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Business Leaders: In the Flesh

Posted by Sean on 02 November 2006

The classroom is only a small piece of the MBA at London Business School. Just looking at my last two weeks, course work and lectures make up less than half of the activities in my calendar. The multitude of events and activities outside of the classroom can actually be a bit overwhelming. There is so much to do, that there really is not enough time to do it all.

I could write for pages on all of the types of activities available, clubs, career centre stuff, social activities, competitions, etc, but I would just like to highlight one area that I have been most impressed with: prominent speaker presentations. Every week, there are numerous opportunities to interact with some massively important business people. Some of these presentations are organised by the school, some by professors to augment class discussions, some by the professional clubs for industry education, and some by the career centre.

One avenue is a regular breakfast series that pulls in members of the London Business School Advisory Board, who are all senior executives (or former) from various industries and countries around the world. These are small group discussions around a big table over breakfast, where there is no agenda other than questions from the students for the guest. Last week, I sat for an intimate breakfast with the CEO of Smith & Nephew, a large UK medical technology company producing advanced wound management, orthopedic surgical implants, etc. Fascinating, even though I am not interested in this industry. To augment our Ethics Course the professor brought in Niall Fitzgerald, the Former CEO of Unilever, to talk about he corporate social responsibility measures within Unilever. It was intriguing to hear from someone who managed a 250,000 person company, and how the organisation handled the end of Apartheid in their South African office, and how they found doing business in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the communism. Also for Ethics, we had the former head of stakeholder engagement at GAP come in to facilitate a mock stakeholder debate between study groups in our class around the Wal-Mart supply chain. And last night I went to a presentation on leadership from a VP at Cisco. These opportunities are here for everyone to take advantage of, but finding the time to get to them all is the difficult part.

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