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Good stuff

Posted by Don on 26 February 2009

I think I have previously commented on the high level of commitment of most professors here at LBS. I remember from the very first weeks how I would send emails to the finance professor (and also the accounting professor) and they would answer within hours - even on a Sunday!
This continues with very short turnaround times from the professors this term, namely in bond portfolio management and fixed income (both classes highly recommended! Provides the theoretical concepts and the practical application).
So today I tried to meet the professor for Fixed Income who is actually quite famous internationally. He had several people in his office already so I just sent him an email to ask whether he had time tomorrow. I suddenly got a call on my mobile (he actually looked up my phone number!) to apologize (!) and to tell me that he would not be here tomorrow and if I could come in now (which I of course did).
If you previously studied at a state-run uni in Germany (or any other country, for that matter) you will understand why such 'customer relationship management' and service mentality still impresses me deeply.

Today was a 'typical' 2nd year day: 7.15am rugby practice with added fitness training, a quick breakfast and a quick lie-down (what luxury - a nap at 10.30 :-). Then fixed income recap and doing a bit of organizing for the scuba diving club. Now we have sundowners (i.e. free drinks) and then a presentation by the founder of iglu.com, the skiing travel agency. And then the night starts ....

Enjoy life!
Don

Internet marketing

Posted by Don on 19 February 2009

Hi all,
IM is quickly becoming my favorite course this term (despite my focus on finance!). We usually have a guest speaker for half the time, including people from BBC, Facebook, Apple, Sky, Google and more. These deliver very insightful and useful content with a lot of takeaways. In the second half we discuss, based on the chapter in a book which we need to prepare, a wide range of topics from general aspects of how the internet works, how blogs, feeders and aggregators work to topics like online pricing, strategies for Google adwords bidding and more.
The most interesting part is the application though: in a group of 5 we had to contact and convince a small company which does not yet use adwords to work with us. Together with the company we came up with a Pre-Strategy Report containing a company profile but also our approach on what area of the business we are targetting, which keywords we were looking at and how we were going to bid.
We are learning now that it is very much trial-and-error: after setting up the initial ads we have now added several variations of the same add to see which generates the most impressions on Google search as well as on content (i.e. partner) sites. Additionally you can see which keywords have been searched for and how your bidding strategy is working (are you bidding enough to get into the top 3 ads?) You can then concentrate on the most successful ads and keywords, meaning you aim to increase the click-through-rates, i.e. the ratio of people actually clicking on the ad.

All of this does not really mean much to you? No worries - I also had no idea beforehand. The course covers it pretty well and you get a $200 budget from Google to play around with. There are a ton of documents at google as well (search for Google adwords, keyword tool, traffic estimator) and there are a lot of books on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

And, once again, we are all learning from each others' experiences.

So a great class with a lot of tangible takeaways!

Take care,
Don

In the mood for Gelato Mio

Posted by Melanie on 18 February 2009

Poster-2

Tonight, the Film Club and the Chinese Interests Club put on a film event showing one of my favorite Hong Kong films: In the Mood for Love. They served Gelato Mio ice cream and pizza (from our very own MBA 2009 and MiF 2008 couple) - I intended only to go for a bit of Green Tea ice cream, but ended up staying to see the film again. It was refreshing to hear my native tongue, Cantonese, being spoken. Happy to see so many people had showed up for the event.

Every time I see this film, I fawn over the 50+ sixties-style cherngsam dresses Maggie Cheung wears throughout the film...

such romance...

LBS Rugby Tournament

Posted by Don on 18 February 2009

Hi all,
each year the LBS Rugby Club hosts its tournament. Teams from all over Europe and the US come to London for a 2 day tournament. This is the major Rugby event for European MBA schools ahead of the tournament at Duke in North Carolina in April.
To give you an idea, please find below the match report by the team's captain Minicab (Minicab? ok, that is a nickname, but you will have to get here and join the club to find out more ;-)


Match Report 15 February 2009 
Final Result - LBS 31 d Harvard 5

Minicab's Match Report

With the LBS Rugby Challenge being reduced to just 2 matches in the men's tournament (LBS Blue vs Harvard A and LBS Red vs Harvard B) the most important thing was that we were playing against the team which we were most eager to play. So the match that we had all been waiting for had finally come ... Harvard vs. LBS in the LBS Rugby Challenge. Harvard always bring across a strong and physical team and this year was no exception. But LBS knew they had a squad of players capable of gaining revenge on the big defeat inflicted in the same fixture last year and went into the match full of confidence.

The game started positively with the forwards working very effectively as a pack. They provided excellent ball for the backs, always going forward and the backs capitalised on this strong platform through strong runs by Sanchez at fly half and smart rugby from Alex at 12. It didn't take long for us to cross. After some excellent scrummaging by the piggies in the Harvard 22, and a couple of good phases we were able to open up the Harvard defense to create the extra man out wide to allow Haggis to cross for a try on the sideline. One thing our team has not had all year has been a good kicker but Alex changed that by slotting the conversion from the sideline. LBS 7 - Harvard 0. Determined to keep up the pressure on Harvard we immediately settled back into our rhythm. Harvard were struggling to get any real possession and when they did LBS were always outnumbering them at the breakdown consistently turning over the ball. And with the majority of possession and territory it was not long before we crossed for another try with Sanchez breaking through the Harvard line to cross under the posts. LBS 14 - Harvard 0.

The remainder of the half, Harvard really stepped it up and we were camped on our try line for an extended period, defending a Harvard team desperate to score some points. Our defense was extremely solid but the ref continued to penalise us at the breakdown. After a warning it was Compass who was shown the yellow card for slowing down the ball. Still camped on our try line with only 14 men Harvard just didn't have enough creativity to cross the solid LBS defense. We finally managed to get the ball and kick it back into Harvard's half. It was courageous defending for that period and heart breaking for Harvard who just couldn't find a way to cross the try line. We were able to go into the break leading 14-0.

In the second half, we were keen to play a very similar game plan which had proved very effective in the 1st half. The piggies continued to completely outmuscle the Harvard team who were relying solely on their captain for inspiration. But LBS knew he was the only danger and kept him at bay for the match. As we grew in confidence our offloading at contact proved very effective although we did throw the extra pass too often resulting in too many turnovers. But we had the upper hand and continued strong work by the piggies, with strong running from Chris and Hoover close to the line provided the perfect platform for Compass to cross for his first of two tries. This was after Babybel had also been sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements and our team down to 13 men at one stage. But despite the number advantage Harvard were unable to capitalise.

With 15 players back on the pitch and LBS in full control, victory was in sight. But we really wanted to rub it in Harvard. So we kept attacking the Harvard defense which to their credit did not stop tackling all match. But strong support play enabled us to either recycle the ball quickly or offload the ball in the contact. We were making easy yards. And the sustained pressure paid off when Alex charged down a Harvard kick for Sanchez to pounce on the bouncing ball to score under the posts. LBS 26 - Harvard 0. Whilst we were determined to keep the score to nil, it was a soft try that Harvard scored when they charged down a kick. But if that is the only way they can score a try against us then we can be hugely satisfied with the strength of our defense. LBS 26 - Harvard 5.

With only 5 or so minutes to play, we really wanted to finish the stronger team. Camped in the Harvard 22 Compass was able to cross for another deserved try to seal a comprehensive victory for LBS and our first LBS Rugby Challenge victory. The win showed how far we have come this season and if we continue to progress as we have to date we are going to be a very tough outfit at Duke.

Final Score: LBS 31 d. Harvard 5

Off the field report

Boat Race
Harvard d. LBS!! The first boat race was a draw despite copious amounts of spillage from the Harvard team. Unfortunately they got us in the replay!!

Yellow Jersey (man of the match)
Jay - the entire forward pack had a massive game and provided a great platform for the backs to attack. But Jay continued his strong form with another huge match making plenty of big hits and a couple of strong runs.

Ref's Player of the Match and Honourable Mentions
"Johnny Wilkinson" Sanchez - absolutely ripped up the Harvard backline scoring 2 deserved tries
Alex Loudon - special mention to Alex for his huge game despite having a tear in his ear for the majority of the match. His composure at inside centre provided great support for Sanchez and his contribution with the boot proved far too much for the Harvard team
Compass - I don't know how he does it but Compass keeps popping up at the right time to score vital tries. He crossed for another 2 and led the forward pack with plenty of big runs

Other Honourable Mentions
Hoover
Chris Rodgers
The entire team

First Try for the Club
Nil

Ferris Memorial Ladies Touch Jersey
Waldo - for his huge contribution to the LBS Women's tournament win!! I say no more ...

Congratulations on everyone's effort yesterday. It showed just how strong our squad is this year and if we continue to put in the big work at training we are going to have very competitive outfits at Duke!!

Compass, Minicab, Greenwich and Viagra

Take part in a lecture

Posted by Don on 16 February 2009

Hi all,
so one of my classes this term is called Internet Marketing. In this class we explore the different areas of internet marking, including Facebook, BBC online, Youtube, Sky online and others. The lectures explore, along a book, the different aspects of how marketing on the internet differs from "normal" marketing.
As part of the class we are required to blog. So I thought I would tell you the friendfeed room so you can join in to this part and get a better feel of what happens in a class at LBS.

The friendfeed room is http://friendfeed.com/rooms/lbsinternetmarketing0809

Please let me know if this does not work.

Take care,
Don

MBA TV - Episode six

Posted by Adcoms on 13 February 2009

The latest episode of MBA TV is here. London Business School's MBA is about developing people with the knowledge, skills and attributes to become global business leaders. In this episode we take a closer look at GLAM, the Global Leadership Assessment for Managers.  

When students start the MBA Programme, GLAM is the perfect platform to identify their current skill set and start to develop themselves as global leaders.

The course helps students to bridge the gap which many people have between their understanding of new countries and cultures and their ability to lead others in culturally sensitive ways. 

This episode features interviews with MBA students and faculty, as well as footage of the week long course in action.

Read more about GLAM and other MBA core courses.

The Medium is the Message

Posted by Rebecca on 13 February 2009

I first read Marshall McLuhan's book Understanding Media (apologies for the unacademic referencing) back as an undergraduate.  At the time I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read and I was naive enough to think that I understood what he was talking about.  It was enough for me to seek out media projects as a management consultant and waste countless hours reading everything related to the media industry, from Pew to Trendhunters to Adbusters. 

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the first club I joined was the Media Club.  They had me at "multi-channel content".  I quickly learned that I know only a trivial iota about media, barely enough to compete at pub quiz night relative to many of the other Media club members.  The Media club is one of the largest on campus with over 600 members. Its mandate is two fold: to help students learn about and engage with the media industry and to educate the media industry about the value of MBA students.

The Media Club organises different events to serve these two mandates.  The biggest single event is the annual Media Summit held each November (captured in an episode of MBA TV). This year we were lucky enough to have a stellar line-up of guest speakers, including Mark Thompson (Director-General of the BBC) and Bill Roedy (CEO of MTV Networks International) and over 200 delegates.

Twelve of us also went on a trek to LA in December, visiting 14 media companies in 5 days.  We met with NBC Universal, MTV Digital, Yahoo! Sports, MySpace and CAA to name a few. I think my personal highlight was having dinner next to Larry David, but that's just the star-struck tourist talking. 

On a smaller scale, the club organises weekly lunches with media executives.  Each week we invite a different person to join 15 of us for lunch on campus.  It's an informal event where we can learn about what's happening in digital or television or social networks to name a few topics.  I've made it a habit to go each week and I'm never disappointed - I always learn something new and leave with something to think about.

Up next we're gearing up for our Meet the Media event in March.  We're inviting an equal mix of students, alumni and industry execs to join us at Soho House for a night of chat and cocktails.  It should be a lot of fun and chances are tickets will be in hot demand.  

Blog MTM Invite

I'm one of the hopefuls looking for a media internship this summer, which is typically more of a "make your own job / choose your own adventure" deal as opposed to a structure programme like banking or consulting.  These types of opportunities tend to come later - May or June - and I know the wait will be agonizing.  It's already weird sitting out while everyone marches around in suits and cracking cases. But I know that when the opportunity presents itself I'll be armed with more than a Marshall McLuhan quote, which is a lot more than what I started with in September. 

Fostering Creativity!

Posted by Vipul on 12 February 2009

Ding Ding Ding! No, there’s no ice-cream truck driving up Sussex Place. It’s the sweet sound of … internship rejections. Surprised? I am too. First, I was surprised that so many companies rejected me. Later, I was even more surprised at myself for not feeling too bad about it. I was (and still am) targeting consulting firms for the Summer. But all these rejections mean that, if I don’t get a consulting internship, I can experiment with starting out on my own. There will be no guilt for not trying to land a secure job and there will be no opportunity cost!

London Business School is just great at inspiring creativity. The first year core subject, Discovering Entrepreneurial Opportunities (DEO), has really got me excited about trying new and daring ventures. Yesterday the deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, Richard Hytner, spoke to our class about creativity. We did a number of exercises that forced us to challenge the norms. He introduced us to some fantastic tools for fostering creativity in our study groups. I particularly liked De Bono’s Hats. I left the class feeling very excited, despite having received two internship rejection emails during the class. I was excited about totally wild ideas: “back packs with beer warmers (yes, this is England)”, “flying without airports” – to name a few. It was really cool to see how creative a bunch of accountants, bankers, doctors and consultants can be.

How will I keep the creative juices flowing? Definitely get my study group to do the Hat analysis of our DEO Trade Show ideas. Get the innovation club to hold wild-idea brainstorming sessions (they can be hilarious and can generate some awesome actionable ideas). Keep attending highly inspirational classes like DEO and Managing Organizational Behaviour (MOB). And, if I can find a good idea, start a company over the summer.

Now off to bed, to rest before my big consulting interview :)

Questions...

Posted by Don on 12 February 2009

Hi all,
some time ago I posted a story about me reading a prayer at a temple in Shanghai - someone who wants to attend LBS. This person then read my blog and we were put in touch. He sent me an email with a couple of very good questions so I thought I would share them - including my (obviously very subjective) answers.

Q: I've been reading your previous post on the MBA blog. Are you of a typical profile in LBS? Manager at Accenture? Options, derivatives ... did you learn those in MBA or did you already know all these prior to joining LBS?
A: The background of the people at LBS is very mixed - and that is the great thing as everyone brings new ideas to the table and approaches problems from different angles. You learn from your classmates but also from people in other programs. I certainly learned a lot here during the MBA, including options and derivatives (I knew a bit beforehand). Especially the finance courses are very thorough.

Q: I worry about my fit at LBS.  What kind of students do you think LBS is looking for?
A: They look for a mixed background. I think there is no 'typical' student. Don't worry at all about your background - we have people from finance, consulting, and industry, speech therapists, F1 drivers, people from the armed forces. Again - I think the mix of people and the different approaches to solving problems is one of the very great benefits of this particular school.

Q: And if there's a single most important question that I'd like you to answer, this will be the one:
What do you think are the traits of a successful student in LBS? IQ, EQ, Networking? What do you think?
A: Networking. The learning aspect is important and you will be able to pick up a lot, but networking and meeting people is the most important thing you can do during your time here. This includes alumni who are really willing to help you out.

Q: In your opinion, what do you think of the academic workload in LBS? Do you really have time to "network"? Do you really have much time for extracurricular activities?
A: It depends on how much time you give it. There are some students who read every single reading. You never see them at networking events or at the pub. Then there are others who mainly socialize and party. Others mainly network with alumni and professionals. I consider the MBA as a toolbox - you construct the program that best fits your needs, especially with the flexibility that the LBS MBA offers. So yes, there is time for extracurricular activities and for networking and both are really important. Meeting new people over a beer or doing sports is, in my opinion, more important than reading all optional readings.

Q: What will you be losing out if you are to complete the course in 15 months (other then sleep, of course). What's the typical hours like in LBS? I recall studying till the wee hours of the night during my undergraduate days. Is LBS going to be a repeat of that?
A: It is a lot of work but definitely can be done in 15 months. You loose out in terms of less choice of courses you might want to take.

Q: What kind of culture is LBS like? Is the atmosphere more collaborative, or competitive? Do people focus more on teamwork or individual contributions? I understand that such characteristics is highly dependent of the individual but if you are viewing LBS as an outsider, what is your feel?
A: I find that most people work well in teams. Even if your study group does not become the best of friends most still find a way to work together productively. So teamwork, also in clubs, works well usually.

Q: LBS has a very good reputation in the consulting industry which I'm keen on. I come with business development background and I have no prior contact in the consulting industry. Is that any big disadvantage?
A: Not at all. Actually the people are very diverse and especially consulting firms value different backgrounds.

Q: And I hope you do not mind asking you some pointed personal questions:
Do you have any regrets joining LBS? Why or why not?
A: The only regret I have is the lack of time - there are so many things to do! Especially in the second year the courses are a lot more interesting, there are many club activities and trips to join! And there is London to explore!

Q: After graduation, what do you think is the ONE THING that you feel you've taken away from LBS which you CANNOT take away from anywhere else? You can form a network of friends anywhere; you can learn the academics anywhere; you can live in London anytime... but what is the ONE THING that you feel you have taken away from LBS which you cannot take away from anywhere else?
A: The opportunity to work together with very smart people from very different ways of life.

Take care,
Don