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A tough week

Posted by Stephen on 28 November 2006

It felt like last week was never going to end. It started the previous weekend with a Finance case study that we needed to complete in our study groups. Our group has divided the work and I was the lucky person assigned to this case. It turned out to be quite tough and we spent most of the weekend working on it. You realise that you are spending too much time at school when you start ordering Indian takeaway food and eating dinner in the study rooms!

Anyway we completed this assignment by Tuesday and then it was time to prepare for my French exam on Thursday. Luckily, I have studied some French before the MBA so this wasn't too traumatic. Par le grand probleme. 

As soon as the French exam was over it was time to get ready for the big one - the Finance exam. Not really how you would choose to spend Saturday morning, but the exam turned out to be ok. I have to be careful here because I don't have the results yet.

It seemed to me that after the exam the guys at the Windsor pub didn't know what had hit them. By the time I arrived there the place was full to capacity. There was plenty of singing and general partying going on and it looked like some people had been there for some time. The party continued on into Saturday night at a central London nightclub.  Sorry, no photos this time.

I wonder if it will be like this after every exam? We have Financial Accounting next week.

Tunisia here we come

Posted by Sean on 26 November 2006

I have been working on a research project since the beginning of October with a professor in the London Business School Private Equity Institute and three fellow classmates. The project’s aim is to design a process for measuring the developmental impacts of Private Equity in Africa. It is a really interesting project sponsored by some big industry bodies both in Africa and Europe. We have essentially been given some development indicators that our sponsors would like us to measure and combined those with some more indicators we are interested in from research and outside input. We have put together a draft questionnaire that we are going to test with some ‘pilot’ VC firms in Africa, prior to finalizing the questionnaire for dissemination to all firms investing in Africa.

As part of the pilot portion of the project, we are traveling in pairs to two different parts of Africa. I am headed to Tunisia with a classmate and the other pair is going to Nigeria. We are planning this trip for just after exams and before we all diverge to different parts of the world for the holidays. We plan to spend three days there, meeting different VC firms and as many of their portfolio companies as we can. Right now, we are debating whether or not to head out early for some sight seeing, or beach time, but are torn because that would conflict with the famous Santa Claus Pub Crawl at the end of exams… Decisions, decisions…

The intended result of the project is to come up with a repeatable measurement process for development impacts of Private Equity in Africa. It will become the benchmark in Africa for measuring Private Equity firms and their investments by this impact, and serve as a model for similar goals in other Emerging Markets. Overall, it has been a great addition to the curriculum for me. I am actually going to get an elective credit by using this for the brand new First Year Project elective (plus we are getting paid!). I plan on taking advantage of all the opportunities available to get real experience out of the classroom. There is a shadowing project I can do, an organizational behavior audit to do, and a second year project in addition to any other research opportunities that might come around. Tunisia here we come!

It's over...for now

Posted by Manish on 26 November 2006

310 first year MBAs are now past the most dreaded day of the first semester - the finance-1 exam. For a lot of people, including me, this was the first sit own 3 hour exam in many years. Our finance professor had been kind to us and spent 4 hours over 2 weekends going over some of the basics we had covered over the semester. That helped a lot in gearing me for the big day.

Anyways, a big percentage of us were out partying since the sound of the bell. There was even an unofficial competition to find out who gets to the windsor castle pub right after handing in the exam. I believe the winner got there in about 1hour and 30 minutes. I took my full 3 hours like a lot of others. The folks at the Windsor castle were probably aware of the exam and the potential rush through the doors at 1pm. A ton of us ended up there eventually. There were several parties on including a big party at On-Anon in Picadilly circus to celebrate a handful of birthdays.

I know a lot of folks are going to take the weekend off and do nothing to make up for the overload of finance we had this week. Thankfully some of our projects that were due on monday have been pushed out by a week to give us this much needed breather.

Two Lectures Over the Weekend

Posted by Martha on 20 November 2006

Other than running, crack a case sessions and the Consulting Club events last week, my life turned around B6 and Mandarin. Yesterday we had the last lecture of the Strategic Problem Solving course. This short course had the objective to help us structure our logic and communicate effectively in a MECE way.  Today we had a tutorial on Finance to prepare for our test next Saturday. Francesca Cornelli was kind enough to devote over two hours of her Sunday to us. I found both, yesterday's class and today's tutorial, very useful.

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The Alumni Sailing Challenge

Posted by Stephen on 16 November 2006

We went back to Sunsail in Portsmouth last weekend to compete with the school's Alumni in the traditional Alumni sailing challenge. This year was the biggest event ever, involving 5 boats, with 40 students and alumni.

The weather on the first day was typical of the UK in November - cold and windy. I was sailing with a fairly inexperienced crew and we had a few interesting moments when things went wrong. By the end of the day, the gusts were 30mph and our objective was survival rather than winning the race.

We did survive, albeit with a few bumps and bruises from the first day. On Saturday evening, we went to a restaurant called Rosies for the traditional dinner and several glasses of wine.

The weather on the second day was more conducive to sailing, with lighter winds and sunshine. Our team was more competitive on the second day because of the weather and also our sailing team captain Christophe coming onto our boat to help us out. We actually managed to beat one of the other London Business School boats, despite the fact that they used a spinnaker when we didn't.

Overall, the student boat skippered by Bruce beat the two alumni boats and managed an impressive 3rd in the regatta. I believe that this is the first time the students have ever beaten the alumni and is a sign of the strength of the sailing club this year.

So that is it for sailing this year, the club will return next spring. I will certainly be looking forward to the Caribbean trip in spring break. Hopefully, this will be easier sailing than the Solent in Winter.

See here for all the pictures -   

http://picasaweb.google.com/brendon.moss/LBSAlumniChallenge?authkey=ueI3VQTq3Z4J0EWCy7yDEA_fWlU

Andrew's Birthday

Posted by Martha on 16 November 2006

Last Monday, we celebrated Andrew Bate's (B6 team member) xxth birthday at a charming Thai restaurant. Andrew is, by the way, travelling to the US this weekend for further celebration.

Food, wine and the conversation were all good plus...I got to talk to Nacho.

Happens that, there are people in my own stream who I have never really talked to in depth (almost three months into the MBA)...how come? well...time goes fast!

These events are a great chance to really "talk" to people and get to know each other better.

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Internship search begins

Posted by Sean on 15 November 2006

They weren’t kidding about the first term! I am barely keeping my head above water. To complicate things further, I am also starting my first applications for internships. Luckily, our career centre has been excellent, and are making the process much easier for me.

In terms of career objectives, this past three months has been an incredible learning experience for me. Last year I wanted to be a consultant, at the start of the year a banker, and through a lot of coaching, reflecting, and learning, I have decided that I want to be a Brand Manager for a consumer goods company. Wow, all over the place, right? Actually, that is one of the great things about doing an MBA – options. At first, the range of options is overwhelming and you start seeing yourself in any job function, latching instantly onto whatever piques your interest. That is exactly what I did. But despite a slight variation in focus, I have come full-circle back to why I came to business school in the first place – to direct my career towards General Management. Yes, at first I thought I would become a consultant in the short term and now want to go directly into industry, but substantially, I am back to the same path I have always wanted.

Luckily, there has been plenty of opportunity for reflection, career education, and support. We had GLAM, personal career coaching sessions, speaker panels about every possible career, and professional clubs and peers to round it all out. But now that I know what I want to do, it’s time for me to get an internship. This week, I am putting together my first application, and from there will be sending CVs to a bunch of target companies. Additionally, many companies will be coming onto campus starting in January. First it will be the banks and consultancies in the ‘Milk Round’ and then the industry companies in February (Industry Month). Stay tuned…

Mandarin and Strategy

Posted by Martha on 13 November 2006

The main events of last week, other than the challenging climbing experienceClimbing_november_3rd_06_13 , were

London_bs_mandarin_class_nov_06 > Mandarin class, which seems to be evolving faster than my learning ability.

We are supposed to know about 120 characters by next Thursday, when we have our first test.

Today we actually sang Happy Birthday shēng kuài to Andrew Bate in Chinese. It was fun. Our teacher lǎo shī is extremely nice, patient and above all skillful. The Mandarin class is very high quality and worth taking.

London_bs_strategy_project_nov_06_2 > The long Strategy project, which grasped our attention from 9 in the morning till 9 at night. At first I thought "no way we'll take so long" but we did. We got to apply the tools we learnt for the past five weeks and delivered an strategic analysis of Dell's past and future.

Picture: Peter Kolev, the project's leader, making his point to Vivek (or the other way around).

Rock Climbing for Beginners

Posted by Stephen on 13 November 2006

I think it was the MBA offsite day that gave us the taste for rock climbing. The offsite took place during the orientation and involved quite a lot of climbing, designed to test your nerves and push yourself. But it was only last week that we were able to find time to complete a beginners rock climbing course.

We went to a place called Westway in west London, a mere 4/5 stops from the school on the tube. The centre at Westway provides indoor rock climbing facilities and tuition, as well as lots of other sports facilities. They have around 350 different routes up climbing walls of every difficulty level.

http://www.westway.org/sports/wsc/climbing

We spent most of the weekend learning about climbing technique and the safety issues involved. It is a really cool sport and now that we have completed the course I'm sure we will be regulars at Westway for some more climbing. Hopefully, we can also get involved in some of the activities organised by the rock and mountain club, including some real climbing outside!

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About the GMAT

Posted by Martha on 12 November 2006

Last Monday I met Bertha Díaz, who plans to apply to our school next January. She told me the GMAT is one of her main concerns...it was also mine back then.

In order to get ready for the test while working, I took a take a three-week holiday in México and studied an average of eight hours per day.

Luckily, I only had to take the test once however some of my classmates took it two or three times to achieve their desired score.

My main source of information was mba.com. My favourite books were Kaplan and The Official GMAT Review however Princeton also has some useful basics. I also took most available practice tests, whose scores were close to my official results.

My best advice for the day is to properly manage your time for each question. The most important questions come first but they are not the only questions to answer. Keep that in mind.

I believe the GMAT can be overcome by an intense study period followed by a disciplined test on the day. It can be done!

And the new Dean is.......

Posted by Adcoms on 07 November 2006

Robin Buchanan, Senior Partner in the UK of Bain & Co Inc.  Following much speculation, including an accurate prediction in this morning's Times! Mr Buchanan was announced by the School as the successor to Dean Tyson.

As quoted on the School's website:-

London Business School is delighted to announce that Robin Buchanan is to be its new Dean. Buchanan is currently the Senior Partner in the UK of Bain & Company Inc., the global business consultancy. He will bring to the School over 30 years' experience of providing advice on strategy, organisation, operations and acquisitions to international business clients. Buchanan was elected Managing Partner of Bain in the UK in 1990, and became Senior Partner in 1996.

Buchanan will be the seventh Dean in the School's 42-year history.  He succeeds Laura Tyson who will be returning to the University of California at Berkeley as Professor of Business Administration and Economics at the Haas School of Business.

Read the official press release (PDF)

B6 Night Out

Posted by Martha on 03 November 2006

B6 (this is my team) decided for a night out. Andrew Bate had us at his place for pizza and drinks. We had a blast! We talked about everything: ourselves, others, professors, school, a paper Andrew is writing, etc. They are cool: Rajat was the funniest and Andrew was relaxed; we all had a great time. They are all smart and "extremely nice". I think we are the luckiest.

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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.