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First event as an alum

Posted by Don on 26 July 2009

Alright, alum-status here we come ...
This weekend I finally made it down to Portsmouth to sail the Solent. I joined the elite alumni crew of LBS to race in a regatta of 25 boats - a lot of them from Cranfield as it is their race.
Friday night we had a BBQ and went to bed fairly early to be able to practice a bit before the race. So after a nice shower (gorgeous facilities at the marina) we left Port Solent quite early - Klaus at the helm and Rob as overall skipper. Laura and Richard on the foredeck and Mark and Alex as grinders as well as Ed on the main completed the crew. As I had never raced before and was new to this crew I was made navigator, which in a race is quite fun. I basically had to highlight the course to the helmsman, then input the waypoints into a GPS and tell the helm every half-minute or so where the next buoy is compared to the current course, which speed over ground we are doing and so forth. Additionally you have to be prepared to change any second - everyone who is not doing anything usually is sitting at the high side of the boat, feet and arms over the side, to improve the trim.
The main difference for me was the Spinnaker sailing - very complex to set up but made all the difference. Our early practice paid off and we finished the day winning both races.
The evening dinner was held on board the HMS Warrior - an old and very large former battleship - the first one in the world with a steel hull. We ate between guns and under cutlasses - a great and suiting setting. I have to admit that I went to bed early again - the air and the moving around had exhausted me.
This morning we left with all the boats and went off for another 3 races. The first one showed that we had some competition as we only came in second. By now I had a second job - grind the Spinnaker. I am still not sure if Rob's reasoning ("I don't need a thinker, I need a reactor") was a compliment ;-) but I was happy enough to do it. So I kept jumping back and forth to grind, navigate, be dead-weight and so forth - which was a great workout and great fun. We managed to win both the 4th and the 5th race and came in as a clear winner of the regatta.
So - first event as an alum and it was great!
Tomorrow it is back to reality - up at 5.45 and off to markets training, week 2.
Take care,
Scuba-D

First Year - what an amazing journey!

Posted by Vipul on 25 July 2009



I can't help feeling a little nostalgic about one of the most eventful years of my life. The first year at London Business School has taught me a lot. I can now appreciate, a little more than before, the vast diversity of the world around us. I have learned to look beyond my first love, computer programming, and have discovered other very interesting disciplines. I have discovered Europe through extensive travel. I have made great contacts and awesome friends for life. I have basked in the glow of celebrities. I have experienced the crushing pressure of constant rejection and disappointment followed by the supreme elation of getting what I really wanted!

My study group has been the best thing about first year. We got along well from the start: right from the time we were clinging on to each other for dear life on top of a 20 foot pole. That was at "Away Day" in the first week of school, in a team building exercise. In March, we attended the wedding of one group member on an island off the Istrean coast in Croatia. Then we went to run the Geneva half marathon together. The icing on the cake, or should I say sugar on the pasteis, was the study group (+partners) trip to Portugal. We stayed at a group member's farm-house and thoroughly enjoyed his family's warm hospitality. Besides momentarily being the "westernmost study group in Europe" (at Cabo da Roca), we ate a lot of fish, swam the freezing waters of the Atlantic, lazed about in vineyards and partied till 6AM in Lisbon. Oh, and during the year, we did assignments together as well.

The hunt for an internship consumed my life for most of this year. It all started with crack-a-case sessions back in November. From just 3 hours a week in November to 12 hours a week in January, I and many other consulting hopefuls slogged through the Consulting Club's excellent case book. Milk Round in January was a festival of day-long back-to-back presentations, lots of fried food at networking sessions, and flowing business cards. I have to admit I slept through at least 1 presentation :). Then came the applications: the most I completed in a single day were about 5. After a few weeks of waiting, came the rejections! And more rejections. And more rejections. All but 2 consulting companies had rejected me without an interview. The 2 that hadn't, promptly did so after an interview. I had to fight hard to convince myself that it was just the recession and not me. But it was still crushing. So I decided to pin my hopes on Industry. My interview call rate was much higher, but still no luck! After more than 60 rejections (yes, 60 rejections) came the end of the first year. Summer holiday was due to start with no internship, but many interviews lined up. To my greatest surprise, in the first week after final exams, I got 5 internship offers. At least 3 of them were roles I really wanted. I was in a position to reject offers - the tables finally turned! It felt great!

I was lucky enough to get an excellent role in an early stage company. I couldn't have asked for a better role. I am doing a strategy project in the IT&T industry for a start-up!! The job profile just couldn't be better! I can now truly get my hands dirty! This will be a great summer! What this experience taught me is that I don't want to stray too far from the IT industry, and consulting is not the only role that is fun! Not to say I won't try to get a consulting job for full time, but I will do my best to stay close to my IT industry.

When I was about to quit my job as a tech consultant and join London Business School, I was skeptical about the value of the MBA. I felt that quitting a stable programming job (which I loved), a good salary and a fantastic life in Australia for 2 years of studying un-understandable business mumbo-jumbo and living like a pauper didn't make any sense. I felt like I was "selling out" and giving up on a profession I loved. But I'm telling you, subjects like Discovering Enterpreneurial Opportunities, Marketing and Operations & Technology Management completely changed my point-of-view. I can now see that the MBA will truly allow me to leverage my tech skills and take my career to the next level. I can see myself enjoying a full time role involving formulating marketing strategies or managing technical operations. In fact, I am thoroughly enjoying my current internship project which requires me to formulate a business development strategy! Besides, I'm getting a chance to improve my Mandarin and Spanish and learn some Portuguese on the side! The academics at London Business School are adding a lot of value to my personal development. I am very glad I decided to do this MBA.

The other cool thing about the first year experience has been all the famous, important and interesting people that I've met. The Innovation Club organised a talk by Nick D'Onofrio (Exdcutive VP of Innovation and Technology at IBM). The Aditya Birla India Centre at London Business School brought in Nandan Nilekani of Infosys. The India Business Forum brought in many famous and intelligent people for the annual summit, including Dr. Rakesh Mohan (Deputy Governor Reserve Bank of India). There have been talks by many other famous names, and I don't have enough space to list them all hear. The entrepreneurship faculty organised a dinner with members of the Young Presidents' Organisation where I met the past president of the Richmond Tigers (Australian Football club) and we made Boris Becker wait in line for a table at the restaurant. And I queued up at the stage door to Oliver, stopped Rowan Atkinson before he could board his taxi, and got his autograph (life is downhill from that point).

After the eventful and exciting year, I now truly look forward to second year. There will be all the fun electives, some spare time to work part-time, second year project, exchange to Hyderabad in India, and much more travel around Europe :)

First thoughts in a new life

Posted by Don on 17 July 2009

A new beginning

Hi all,

As mentioned before – it is a new beginning. Training for my new job in sales and trading has begun – and it does feel odd to again loose the time flexibility. The most important aspect of being a student again was freedom of time – you decide to have a chat, play tennis or chill during the day (and make up for it later on). Now someone else rules my time again. On the other hand it is a great feeling to actually get paid for what I am doing. And to have secured a job for a top company in the area I wanted to get into and in the geographic area I wanted to get to is obviously a fantastic situation. A lot of – very good – classmates are still looking for a job so I cannot complain.

One thing I have noticed now is that money management is very important. It might seem obvious but due to managing my expenses (and getting a job in finance) I managed to come out of the MBA without debt. I tried really hard to limit my expenses (while still ordering good food for cooking, having dinners etc – i.e. still living a life) and this means that I can now concentrate on my new life.

Another thing is that overall the education you get at LBS really is top-notch. Right now I am in training with people from the top US business schools and it is clear that what we learn at LBS easily holds its ground against them. So for example the knowledge we get in a course such as Decision and Risk Analysis does not seem to be the norm in even the no.1 US BS. And if you attended a workshop of the PE club on LBO modeling, rest assured that you are ahead of the curve. No reason for complacency but nice nonetheless.

The one thing that sticks to my mind is that when you leave the MBA you should have the feeling you got the maximum out of it. And that is something very different for everyone – whether it be academically, network, social, leadership or something totally different. You run your own race – do not compare yourself to other people (although we always do that) – only to yourself and the person you used to be. And as long as you get the experience out of the MBA you wanted to get out and you grew, you have been successful.

Take care,

Don

Q&A with a member of the London Business School Consulting team

Posted by Adcoms on 16 July 2009

Campus is noticeably quieter this week.

In the last few days we’ve waved goodbye to the 300+ graduating MBA2009s, and most of the MBA2010s have left to start their 8-12 week internships.

However, for the eight MBA2010s that make up the London Business School Consulting Team, our campus will become their office for the next 2-3 months.

Each year six to eight MBA students are selected by London Business School faculty and staff to form their own consultancy to provide high-quality, cost-effective solutions to a wide range of clients. Competition for a place in this team is tough! We took some time out to speak to one of its members to find out why.

Dennis Valdez (MBA2010, USA)
Pre-MBA: Eight years an officer in the U.S. Navy followed by a year at DeWolff, Boberg & Associates, a boutique management consultancy
Post-MBA plans: Entrepreneurship

Q. Why did you choose to apply for the London Business School Consulting Team?

A. We’re all here doing an MBA to broaden our skill set and fill in any gaps that we have identified in our first year. I was attracted to the Consulting Team because unlike traditional internships in management consultancy where you are given projects, there is a strong entrepreneurship element. We actually have to go out there, find the work and sell ourselves as a team. I’m really looking forward to working on a project right from the very beginning of the process all the way through to presenting a solution to the client at the end.

Q. What are the aims of the Team?

A.  At the start of the summer we collectively drew up a contract which addressed each member’s professional and personal goals for the summer and agreed upon our objectives as a team going forward. Unlike working in a management consultancy or most other internships, there is no one person in charge, and therefore our work requires a great deal of teamwork.

In previous years, the London Business School Consulting Team has had a successful track record both professionally and financially. Several team members have gone on to secure jobs at BCG, McKinsey and Bain. Last year’s team brought in a record £130,000 worth of business, and despite the current economic climate we’re on track to achieve this target again this year.

Q. How does the Team work?

A.  The Team is made up of eight MBA students and represents a diverse set of nationalities and professional experiences.  Only two members of the team have previous management consultancy experience.  Other backgrounds include financial services, construction, marketing and IT.

We have strong support from London Business School in terms of being able to leverage the brand. We can use faculty as advisors and sounding boards for ideas on projects, and we’re fortunate to have mentors from a top-tier consultancy. The Careers Services team also work hard to promote us to companies that approach the School.

The London Business School Consulting Team, the facts:

• 8 members, 9 languages spoken
• 50+ years of accumulated professional experience across 20 countries
• Access to word class faculty and a network of 30,000 alumni
• Previous consulting team clients include British Airways, WPP and Nokia

For more information on the 2009 Consulting Team view the brochure here or contact summer.consulting@london.edu

Read about the MBA summer options  http://www.london.edu/programmes/mba/programmedetails/internshipoptions.html

Recruit our talent http://www.london.edu/theschool/recruitourtalent.html

Complete our short survey and tell us what you think of our Student Blog

Posted by Adcoms on 13 July 2009

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One year out - things I would have / could have done differently

Posted by Manish on 12 July 2009

Astonishingly, it has been almost a year since I graduated and plenty has happened since. A nice long trip between congregation and my job, my new job, the true effects of the economic downturn, suspected green shoots etc etc.


I have spent quite some of this time looking back at the MBA and what it's given to me. More importantly, I keep thinking (with some level of regret) about the things that I missed out on or didn't make the most of.

1) Trips: I certainly should have taken a trip or two in the first winter of our MBA. I hear the trip to Japan was absolutely fantastic and so was the one to South Africa. These were the 2 biggest trips organised by the respective clubs. Not only were some incredible bongs built during those 15 days, but the trip was also such a convenient way to see places I have never visited with all the local knowledge available through your classmates. 

2) SportSport, and in particular going to MBAT in year one, are probably my biggest regrets. Ok, I am not so much the athletic type but the 2 years of the MBA were a perfect opportunity to participate in sport of some type at some level. This could have been a great way to meet people and keep fit. The MBAT victories are held in such high regard at school that I feel now that I should have been part of it. 

3) Sundowner: I have always been fascinated by the idea of being a bartender and what better way to give it a try than by being a Sundowner at the MBAr. This had the added benefit of getting to know a ton of people. However it required quite a commitment in the first place which was a bit difficult for me. So not a very deep regret.

4) Breakfasts talks: The Alumni relations office puts together a series of breakfast events with Alumni and members of the international advisory board. I went to this event only once in the second year and I met very senior McKinsey directors and other successful businessmen in a setting that involved 15 other students around a small table early in the morning. I still distinctly remember the life's lessons that were shared during the session. Clearly I could have benefited from more of these had I started attending these earlier in the MBA. And they finish just in time for 9 am class so no excuses for missing these. 

5) Summer Ball: I skipped it thinking it was just another event to celebrate graduation some more with friends. I was content with all of the disorientation partying but in retrospect The Summer Ball is the big one  and probably best not missed.

Anyway, what's done is done. At least the list of cool things I got to do is multiple times longer than this one.

Entrepreneurship

Posted by Don on 10 July 2009

I will be posting some random bits and pieces going forward - there are a lot of small things that come into my mind these days ...
So one thing is that entrepreneurship cannot really be taught in a classroom. Fine, there are frameworks and pitfalls which make reading cases and discussing them useful. But by and large this is a field where people need to get their hands dirty. But I also learned over the last two years that entrepreneurship is not as unachievable as I once thought, although I am going to a big bank after the MBA ;-)

Setting up a business does not necessarily involve giving up your full time job, raising lots of money from a VC and living on a shoe string budget for the next 5 years. A number of people in the MBA have set up very nice ‘lifestyle businesses’. One friend of mine, for example, set up a number of free gaming sites on footbal games, car games and tower defence games. It sounds crazy but that paid for his entire MBA. Have a look for yourself - this is hardly rocket science once you master the basic technical skills (I repeat - paid for his MBA...)

Studying with these entrepreneurial people was very inspirational, and for me that is what the MBA was all about: working with different people, learning from them, being inspired by them, becoming friends and having a lot of fun ;-)

Take care, wherever you are,

Don

The end?

Posted by Don on 04 July 2009

Hi all,
wow - so now we are alums!
We graduated today in what I must admit was a very impressive ceremony. We might have preferred to be in a more classical building than a big white tent on the lawn, but the whole ceremony, including about 450 students in robes, partners, parents and friends as well as faculty in even more colorful robes was really impressive. (Especially if you come from a country where the degree is handed to you by a secretary with a comment similar to "now you don't get any student discounts anymore").
We all gathered outside for some champagne and snacks and stood in the sun for a lot of picture taking, talking and, unfortunately, saying good-bye to a lot of friends. A lot are already leaving London tomorrow or the day after. This year, according to the WSJ the "worst year ever to graduate from a business school", see more graduates than ever leave London to explore opportunities elsewhere. While this is great and pays tribute to the global nature of the participants, it also means that the friendships we built will now be very hard to keep up. This is why I am very happy to go to Hong Kong on the one hand (it is a fantastic city), but also a bit sad as well. One of the greatest things about the school was that you just had to go to campus (or the Windsor, which is more or less the same thing anyway), to meet a ton of people and have a good time and have great discussions (even or especially during sundowners with free beers...). All of this has come to a sudden halt now - we are all entering the business life again.
This leads me to some thoughts on what made the past 2 years special for me:
- The people. You meet truly outstanding people from all different walks of life. And they are not only from consulting or finance - they have all sorts of backgrounds and interests.
- The network - access to a truly international alumni network.
- The faculty - having the author of the international standard book on finance, speakers at the WEF and more as faculty, who answer within a few hours to email, is amazing.
- The people. Have I mentioned the people already?
- The opportunities: just looking at portal and the job offers and talking to people about which jobs they took shows the breadth of interest.
- The people. ok, you get it ...

But is it really the end? No, I think it is a new beginning. Every end leads to something new. Having accepted that everything in life is impermanent (see posting on meditation), this is a transition into something new. We thoroughly enjoyed the past 2 years - despite frustrations, stress and a lot of hard work - but now need to move on to something new. And we are very very fortunate to have graduated from one of the top schools of the world.

Enough for now. This alum needs some sleep.
Take care,
Don