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« August 2007 | Main | October 2007 »


Posted by Matthew on 28 September 2007

What is GLAM you may ask? A new David Bowie album, which would be a fairly decent follow to "Fame." Nope. It is the Global Leadership Assessment for Managers (known as GLAM henceforth). Effectively, it is London Business School's attempt to illustrate our weaknesses and strengths (if we have any). They also contract out to do a personality survey that tells us if we are ambitious or aimless, arrogant or modest, open or closed. Now, I like critical feedback as much as the next guy, but some of it is really harsh. I am apparently aimless, lack all sympathy towards other people, and untrusting. Now I know why all of my ex-girlfriends left me. Has GLAM been a success? It is very difficult to say. Maybe this is the kind of thing that can only be measured in many years when we are either effective or ineffective leaders.

The most fun part of it so far, however, has been a very well structured simulation where we had to run a small specialty motor company against other groups. We had to choose all of the variables from sales to marketing to R & D. It was an all day event, and I always love these strategic games that force people to make difficult high-level decisions. Unfortunately, they did not announce a winner since they said that the purpose was to practice group dynamics and leadership traits. But I am willing to declare my group the clear winner -- highest market share, highest revenue, and best press releases. Okay, so maybe I am not so aimless and closed, but maybe not so modest either.

Last turn of the warm-up lap

Posted by Jerome on 26 September 2007

Yep that is it, vacation is almost officially over. September has been the month to start working on soft skills. After the CV workshop, followed by a one to one session with a coach and a half-day networking class, we spent a whole day dedicated to work on presentation skills.

Divided into groups of 6 students, one professional trainer video taped us and delivered a customised feedback. One of the most useful and engaging workshops so far, as we could comment not only on our performance but also on other's. The MBA office did a good job at grouping us differently from our usual study groups. More chances to get to know us, more nationalities to learn from, more professional backgrounds to interact with. I had some pretty useful take aways from that session: I need to be more concise, less wordy! Well after watching the tape, it's clear that I need to work on that. Not sure I should apply the same to my blog posts (I haven't received any feedback yet so I will continue :)

Thursday, Friday and Saturday (yes Saturday, you know that day which with Sunday forms weekends) we'll be wrapping up the month working on our global leadership skills. A global school has to develop global leadership skills, and I am looking forward to that 3 day class!

Then Monday, core courses kick off. The reading required for these is pretty thorough, a good mix of case studies and text books. On top of that the second year MBAs will be all back! Not only the campus is gonna be much busier but the student association activity is gonna take another dimension! Man, I haven't been that busy in months, since I resigned from my previous job...

They're kidding, right?

Posted by Melanie on 24 September 2007

Contemporary Strategy Analysis: Concepts, Techniques, Applications, With Cases     by Robert M. Grant      (Paperback - 31 Aug 2007)
1 Used & new from £285.24

***FYI***Response from Lecturer***Phew!

Here is the link for the Blackwells copy:


And here’s the relevant Amazon copy:

Contemporary Strategy Analysis by R.M. Grant (Paperback - 19 April 2007)

Buy new: £29.99 £23.99   

Why did you choose London Business School?.....

Posted by Stuart on 23 September 2007

......the question I heard most during the 'Ambassador Tours' I did this weekend for the Open House Event at the school.

Open House Events

I was asked (very nicely) by someone from the Admissions Committee if I would not mind helping out on a Saturday lunchtime, showing prospective students around the school campus. I deliberated, wondered if I had space in my schedule, then realised that free lunch and beers in the Windsor were the highly prized award - SOLD! On a more serious note, I actually did want to get the chance to take people around MY school, somewhere I am proud of, and have the opportunity to chat in real terms as to why I chose the school over my other choices.

So we toured the campus and I was indeed bombarded by a number of questions from eager students, wanting to discover the 'real deal' about the school, the MBA programme and the reasons of a bona fide student for choosing the 'London Advantage'. I was somewhat surprised at some of the questions and when asked what the school indemnity policy was ("should I fall out of a library window or something"!!) politely pointed I was merely a glorified tour guide, moving on quickly to talk about my own spin on why London Business School is the best 'fit ' for me:

1. I personally believe it is the only top tier school that really does manage to get the right 'work hard/play 
    hard' balance and enables its students to develop a capture on work/life balance from the start.

2. The international diversity really IS a unique selling point over the US equivalent and as a Brit I am
    genuinely an 'ethnic minority' for the first time in my own country! There is not another school in the
    world that can claim to have 91% international diversity in terms of the host country whilst still managing
    to be located in one of the key cities in the world....plenty of European schools obviously have a great
    international mix but very few of these can boast a 2 year program OR major city anywhere nearby.

3. The students, school and staff do not take themselves too seriously and everyone knows exactly what a
    great brand London Business School without needing to 'sell' the school at every opportunity. It is a
    great place to learn, an amazing community to be a part of and an AWESOME place to socialise!

4.   Top MBA + London life + Great People = A Fantastic Experience......enough said I feel

Now before anyone reading this writes to the Admissions Committee asking how much I am being paid to put this stuff in my blog, I want to point out we are given a completely free reign when blogging and all of the above has been extracted from the dark recesses of my brain....I am a pretty honest type of bloke, and certainly not afraid to speak my mind when something does not work (as BT customer services will tell you!) but it just happens that the school has got it right and I am happy to have no gripes at this point.

So if you really want to know why people choose the school just pop along and ask us - the great thing about having such a diverse mix of people is that everyone will have a slightly different spin on it. The only real way to find out the 'weighted average' of opinions is to keep asking as many London MBAs as you can get your hands on and then read the reviews....that is what I did and can happily say it was 100% the right choice for me.

Roll on the 'London Advantage Oktoberfest' next weekend and please remember if you are going to attend an event that I happen to be doing tours at, I know NOTHING about indemnity or insurance!!!!

Enjoy these links and if you feel London is right for you then we hope to see some of around NW1!

FT MBA Rankings

London Business School News

Wikipedia - London Business School 

Sore body and a full stomach

Posted by Melanie on 23 September 2007

Yesterday, my Spanish flatmate D was singing Manu Chao’s Me Gustas Tu and since our American flatmate hadn’t heard of him, we let him listen to it (from my ipod) and showed him a video from his Mano Negra times. Seeing a young boy dancing on the video reminded me of the girl from Madonna’s Hung Up video. And this in turn had me jumping up and down to the beats, ready for a run – or better yet, for yoga. I was told that Triyoga in Primrose Hill was where Madonna goes for yoga so I looked their schedule up and found a Yoga 1 course at 15:00.

Invited my best friend to come along (she has been battling allergies all week). I ran to campus to pick up my bike and we cycled to the studio – one of my new favorite places in London.

A cute café up front, smells of incense, warm wood floors and furnishing, and racks of super-high-quality yogawear. 20% student discount. Yeah. Mats, polsters and blocks were all provided in each room. The main one had a little stage up front for the instructor, and colorful window panes. Sunshine pouring in cheerfully. I hadn’t done yoga in over 3 months, except for the Kundalini session I went with S to at the International Youth Hostel last week. It was wonderful to feel the down and up dog stretches again – building up the heat through deep breathing and holding simple poses. I’m plenty sore today.

Heavy drinking before and during our Karaoke session at LuckyVoice might’ve added to the pain.

Now though, my stomach is happy – full of a wonderful Chinese lunch-dinner and mooncakes organized by a Singaporean and a Malaysian to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. The best part was debating over the "right" versions of the holiday legends. Apparently my versions have been Americanized.

Little Hanoi

Posted by Debasri on 23 September 2007

One of the best things about London that I have discovered is that one can be in this city but at the same time experience a slice of life (and a pint of the local brew) from almost any culture or civilisation in the modern world.

This was a long weekend and that too a badly planned one. The weather was nice, mostly sunny, my Indian bones weren't chilling and would have been the perfect occassion to have planned a trip to the continent or at least to some place outside of London. Since the realisation dawned only about Saturday evening leaving me with not much time to venture out of the city, a fellow foodie and I embarked upon a project to make the most of what remained of the weekend and to try out some unusual cuisine, the choice for the evening being, Vietnamese.

We went to a place called Little Hanoi (about a 15 minute walk from Bank Station), where the main street is lined with Vietnamese restaurants on both sides, offering a wide variety of Vietnamese cuisine at very affordable rates (read student rates). We chose a place called Cafe Vietnam (or thereabouts) and plunged into ordering roast duck, beef noodles, chicken starters (some form of chicken wings) and my favourite part, Bia Hue! Even though my friend seemed to have enjoyed the food greatly, I am afraid I preferred the Bia Hue! It's in these moments that I tell myself, that it is often not the destination (here, liking or not liking the food) but the journey (the experience of trying out new things) that matters. [In case you would like some more follow-on on this line of profundity, do make it a point to read Ithaca by Constantine P. Cavafy.]

We then went on to Oxford circus (or was it Picadilly) and walked around looking for the Haagen Dazs store - what better way than to wrap up a big meal with some Belgian dark chocolate ice cream. We couldn't find the store and I had to come back home, to crash into bed and into deep slumber, dreaming of the cup of belgian...

It was a great evening, despite the chopsticks playing truant (and moi having to use a random, often messy combination of forks and fingers!) and I intend to make a habit of trying out a new cuisine and explore a new part of the city every weekend that I am in London.

Planning ahead

Posted by Melanie on 22 September 2007

I just bought my ticket home to Houston. Four-hundred and fifty pounds. It’s not so much the money that has me torn inside, but the indecision on what I want to do with those precious 3 weeks over the holidays. There were just too many options.

- Treks with classmates to the Middle East, Africa, or South America, for me to finally make it to those regions of the globe
- Spending time with alumni and contacts in China to get a better foothold there for possible summer internship leads
- Backpacking anywhere with a old friend
- Doing smaller trips in and around Great Britain and Continental Europe
- Getting ready for the milk round (not!)

Okay okay, those were the options because in reality, the most important thing for me over winter holidays is to be home with family. Sometimes I think the reason why I’ve been able to handle being nomadic for the last several years is because I still have home base waiting for me. I know that my thirteen cousins will all reconvene for xmas dinner – whether or not we do it for religious reasons.

So yes, this Christmas season, like every year (except for the year I spent in India), I will be shopping with my younger brother and sister for presents, wrapping them up at the last minute. I will be having a bowl of Vietnamese beef noodle soup (phô) the afternoon I land home. I will be staying up till morning playing uno (house rules) with my cousins. I will be home for just a few weeks of the year, but I’ll be home.

(Perhaps, very indicative to my choice for work-life balance... can I really handle the consulting world?)

Quiet days...

Posted by Jerome on 20 September 2007

I am in the middle of a 6-day weekend! September is the month when the MBA office spares the new students. Most of us haven't studied in a long long time so the rhythm is not too tough. If on top of that you add a waiver on statistics (that is one full day of class a week that becomes free) and no language requirement/assessment (I am gonna take Mandarin, but no need to assess myself, I just know 3 of the 3000 characters it takes to have a decent conversation) then the schedule tends to be light.
That is a great opportunity to spend some time thinking about what can be done in the associative space. Each nationality group, for instance, tries to put together a trip to their home countries; given that France is next door, we have to do the same at the French Club. I fear we're gonna compete with the dates though.
Time also to come up with a 'career strategy'. It's gonna be another 3 months before the official internship hunt kicks off, but it's never early enough to put one's thoughts together and run them by the career coaches.
Finally also a good time to browse the ocean of info the portal carries: speaker series, clubs meetings, class schedules, career services events, sports tournaments, library databases... A huge amount of information to digest, I wish the speed reading classes had started.
Some are said to have started preparing the class for the autumn term starting next month, but I haven't actually seen them.

Lunch n’ Learn

Posted by Debasri on 19 September 2007

I am a woman. And in business. Though currently, not in business but in business school. And these qualifications makes me somewhat of a ‘usual suspect’ as far as membership to the Women in Business club at London Business School is concerned.

The WiB club has started a new initiative called the Lunch and Learn series, in which women students, over lunch with faculty, get to know each other better and take the first steps towards increasing faculty student interactions, outside of class.

At the particular session I attended, six first year female students, together with the President of the WiB club had lunch with Professor Kristine F, who is an assistant professor in Decision Sciences at London Business School. The meeting started with the usual introductions, followed by discussion on the research that Prof F is currently involved in. Through the discussion we realised that faculty partner industry, through research, to help the latter make key decisions; the point being that not all research is arcane and academic but that a lot of the research has some very relevant and critical implications for business. Some of the projects that Prof F is involved are related to developing models for pricing optimisation and revenue management in different industry sectors. One of the ladies present at the lunch had experience in a field that Prof F is currently researching and the two got talking - the first steps towards greater involvement of students in faculty research may just have started at the lunch table!

The discussion then moved towards the challenges related to the multiple hats that women today have to wear. In other words, the multiple roles that women have to assume – that of a professional, a mother, a spouse, a daughter, a sister, a friend. The working woman today may have mastered the art of doing justice to multiple roles largely due to her ability to prioritise and multitask. One of the MBA09’ers at the lunch, who has a 2-month old daughter, laughingly said that she has multiple projects running at any point in time – curriculum related at school and then the baby back home!

We also talked about the multiculturalism that pervades not only school but also all of London and how easy it is for someone to feel welcome in the city. We talked about how London Business School is significantly more diverse as compared to some other business schools, which may have very localised student catchment areas and how this diversity of the class makes the learning experience even more enriching. For those of us at the lunch who were yet to believe in school’s diversity, all we had to do was to look around – Argentinean, Canadian, Icelandic, Indian(s), Israeli and Italian! Absolutely incredible!

I believe the objectives of the meeting were to open channels of communication with faculty to learn from their experiences, to get to know one another better and to form a strong support system for women on campus, to have fun but most importantly, to eat a 'non Bite non cold sandwich' lunch.

I enjoyed myself at the Lunch and Learn session - I ate haddock and chips.

Busy days

Posted by See-wan on 16 September 2007

Three weeks into our MBA program, I am already filling up my calendar with loads of club and networking events. Life as a London Business School student is great, there are tons of clubs and events to choose from and the classes we have so far are indeed very educating, especially for someone who comes from a non-business background like me. However, I must admit that I am most impressed by career services and their efforts in helping us choose the right career path. We have different career workshops every week, ranging from self assessment, to CV writing and coaching, to one-on-one coaching with our in house experts. It is very reassuring to know that the school takes our career planning very seriously and that there are always people there to help us when we are confused, which I suspect most of us are and will be for a while.

Help....I am trapped in the Windsor Castle!!!

Posted by Stuart on 16 September 2007

Now I don't want to alarm anyone here, so I will point out straight away that we fortunate few at London Business School have our very own 'Windsor Castle', the spiritual home of the MBA 2009s for the past few weeks and a great asset to the school community. Although not 'officially' part of the campus, the fact that we have our own secret entrance into the pub through the back and have a 'welcome' sign that actually sits on the wall within the courtyard that borders the school, I think technically we could say the pub is on our campus! The Windsor provides a very homely surrounding for us newbies and a place where you can almost guarantee seeing one or more class-mates after a hard day or week, sinking a few cold 'Maisel Weiss' German beers and chatting about the previous few days.....

Friday was our final day of UGM - Understanding General Management, and as a Pass/Fail course we were fortunate enough to be fairly confident that without any real shockers the vast majority of us will have passed comfortably. We had a couple of rather interesting assignments over the week (it is weird to be having homework again having spent the last seven years doing a 'proper' job) including describing our 'dream' job and also writing our own eulogy. The latter assignment might be considered a bit morbid by some and so we were given the option to write our retirement speech instead. It was very interesting to see the correlation between the dream job and eulogy in some cases and the divergence in others. Conceptually some of us are here to find the dream job that will also be part of our life path (myself included in this group) whilst others are fairly sure they wish their 'job' and 'life' to be two separate entities. Either way it was very interesting to see how our minds our working already and even more interesting to find a future potential 'Governor of Mars' in our class!!

So with a slight edge of confidence (we have not found out if we have actually passed yet!) my 'stream' caught up in the Windsor for a few hard earned beers, settled down to watch the rugby, and despite my home team getting a thrashing from South Africa the atmosphere was enough to temper my disappointment and make the evening pass away without so much as a tear....

The fact that the landlord lost a bet on the score and was serving free pints to those of us lucky enough to be in the rugby club did help :o)

So here it is...the mighty, the wonderful, 'Windsor':


     Windsor Castle Pub, Park Road

Next time you fancy a pint on Park Road make sure to come by and if you can find me amongst the throng of MBAs I might even shout you a pint of Maisel Weiss!

Apple's Banana

Posted by Melanie on 14 September 2007

With regard to working our study groups, 2nd to the Away Day in terms of fun so far was the PeopleExpress computer simulation that was used in our Understanding General Management course yesterday. Task: take an airline start-up and report the quarter with the the lowest stock price in the last year. There were five variables. Simple enough, no?

So picture the six of us in the war room - scrambling through the help notes, scribbling key points on the white board (I'm obsessive with this), naturally dividing out roles and developing a mini-strategy. Through the last 40 minutes we watched our stock price sore to $68 in Q4 of 1989. We held the highest score in the class. Celebration.

Take two involved us developing a strategy then having another go. Piece of cake, right? Just replicate what we did before and be slightly more aggressive. We ended up with a lower stock price than the first time. I was deflated, knowing that the champagne prize and recognition went to a much more successful group. What happened? More than losing, I was disappointed that we didn't learn anything.

Or did we? We were so stuck on our first method, we forgot to expand our minds beyond it. We were framed! And after hearing the strategies from the other groups, we realized we were playing much to conservatively and reacting too quickly to negative numbers in our charts. Our group was majorly risk averse (despite the fact we mostly had no problems leaping off 10 meter high wooden poles and trapezing across steel tightropes).

Now will we be able to overcome it in the next year? We shall see... meanwhile, our 3rd favorite activity together has proven to be writing on a banana with a ballpoint pen. It's all about the texture. Try it. I dare you.

A Mexican in the Middle East

Posted by Martha on 14 September 2007

Aug_20_21004Places: I work in Abu Dhabi from Monday to Thursday evening. The rest of the time I work and enjoy my stay in Dubai. The trip between the two cities takes an average of ninety minutes. Note that the time could be dramatically reduced by those who drive at 160 kph, which is a pretty normal speed in UAE.

People: Mostly passionate Lebanese who travel back home almost every weekend. Lucky them! There are also many others who come from Germany, UK and other interesting Middle Eastern places.

Aaron Deste, former COO at Schlumberger and currently based in London, is my job manager. I am happy and lucky to have him as our shared background makes me feel 'at home'. Aaron is smart, practical and just 'cool' about everything.

My official mentor is Ibrahim El-Hussein, leader of the Energy Practice in Middle East. He is obviously bright and very supportive.

Chady Zein (see picture) is my junior mentor, a gentleman from Lebanon, who with only a year in the firm appears to me incredibly competent. Chady has done a great job getting me up to speed and leading by example. He is the source of my inspiration.

Hotels: I tried a few and decided that the Grosvenor House is the way to go. Rooms and suites are of a high standard, service could not be better and, food and gym are really good.

Running: Steady but limited to a few kilometers per week. I am afraid food and drinks have outpaced burnt calories and will need to get back to normal very soon.

Life: Simply great. Tonight I am meeting Nivi and Neville, two current classmates, for drinks at the Budda Bar, also in the hotel. I am expecting it to be great!

New bloggers, welcome to the best business school in the world!

Posted by Martha on 14 September 2007

I am moved by reading the posts of the new bloggers. Welcome to London Business School!

I can't believe time went by so quickly. A tiny Mexican already a second-year MBA. I am looking forward to being back on campus after two 8-week internships. My experience this summer was hilarious but school awaits. I will be there soon to meet all these new 'younger' people who are like me, eager to learn, be and do better.

See you all very soon.

Open Your Mind

Posted by Debasri on 13 September 2007

Slave to my worldview, I went for the first of my series of back - to - back UGM classes. The first case we read was the Honda (A) case – written by consultants in pin-stripe suits, people like you and me - out of business school and interestingly far removed from the place where the ‘action was’. Throughout the first hour, I kept wondering why we were not using Michael Porter’s competition model to ‘solve’ the case. It’s classical conditioning – if there is a case, it has to be solved; and solved by fitting it, somehow into some arcane framework that someone somewhere has developed. By the time my frustration reached a crescendo, the professor handed us another case, Honda (B) and I attacked the case with hope, ‘this one we will solve’. I am not sure that the discussion fitted into the classical definition* of ‘solve a case’. To belabour the scene and the situation a bit more, in the post lunch session, we dissected the Apple case – again, discussion but no concrete solution (please refer my definition of 'solve a case' below).

We didn’t quite ‘solve’ any of the cases in a traditional sense, but I got some very key insights into not only how general managers work through the interrelation of four key elements - values, frames, commitments and processes. A little bit of thought convinced me that everyday life may also be influenced significantly (if I may be allowed to flaunt my newly acquired business statistics knowledge, at a 5% level of significance or 95% level of confidence) by the interplay of these forces. Without becoming too philosophical or pedantic, I’d like to share my personal experience with frames.

What is a frame? It is our worldview; it is reality as we see it, its reality as we believe it. The frame is a double edged sword – it can facilitate what we make of ourselves, but at the same time it shuts us from absorbing new experiences and prevents us from growing – intellectually and more importantly, as human beings. For example, a couple of days back, I believed that a case that is usually taught in business schools (mostly across the Atlantic) to teach strategy (read how to apply models) cannot be used to understand something quite as subtle as ‘what goes on inside a manager’s head’ – that was my frame, constraining me from new experiences. I believed that cases are meant to be dissected with such rapidity and by fitting them into one of the many available frameworks that the consulting companies would just have to roll out the red carpet (and hopefully the dough) for me.

I am still new around here and haven’t figured out much about how the ‘general manager’s mind’ framework works or even how to approach dissecting a case. But I am now aware that there are processes in my head that are, without my knowing, stymieing my growth. And it has made me question some of the frames within which I operate.

So, if you think that business school is only about textbooks, networking and getting the million dollar job, you should probably take a step back and analyse the frames within which you are operating.

All I’d say is, if you choose to come to business school, just open your mind.

* The classical definition of ‘solve a case’ is to fit it into some framework or model and take full advantage of what is called the 'hindsight bias'.

P.S. Thanks Professor BL for opening my mind.