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On Personal Attention at London Business School

Posted by Kobby on 31 October 2008

Even though London Business School enrols hundreds of people in its degree programs, the school gives its MBA students a lot of individual attention. I certainly didn’t expect as much personal attention as I’ve enjoyed, and I've been pleasantly surprised. So far, I have had one-to-one sessions to discuss my CV, my life and career goals, and some of my personality traits among others.

I showed up at my CV one-to-one session half-expecting a quick glance through my achievements and perhaps a pat on my back. No such luck. Instead, I sat and visibly cringed as the lady from career services read my résumé out loud. I quickly decided that the CV needed (a lot) more work and signed up for "CV Surgery," a second individual appointment where another pair of eyes and mouth read my CV out loud again. But this time, I cringed less.

I also signed up for one of the prized one-to-one sessions with Mohan Mohan Mohan (that's his name, honest). Mohan is a wise, old man, a retired P&G executive with enough energy to power the campus for a week. He spends some of his time counselling London Business School students on their life and career goals. We chatted for an hour about what really matters to me – contributing to Africa’s development and its economic boom, which I'm betting will happen in my lifetime – and discussed career options that could help me realize these goals. Like many other students who’ve met Mohan, I left with a greater sense of purpose and new ideas for how to navigate an uncertain job market and get all I want out of my MBA.

The half-hour I spent discussing my personality with a consultant felt strangely similar to what I imagine therapy feels like. We used my 360-degree personality feedback from my former colleagues at Nielsen as a means to assess my positive traits and identify a handful of “personality challenges,” which could make me a more effective leader. For instance, I’m generally unassertive and can appear indifferent to issues, even when I am interested. Not surprisingly, this is a potential liability for someone who dreams of influencing a continent.

For me, talking to others is one of the best ways for me to think through issues. Be it improving my CV, discussing my life goals and career strategy, or sitting through personality therapy, the one-to-one sessions at London Business School have been as insightful as they have been beneficial.

Admissions Director David Simpson talks about the full-time MBA application process on clearadmit.com

Posted by Adcoms on 30 October 2008

Admissions Director David Simpson talks about the full-time MBA application process on clearadmit.com
Have you have submitted your application for the stage one deadline? Or are you in the process of applying for one of our other deadlines? Either way, if you want to know the insiders view on London Business School’s application process, read on to find out:

• What happens to your application when we get it?
• Advice on completing successful applications and essays
• What to expect at an interview
• Who is a ‘typical’ London Business School student?

Click here to read the full interview.

Campus Community Portal Postings

Posted by Don on 29 October 2008

For whatever reason people have increasingly seen fit to post on “Campus Community + Alumni” Portal board, a board that reaches out to EVERYONE (everyone who is still subscribed to this board).

Posting here carries a lot of responsibility – you reach out to a high number of people (potentially multiple thousands – I don’t know as I have not yet had anything important enough). I would have thought that people attending any of the prestigious programs of LBS would be aware of this fast as well as would be respectful of other people’s time.

Not so. The past few weeks saw “highlights” such as:

-          Invitation for “two bachelors to share one room in a luxury accommodation” (what the @$%?)

-          Someone trying to “gauge your thoughts on the current economic crisis … would also be interesting to hear your views on how different  industry sectors will be affected both in terms of magnitude and  timescale … will help in driving London Business School further in its goal of changing the world, one organization, one business leader at a time!” (totally off the charts)

-          Someone wanting “a contact/reference at SOLAR TURBINES to resolve an issue on our facility urgently please” (are we a phone book?)

-          Another giving his take on the performance of the German stock market on one day “the authorities shud remove VW from the index temporarily but they say they won't as long as at least 5% of the shares are in the market” (certainly of high interest to the whole school community)

And, arguably the best:

-          Someone “looking for a dashboard for his Range Rover Classic”

Many people have by now unsubscribed from Campus Community as a discussion board. This is unfortunate but the amount of thoughtless spam has reached proportions that require such a drastic step. It is very surprising to find people with such lack of awareness of proper etiquette – leaves me wondering how they communicate in a professional corporate environment.

MBA TV, Episode two

Posted by Adcoms on 23 October 2008

The second episode in our new series of videos is available to view now. With the admissions process for 2009 entrance in full swing we bring you an inside view of the application process. This episode includes an interview with a member of the Admissions Committee on writing stand-out applications and views and advice from our current MBA students.

View the full interview with David Simpson from the MBA Admissions Committee.

We want MBA TV to give you a window into life at London Business School. Features will cover the School community, curriculum highlights, major campus events and club activities. We hope you enjoy our second instalment. If you have any comments or suggestions on content for future episodes, please post them here.

So many clubs, so little time...

Posted by Nick on 21 October 2008

My shins are black and blue, my knees have soft mushy spots which hurt to touch, I can feel muscles in my back that I didn't know existed, my forearms feel like rubber, and I have a red scratch under my eye from getting punched in the face by a French girl.  No, I didn't have a rough night out in East London... I spent the weekend sailing with the London Business School sailing club in the Sunsail Regatta in Portsmouth. 

It has been a long time since I've been in a sailboat where I was doing something more than just relaxing, sipping wine, and taking in the sun.  This was racing and I had forgotten how physically taxing (and exhilarating) it can be.  With all of my bumps and bruises though, I got off easy; my classmate MK, who was on the other boat, got in a fight with a sailboat and the sailboat won.  Basically, the main sheet caught his neck as they were jibbing and it smashed his face into the deck.  He's a trooper though, he was in class the next day, bandages and all.

Well, as fun as I had during sailing, Krish already told me he had written a blog post about the whole experiences, so I'm going to use this as an opportunity to segway to the topic of clubs in general.

The shear number of active clubs at this school is crazy... its almost impossible to keep track of them all.  The trap which many first-years fall into is to join too many.  There are many clubs that I'm interested in, but I realized within the first few weeks that I was going to have to prioritize and only participate in those I really wanted to be involved in.  Trying to fill professional, social, and sports needs, I have joined the following clubs:

  • Venture Capital Club - one of my main professional goals is to work in Venture Capital, preferably in Renewable/Green Tech or Nanotechnology.  Though this is a lofty goal (it can be very difficult to land a VC gig right out of school) but the VC club greatly increases your chances of breaking into the industry.  There are numerous speakers, entrepreneur pitches, and competitions.  I'm particularly looking forward to the VCIC competition in the Spring Term where we form fictitious VC funds and evaluate real entrepreneurs' business plans.
  • Energy Club - As I have a strong interest in renewable energy, and I may not be able to land a coveted VC job, I've started looking into working for a big energy firm such as BP in their alternative energy group.  I've been learning quite a lot about the industry through the clubs events, and I look forward to more.
  • Entrepreneurship Club - I'm still holding onto that dream of starting my own company right out of school (yet another pathway into VC), but I'm having trouble coming up with a winning idea.  The entrepreneurship club's  speakers and competitions help bring ideas to the surface and offer inspiration.
  • Squash Club - I used to enjoy playing racquetball in college, and squash is the next closest thing.  Amazingly enough, the London Business School squash club has full access to the Lord's Squash Courts!  The opportunity to play at such an exclusive club is invaluable, not only for the experience, but also for the people you may find yourself playing squash against!
  • Student Ambassador - ok, so its not really a club, but it will be taking up a considerable amount of my time.  A former student ambassador, Dana McNabb, was instrumental in my decision to apply to London Business School.  I decided a while ago that I wanted to help prospective students learn more about the school, just as she helped me.  I'll be attending information sessions, giving campus tours, and generally making myself available to answer questions about the school.  You can see a listing of all Student Ambassadors here.
  • Sailing Club - as I mentioned above, I had a great time sailing and want to do as much of it as possible during my time at London Business School.  My boat, skippered by the incomparable Miranda, came in 3rd place last weekend out of about 20 boats!!  Each year the sailing club takes a spring break trip somewhere to go sailing... last year it was Thailand... its up to us this year to figure out where we want to go.  I'm thinking Vietnam sounds good.  Today I start a seven week Day Skipper course taught at the school, covering maritime basics such as navigation, etc..  Its the first step towards getting my Skipper License which will allow me to rent boats and take them out.

Well, there are a few other clubs I 'dabble' in (Poker, Rock n' Roll, and Wine & Cheese come to mind), but these are the main ones I'm making a strong effort to be active in.  I'm at least making sure I go to all of the meetings and events, but once you start factoring in class trips, friends' birthday drinks, company networking events, etc. it become hard to keep all of the balls in the air. 

By far one of the best aspects of London Business School is the extremely high level of involvement that the student body has in clubs and activities.  There is something for everyone offered at the school, and if there is a club you want to join which doesn't exist, the school makes it quite easy to start a new club!

Oh, and it should be noted that I didn't do anything to deserve getting punched in the face by said French girl... it was entirely by accident... I was manning the Genoa sheet, pulling it in after we tacked.  She slipped the ratchet handle onto the winch before I could get the sheet through the locking clamp.  I then leaned in to try and get the sheet over the handle and onto the winch while she was turning the winch handle, and as her fist came around, she caught me square in the eye.   Ouch!

Breathe... it's easier

Posted by Jann on 20 October 2008

I cannot believe that 2 months have passed since the first day of school.  And I cannot believe that the same amount of time has passed since I last posted in this blog. (Sorry, Graeme!) Even my co-bloggers are chasing me for my new entry. Well here it is...

So, after a very hectic Sept term, where I had the chance to meet my study group C1 (who by the way, rocks!) and sink my teeth into some Business Stats, which is quite bitter for my taste, I thought I had this MBA all figured out.  Until Autumn term welcomed itself into my life.  I was honestly overwhelmed by the tons of cases to read, problems sets to submit in tight deadlines, required and optional readings to ponder on, and events/workshops to attend. And then I realized that it might just be me panicking but if I stop, step back, and relax...it ain't that bad. It's actually fun! This was kind of like the time I was learning how to scuba dive.  I was so scared of the water and what it could do to me (I'm not exactly a water person) that I would often panic while underwater.  Then I would realize that I had a regulator on me, and I can actually breathe!  After making sure to always remember this, I started to enjoy watching the fish.

The MBA, I reckon, should be treated like an experience.  It's not out there to harm or maim the students through the sleepless nights and cold-calling phobia.  There's just so much to enjoy to let small hiccups get in the way. The things that we learn in the classroom like analyzing Madonna's career in Strategy, the valuable advise from '09s, the chance to participate in Club activities, and the events such as Tattoo, are just some of the things I think make this experience richer.

One thing worthwhile to remember is to breathe, take it all in, it will definitely make everything easier.

Comma Chameleon: Application Essays Revisited

Posted by Rebecca on 15 October 2008

Last week we were asked to bring a sample of our writing in preparation for a workshop titled “Writing with Impact”.  While I would like to think that I’m a decent writer, the truth is that I'm likely to get the most impact if I bundle up all my drafts and hurl the stack at someone.  I'll take all the help I can get.

My London Business School application essays were the easiest examples to find, so I opened up v11 (the final version) and selected an essay.  But if the purpose of this workshop was to examine our true writing skills, surely I wasn’t going to learn much about my writing from a sample that had been so carefully edited and agonized over.  I wondered if v1 wasn’t a better reflection of my true craft, so I opened up the dusty file – created exactly a year ago today. 

Oh the horrors!  The first essay was littered with run-on sentences, meaningless adjectives and terrible passive tenses.  My efforts to disguise real client examples were so good that even I didn’t know who or what I was talking about. I had stop after reading halfway through for fear of falling asleep. It’s not as though I didn’t make a genuine effort on this first draft. I spent countless hours at my favorite coffee shop (The Grove on Fillmore) carefully crafting my responses to “in what role do you see yourself immediately after graduation?” and the like. 

Fortunately I had lined up two readers to help mitigate these fatal flaws: my mother, a language arts teacher, and Sarah, a friend who is a talented writer with experience editing MBA applications. 

My mother had the first crack at reading my essays.   She was kind but firm with her criticism: “Were you ever taught any grammar at all?  You have sentences that last entire paragraphs.  And by the way - commas serve a purpose.  You can’t just sprinkle them on for decoration.”  Interesting and duly noted. 

Sarah’s feedback was constructive and devastating.  Application essays can turn into an intensely personal manifesto, particularly after you have spent so many hours on them.  To hear her say that my draft was “middle of the pack” in terms of quality made my heart sink even though I knew she was right.  However, she gave me two great suggestions that I want to pass on to this year’s applicants:

1.       Show, don’t tell.  Or, as Mark Twain said, "Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream!" If you say you're "different" or "interesting", that word alone proves nothing. In fact, it seems to disprove your point purely by being boring and typical. Illustrate with a story or example instead.

2.       Be memorable. Imagine that the admission essay reader is seven hours into an admissions-essay-reading day. You are application #112 and frankly, #1 through #111 were mind-numbingly boring and she is waiting desperately to go to dinner but just has to finish your application before she can go home. You want to be memorable and worth her time.

This advice made a lot of sense to me, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to incorporate. In fact it took me 10 more drafts to get a version I was comfortable with.  So other lessons from this experience are to give yourself plenty of time to complete your application and find readers who will give you honest and constructive feedback.  And be careful where you put commas. Good luck!

A summer packed with strategy consulting experience, travel and doing good

Posted by Melanie on 14 October 2008

I came to London Business School wanting to pursue a career in consulting. But I also wanted to find a way to incorporate a way to “do good” in my work. Everyone kept pointing me towards a summer internship with Accenture Development Partnerships. (ADP)

After meeting the ADP interns from the previous year, and the Program Director and Strategy Consulting Partner, Gib Bulloch, I thought, “Wow, what an inspiration! A for-profit entity that’s figured out how to use their core competency to support the global community!”

Accenture Development Partnerships is a separate business unit within Accenture that specifically provides consulting services to Non-Profit organizations, NGO’s, foundations and donor organizations operating in the development sector, helping these organizations achieve their social and economic development goals. 

Through a first-of-its-kind business model, Accenture Development Partnerships, operates on a strictly non-profit basis." Luckily I was one of two people selected for the internship, and soon enough, I was on a plane to South Africa for six weeks. Our client: The Global FoodBanking Network. My mission: To design a pilot rural food bank and the implementation plan. I would be based in Jo’burg, but the pilot would be in Maputaland, a region in the far northeastern corner of the country.

What is food banking? “The Global FoodBanking Network is a charitable organization that works collaboratively to reduce world hunger by securing more food and enhancing the ability to efficiently distribute food through food banks and food bank networks around the globe.” http://www.foodbanking.org/

Their basic model is to take good food from food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to a food bank, which would then be redistributed to registered charities that can reach those in need.  The donations are usually un-sellable, but perfectly consumable food that would normally go to waste. (e.g. discontinued items , incorrectly labelled finished goods, leftover raw materials). This model has proven to work very well in urban, densely populated areas in the US, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Guatemala, and Columbia.

But in South Africa – a majority of the country’s poverty live in the rural areas. In addition to poverty, these communities are heavily affected by the HIV/AIDs epidemic, leaving orphans, the sick and elderly, and child-headed households as the majority of the population. South Africa needed a Village Food Bank model to help their country.  My job was to help them plan out how to do this.

Two ADP consultants had already been helping the client on their sourcing strategy, so thankfully I had a support team. Over the first weeks, I met the client and many of the key players, interviewed 30+ subject matter experts, and made a whirlwind tour through Maputaland, Durban and Capetown to meet the people on the ground.  I learned that many of their struggles were linked with basic infrastructure issues that we often take for granted: broken water pumps, sandy and gravel roads, lack of electricity.






Back at the Accenture office, I drew together a detailed design of the project (using a creative five forces as a base structure), and a powerpoint deck for the implementation plan. The Village Food Bank would be supported through agricultural development, creating access to a larger market and sustainable feeding programs. Backyard gardening skills and agricultural scholarships would help them feed themselves in the long run.

The last weeks were filled will collecting the last pieces of data from Maputaland, and plenty of reviews. What inspired me was the vigour that these people showed in wanting to help themselves and their communities. There was hope in their voices because I had actually bothered to follow up on our meetings. To my delight, the finished product was “dynamic” and more than what the client had expected! “You are the future of the world,” he told our team. The work we were doing was a good thing.

The whole experience with ADP was great. I picked up consulting skills, brought significant value to the client and to the community, and had an opportunity to see a bit of South Africa as well. Although ADP isn’t a full-time option, I hope to do similar work on my own in the future. A big thanks to Accenture and to Global FoodBanking Network for the opportunity. Dsc_0113 Dsc_0578 Dsc_0571 Dsc_0770

Online chat with current students and members of the admissions team – now available to view

Posted by Adcoms on 08 October 2008

If you missed the opportunity to take part in our online chat on 29 September, you can now take a look at the transcript here and see the questions that prospective candidates asked our panel of experts.

About our current MBA students who took part in the chat:

Vikram Dadlani

Before coming to London Business School, Vikram worked as a private banker with Morgan Stanley in India for five years. He is looking to move to sales and trading and has made successful steps towards this during his internship.

Matthew Shenkman

Matthew spent eight years in the US Military before embarking on his full-time MBA. This summer he completed an internship at an Investment Bank in New York and plans to continue his career finance.

About our staff who took part in the chat:

Graeme Harper, Senior Marketing Manager, MBA Programme

Graeme works on all aspects of the MBA marketing at London Business School and liaises with the MBA students who contribute to the “Inside the MBA”, London Business School blog.

Amy Hugo, MBA Marketing and Admissions Officer

Amy oversees marketing and admissions for candidates based in continental Europe and Latin America. 

Lisa Mortini, MBA Marketing and Admissions Officer

Lisa oversees marketing and admissions for candidates based in Canada and the US.

Louise Weir, Marketing Coordinator, Career Services

Claire Hewitson, Career Services 

First stage application deadline for Full-time MBA beginning in August 2009

Posted by Adcoms on 08 October 2008

If you are considering applying for the autumn 2009 intake, the Stage 1 application deadline is Tuesday 14 October at 17.00 (London time).  Please give yourself plenty of time to submit your application and try not to leave it to the last minute. In the hour or so before the deadline the server is extremely busy.

Stage 1 candidates will receive notification of whether they have been selected for interview via email on 12 November 2008, and Stage 1 interviewed candidates will receive their final admission decision on 18 December.

If you experience any difficulties in submitting your application please follow the Help links within the online application form, or contact our Information Office directly at apply.mba@london.edu or telephone +44 (0)20 7000 7500

Common applications questions

Q. Do you require original copies of my transcripts?

Yes, but not yet. We only require copies of your academic transcripts at this application stage. If these documents are not in English then you should provide a translation (your own translation is acceptable at this stage).

If you are extended an offer we will require an official paper transcript and a certified or notarised English translation if not in English.

The Admissions Committee reserves the right to retract an offer of admission already made if there is any discrepancy between the transcript copy and the original.

We do not require transcripts for courses that did not contribute to a degree.

We prefer applicants to submit transcripts online. Full instructions can be found within the application form.

Q. Can you confirm receipt of my GMAT/English test score or other supplementary information?

Please do not contact the Admissions Office for confirmation that your references, university transcripts, GMAT or English test scores have arrived.  We receive hundreds if not thousands of items of post during the run up to the application deadline and to confirm the receipt of these would dramatically slow the admission and reviewing process for all candidates.

Once all of the information has been opened and collated, should an application be missing any documents the candidate will be contacted by the Admissions team.

If you are curious as to the status of your references, this can be checked by logging into your online application account and viewing the Referee Status.

Q. My references / transcripts have been delayed and will not arrive until after the deadline. Will you still accept my application in this stage?

If you submit your application by the Stage 1 deadline, we will accept supplementary materials that arrive during the week following this deadline.  If an item is delayed by more than 1 week your application may be moved into the following Stage so that it can be reviewed with using the full information, but you will be contacted beforehand if this is the case. If you do not hear from the Admissions team you should assume that your application is proceeding in Stage 1.

Observations on the Indian skill shortage

Posted by Vipul on 08 October 2008

The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) aims to promote business and professional ties between UK and India. Its members include a wide range of business people from the two countries. The advisory board includes our very own dean Robin Buchanan and other, dare I say less famous, personas like Richard Branson and Arun Sarin. The council held a session at the London Business School last week where the topic of discussion was the skills shortage in India. We heard from a highly successful firm of architects, a HR consulting firm, a social recruitment firm and of course a tech-consultancy. This is a short summary of the salient points discussed.

There is a shortage of skilled labour in India. Sure, colleges churn out hundreds-of-thousands of graduates every year. But how many of them are architects as opposed to engineers? How many are historians as opposed to MBAs? Even among the engineers and the MBAs, not many are seen as being good communicators or creative thinkers. (Btw, I’m an Indian Engineer reading for an MBA – so excuse me for using cliques). And to compound the problem, there is a high rate of attrition. One of the speakers found that in India people are often teased by peers for staying with one company for more than 3 years. In my personal experience, 6-10 months seems to be the amount of time most Indian IT workers at lower levels like to spend with one company.

Companies are realizing the ramifications of this situation and are implementing programmes to tackle it. TCS and IBM, for example, invest a lot in employee training & development and have formal career advancement programmes for employees with different career aims. But a lot more needs to be done at University level. Students, who went to intern in India under the UKIBC banner, report that the Indian education system seems to “knock creativity out of people”. Companies need to partner closer with universities and make clear what they want in employees. Once the university system adapts, high schools will also adapt their methods to produce the right university students. Demand will ultimately shape the quality of supply!

The council is setting up a “Next Generation” programme aimed at getting British university students involved more closely. For us MBA students, this is something to watch out for! Check out the council’s website: http://www.ukibc.com/ and join the India Business Forum at the School if you are interested in this sphere.

Young Enterprise Volunteer Day

Posted by Pak on 03 October 2008

Today I have taken part in the "Young Enterprise Company Programme" volunteer work organized jointly by the School and the Young Enterprise.

Young Enterprise is a business and enterprise education charity. It works with many schools in London to building a better-motivated and enterprising workforce, at the same time making a real difference to the existing lives and future potential of young people who live and attend school in their area.

My team consists of 3 people, Vivek, Chien Wen and me. Each school has some students who would like to start a business and to sell products. Our role was really to share with them from strategy and execution perspectives, how should they go about doing that. Each team was given around 2 hours to think about what we could share with the target school, based on some background information about the schools, students and their ideas. Then we made our ways to the assigned schools.

My team went to the Maria Fidelis Convent School. Waiting for us were 14 smart and motivated 16-17 years old teenagers (oh my...feel I am so OLD now). We had a very interactive session with them, have them speak up their ideas, shared with them perspectives on formulation of ideas, strategy, organisation structure and skill maps. We even provided them some templates for their subsequent planning and execution.

What surprised me the most was that they were able to come up with ideas on what companies need to consider when thinking of selling a new product (market size, marketing, pricing, costing, customer segments...etc). I think they just need guidance along the way to ensure they are on track and implement what they have thought about.

This is the first time I participated at such program and we would like to arrange with the school/ Young Enterprise to have regular sessions with the students so to follow through with their progress.

Though I have 6 deadlines on next Monday, spending my only free school day of the week is definitely worth it!