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« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

Imma gonna meet Al Gore

Posted by Melanie on 26 November 2007

Thanks to the negotiation skills and persistance of fellow blogger, Stuart, I and several other LBSers will be attending the What If? Conference with Keynote Speaker, Mr. Al Gore himself. Amazing that even my most far-out dreams may actually be realized here at London Business School.
 
Let's just say we're not paying the original £1695 to attend this conference. Who else will be there? Jeff Swartz of Timberland, Alejandro Gutierrez of ARUP, Patagonia, Nokia, Unilever, Think MTV, Gib Bulloch of Accenture's Development Program... All my dream companies in one place :)

And the follow up:
here's a post of the question that Stuart posed to Mr. Gore, and the answer. Thanks to Jerome for the video editing!

   

The transition is complete: from hi-tech. to consulting

Posted by Manish on 26 November 2007

I came to B-school to shed my baggage. My baggage comprised of 2 technology degrees and ~5 years of work in the high tech sector. It was good work and good money but I give you my official story line - "I was rapidly narrowing into a niche which I was not comfortable with" (rights not reserved).

The journey through B-school was meant to be my 'wash and iron' which would allow me to develop and market my skills as a non technology business person. And it has turned out to be a premier cleaning service :-). 

Mind you it is a difficult and often depressing process. No matter how convinced you are, companies will always start by looking at your background (education and work experience) and the moment they see 2 high tech companies on your CV, it is thrown into a pile with other geek CVs. It's a fact and I reconciled with this very soon in the recruitment process.

For those of you who find yourselves in a similar situation, here are the things that I think have helped me cross the line:

1) A solid CV with almost no technical buzz words (I would say any thing more technical than hardware, software, database would be red flagged). Your future employers do not care that you used multithreading and ajax for developing something cool. They want to know how much money your company saved/made from your work. They want to know  the business impact, not the technical impact. Secondly you will see all your peers have achievements in each bullet while you as a technologist do certain things everyday because that's what you do at your job. I had this problem but you need to make every bullet in your CV speak of an achievement.

2) A solid internship in your area of interest: This is the bigest hurdle but one you mustn't compromise on. If you do an internship in your area of interest, you can build a convincing story about your aspirations.

3) Serious Involvement in clubs: To show your commitment to the area you are gunning for.

4) Something extra: Language skills, passion for things outside school etc. When 300 of your peers are all overachievers, often recruitment decisions boil down to marginal things and this is where your "other" skills come very handy.

This would not have been possible without the catalyst that  B-school has provided to my case. I at the other end of the transformation process and like many of you reading this, was in quite a dilemma about my life as a technologist when i'm 40. It was scary. Now i moving onto a more universal area of business which will bring its own challenges and keep my occupied for the next several years to come.

Goal! Goal! Goal!

Posted by Melanie on 19 November 2007

I think it's safe to say that at least 25% of the MBA class was on a sports trip last weekend. The guys football team, and girls rugby and football teams were in Barcelona last weekend for our own tournaments.

For me, it was less about the winning than it was about building up the team spirit, learning how to play better football, and having fun. There were 10 of us playing for the Women's Football team - coincidently all from the Americas - except for Sandra - my German study group mate who had lived in Barcelona before. I'd say it was the first time we've actually played as a real team - we had previously only practiced periodically on Sunday mornings. And thanks to the support from our coach, Guy, from the Men's Football team, we saw each player shine in her own way.

As for me, having never played team or contact sports before, the whole experience was exhilarating. There's something so real when you feel the pain in your whole body the next days from the intense strain of the games and the cold. Favorite memory: Simone roaring out the taxi window back at the hustlers on the way to the club Saturday night. Worst moment: discovering that we were all shafted by the budget hotel: no heating and no hot water. Oh, but in the end, it was a trip totally worth it.

Ah yes, and the results were a draw:

IESE 3 - LBS 2

INSEAD 4 - IESE 1

LBS 1 - INSEAD 0

The best game was the friendly match to the ones who wanted to play one more. Thanks to the partners who refereed for us, cheered for us, and played goalie for us in the last match.

Cheers to the 2007-2008 LBS Women's Football Team!

London Business School 40 - INSEAD 0

Posted by Stuart on 19 November 2007

Well I think the title probably captures it all...... A brave group of 58 Rugby warriors set out on the Eurostar to Paris this weekend. The mission - to return the BCG Trophy to its rightful position in London. Following an extended period of travel and culture we arrived on the battlefield of Fontainebleau. Warming up on the sideline, a group of victory hungry and focused individuals, we immediately won the mental battle and forced our opponents into the admission that they did not, in fact, have a "suitable" front row. Uncontested scrums would not be at all to our advantage, having spent the past 6 weeks building up the strength and quality of our pack......

So into battle we went, and within 15 minutes it became clear that this would be the year of London Business School. The rugby was fantastic, the tackles hard and fast, and shortly into the first half the "mighty" INSEAD had fallen to the tune of three tries. The whitewash continued, and the London Business School R.F.C. demonstrated the quality of rugby any club team would have been proud of. Despite a few injuries on the pitch (the team doctor was busy!) the overall outcome was hugely positive. INSEAD failed to score a single point and the warriors left the pitch having put 40 points past their opponents.

We were kindly hosted by our sponsors BCG in the evening and set about, once more, broadening our cultural understanding of the local city (with the odd beverage along the way) and returned the next morning victorious, over-joyed and hungry for the next tour!

In case anyone missed it, the final score was:

London Business School 40 - INSEAD 0

and the BCG trophy is now well placed back in the rugby locker on Park Road - vive le London Business School!!!!!!

London Leadership Series

Posted by Debasri on 18 November 2007

On 13 November, Ian Davis, Managing Director of McKinsey & Company, came to London Business School, as part of the London Leadership Series and shared with students and staff, some key thoughts that he said was a gift to London Business School, for the many gifted individuals that the school has given the firm.

Some of the key themes that he shared with us were as follows:

Growth: Companies are obsessed with growth and the capital markets reward it. He believes that the threat, in the short run, to growth is the slowdown in the US housing market and its effect on decreasing consumption demand, especially in the light of trade contagion between the US and other countries. However, he is personally very optimistic about the future, especially about the role of Asia and other emerging economies in fuelling this growth. The primary take-aways from his message were that countries with good education infrastructure and companies with skills to manage culturally diverse workforce will be the leaders of tomorrow’s growth. Some of the sectors that he believes will fuel global growth in future are infrastructure and retail/ consumer (especially in emerging markets), healthcare and knowledge based services.

Managing Risk: Organizations will have to rethink the way they perceive, price and manage risk. The definition of risk needs to extend beyond business and financial risk, and will need to incorporate reputational, organizational and geo-political risk. While the current crisis in the financial services industry will lead to a redefinition and repricing of financial risk, Mr. Davis fears that the next crisis will be from the unwinding of certain nations and thus in the form of political risk. And as had happened in the liquidity crisis, the global economy, will yet again, be perhaps caught unaware.

Focus on Talent: Talent is the set of capabilities, attitudes, attributes and characteristics that make organizations function effectively and efficiently. Mr. Davis pointed out that nations and organizations, especially those in emerging markets with increasingly face the challenges of not having a history of capital markets and of not having a culture of corporate management. In this scenario, how effectively companies manage globally and culturally diverse workforce and customer bases will become the key success factor. Not only that, he believes that the competitiveness of emerging markets will increasing shift from a pure cost advantage to one in which they will start leveraging their talent pool.

Technology & Internet: Mr. Davis believes that technology today has become a foundation of capability and that the internet has become much more pervasive than before. This is a significant development and the use of technology will perhaps shape the way business is conducted in the future.

Fads: Debt has always been cheaper than equity and Mr. Davis believes that fuelled by private equity activity, capital markets are today the ‘in’ thing. Whilst he recognizes the importance of capital markets in the development and smooth functioning of the global economy, he does make a point of mentioning that obsession with capital markets today is indeed a fad.

Some other points that came out, in the Q&A section, were issues related to rejuvenation of success, of why companies succeed for only the short term, the importance of company boards in transparent, responsible decision making and the challenges he faces everyday to create a common culture at McKinsey & Company, in which leadership of thought and leadership co-exist.

It was indeed an intellectually rewarding experience to hear, in person, the man who leads an organization that can safely be said to be today’s thought leader.

Acting & self-reflection

Posted by Melanie on 13 November 2007

The last two Fridays I missed my Acting 1 classes run by the Acting and Communications Club due to the Energy Summit, visiting friends, and the twelve hour strategy grind. I'd be missing this Friday as well due to the Women's Football Team trip to Barcelona. So I made an extra effort to do the make-up yesterday, even during such a busy time.

Only 5 out of 10 or so people made it - but we made very good use of the extra time & space understanding status. The activities consisted of selecting a card from 2 - 10, and acting out how we thought a person of that status should act in different scenarios. Then variations of wearing the card on our foreheads, having the other actings treat us a certain way.  It's amazing how well we were able to understand so quickly where were we placed in comparison to the other. Leo and I were a duo - interacting in an interview waiting room, going on a blind date, and waiting for our kids on a park bench.

The improvising is fun - but the take-aways are the most important. How does acting a certain status make us feel? How does it feel to be treated a status that you know you aren't? Where does status play a role in our lives? How do we perceive ourselves? How do you adjust your first impression of someone's status to the new information you find out about him/her? These classes are more about self-reflection than they are about acting, and are just brilliant.

The Calm Before the Storm

Posted by Matthew on 13 November 2007

You might be wondering where everybody has gone... Or maybe not. But if you are, November is apparently the busiest month of London Business School. I do not know if this is true for all business schools, but it is here. So, to cut the proverbial stress with a knife, the MBA Office has decided to offer a De-Stress Week. This week the following are being offered:

1) Free Massages
2) Chocolate Indulgences
3) British Breakfasts (By the way, is there anything in the British diet that is health conscious? -- I mean, I love clotted cream and scones as much as the next guy...)

So, this has been a surprisingly pleasant and relaxed week. Of course, next week involves the dreaded corporate finance midterm (not a final!). But I choose not to focus on that... I prefer to focus on my return to New York in December and my New Year's vacation in the Italian Alps. Have I made you jealous yet? Well, hopefully about everything except British breakfasts...

Diwali - the festival of light and fireworks!!

Posted by Stuart on 11 November 2007

Yesterday, as with most days at London Business School, I discovered yet more about the culture of my fellow class-mates and had the honour of sharing the Diwali celebrations with the India Club.

Following a "swift-half" in the Windsor with a few friends it was off to get my Diwali armband (something to do with licensing laws...) and sit down for the dinner. A feast of Indian food was accompanied by bread, samosas, a plentiful supply of wine and some great company.

We followed this with the real festival of light a.k.a around half an hour of fantastic fireworks and the opportunity to test the "firework" setting on my camera, which I hope you will agree, resulted in some fantastic photos (see below).

The evening was rounded off with some amazing Bollywood style dancing, a VIP from the film industry (I have forgotten even though I probably should remember) and then the floor opened up for the rest of us to bust a few moves!

All in all a fantastic night and yet another reason to come to such an international school :o)

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Should I stay, shoudl I go... on the Hong-Kong trek

Posted by Jerome on 09 November 2007

Just to give you the background of this post: it's Friday 1AM, later I have an early breakfast (7:30AM) organised by and at the school featuring an MBA alumnus (now senior executive) then a 12 hour exam in Strategy. "What the heck is that?" you might say. Well it's a 9AM-9PM strategy case we will be working on in study group. Great team experience (at least before starting, I will give you the follow up!) on a case we were given the background a few days ago. Then well deserved birthday drinks.

So HKG trek. Career services put together a couple of treks. Matt already told you about the New-York one. This time we're off to Hong-Kong. Taking mandarin classes, I couldn't miss the opportunity. However it was a bit of a dilemma. First financially, then logistically. I managed to work out the money aspect of it (I guess I will have to cut some expenses in London) but it creates some conflicts in the course schedule for those who are interested in the International Exchange Program (which I am). Given that I joined the crew at the last minute (my bad here) I only had 2 days to figure all the details out: estimate pricing for flight and accommodation, reach out to second year students already in exchange, discuss with the MBA office the options to adapt my class schedule. A bit hectic I have to admit, next time I hope I will wake up a bit earlier.

Of course, this sort of things happen when the workload reaches a peak in the term. How can you cope with that? Exercise! Keep your body in shape, that is the key to go through all this without falling asleep in the financial accounting class!

Got to go now but stay tuned, more info will be posted. Don, my fellow blogger, is part of the party! He'll be posting nice pics. As far as I am concerned, I will be working on a little video!

PS: 1st stage applicants we're 1 week to the interview decision, so I hope you're back in business and reading this blog!