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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.

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Ready, Set, Rat Race!

Posted by Jenny on 03 November 2009

I’m here in the library but I’d like to take a break from midterm cramming - which admittedly is difficult when you still haven’t quite gotten over the Halloween party mode. Let’s talk about internships for a bit. Yesterday I submitted my first application for an internship. Yes. Yes. Oh yes. It’s only November, barely 3 months in and we’ve already started the race for that much coveted investment banking/private equity/consulting summer associate position. Ready, set, rat race!

I have to say that contrary to popular (hopeful) belief, being at LBS does not mean a job will land on our laps like manna from the heavens. This is in no way saying that LBS does not help us at all with finding jobs – because they do – CV, cover letters, interview prep, etc – Career Services will bend their backs for us and we are of course eternally grateful. The trouble however is that we have to know first what we want to do, and then we can go to them and ask for help. Unfortunately there is no surefire formula to have that what-do-I-really-wanna-do-with-my-life epiphany. And no, there is no direct correlation between the number of hours spent at the Windsor pub and the degree of certainty of one’s future. Let’s stop fooling ourselves.

Anyway, I came to LBS two months ago thinking that I would not go back to anything remotely related to banking anymore and go to non-profit instead. Naturally though, with all the company presentations and club infosessions taking over my lunch and dinner schedule, combined with a realization that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to press the restart button in my life – I actually decided to take a peek at what’s out there. And I peeked. And then I clicked the submit button. Sorry, non-profit. Yesterday I applied for a banking position. Yes, I’m a sell-out.

But wait, what’s the thought process here?

Two weekends ago I decided I actually needed to sit down and THINK. So I did. For an entire day. I sat down, made a spreadsheet with different colors and laid out my Plans A, B, C, and Z, and noted the pros and cons and the deadlines and requirements for each. (Yes, I'm that much of a geek.) So the results: PLAN A is UN, World Bank, IFC. PLAN B is Consulting (non-profit sector). PLAN C is my safety jobs (which is still empty at the moment). And PLAN Z – Z being Zee Wildcards – are my much beloved banks. The banks made the cut because – who am I fooling here – Zee money iz good. End of story. Again, yes, I’m a sell-out.

A friend said that it’s ridiculous that my spreadsheet spans all sectors – Finance, Consulting, and Industry. It’s like I’m covering all bases, LOL. I know, it’s crazy. It’ll be tough, but that’s no reason not to do it. No one has ever won a race while sitting in the pits (or something to that effect – hey I do remember something from MOB class!) I tell myself that at least I have a colorful spreadsheet to start with!

Alright, enough with the craziness. Back to midterms.

Learning from friends

Posted by Steve on 20 October 2009

To most people, The Egremont is the name of a quiet local pub in a seaside town in West Sussex, an hour south of London.  This weekend however, the Egremont was the name chosen by my team, competing in the annual Chicago Booth IPO Challenge.

The competition involves receiving a case full of information at 4pm on Saturday and having 24 hours to put together a pitch book and then hopefully be selected for the final by a panel of judges in Chicago. Our team consisted of four mates from my stream and me and as per the rules, only two could have M&A experience.  I can honestly say I have never learnt so much between the hours of 4pm and 2am on a saturday evening, and time has rarely gone so annoyingly quickly.

The competition underscores some real LBS MBA messages, one being that you do as much learning out of the classroom as you do in it....working alongside seasoned professionals who previously worked for top banks and consultancies was one of the best learning experiences I have had.  Another is that if you get involved in things, the MBA is even more fun but there would be uproar if the faculty put on a 24h class, we find the 8.15 starts hard enough.

So, whilst the downside was missing X-Factor, the upsides far far far outweighed it...and we're being flown to Chicago for the final!



Dude, where's my blog?

Posted by Jenny on 12 October 2009

I’m back to popping pills again – Flu vs Moi Round 2. I’ve realised that I’m going to be a weakling in this town. Cold weather + Booze + Thinking I’m Superwoman = Softee Jenny. I’ve become a valued customer at Boots.

Oh and right, this is my first blog post here. Hello, uhm, LBS MBA applicants. If you want a blow by blow of what's been happening, I apologise but you won't find it in my blogs.

Yeah it has been darn busy in school, but I’m surviving. Classes, homeworks, study group meetings, club events, parties. Right now I actually should be doing my Corporate Finance homework but I figured a looming 4pm deadline will make me work faster later. I’m all about efficiency. That and I can’t stop watching Californication. After the third successive episode I have resigned to the fact that I am doing a marathon. Talk about escalation of commitment.

I know, I know, I’m in school to learn, but actually I’ve realised that my main goal here is to figure out what I want to do with my life. I know I said in my MBA application that I EXACTLY knew what I wanted to do post-MBA, but seriously, didn’t we all? After meeting 400 amazing people from more than 50 countries, we are bound to re-assess our goals. It’s inevitable.

Now what I didn’t see coming was that LBS would actually tell me two important things about myself so early in the programme: One is that I was bound for derailment once upon a time. Two is that I am an idiot.

Derailment is, I learned from GLAM course, an organisational behaviour term for being a - errr I'm not sure if I'm allowed to use certain words here, so let's say - a "monkey" and not knowing it, thus causing you your promotion or even your job. This is classic for superstars who get promoted early and start thinking that they’re a god. I plead guilty. This was years ago when I was still in Manila and I blamed my boss, my clients and even IFRS for my poor performance after my promotion. Sorry, Boss Who Must Not Be Named, I blamed you for years but I have come to realise that the truth is I wasn’t ready then. And I was a monkey. (Wow, my first public apology. Hallelujah.)

And second point – I’m an idiot. I was told that I was an idiot for not living in the moment. At first I couldn’t wrap my tiny brain around it but the arguments are quite compelling and apparently according to a professor it’s a fad these days. Do whatever you want then think about the consequences later. Trust your gut feel and make quicker, more accurate decisions. Gladwell even wrote a book on it, on how wonderful blinking is, LOL. Years ago I thought I was being an idiot when I was not thinking things through, but now I am thinking things through and still I’m an idiot. Oh how times have changed. Yes, I’m an idiot—planning and thinking and all—but see it landed me here in London and I could see a bright light 5, 10 years from now, so I guess I’m happy with being an idiot… Or am I? [Insert mixed feelings here]. I really don’t know how to end this thought. Nor this paragraph. Nor this blog post. Good thing is I have two years to think about it.

Clubs kick-off

Posted by Samuel on 09 October 2009

For the last few weeks, we had a wide range of clubs kick-off events held on campus. The diversity of the students clubs is truly amazing. Think about something, anything! I’m sure that there is a club already there to satisfy your wildest interests. From the Africa club to the salsa club, from the consulting club to the finance club, from the Iceland alumni club to the wine and cheese club...

I attended several kick-off events, but there’s one in particular that I didn’t want to miss: the entrepreneurship club kick-off.

For this year's kick-off, the club had done a great job: they successfully invited Tony and Maureen Wheeler for a Q&A session. For those who (still?) don’t know them, Tony and Maureen Wheeler are the founders of Lonely Planet Publications. Tony is an alum of London Business School (MSC05) and together with his wife Maureen they created the highly successful Lonely Planet travel guides.  They met on a bench in Regent's Park and in 1972 then went travelling overland across Europe and Asia to Australia.  It is after this trip that they created a travel guide and sold it to bookshops to add to their 27 cents and camera they had when they first arrived in Australia.  The book sold out within one week and was followed by a second guide that was equally successful.  That was the birth of their world famous guides and the rest, as they say, is history.

It‘s great to have the chance to get some insights from such successful entrepreneurs. They managed to turn their initial idea into a company currently publishing more than 500 different titles. Still, they managed to keep their initial passion and enthusiasm alive after all those years. What’s their secret?!

Why I chose London Business School – 3/3

Posted by Sanjeev on 06 October 2009

Honestly I haven’t been more conscious of my financial health until some rudimentary arithmetic allowed me to visualize the impact of pursuing MBA studies on my balance sheet (at least for the duration of the course). The location and duration of your MBA programme (actually prestige of the school too; please don’t label me narcissistic or pretentious for saying so) will have a bearing on the financial squeeze you will face. This is an unavoidable eventuality or should I say a necessary evil (but wasn’t the greed for money the root of all Evil!). The weak dollar and pound in a global economic melt-down did work in my favour!

Leaving aside the financial matters, for me an MBA is a significant social investment too and that brings me to the final dimension governing my choice of business school. By now I had settled for 2 schools from the original list of 8. By virtue of its location, studying in London was a big draw due to proximity (in terms of ease and cost of accessibility) to places of travel in UK and Europe. I had travelled to some place in Europe for work and was enamoured by its old-world charm and history that I found was diminishing in the rapidly modernizing Asian economies. Such diversity was hard to find in North America either.

London Business School is at the heart of cosmopolitan London and offers a vibrant and bustling social life.  Additionally, London Business School offers a plethora of student clubs to hone one’s professional skills and nurture one’s sporting/artistic talents. It may seem like blowing one’s trumpet but check out The Sundowners Club to discover for your-self another unique facet of social life at London Business School.

I knew for the above reasons (please see the previous posts on this topic as well), when I was offered a place on the programme, that I had to look no further.

5 Weeks in...

Posted by Steve on 30 September 2009

It's funny, at Admits Weeken in early June when the current students told me they went out more and drank more at LBS that they did during their Undergrad degrees, I smiled politely but inwardly worried about how much fun they had at their other Universities.  I have to say one month in and I stand corrected.  One of the best things about School so far is everyone's willingness to get together, to get to know each other and to make everyone feel welcome. Yes we are a diverse group, yes we are from different industries, countries and are of all ages but the one thing we have in common is the desire to meet new people. 

Last night on my way to the gym I bumped into a Canadian engineer who suggested we pop to the Windsor for a quick pint....we were joined by a Thai diplomat and a French industrialist and we spent the next six hours drinking beers from Ireland, Germany and Italy....I didn't make it to the gym.

That aside we have done so many things from public speaking classes to CV workshops to networking drinks at the offices of one of the world's top tier banks that it's easy to forget about classes....but every time my alarm goes off at 6am I remember very quickly...

Scholarship briefing

Posted by Samuel on 27 September 2009

I couldn’t describe my surprise when I received an e-mail the 23rd of December from the LBS Scholarship Committee. They had decided to offer me one of the school Annual Fund Scholarships based on my initial application package. This award was in the form of a discount from my first year fees.  What a great Christmas present!!

Last Friday, more than one month into the programme, all the scholars were invited to our first Scholarship briefing session. The aim of this informal gathering was to give us some background information on what it means to have a scholarship at London Business School.

Big surprise when I entered the lecture hall: we were more than 60 people!

It means that about 20% of the enrolled MBA students were able to soften the burden of their tuition fees. True, the scholarships portfolio available to successful applicants is particularly wide. One can have a look on the school website (scholarships portfolio). However, it is always good to see that corporate partners are still there to support scholars, even during these uncertain economic times. Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Vodafone... All there and all granted to our MBA class of 2011!

Next most formal rendezvous: the evening of November the 12th to attend the Scholarship Drinks Reception. We will have the chance to formally meet and thank our donors (both individual and corporate) in person. It is the least we can do to acknowledge and recognise their generous support!

More on this event in a coming post...

Wow. September Orientation flew by.

Posted by Kimmi on 25 September 2009

So what did I learn during the first month of my MBA?  The key takeaways from Orientation are that...

  • LBS does not just play lip service to diversity.  Where else would you find a study group comprised of a Brazilian, a Brit, an Indian, a Singaporean, a Bulgarian, a Swiss, and an American that all get along, and choose to not just spend their days working on assignments together, but also socializing and cementing friendships on personal time?
  • If you want to do something, someone else probably does to. No matter what crazy activity you conjure up, you will find company.  Want to watch an American football game at 3am? You are not alone.  
  • It's okay to fail (not in classes, mind you).  LBS is a safe environment - our study group encourages each other to take risks - take on a finance role when all you know is marketing. We're all here to expand our horizons; if we knew everything already, we wouldn't be here in the first place.
  • Going out three nights in a row spells trouble.  Whatever you thought you could do in University is much harder to sustain and much more painful now - especially when you have 815am class the next day.  You have been forewarned.
  • Time management and prioritization are key.  There are not enough hours in the day for classes, case reading, working out, attending club kickoffs, friend's birthday parties, and sleep.  Something's got to give and it's up to you to decide what.
  • You will change your point of view. Cynics (and I count myself among them) are challenged at every level - whether it be on a particular academic subject  or a particular management style.  Can you teach someone Ethics? I thought not, but I now believe that you definitely can increase moral awareness by teaching the subject.  Go figure.
  • Networking = MBA.  If you learn nothing else (which you would be hard pressed not to), you will learn to be a superb networker.  And there are plenty of opportunities to practice - at the Windsor (the pub next door), at club kickoff events, in the quad at lunch, with EMBAs in the evening...
So what's the moral of my first month's learnings?  Essentially, that it's not impossible to learn and have fun at the same time, especially when you are doing so with friends from all over the world. 

First month

Posted by Luiz on 24 September 2009

Today marks the end of the first month of the new MBA class. It has been such an intense and fun month that I thought it would be appropriate to list the top ten moments so far (in increasing order):

10 – Routemaster bus (pic) and its “Welcome MBA2011” tour in London. LBS not only does it well but also does it with style!

9 – International citizen game, in which each country/region presented its culture. The Italians won by saying that “mama” controls them by their weight.

8 – Honda case class discussion. Particularly interesting was the role play acted by a former US Soldier and an Italian classmate.

7 – When I first met my study group. There was one minute of silence while we tried to first guess whether we would get along well.

6 – Playing football at Regent’s Park during lunch break.

5 – Statistics group case competition.

4 – Orientation at the Brewery (pic) and meeting as many people as I could in our first two days of MBA at a historical site in London.

3 – The long answers you are likely to get when you ask a classmate: Where are you from?

2 – Away day (pic). We went to a rural location to do outdoor leadership activities that included blindfolding a classmate and putting him on a wire to rescue a “magic potion”.

1 – Friendliness and cooperativeness of students. This ranges from stream trip to Edinburgh, stream dinner and housewarmings to volunteering time to help classmates on CVs and mock interviews.

And the top 5 not so nice:

1 – Price of housing in London and price of beer at Windsor.

2 – The fact that broadband providers take from 3 to 6 weeks to install internet at flats.
3 – Dooms day comments by career services regarding the current job market.

4 – British humour and British liver: you can’t compete with either.

5  - Falling asleep on the night bus, passing my stop, and finding out that I was one hour away from home.

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Away day


A (typical?) day at LBS

Posted by Samuel on 22 September 2009

7.00 am: The alarm clock goes off. Gee, that’s tooooo early... Trying to figure out how to switch off this bloody alarm clock...

7.45 am: After engulfing a bowl of cereals and a bagel, I head to LBS. I cannot get used to start my day at 8.15!

8.16 am: I rushed into the classroom... Today is the first day of our GLAM (Global Leadership Assessment for Managers) class. We’re going to have the results of our 360 evaluation that we had to complete before entering the program. We also had to take a personality quiz to help us to understand ourselves better. I remembered that it had some very odd question such as: would you like to go on a trip to Las Vegas? I’m very curious about the results of all these tests.

9.45 am: I discovered the results of my 360 assessment. Question: Do I really had friends in my previous workplace?! Our professor (Randall S. Peterson, amazingly brilliant and entertaining) described, in a hilarious speech, some students’ reasons for rejecting their 360 degree feedback. I really like this one: ‘I’ve used to be that way, but I’ve changed recently!’

11.15 am: Election of the stream reps. We had in total 17 people running for the different positions of academic, career and social reps. They had to do a 2 minute presentation in front of the class about why they should be elected. The future winners will act as an intermediary between the faculty, the Career Service and the student population. They will also be in charge of proposing and organizing social activities to insufflate good spirit and camaraderie within the stream.

12.00 pm: Registration for the kick-off event of the Entrepreneurship club next week. For this year's kick-off event, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, founders of Lonely Planet Publications (and previous LBS alumni) will give a speech!

12.15 pm: Lunch... Just enough time to grab a sandwich and a fruit...

12.45 pm: Back to the classroom: some tips on how to work efficiently in groups.

3.30 pm: Networking activities: I was contacted through portal by a MIF (master in Finance) student who wanted to have some information on SAP. In exchange, he’ll introduce me to a previous management consultant in his class. I really want to get some advice on how best to prepare for the “infamous” case interviews.

3.45 pm: Last review of our Business Statistics group assignment. It’s due at 5 pm but we have a last minute problem: for some unknown reasons, Word does not want to print the graphics we spent hours to design! Arrgh…

5.02 pm: Done! Paper finally handed out to the teacher assistant!

5.20 pm: Beer at the Windsor (a pub just next to the school) to celebrate the end of our first group assignment.

6.00 pm: Work in the lab on the other business stats assignment: this one is to be done individually… Damn, I though it was over!

7.15 pm: Head home.

7.30 pm: Read all the e-mails issued during the day… More than 45 messages to sort out and answer.

9.00 pm: I’m starving…

10.00 pm: Have to read materials for the ethics class tomorrow. There is one interesting story about the HP scandal over illegal corporate spying.

11.00 pm: Some more e-mails to go through.

11.45 pm: I am up to get a good night’s sleep!

Arriving in London

Posted by Luiz on 22 September 2009

After arriving in London, one of the first decisions I had to take was: where will I live and who will I share a flat with? Fortunately, students organize a Flat hunter’s Pub Crawl. Every night for the two weeks before classes start students gather in a fun and informal setting to meet future classmates and find flat mates. OK, finding my flatmates was step number one. Now I had to go find a flat. Four days and 15 flat visits later I realized I had to change my expectations. A modern flat, close to the school and within my budget didn’t exist. Thus, I decided to cut the “modern” requirement. After all, what’s the fun of living on a London flat if you don’t hear the cracks of the wooden floor when you walk on it? And so, I found my “perfect flat”, a three double-bedroom with a spacious living-room and just a 1min walk to school.

Now that I had a flat and that the sun was shining in London I was off to Regent’s Park to play rugby. I had never played it before but the Rugby club organized a teaching session for us beginners. A hundred or so students showed up and after two hours of hard work we were back to our “headquarter”, the Windsor Castle pub.

My preparation for the start of the term was quite simple: a trip in Eastern Europe that included sunbathing and visits to castles and wineries. One of the greatest things to be in London is the opportunity to take cheap flights to Europe, a continent in which on a three hour drive you may find yourself in a totally different place.

On the other hand, London can be quite expensive. Considering the current economic uncertainty, it required me great courage to quit work and spend a great deal of money on the MBA without knowing how much I will earn after I graduate. Nevertheless, I tried to look at the good side and consider this a good training since I believe that to be a good businessman requires boldness sometimes.

Overall, my first two weeks in London have been spectacular! I see that my next two years will be very busy, with lots of activities!

Why I chose London Business School – 2/3

Posted by Sanjeev on 21 September 2009

If we ascribe to the view that Life is a Journey then an MBA too is essentially a means to an end. With an exception of a few who are genuinely devoted to charitable and social causes, the post-MBA vision (hopefully reality too!) is unequivocally characterized by some tangible manifestation of professional acceleration that improves our economic and social standing.

As expected, leading business schools invest heavily in student career enrichment activities ranging from career counselling (including basics such as resume-writing, interviewing and case-study cracking skills), professional networking initiatives, internship programmes and campus-hiring events. Thus narrowing down the short-list of business schools further to 2-3 schools warranted more than a perfunctory glance at the impressive internship and post-MBA job statistics advertised by these business schools.

The MBA programme at London Business School is different in that its curriculum is interspersed at regular intervals with industry-linked projects such as the Shadowing Project and Second Year Project. This is in addition to internships which are de-rigueur in virtually every MBA programme.  For me it was uncommon to find comparable industry-academia feedback mechanism that will allow me to validate class-room learning with practicality almost continually for the duration of the MBA programme while providing enhanced avenues for professional networking (and source of student-income too :)).

Another important consideration for me was the global reach of the exchange programme at a business school. The International Exchange Programme at London Business School has links with leading schools across the globe (which means more choice for students). The only catch is that only one-third of the MBA class is eligible (based on merit) for it, which is good in a way that it avoids marginalization of the exchange programme as an overseas vacation (though experiencing life at another business school would be the primary motivator for me).

There’s business networking... and there’s Soho networking

Posted by Joyce on 19 September 2009

Care to guess which one landed us invitations to London Fashion Week?

It began as an innocent post-internship rendezvous in Soho with a study group friend. We ran the gamut of regular MBA topics—electives, second year projects, Dean’s List speculation(!)—and while they are standard fare for MBA talk, I can see how it wouldn’t be easy for a stranger to break into the conversation.

As we chatted away obliviously over martinis, I was suddenly faced with the daunting task of engaging the party of gourmet chefs who had just joined us on the left. What do you say to three French culinary experts enjoying a round of drinks (red wine of course) on their rare Friday night off? Having been in the mode of language and conventions for business leaders, was I now inept at introducing myself to people with different passions? I used to be much better at this... what happened? I wasn’t happy about this sudden episode of brain failure.

I wonder whether this links to why some critics condescend on the value of an MBA. Maybe they’ve encountered one too many of us and are sick of not understanding our conversations! I can see why too. I’ve caught myself using terminology which would be obfuscating jargon to anyone who, for instance, hadn’t spent three hours in a strategy class studying “value-chain analysis”. For MBAs, those three words hearken back to a thirty-slide lecture on the framework’s particulars... but it understandably sounds a bit hollow to some others.

I remember the networking training we had on campus: how to write email introductions, request meetings, the kinds of questions to ask... all the way down to the most basic skill of shaking hands (according to the trainer: the “fleshy bits have to touch”). Definitely skills to be practiced and honed, but I would personally advocate some out-of-MBA practice too. Don’t let the great socializing skills you had grow stiff from lack of use!

But back to whether I managed to uphold a scintillating conversation with our party of chefs. Well, I must have muddled through somehow for we ended the night with an invitation to a fashion show (one of the chefs has a designer girlfriend) and a great recipe for quiche Lorraine.

MBA TV - Episode fourteen

Posted by Adcoms on 15 September 2009

In episode fourteen we watch the class of MBA2009 graduate from the full-time programme at London Business School. Graduation recognises the outstanding achievement of an MBA, giving students the chance to celebrate a life-changing two year experience with the life-long friends that they’ve made along the way. Our graduating MBA class are looking forward to bright futures, with many of them embarking on careers that will take them around the world.

 

In this episode:
- MBA Programme Director, Gareth Howells tells us his highlights from the past year
- Graduating MBA students and their families share their feelings about graduation and the MBA experience

 

 

Are you considering an MBA?

 

Application for the MBA class beginning in August 2010 is open from September 2009. For details on how to apply visit http://www.london.edu/programmes/mba/applying.html

 

A wide range of scholarships are available to successful applicants who apply in Stages 1, 2 and 3. For more details visit http://www.london.edu/programmes/mba/scholarships.html

Why I chose London Business School – 1/3

Posted by Sanjeev on 12 September 2009

This series of posts is intended to present an unadulterated insight into my decision process in searching for a business school and resolving the paradox of choice I was faced with.

I view my life as a sum of its experiences – part academic, part professional and part social (not necessarily in equal proportions though; that’s something everyone arbitrarily or innately defines for themselves I believe). Thus my choice of business school was largely governed by the impact of 1-2 years of post-grad business education on me across these dimensions.  

Having lived, studied and worked across Asia I was looking to gain an experiential perspective of society and business in a different geography. I embarked on the search for the right business school by preparing a list of 6 – 8 leading schools from North America and Europe. Given that each of these schools had an equally glorious, renowned and global record of business education (based on research, quality of academics and folklore) it was difficult to tell them apart objectively. Generally speaking I would expect these schools to prescribe similar text-books and readings from the same pool of luminaries and have equally distinguished faculty with ingenious methods of instruction to stretch the intellectual faculties of students.  So I whittled the initial list down to 4-5 schools based on diversity of their student population based on academic, professional and geographic backgrounds. To me greater diversity of the student population meant an incredible and rare opportunity to maximize and accelerate my learning of life’s unwritten teachings from the collective experiences of others.

Below are some statistics that illustrate the richness of student and faculty conversations I was looking for in my MBA programme.

Fact: 1,300 students from 121 countries

Fact: 28,000+ alumni across 120 countries

Fact: 59 languages spoken in a single MBA class

Fact: 89% international students in MBA2009

Fact: 140+ faculty from more than 30 countries.

(Source: London Business School MBA Brochure)

I recommend you take a look at the above brochure for more vivid statistics highlighting the unique composition of the MBA class and get a snapshot of the eminent faculty at London Business School.