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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/

 

Of Kangaroos and Vegemite Sandwiches

Posted by Matthew on 01 March 2009

Well, it has been a while since I have posted on this blog.  Hope you all missed me.  You might have been wondering if I was so busy because of my rigorous academic schedule (maybe my Mom)...  Well, no.  I decided to spend this term studying abroad in Sydney, Australia.  And it has been well worth it.


I spent the final months in London vigorously preparing and studying for my new adventure.  I watched the Mad Max films and Australia; reviewed Patrick White, and researched recipes for kangaroo.  When I was finally ready, I started my 22 hour voyage to the land down under.  I decided not to live with any other students as I wanted to immerse myself in Aussie culture as much as possible.  So I found an apartment on the beach (literally on the BEACH) and began what has been 6 of the best weeks of my MBA so far.  I spend my days swimming and snorkeling, the sort of general malaise that students possess and the employed lament.  I have also been traveling heavily.

By the time I leave Australia in early April, I will have seen the Australian Open, boated on the rivers in the South Island of New Zealand, flown over Milford Sound, scuba dived at the Great Barrier Reef, hiked through the Daintree Rainforest, driven along the Great Ocean Road, eaten at Tetsuya's restaurant (9th best restaurant in the world according to the 2008 List of World's Best Restaurants), camped at Ayer's Rock, cuddled koalas, hopped with kangaroos, swum with dolphins, and cooked some shrimp on the barbie (numerous times).  So, as you can tell, it has been pretty busy.  Oh, and I also fit a week long diving extravaganza in the Maldives.

And I think I might have also been to a couple of classes on International Business Strategy, New Product Development, and Corporate Governance.  For anyone thinking about studying abroad in the future, Sydney Australia at the Australian School of Business AGSM MBA Program is highly recommended.  Escaping winter in London and the United States is a huge plus, but the students and people here are extremely friendly -- quick to chat over a schooner and show you their wonderful country.  And it also further reinforces that there is only a certain amount of education that occurs in the classroom.  Sometimes, you just need to get out on the beach with friends and enjoy life and travel.

I will be getting back in April to London, but I will not take any more classes.  I will prepare for my future career in banking by once again traveling as much as possible - planned trips to New York, California, India, Barcelona, Paris, Kyoto/Tokyo, a safari in Kenya, and diving in Zanzibar.  So, I highly recommend doing a study abroad while you are at business school.  London Business School encourages it more than any other business school I know and for good reason.  The networks created abroad and the ability to be taught by a different school's faculty and points of view along with the ability to experience more of the world will inevitably make you a better person and a stronger candidate for jobs post business school.  And in this current economic climate, we can all use every advantage we can get.

Conrad Maldives Air

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Trying New Things and Being Entrepreneurial

Posted by Matthew on 03 December 2008

Being American, I tended not to travel so much before my MBA.  I had not experienced all of the cultural wonders that would become available to me attending such a diverse school.  Since arriving here, I have attended Carneval parties, Hanami parties, Beaujolais parties, Diwali, a random Wicken event (not school or club sponsored) that I probably would prefer not mentioning, and other parties and events that I never even knew existed.  Nonetheless, sometimes it is also fun to share a little bit of my own culture with others -- thus American Thanksgiving (not to be confused with Canadian Thanksgiving which occurs on Sundays and celebrates the harvest).  My friends and I (about 40 of us) had a huge feast in a flat in London that put my own family's Thanksgivings to shame.  The highlight was a Turducken (a deboned chicken stuffed in a deboned duck stuffed in a Turkey and roasted with stuffing for 12 hours).  I can say that it was tasty, and I am now thinking whether this could become tastier with the addition of pigeons or pheasants or other random fowl.  It was also great seeing the looks on all the faces of my non-American friends at the veritable table of goodness laid before their eyes.  So, if you come here, experience other cultures but also share the best of your own.


Sidenotes:

1)  You may have noticed that I never talk about academics anymore -- well, as a 2nd year, my life is now down to breaking my life in to units of time and trying to count down the days until I head to exchange in Sydney, Australia.  I plan on bringing a bathing suit, a surfboard, 3 shorts, 3 shirts, and a pair of flippers.

2)  Been brainstorming with friends trying to come up with cool ideas -- there is my standard open up a Mexican restaurant in London and then open up its sister Brunch-only restaurant; trying to produce an alternative pirate musical; or opening up Italian eateries in Mexico targeting the untapped Italian Ex-Pat in Mexico who can't handle spicy population.

Turducken

2nd Year Isn't So Bad

Posted by Matthew on 06 November 2008

So, I think that the MBA office should really push the 2nd Year of the MBA more in its advertising.  It pretty much involves a lot of traveling and kickin' it.  Thus far this term, I have yet to spend a weekend in London.  I have been living like a consultant -- Monday through Wednesday in London and then spending the rest of my time in another country -- mostly the U.S.  I noticed that the 2010's gave an account of a day in their lives, but I won't bother you with mine -- it involves mostly sleeping, drinking, and flying right now.


Other highlights of the term include:

US Election Party:  Many Americans got together to watch the Election returns at the Chicago Rib Shack and this was one of the best nights I have had in London.  Despite the fact that I had the audacity to hope for a full plate of ribs, we all drank beers (negra modelo), played election bingo, and anxiously awaited the returns.  I ended up getting home at 630 am -- Investment Banker style.

Weekend in New York highlighted by a meal in Per Se.  Sometimes you have to rough it.

Halloween in Boston with a major party at Boston College.  Now, going to a grad school that lacks undergrads can often make you forget what a precious commodity undergrads are.  So young, excitable, and ready to party.  Maybe this is what the Masters in Management program is designed to fix.  I dressed up as Willy Wonka.  It seemed appropriately creepy, and I do like chocolate.

Paintball:  I get to paintball this Saturday for a friend's birthday.  I have never actually been paintballing before, and I think that this will be a lot of fun.  Though I am concerned that the others will have higher expectations of me since I "served" in the armed forces.  They really shouldn't.  I don't do anything well.

So, one should remember that the 2nd year is a lot of fun.  The 1st year just doesn't allow for the free time required for me to properly enjoy myself.

2010's arrive!

Posted by Matthew on 20 September 2008

The 2010's have arrived. The campus is much more lively right now since they still have the enthusiasm of people who think that they will get summer internships. This is kind of cute still.

But it also means that this blog is now for the 2011's and beyond. And this unprecedented financial crisis created by a lack of liquidity in the markets that is diminishing the job prospects for 2009's and 2010's creates a definite opportunity for those planning to apply to Business School in the near future. First, academia becomes a pretty good place to shelter yourself from a horrible job market and create value in your CV and intellectual capital for 2 years. Second, people who truly understand what is currently happening and why will have significant advantages in the application process for Business School and more importantly, perhaps, for job interviews in the future.

All job interviews in the foreseeable future are going to focus on what is currently happening. In the few interviews that I have had since the end of my internship, it is clear that having a front row seat to the current events unfolding makes for great interview conversation and an opportunity to demonstrate an understanding. This is clearly the topic preoccupying most people in finance, consulting and industry. Nobody is being spared.

Not that this is all bad for us. Most of us have a had a very good time (2009's) and the 2010's will have a good (if not more stressful time) than us. But they should also permanently enter the job market on an upswing which is the best time to enter. Unless of course the $700bn bailout of the US financial system doesn't work.

But in the meantime, I am going to focus on the positives of the current situation -- the pubs have a lot of great company in the mornings now with all of the "available" bankers getting an early start at the early to close British pubs.

Re-emerging in to Society

Posted by Matthew on 03 September 2008

So, I effectively put my life on hold this summer as I had an investment banking internship at a small (and getting smaller daily) investment bank in New York. I did not have a career in finance before I arrived, so this was my first taste of banking. I learned many useful things this summer including:

1) How to dodge the media when exiting the building who want to ask questions about what it is like to be working at a bank that is going under. Cover your face with your hands and walk briskly. Nothing to see here!

2) How to make all analogies in your life pertain to banking. For example, I would never say (now) that I could see myself being interested in X girl for a long term relationship. Instead, I now say that I could go long on her, as opposed to going short which is bad, and ironically enough what many hedge funds did to my bank this summer.

3) How to sustain an average working week of 120 hours without caffeine or other supplements. Answer -- push ups in the office and protein shakes.

4) How a blackberry can be used as a status symbol and a magnet for attracting women, though often ones that I would go short on.

I also met many great people who did teach me a lot about valuations, M&A strategy, and office politics. Oddly, I think I really did like this summer. Never again will I have the opportunity to be in the eye of the storm of a major financial crisis, or at least I hope that I do not have to do that again. I know now that I want to be in finance, so I consider this summer a success...

Now I am preparing to head back to London. I am practicing my British accent again. It will be good to see all of my friends soon. I imagine that we might have beers.

The Belle of the Winter Ball

Posted by Matthew on 05 March 2008

So, I really should attend more social events here. There are quite a few of them. I have been going to about 50% of things. I mean, what can I say, putting up a 150-word blog once a month can be a full-time job. Anyways, I did go to the Winter Ball. And it was a lot of fun. The theme was James Bond and Casino Royale, and since I have had martinis in the past, I considered myself qualified to go. Everyone was dressed up and they had a poker tournament (one item of note is that in the actual book, they played baccarat and not poker). It was a great time. The thing is... great times like these require selfless people who are willing to put in a lot of work to plan -- to effectively receive nothing in return. Yes, I do work for LBS by posting blogs, but I get the line on the CV, the fan club, and job offers. For planning something that will adequately entertain over 300 people with live music, food, and drinks, somebody must put in a lot of work. For our class, that person is Hilary. She put in a lot of time to make sure that everything turned out perfectly. She also happens to be in my stream, and she consistently plans social events for our stream that are always fun. So much so that even I started showing up. So, if you are a prospective 2010 or beyond, you might want to think about what you can do to make your class as fun as possible. Maybe you can be the next Hilary.

Sidenotes:

1) I will be going to the annual Japan Trip in 3 weeks. I am very excited. Take full advantage of these wonderful trips when you are here.

2) I was asked by the Development Team to write a letter to Alumni panhandling for donations to help fuel the rock and roll lifestyle. I felt that it was about time to expand in to the print medium. I imagine that what comes next is global domination (from the Rupert Murdoch Guide to Life)

3) In May, there is a huge tournament called the MBAT, where numerous business schools compete in sporting events. It sounds like a lot of fun, but it will cost over 400 Pounds to go. I am considering either auctioning off my kidney or my body (whichever gets more money).

Moving On...

Posted by Matthew on 27 February 2008

When girlfriends have dumped me in the past, I did all that I could really do... I moved on. So, as the milk round has ended for finance, I have now moved on. I was fortunate enough to get a job, so I am excited, but the experience was a humbling one altogether. I was told by one bank that I was too competitive, and yet not competitive enough by another bank. I like that this is an industry where the yin and yang between competition and collegiality is held at such a zen-like balance. As when girls dumped me in the past, I was also told that they didn't find me attractive enough, or they really didn't like that I was flirting with other banks. Recruiting is like dating, and an offer is like their way of saying, "I love you (for a limited time of 10 weeks)."

But this blog is about advice for 2010 and beyond and not necessarily my catharsis, so my advice boils down to this... Take the milk round in stride. Stay confident when rejected. Everyone will get a job. And the best way to get over rejection is to find a better looking bank and make the other banks jealous. Because in the end, revenge feels good too.

The Milk Round

Posted by Matthew on 08 January 2008

So... vacation has ended (Italy was great though I am still getting feeling back in my neck after snowboarding), and we have now started Corporate Partners Week, or On-Campus Recruiting, or some even call it The Milk Round. This is the period when all of the big companies come to campus to peddle their wares and look for a lucky few interns for the summer. While there are many presentations, only a third of the class will actually get their summer associate positions through this process though many more than a third are trying very hard. So the following is what I have gleamed so far:

TOP FIVE THINGS I HAVE LEARNED AFTER TWO DAYS OF THE MILK ROUND

1) Everyone here thinks they are awesome. Most aren't. Most people are effectively the same exact person on paper -- graduated form university and spent 3 to 6 years working at a bank/consulting firm/random company. What you (as a current LBS applicant) can do now is... differentiate yourself as much as possible before you start school. Now is the time to compete in an Ironman Triathlon (Will) or start a charity that helps Malawi orphans avoid adoption by Madonna. Because really, being the 2009 Representative to the XY Club is not going to be that separating factor. I think most people will realize this soon when we all get rejected more often than a young American couple seeking a home loan.

2) If you have not been networking before The Milk Round, it is already too late. The networking sessions consist of over 150 students reeking of desperation surrounding approximately 5 to 10 company employees. They will likely not remember you from today. Nor is handing off somebody your business card the end game. They probably won't do anything with it unless they ask for it.

3) No groceries for the week. This is a week of free food. Don't do groceries this week. Save yourself that 10 pounds or 100 bucks. Every presentation comes with a bountiful supply of sandwiches. Some even have French macarons which are truly a tasty treat. Go for the hot trays first -- they will be in the most demand.

4) Figure out what you want to do before today. Every company sounds great in a presentation. They will seduce you with talk of their culture, their money, their free food (I might be more susceptible to the latter than most). Research properly what you are interested in before, otherwise you will end up interested in everything during the Milk Round.

5) When a banker asks you if you do modeling, he isn't asking you if you go down the catwalk. I was indeed flattered the first time I was asked before I politely responded that I am not tall enough to do that professionally. Apparently, you should learn how to model before the Milk Round as well.

That is what I have gotten so far. I would have a Top Ten list but the Hollywood Writer's Strike continues, and I can't come up with an extra 5. Peace to my brothers in Hollywood. If the Simpsons or Conan O"Brien needs writers, I am shockingly still unemployed after two days.

The Calm Before the Storm

Posted by Matthew on 13 November 2007

You might be wondering where everybody has gone... Or maybe not. But if you are, November is apparently the busiest month of London Business School. I do not know if this is true for all business schools, but it is here. So, to cut the proverbial stress with a knife, the MBA Office has decided to offer a De-Stress Week. This week the following are being offered:

1) Free Massages
2) Chocolate Indulgences
3) British Breakfasts (By the way, is there anything in the British diet that is health conscious? -- I mean, I love clotted cream and scones as much as the next guy...)

So, this has been a surprisingly pleasant and relaxed week. Of course, next week involves the dreaded corporate finance midterm (not a final!). But I choose not to focus on that... I prefer to focus on my return to New York in December and my New Year's vacation in the Italian Alps. Have I made you jealous yet? Well, hopefully about everything except British breakfasts...

Do you want to work in New York?

Posted by Matthew on 29 October 2007

Well, I think that I very well might want to work in New York someday, so I went on the London Business School New York Finance Trek this week. It was an excellent decision. Beyond being in the best food city in the world, I was able to visit 9 banks in 3 days with 8 other members of a motley crew led by our fearless leader, Lara. This trip was designed to enhance the reputation of the school in New York and hopefully gain employment for us as well. I also found out during this trip that London Business School truly has alumni located all over the world in many senior positions. It was a great opportunity to network and get to know these institutions better.

One thing that you may not know about B-School -- when the big companies come to visit the school, you often do not get to have prolonged discussions because there are so many people vying for their good graces. But we were a small group that was able to make real connections that will only help in the future.

On a side note, for those Americans coming to London Business School, shop as much as possible in New York before your arrival. I didn't realize how much I missed New York food and shopping before this week. Now, I get to go back to Tesco discount sandwiches.

Steve B

Posted by Matthew on 02 October 2007

Steve Ballmer (CEO Microsoft) came to London Business School yesterday.  Well, technically the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, but we will let that slide.  He spoke to a full house that was eager to hear Steve Ballmer comment on vision, leadership, and Microsoft's goals for the future.  He also demonstrated a new product called Microsoft Surface.  I won't elaborate on that too much since I am not paid by Microsoft, well, yet...  Nonetheless, it was very cool and it was a great experience to be able to see a leader that you see in the news up close. It reminded me of back when I was at the University of California (who happen to be Nr 3 in College Football!!!). 

Anyways, Steve Ballmer only had time to take several questions at the end, but he encouraged us to send our follow-up questions to his Microsoft e-mail account, and I did.  And shockingly enough, he replied only four hours later.  He even answered my question.

GLAM

Posted by Matthew on 28 September 2007

What is GLAM you may ask? A new David Bowie album, which would be a fairly decent follow to "Fame." Nope. It is the Global Leadership Assessment for Managers (known as GLAM henceforth). Effectively, it is London Business School's attempt to illustrate our weaknesses and strengths (if we have any). They also contract out to do a personality survey that tells us if we are ambitious or aimless, arrogant or modest, open or closed. Now, I like critical feedback as much as the next guy, but some of it is really harsh. I am apparently aimless, lack all sympathy towards other people, and untrusting. Now I know why all of my ex-girlfriends left me. Has GLAM been a success? It is very difficult to say. Maybe this is the kind of thing that can only be measured in many years when we are either effective or ineffective leaders.

The most fun part of it so far, however, has been a very well structured simulation where we had to run a small specialty motor company against other groups. We had to choose all of the variables from sales to marketing to R & D. It was an all day event, and I always love these strategic games that force people to make difficult high-level decisions. Unfortunately, they did not announce a winner since they said that the purpose was to practice group dynamics and leadership traits. But I am willing to declare my group the clear winner -- highest market share, highest revenue, and best press releases. Okay, so maybe I am not so aimless and closed, but maybe not so modest either.

Study Group Reality (aka I don't belong)

Posted by Matthew on 13 September 2007

So, you probably know this already, but you will get a Study Group in Business School. Now, I heard all sorts of nightmares about these groups before I started school, but all in all, I have to say that I like my group. We are quite the diverse group of people -- The Russian-American math genius with a heart of gold; The Statistician who has heaps of experience at major credit agencies; The VP of a major bank; The Italian McKinsey consultant who looks (and I assume plays) like Kaka; and the Australian girl who has either been a model, actress, or basketball player in her previous life and also happens to be a great writer. And that brings us to me - No obvious talent. I think they put me there to motivate me (or to make them feel good), or to highlight that I bring nothing tangible to the group except a desire to Blog about them. It is like the quote in that classic film Rounders, "If you cant spot the sucker the first 30 minutes at the table, you are the sucker." In this case, however, replace the term "sucker" with "man with no discernible skills."

Shifting gears though ... speaking of poker... I have now joined the Poker Club, and it might be the best club at school. No, this club won't help you get great jobs like the Private Equity Club, but it sure is a lot of fun. I can't wait to invest more this weekend. I am also angling for a Senior VP role in the club -- gotta find something for my CV. Also, it should be noted that the President of the Poker Club also is a blogger though he has his own which you can find on the links to your left. It is called "Plausible Deniability." Whether the name is a legal defense or a life philosophy, I do not know for sure, but the blog is a must read if you are considering Business School, even if you don't really belong or have any talent like me.

Flying out to London

Posted by Matthew on 20 August 2007

School starts in 7 days, and I cannot emphasize how nervous I am. I
am completely not ready for this. It feels like there are still a million
things to do, yet I can't think of them. First, I had to pack all of my
bags to fly to London (from New York). Now, one would think that a male with
no furniture to his name would not be able to fill 3 very large duffle bags
(each capable of holding a human body), but then one would be wrong. I
filled all three bags and 3 extra boxes to be shipped. I am ready for
anything. Interviews for great internships? Check. Clothes for
exploring the great pubs and clubs? Check. Tennis? Check. Cricket? Oh no, how
have I missed this?

Then, my roommates and I had to find an apartment. Actually, I had to
stay and work in New York, so my roommates took care of that. If there is
any advice that I can give to MBA 2010ers - outsourcing.

But I realize that I should relax. I will be at a pub tomorrow night
meeting all of my classmates, and many of them will have the same
thoughts that I have now, so we will be able to work through my phobias together
- but I bet they brought stuff for cricket.