that a commitment to something greater than oneself taps into a source of energy that I haven’t exploited yet.

I definitely need to do more detective work on my future career. Need to find this kind of passion. I’m really looking forward to the Entrepreneurship courses in the summer term as I have some business ideas – that I’ll share in due course – which I believe can take me in the right direction in years to come. Exciting times!

Second, at the start of the EMBA I decided to create some time to engage in volunteering activities. It’s unbelievable that it took me so long to get it done but yesterday I did! I went to a Fitzrovia Youth Action event organised by the LBS Volunteers Club. I was supposed to tutor a “class” of A-level business students and I was quite nervous about it. After being briefly trained by the FYA lady I stepped into an empty classroom and waited for the kids to come. We didn’t consider half-term though and the attendance rate is not exactly LBS-like, engagement is a big issue for this school. In the end I spent my time with the one kid that showed up. While solving a bakery P/L case study he shared some facts about his life. I couldn’t help think about the quote I dissected in my last post: “Fortune favours the bold”.

I will make this event a twice-a-month must for myself and would encourage other students to join. Maybe together we can change some initial conditions and shape some fortunes.

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