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This blog is for MBA applicants who want to know more about life as part of the London Business School community. The site is managed by the MBA Admissions Team with content provided by students and alumni.

Are you a London Business School Full-time MBA candidate or student? Do you have a blog that you would like listed here?

This blog has moved

Posted by Adcoms on 07 September 2010

After 4 years, we decided it was time to give our blog a makeover.  Please visit our new look blog, complete with a fresh group of London Business School student bloggers from our MBA, Masters in Finance and Masters in Management programmes at London Business School student views.

The new site retains all of the content found on this blog, along with a few new features that we hope you’ll enjoy. We look forward to welcoming you to the new site, and hope you continue to follow the London Business School student experience!

If you link to this blog, please adjust your links accordingly.

We have moved to http://blog.students.london.edu/

 

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 :)

Follow the Global Leadership Summit on Twitter

Posted by Adcoms on 29 June 2009

London Business School's sixth annual Global Leadership Summit got underway this morning, featuring the most prestigious group of leaders to be gathered on one stage in London this year. 

Get regular updates on the days events by following the School's Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/LondonBS or by searching for #GLS2009.


India Business Forum Conference

Posted by Krish on 19 April 2009

Every year, the India Business Forum at London Business School organises a fantastic conference. This year's event is scheduled for the coming Thursday (23rd of April). Keynotes and panelists from India and London Business School will explore and debate the theme: "Innovative India: Creating Value and Opportunities".

I'm especially looking forward to this year's conference as it coincides with the Indian General Elections. I'm hoping to get the chance to pick the brains of some of India's biggest leaders -- both from government and the private sector.

If you're reading this blog as a prospective student, this conference will give you a good glimpse of the kind of opportunities London Business School offers.

I'd highly recommend attending. Tickets can be bought here.

Watch, engage and debate on new business channel

Posted by Adcoms on 14 April 2009

London Business School, Google and Telegraph.co.uk have formed a partnership to provide unique bite-sized insights from some of the UK’s leading organisations via a new YouTube channel called Survival of The Fastest.

Survival of The Fastest has been designed as an online thought leadership community for business leaders, offering credible insights into management areas ranging from finance and marketing to e-Commerce.

As the academic partner, London Business School has made available a number of its world-class faculty who have each provided concise video contributions discussing different ways of ‘speeding up’ in the slowdown. For example;

• How can medium to large businesses remain nimble and maintain competitive advantage in a downturn?
• Should marketers focus on gaining share in today’s climate?
• What is the value of online strategy?

Visit the Survival of the Fastest community at http://youtube.com/survivalofthefastest

MBA TV - Episode eight

Posted by Adcoms on 09 April 2009

Episode eight of MBA TV is here!  The mission of the Women in Business Club is to encourage and enable more women to achieve their individual desired successes - whether they are at the helm of a multinational company, running their own business, or in any position that provides them great satisfaction and a meaningful work-life balance.

The London Business School Women in Business Conference is widely recognised as the leading women's conference in Europe, profiling influential women leaders from the likes of Shell, Goldman Sachs and Santander. The conference, Beyond Ideas: Making Global Impact highlights the impact women are making in local and global marketplaces and how they are making it. This episode includes interviews with Merlyn Lowther, Non-Executive Director, Schroders Plc, Christine Raynaud, CEO, Hudson Europe, Eva Gustavsson, President, Women in Business club and current MBA students.

Venturing into New Territory

Posted by Rebecca on 18 March 2009

Sometimes people do things that I really don’t understand, like finding the motivation to enrol in an early morning boot camp fitness program, or making their own sushi at home when there are plenty of excellent restaurants just waiting to deliver.  I include case competitions in this category.  Give up a weekend to do more work solving a hypothetical (or improbable) business situation under time pressure with a team of type A personalities under the watchful eyes of outside experts for the glory of winning a certificate?  I must be missing something, because case competitions are a staple of business school life and invariably dozens of people sign up for each one.

So it was with an open if somewhat sceptical mind that I agreed at the last minute to join a team for the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC).  VCIC is different than most classic case competition formats in that it attempts to model the venture capital experience in 48 hours:

  • The teams are given 3 – 5 business plans from real start-up companies.
  • The actual entrepreneurs give their pitch to the group and then each team has 15 minutes to conduct a Q&A due diligence session.
  • Each team then must pick a start-up, decide how much money to invest and on what terms. The entrepreneur and the team meet one last time for a 15 minute negotiation on the term sheet in hopes of striking a deal.
  • The whole process is observed by experienced venture capitalists that grill each team’s thought process and term sheet after the negotiations.


As someone who knows very little about venture capital it was a great learning experience both in terms of evaluating a start-up as well as structuring an early stage investment.  But for me the best part of the experience was our team – I got a chance to work with a group of very talented people whose backgrounds and strengths are very different than mine, and I learned more from them in 48 hours than I did in several weeks of class.

The first round was a frenzy of internet research, financial modelling and late night brainstorming sessions.  We were the underdogs compared to other the teams with prior VC experience, but in the end we surprised ourselves by winning both first place and the Entrepreneurs’ Choice award. And we won a lot more than a certificate: two bottles of champagne and an expense paid trip to represent the school in the next round at NYU Stern.

After heeding some advice from our VC judges, we jetted off to NYC for round two.  The semi-finals were equally intense and the competition was fierce.  We spent one day holed up in the New York Public Library thinking about the merits of iPhone applications versus cloud computing.  We didn’t win in the end, but we had a lot of laughs along the way.  Better yet, we got to enjoy the rest of the weekend in NYC. This is not to say that I will be signing up for every case competition, but it goes to show that it’s worth trying something before passing judgement.  Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going shopping for raw fish and rice.

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 :)

MBA TV, Episode five

Posted by Adcoms on 28 January 2009

The latest episode of MBA TV is here. In this episode we feature some of the highlights of the annual Global Energy Summit hosted by the London Business School Energy Club. The Club has over 1200 active members who are interested in all aspects of the energy sector. Each year, the Club runs events for students, alumni, and members of the energy industry. These events include speaker sessions, career forums, site visits, social events, and the Energy Club’s flagship event, The Global Energy Summit.

The summit titled ‘Energising the future: Identifying Opportunities and Overcoming Challenges’, allowed energy leaders to engage in thought-provoking debate and provide their views on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. 

The summit included sessions on:

  • ‘Capitalising on the Future of Energy’ with a keynote from Jeremy Rifkin, Foundation of Economic trends,
  • ‘Capturing Value through Biofuels’, and
  • ‘The Changing Landscape of Oil and Gas.

MBA TV went along to speak with some of the Summit attendees.

Managing Global Teams – insights by Infosys

Posted by Vipul on 19 November 2008

Today, Jitin Goyal (Vice President and Head of Banking & Capital Markets Group) from Infosys spoke to members of the Technology and Emerging Markets clubs about managing teams that are culturally and geographically disparate. He had some interesting insights and gave us a true feel for what it’s like to work across continents. This theme is very central to the diversity values that London Business School strives to instil.

What are teams at Infosys, and most global IT companies, like? There will typically be a large client in the U.S. or Western Europe. The client will be supported by CFGs (Client Facing Groups) and Consultants in those countries. The consultants will typically work in close contact with delivery teams in countries like India, China, Mexico and even Canada. This global model, along with its many advantages, creates some problems. How do you get people in Japan, Poland and California on the same conference call? How do you get Portuguese speaking programmers and French speaking consultants to communicate effectively? How do you break cultural stereotypes? I’ll give some examples here, but if you want the full low-down on Jitin’s talk, drop me an email.

What does “6 AM Pacific” mean to you? Jitin reckons that’s the best time for conference calls! Since it’s day time in most of the World, except for Pacific islands, people in all countries can join the call! This also means that people in Australia will have work pretty late at night, while people in California will have to brush their teeth while talking. Does this mean one has to work from 6 AM to 11PM? No, it means that work has to be divided into small chunks done throughout the day. You could take a call from 6 to 8, then go eat breakfast with the family, and arrive in the office at 10. Perhaps, leave the office at 4, pick up your kids from school, and get back to online meetings at 8 from home. Flexibility is the key!

Get a first life! Facebook, Myspace, Second Life, Skype, Instant Messaging – are all very central to our lives. Companies like Infosys are realizing the potential of these tools and are increasingly using them to encourage employee teaming and communication. But we must learn to take a step back from time to time.I personally get the jitters if I haven’t checked facebook for 2 hours! If we get too involved in virtual reality and ignore real-reality, we can get into trouble. Jitin quoted the case of the man whose wife divorced him because his SecondLife avatar was having a virtual affair!

In conclusion, Jitin pressed home the point that global teaming can be challenging but is being managed well by companies like Infosys. For those of us considering careers in consulting or even general management at global firms, the lessons from Infosys are invaluable. Infosys is a NASDAQ listed company with 100,000 employees across 26 countries. Visit their website: http://www.infosys.com. To stay up-to-date about more such events, bookmark the tech club blog: http://lbstechclub.blogspot.com/

2008 London Media Summit

Posted by Adcoms on 13 November 2008

On Monday 24th November the London Business School Media Club will be hosting the 2008 London Media Summit. The summit titled ‘The Great Debate: How can ‘old’ media survive?’ will focus on the future of four traditional media platforms; music, print, film and television.

Now in its sixth year, the summit has attracted a high profile panel and key note speakers including:

  • Jon Snow, Channel 4 Newsreader

  • Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC

  • Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-chief of the Guardian News & Medi

  • Stewart Till, Chairman of the UK Film Council

  • Bill Roedy, Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks International

Keynote speakers and panellists will address the significance of ‘old’ media in politics, society and democracy and explore the impact of change on an industry that educates, informs and entertains people around the world. Speakers will also offer a business roadmap outlining how traditional media companies can best react to change.

To find out more visit the Summit website. There are limited tickets still available.

MBA TV will be at the London Media Summit capturing the highlights, so watch this space for the coverage at the end of this year.

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.

What do you want to do post-MBA? Consulting or Finance? Entrepreneurship or Family Business?

Posted by Vipul on 18 September 2008

I, like most MBA students, am tired of asking and answering this question.  We MBA people need to think outside our frames and come up with new questions. But humour me for a moment by reading my rants around this topic which is so vital to the existence of the species –Studentea NoLifeus.

Like many of my peers, I’m still undecided. So I’ve signed up for almost all professional clubs and their events. I’ve been to events organized by the Innovation club, the Venture Capital club, the Media Club and the Consulting club. I missed out on the Finance 101 sessions, as I was too late in signing up (that’s what I get for not buying an iPhone!).  Over the next week, I am scheduled to make an appearance at the Emerging Markets Club, the Technology Club, the Industry Club, the Family Business Club and the China Interest Club. Sounds like a lot of information? Yes it is! But that’s what I get for being undecided.

The good news is that London Business School is very supportive of people like me. These club meetings tend not to clash with one another. So it is possible to attend all of them. Further conversations with career services, teaching staff, alumni, recruiters and fellow students help a lot in weighing the pros and cons of different career options. I am confident that by November I will have picked a path!

You may cynically comment, “In a month at the school you should have achieved some level of clarity!” Guess what, I have. The first thing “Self Assessment” told me was “Stay away from Finance!” And no, this does not reflect or imply a co-linearity (with or without the confidence intervals) between current market conditions and my professional values. I was told that I am more inclined towards a life of Entrepreneurial Creativity and Technology Focus. However the assessment did not say much about my analytical skills or how well I’d fit into Consulting. That was a little disappointing, since Consulting is high on my list of potential careers.

But all is not lost. I have attended 3 events organised by the Consulting club so far. And honestly, with every event I have felt that Consulting is a good choice for me. The first event was an introduction to the Club and its activities. The second was titled “What is Consulting”. The speaker, an ex-McKinsey consultant, gave a thorough analysis of the profession. The idea of working across industries, geographies and functional levels in the client’s organisation is very appealing to me. It is exciting to be involved in all the different parts of the process of creation, whatever might be getting created. And having worked as a technical-consultant (IT) previously, I can relate to most of what a management consultant would do on day-to-day basis. I can definitely handle the travel!

The third consulting event, which finished just 2 hours ago, was a presentation by A.T. Kearney.  They are corporate partners of the London Business School. What that means is that they work closely with the school in developing consulting skills among students, and in hiring consultants from the school. Every term A.T. Kearney hold an event at the school: The Global Prize (case study competition) in autumn, Team Dynamics in spring and KRISP on KAMPUS in summer. They hold a number of ad-hoc events like case-cracking and speaker series.

One interesting thing I learned from the A.T. Kearney presentation is that they do not send different types of work to different countries. This is great news for me, because I intend to work in India post-MBA. Many companies use India as a dumping-ground for back-office type work. It’s good to know that A.T. Kearney serve local clients and perform the full range of consulting tasks in India. In response to my question about this, they said that their premium fee structure is does not justify using countries purely as cost saving centres. The other bit of good news that I can infer from this is that most international strategy consulting firms in India would probably have a similar stance. I guess I will find out for sure over the next few weeks.

Besides consulting, I am inclined towards the Technology industry. Being a techy (almost) by birth, I have developed a passion for everything computer related.  Yes, I know, I am perpetrating a stereotype, but one has to be true to oneself! I found that what the Media club had to say overlapped a lot with what I imagine the Technology club would say (when I see them soon). So I might just remain a member of that club – at least till I pick between consulting and technology! In the meanwhile, to develop my knowledge and contacts in the IT Industry, I have joined the organising committee of the Global Security Challenge (http://www.globalsecuritychallenge.com/) – more about that in a later blog!

So, the next steps would be, 1) Attend more club meetings, 2) Form a team for the A. T. Kearney Global Challenge, 3) Meet a career advisor to discuss my thoughts, 4) Attend the “Networking Mindset” session tomorrow and 5) Buy Consulting Club Merchandise!!

Melbourne is hot for Innovation

Posted by Vipul on 08 September 2008

The ingredients for innovation are: Openness, Collaboration, Multi Disciplinary thought, and Globalization. This was the central theme of a talk by Nick Donofrio, the executive vice-president of innovation and technology at IBM. On Sunday the 7th of September 2008, Nick spoke to members of the Innovation and Technology clubs at the London Business School.

Many years ago Nick estimated that we will live in a world where billions of people will use trillions of devices connected to the internet. Right now, two billion people are connected to the internet, but only about 200 million devices. So there is great scope for being innovative in creating and connecting new devices. Moving forward, devices will be connected in a “value-driven” manner and will largely be unseen. Your fridge might tell Tesco that you need more beer, and you won’t even know!

Another field of innovation is social programming.  IBM is a company of 400,000 employees. There are many efficient processes in place for managing them and the company is doing well. What happens when IBM expands to an employee base of 1 million? How do you manage a company that large? Topcoder (http://www.topcoder.com) employs the mmorg model for expanding its employee base. People from all over the world signup and compete for work. Their ideas and their code is compared against those of others and the best man wins! So, perhaps, in the future, the 1 million employees will be self managing, social beings. The gamers of today may well be the CEOs of tomorrow!

How does IBM capitalize on these innovative ideas? They have an executive VP of innovation! And they have a great focus on enabling innovation. For example, there is a program called the ThinkPlace. It is an intranet site that all employees have access to. Employees are encouraged to post their ideas there. There are full time moderators, who are responsible for assessing and replying to posts within 2-3 days. All this correspondence is visible to other employees, so there can be no cheating! Good ideas are passed along to people who can enable their implementation. The employee who came up with the idea, normally gets paid for it (if it’s good enough) and gets to work on its implementation.

IBM makes it a point to think laterally. IT consultants need not always be from an IT background. It is about T-shaped education versus I-shaped education. It’s about being able to think across disciplines, while specializing in one. And this T-shaped model has never been more important! IBM, like many big companies, uses its global wealth of intellect very efficiently. To do that, one has to be able to think outside one’s frames of mind!

The best part of the afternoon was when I introduced myself to Nick and told him that I used to work for IBM Australia. He said that he was pleased to meet me, and that if you want to be innovative, Melbourne is the place to be (note: NOT Sydney). So the message to take away is: think laterally, think globally, share your thoughts and move to Melbourne!