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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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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/

 

Second year!

Posted by Sean on 16 December 2007

It has been a while since my last post.  I promise I have good excuses.  I became a father on August 23rd, and have been very busy at school this year as President of the Student Association and a full load of electives.  I have a lot to report.  After a great summer at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products, I was sure I wanted to continue with a career in Brand Management.  I was lucky to have a couple of offers and have accepted a position with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, OH.  I can’t wait! 

So this year is all about preparing myself through my electives to excel in that position (and of course savoring my last moments as a student).  This term I took a second course from my favorite professor, Bert de Reyck.  This course was Project Management, which taught a disciplined approach to managing the many constraints (resources, budgets, people, expectations, deadlines, etc) of large scale projects.  It had some of the risk mitigation elements in common with his first year course in Decision & Risk Analysis, but took it out of the individual decision environment into the complex world of massive projects.  I also took Creativity & Personal Mastery with guru Srikamour Rao (check out www.areyoureadytosucceed.com), who teaches this course at Columbia Business School and Haas.  It was a great course which breaks the mold for MBA courses.  My third course of the term was Brand Management with Mark Ritson (check out www.MarketingRitson.com).  This was my favorite course thus far at London Business School, absolutely fantastic.  I am biased because I am going into Brand Management as a profession, but my classmates going into other industries would likely say the same.  Academically, a wonderful term. 

I have also landed a really cool second year project.  I am working with a classmate on a project at Apple, in their marketing group.  We just started in December, and the project is set to last until April.  I can’t say much about the project, but it is of great importance to Apple’s business in the EMEA region, and our advice is intended to guide major actions for the company (assuming it is approved by Apple’s board).  As an Apple user, and a future marketer, this is a tremendous opportunity and I am thoroughly enjoying it. 

Finally, the Student Association has been doing some great things this year.  We put on some terrific events, are adding more value to the student clubs, and are making headway on key priorities to further enhance the student experience.  Our goal is to make the place even better for you (prospective students), than it was when we arrived. 

Happy New Year!

US Internship

Posted by Sean on 31 August 2007

So it has been a while since I have made a posting, the end of the year was an incredible whirlwind for me and it hasn’t stopped since.

Within 4 hours of finishing my Management Accounting Exam on the 16th of June (a Saturday), I flew out to Newark, NJ that to begin my internship at Johnson & Johnson that Monday.  I didn’t have much time to breath until that ended on August 21st.  I want to highlight my summer experience as it is a bit unique and might be of interest to some prospective students, particularly those thinking about working in the US past-graduation.  Most of the recruiting that happens on campus is for positions in the UK and Europe (even more so for internships).  I had to put in a bit more legwork to get interview opportunities in the US, but the Career Services office was extremely helpful and was able to put me in touch with most of the companies I was interested in.  The US recruiting season is a bit earlier than in the UK so I was doing my first interviews in December, before the ‘milkround’ kickoff for internship recruiting on London Business School campus in January.  But things went well.  The contacts that I made got me interviews and by mid January I had two offers for internships with consumer goods companies in the US.  One in NYC and one in northern New Jersey.  So although the formal, on-campus recruiting opportunities are mainly for the UK and Europe, if you want to pursue an internship or full-time career in the US, a little legwork and some help from Career Services can make it happen.

The internship I chose was a brand management internship in the consumer goods group of Johnson & Johnson.  For the 10 week internship, I worked on their Aveeno brand specifically on the Facial Care team.  I had not been in consumer goods or in marketing before business school so this was a complete career switch for me.  I chose this path for an internship because I like the industry, and wanted to get on a track towards general management.  Brand management in consumer goods is a great opportunity to get general management experience right from the start.  Brand managers are in charge of pulling all of the pieces together to get products on shelf and in the homes of consumers.  My time at J&J was great.  Moving to unknown territory with a change of industry and job function was a leap of faith, where I was relying on the knowledge I collected throughout my first year about this industry and this type of role.  I was very happy to see that it was exactly what I had expected.  As an intern, I was involved in numerous projects touching all parts of the business (R&D, package design, project management, advertising, CRM, copy writing, etc.).  As I head back to school for my second year I know that I want to continue with this chosen career path.  The internship was a huge success, allowing me to test out the industry, the role, and the company.  Now I can return to school and hone my marketing skills to prepare me for a full-time brand management position.   

A summer term for this summer weather...

Posted by Sean on 16 April 2007

We arrived back from Spring Break last week and were met with an onslaught of new courses. Because we did not have class on Easter Monday, the class schedule was shifted back a day and left some of us in class all day Saturday! Luckily, that wasn’t me as the weather in London over the past 10 days has been unbelievable, and sitting in class across from Regent’s Park over the weekend would have been torturous. This term gave first year students a pick of many electives, whereas the second term had only offered a few. With many of us eager to take on some specialised courses, I worry that some may have taken on a bit too much. I am certainly feeling the strain even though I have only signed up for 1.5 electives. This term continues with the hands-on nature of the second term. While our marketing and organisational behaviour lectures have officially ended, we are still working hard to complete these courses. My study group is helping to restructure the marketing department for a leading global footwear company in response to a strategy change for our MOB project. Right now, we are on the client site about 5 hours a week for interviews and meetings, before delivering our final recommendation in a few weeks. Our marketing course has continued into this term through a marketing simulation game called MarkStrat. Our study group has started the simulation with a company that is leading the industry. This sounds great but it also means that we can only lose this top spot to our competitors. This term has an operations theme to it with the core courses of Operations & Technology Management, and Managerial Accounting & Control. One course to help us design/optimise processes, and the other to measure the financial results of the production. For our operations course, all streams will be headed on a field trip to manufacturing plants throughout Europe. My stream is going to visit Porsche and BMW in Germany, another stream is going to Ducati in Italy, and another is headed to Amsterdam (tulips I think). In another core course we are learning about global macroeconomic trends to help us position our future firms optimally in the global business environment. That’s it from me for the boring blog about academics, over to the others for the marathon and MBAT!

Summers in London...

Posted by Sean on 12 March 2007

I am sitting this morning in one of the second floor conference rooms in the Laing House, which has the most beautiful view of Regent’s Park. The sun is out, I have the windows fully opened, and it sounds, smells, and looks like spring is almost here

London has a global reputation for bad weather. The weather is a favourite thing to complain about, and can always be leaned on to break the ice before a meeting, or just strike up conversation in the lift. Yes, over the winter months, the weather in London is hard to bear. It rains a lot, it’s cold, and it rarely snows. Tourists hate the weather in London, and so do the locals. The British are great at ‘whinging’ – the art of complaining – and have perfected their skills complaining about the weather (always top of the whinge list) for centuries.

In its defence, I have lived in London for almost four years now, and have learned to completely tolerate the dreary winter weather always knowing that the beautiful spring and summer are just around the corner. When the nice days of spring begin to appear, everyone floods the parks, riverside, and pubs to enjoy life in London. I am sad to say that I will be in the US this summer for an internship, and will unfortunately miss my first London summer in 4 years. The long lunches in the park, pickup games of football, Friday pints in the beer gardens well into the evening as daylight hangs on…

Important choices with no right answer

Posted by Sean on 13 February 2007

It seems that I am being asked every day to make an important decision.

Last week we were briefed on exchange programmes. Do I want to go on exchange? Do I want to do exchange in the fall or spring? Which of the 32 schools on 6 continents do I want as my first choice? How about my second choice? The third choice? And Sean, please write an essay as to why you want to go to each school. Forget it, I’m only at London Business School for two years, and that is already too short. I’ll stay here thanks.

And this week we were briefed on electives available for next term. In contrast to the first term when no electives were on offer, and the second term when we only had a few, this time we have 10 choices. Uy! I am torn, do I go for Strategy 2, or Project Management? Advanced Marketing Strategy or Marketing Research? If I decide not to take them now, do I get to take them next year? Can I really only choose 12 of the 100+ electives on offer during my 2 year programme?

Finally, there are the really big choices. I am in a lucky position to have multiple exciting summer internship offers for my chosen career path. But how do I choose? It’s not as simple as thinking about what I want to do this summer, as these companies only offer full-time positions to those that intern with them. And what is most important? The company, the position, the location, the money… ? I think I should ask my Decision & Risk Analysis Professor to put together a statistical model to decide for me.

All of this has me longing for the simple times in the first term with mandated core courses, two years of the MBA ahead of me, and nothing but a pile of work to think about.

Discover an entrepreneurial opportunity?

Posted by Sean on 19 January 2007

The second term of my first year at London Business School is now in full swing. I have a full schedule of courses (6 in fact) and most of them are brand new. Last term was very theoretical with subjects like Strategy, Managerial Economics and Corporate Social Responsibility. In their place this term we have some real-hands on courses that will certainly be challenging and exciting.

One class that I am already enjoying is our Entrepreneurship course. The professor warned us in the first 10 minutes of class that the course was not an Intro to Entrepreneurship or Entrepreneurship 101, but rather a course on “Discovering Entrepreneurial Opportunities.” And yes, as part of the course we do actually have to discover an entrepreneurial opportunity! Slightly concerning given our professor’s next warning – our new business idea will be judged as it would in the real world. This means that while we may put in huge efforts in our market research, business planning, etc. we are ultimately graded on whether the idea is a good one and a viable business proposition that people would invest in. I am not sure exactly how our idea’s viability will be decided, but that is probably the point of the trade show. Excerpt from the course outline: “This project will culminate in a ‘trade show’ in which your team will present a 3-D physical prototype (or perhaps a dramatisation, for service innovations) of your solution to the customer problems, pain, or needs you have discovered. Members of the school’s network of business angels and mentors, the Enterprise 100, will be invited to see and judge your discoveries at that event.”

I guess this means we get an A if we line up our first investors! The class kicked off this week with a case about someone launching a wedding magazine for men called “The Stag and Groom.” Sounds crazy, huh? Almost funny? However, after reading the case, I was actually convinced it would work. Our class was polarised during the discussion with especially passionate arguments on the “it’s nuts” side of the coin. Well, after we heard from everyone and heatedly debated the idea’s merits, the entrepreneur (who had been sitting in the class all along) defended himself in person. It was a fascinating discussion and certainly a fun start to the course.

Yes, this course is definitely about learning by doing. I think that theme is also running through our marketing course and our managing organisational behaviour course. A very hands-on and challenging term. Cool stuff!

Tunisian adventure

Posted by Sean on 17 December 2006

Img_0830_3I’ve just come back from my trip to Tunisia, which you may have read about in my last posting. The trip was excellent, and really exceeded my expectations. Ashley (fellow researcher and classmate) and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 5am after the Santa Claus Pub Crawl to make it to the only direct flight from London to Tunis on the 10th. It wasn’t easy but what we encountered was worth the early morning pain. The dreadfully early flight time at least allowed us to use the afternoon for some touristy things in the area. After we arrived, we spent the rest of the day with a private taxi driver going to all of the sites in nearby Carthage. It was pretty cool to see civilization dating back thousands of years.

We had a full agenda lined up for the week, and got started with our research at 8am on Monday. On Monday we visited with one of the largest Private Equity firms operating in North Africa. They told us about their business, the challenges that they faced in the region, and their plans for growth. They were one of the pioneers of the market when they started in 1994 and have seen it evolve tremendously since then. After that quick meeting, we hit the road to check out some of their portfolio companies. First, we saw a company manufacturing computers intended to be affordable for the average Tunisian household. Their entry level computer package runs for TND 700, which is about £280, and affordable for the country’s large and well-educated middle class. After that we hit the road to Sousse, for a visit to a mattress manufacturer.

Our second day was even more of a whirlwind. We met with a seed stage venture capitalist named Alaya, who has an amazing level of energy and passion for entrepreneurship in Tunisia. He shuttled us quickly from company to company (6 different companies in one day), and enthralled us with stories of his life’s work of developing Tunisia through funding new businesses. If you’re an entrepreneur, and interested in launching your business in Tunisia, let me know and I will get you in touch with this great man.

On Wednesday we spent more time visiting companies, and interviewing firms. We were able to get some free time in the afternoon and went to the old central Medina in Tunis to visit the Suuq, a traditional market for Tunisian wares. Ashley and I practiced our negotiation skills and came away with some good deals on interesting Christmas gifts for our family and friends. Here's a picture of Ashley in the suuq. Look out vendors.Img_0976_one_way

Overall, we had a wonderful trip. It is always fascinating to step into a totally different culture. I was completely amazed by the accommodating nature of the Tunisian people. Everyone we met went out of their way to welcome us to their country. We were hosted like old friends, taken out to dinners and shown local treasures. Now we need to work on the sponsors to let us check out the Venture Capital market in West Africa… Stay tuned.

Tunisia here we come

Posted by Sean on 26 November 2006

I have been working on a research project since the beginning of October with a professor in the London Business School Private Equity Institute and three fellow classmates. The project’s aim is to design a process for measuring the developmental impacts of Private Equity in Africa. It is a really interesting project sponsored by some big industry bodies both in Africa and Europe. We have essentially been given some development indicators that our sponsors would like us to measure and combined those with some more indicators we are interested in from research and outside input. We have put together a draft questionnaire that we are going to test with some ‘pilot’ VC firms in Africa, prior to finalizing the questionnaire for dissemination to all firms investing in Africa.

As part of the pilot portion of the project, we are traveling in pairs to two different parts of Africa. I am headed to Tunisia with a classmate and the other pair is going to Nigeria. We are planning this trip for just after exams and before we all diverge to different parts of the world for the holidays. We plan to spend three days there, meeting different VC firms and as many of their portfolio companies as we can. Right now, we are debating whether or not to head out early for some sight seeing, or beach time, but are torn because that would conflict with the famous Santa Claus Pub Crawl at the end of exams… Decisions, decisions…

The intended result of the project is to come up with a repeatable measurement process for development impacts of Private Equity in Africa. It will become the benchmark in Africa for measuring Private Equity firms and their investments by this impact, and serve as a model for similar goals in other Emerging Markets. Overall, it has been a great addition to the curriculum for me. I am actually going to get an elective credit by using this for the brand new First Year Project elective (plus we are getting paid!). I plan on taking advantage of all the opportunities available to get real experience out of the classroom. There is a shadowing project I can do, an organizational behavior audit to do, and a second year project in addition to any other research opportunities that might come around. Tunisia here we come!

Internship search begins

Posted by Sean on 15 November 2006

They weren’t kidding about the first term! I am barely keeping my head above water. To complicate things further, I am also starting my first applications for internships. Luckily, our career centre has been excellent, and are making the process much easier for me.

In terms of career objectives, this past three months has been an incredible learning experience for me. Last year I wanted to be a consultant, at the start of the year a banker, and through a lot of coaching, reflecting, and learning, I have decided that I want to be a Brand Manager for a consumer goods company. Wow, all over the place, right? Actually, that is one of the great things about doing an MBA – options. At first, the range of options is overwhelming and you start seeing yourself in any job function, latching instantly onto whatever piques your interest. That is exactly what I did. But despite a slight variation in focus, I have come full-circle back to why I came to business school in the first place – to direct my career towards General Management. Yes, at first I thought I would become a consultant in the short term and now want to go directly into industry, but substantially, I am back to the same path I have always wanted.

Luckily, there has been plenty of opportunity for reflection, career education, and support. We had GLAM, personal career coaching sessions, speaker panels about every possible career, and professional clubs and peers to round it all out. But now that I know what I want to do, it’s time for me to get an internship. This week, I am putting together my first application, and from there will be sending CVs to a bunch of target companies. Additionally, many companies will be coming onto campus starting in January. First it will be the banks and consultancies in the ‘Milk Round’ and then the industry companies in February (Industry Month). Stay tuned…

Business Leaders: In the Flesh

Posted by Sean on 02 November 2006

The classroom is only a small piece of the MBA at London Business School. Just looking at my last two weeks, course work and lectures make up less than half of the activities in my calendar. The multitude of events and activities outside of the classroom can actually be a bit overwhelming. There is so much to do, that there really is not enough time to do it all.

I could write for pages on all of the types of activities available, clubs, career centre stuff, social activities, competitions, etc, but I would just like to highlight one area that I have been most impressed with: prominent speaker presentations. Every week, there are numerous opportunities to interact with some massively important business people. Some of these presentations are organised by the school, some by professors to augment class discussions, some by the professional clubs for industry education, and some by the career centre.

One avenue is a regular breakfast series that pulls in members of the London Business School Advisory Board, who are all senior executives (or former) from various industries and countries around the world. These are small group discussions around a big table over breakfast, where there is no agenda other than questions from the students for the guest. Last week, I sat for an intimate breakfast with the CEO of Smith & Nephew, a large UK medical technology company producing advanced wound management, orthopedic surgical implants, etc. Fascinating, even though I am not interested in this industry. To augment our Ethics Course the professor brought in Niall Fitzgerald, the Former CEO of Unilever, to talk about he corporate social responsibility measures within Unilever. It was intriguing to hear from someone who managed a 250,000 person company, and how the organisation handled the end of Apartheid in their South African office, and how they found doing business in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the communism. Also for Ethics, we had the former head of stakeholder engagement at GAP come in to facilitate a mock stakeholder debate between study groups in our class around the Wal-Mart supply chain. And last night I went to a presentation on leadership from a VP at Cisco. These opportunities are here for everyone to take advantage of, but finding the time to get to them all is the difficult part.

The Storm

Posted by Sean on 14 October 2006

My last entry was about this eerie feeling of calm I had just before the Autumn term, knowing that something dangerous and scary was just around the corner. The Autumn term has hit with a vengeance, and all I can say is ‘I asked for it’. The course load is packed, with most students taking 5 core courses and a language. Each course meets once a week for 3 hours, which doesn’t actually sound like a lot. 18 hours in the classroom each week is about 40 hours less than I was putting in at the office. But the classroom work isn’t even the beginning of it.

A typical day for me now will start at 6am and end near midnight. Sounds crazy huh? But actually, the time flies by. I start the day with self study, run to class for a case discussion, then to a working lunch session with my study group, then off to another class, then back to studying, then home for some dinner, then more work/emails/chat until I think I am ready for the next day. And each day is different. Just this week, I had two career coaching sessions, attended the kickoff meetings for three clubs, attended a professional club meeting explaining an industry, attended two library sessions to learn about various databases, stood on a Q&A panel for an MBA information session, attended the Dean’s State of the School Address, went out to dinner with my study group, and spent a few hours at the pub.

Sounds exhausting… This week was also the beginning of a global consulting competition which I am doing with a subset of my study group. We received the case on Wednesday, met to discuss and prepare all day Friday, and are meeting a couple more times in the next few days to prepare questions for 60 minutes of simulation interviews with the case CFO, COO, and Marketing Director.

I have also embarked on an exciting research project with a professor at the school’s Private Equity Institute and three other students. In addition to research work on the project, we also met this week with the project’s sponsors, and an economist specialising in emerging markets to help us with our research.

It’s a lot of work, but just what I came to London Business School for. And for all the work, there is plenty of fun as well. Today kicks off Tattoo! I am sure another blogger will give a full report. Plenty of work and fun, just looking for some sleep one of these days.

Calm before the storm

Posted by Sean on 28 September 2006

The campus seems to have an eerie calm about it this week. It could be just in my mind, but I feel like things are about to get a bit more hectic. The month of September is really just for first year MBAs and is filled with skills development, career workshops, and two classes that are preparatory for the official Autumn term. It has been a lot of fun, very informative, and also manageable. The Autumn term, rumoured to be overloaded with work, starts next week. This week we have all been given our class binders and have purchased the books. The pre-reading for the full schedule of classes that start next week (Finance, Financial Accounting, Economics, Strategy, Ethics, and Spanish for me), will take up my weekend and then some.

It is also the time when the second year students are returning to campus, and the clubs are really starting to get under way. Our inboxes are constantly filled with emails about the various clubs, and invites to all of the first meetings and kick-off parties. Tonight is the Club Fair, which coincides with our first Sundowners (the free student bar every Thursday night), so it should be a great time. I am really looking forward to the clubs getting under way and these new classes, but three weeks from now, I may be sorely missing September… I should buckle my seatbelt tightly, as things are about to take off at light speed.

Personal Improvement Starts Now

Posted by Sean on 13 September 2006

Agggh! I get a little busy, and realise that the other bloggers are stealing all my potential material! All first year MBAs are going through a pretty similar September programme, so I’ll just have to beat the others in talking about GLAM!

Yesterday we had our first GLAM class (Global Leadership Assessment for Managers). GLAM is a bit of a ‘touchy feely’ course, but its inclusion in our first month says a lot for how London Business School hopes to improve us over the next two years. As you might know, a 360 review (one aspect of GLAM) is an assessment from all different types of co-workers (bosses, peers, subordinates, clients, etc). It is anonymous and contributors are encouraged to give grades and written commentary as feedback on how you work with others. During the summer, this survey was distributed to everyone’s co-workers in their last job. The results of this 360 review along with some other emotional intelligence and personality profiling were part of yesterday’s first GLAM session. These types of assessments, being conducted at the outset of our MBA, really reflect what London Business School hopes we take away from our experience here. Starting the programme with this type of review gave me a reality check on how I am perceived by my peers. It has provided me with a base from which to personally develop (no improvement needed in my case, just development, haha). Learning practical business skills through the case studies and lectures is one aim of the programme, but also reflecting on our strengths, weaknesses, and focusing on improving ourselves to be better managers, leaders, and colleagues carries just as much importance.

It's real

Posted by Sean on 05 September 2006

I’ve officially been a student for over a week now, but today it finally feels real. The past week (as you can see from the other blogs) has been a whirlwind of fun activities and meeting new people. We have been welcomed, welcomed, and welcomed again with open arms to the London Business School community. We have had terrific fun, from impromptu evenings out at the many local pubs (including the one attached to the school and the one in the school!), to organised parties and events. Yesterday we had an ‘away day’ with our streams and study groups in the English countryside at a venue that looked like an Army training site with climbing walls, ropes courses, and many other frightening setups. It was a team building day and definitely the most fun I have had in a long time (I’ll try to get some good pictures up in the next few days).

Finally though, I feel like a student. Today I woke up with classes to attend, homework to do, a full schedule of meetings with study groups, and a task list a mile long. The novelty may wear off, but right now, I’m really enjoying it.