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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/


Exchange - Half Way

Posted by Vipul on 27 February 2010

I have been on exchange in India for almost 2 months now. It’s been a very interesting and different experience. I certainly am happy that I came here. My main aim in coming here was to look for work in India. Through a reciprocal agreement with London Business School, ISB allows exchange students to appear for placements. I have had a few interviews and am pleased to say that I am treated as an equal here in every aspect. I haven’t found a job yet, but that’s just a matter of time.

I have managed to squeeze in some travel. In a last minute decision (90 mins before departure!) I caught a bus to Bangalore and spent the weekend with an old friend. I was very impressed with the quality of life in Bangalore. It’s a beautiful city. Then I spent 5 days with my family in Uttar Pradesh. The work load here is heavy, but you can always find some time for the important things. I even managed to see Ooty in the Nilgiris (Blue Mountains) in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. There’s nothing like sitting with the locals and eating curd-rice off a Banana leaf in a beautiful hill town.

The parties at ISB have been good, if a bit subdued. Everyone is in placement-mode. Hence not many people actually turn up for parties these days. Still, I have to praise the Student Life Council for a stellar effort. The odd thing is that parties don’t actually come to life before 2AM. Talk about culture shock! There was a huge party thrown by the dean to celebrate ISB’s elevated ranking in the Financial Times. That was amazing!

I am staying in a 4-bedroom apartment or ‘quad’. All my flatmates or ‘quadies’ are local ISB students. They are the best bunch of people. I have done a lot of great partying with them. They are very accommodating and very willing to help me settle in. They are excellent friends! I highly recommend living in close-quarters with local students while on exchange.

Despite all the learning and fun here, I do miss life at London Business School. I can’t believe I’m missing Tattoo!! I even missed the Tech Summit! There’s nothing like life in central London. It’s such a lively place – Hyderabad sure can’t match it. I really like ISB, but I can’t wait to be back in London in April and hang-out with all my great friends from London Business School!

Party time, Tattoo is coming!

Posted by Samuel on 26 February 2010

Tatoo v2 After the extenuating and stressing internship hunt of these past few months, we all deserve a break.

Fortunately, this Saturday the school will host one of its flagship events: Tattoo! What is it? A huge party where the majority of the campus community and all the regional clubs will be involved. Here are a few numbers to hunch about the size of this event: 1,100+ partygoers, 20+ regional clubs representing 50+ nationalities. Each club will serve specialities from their countries and perform some kind of entertainment.

Without further due, I can tell the world what will be the delicacies and gastronomic specialities offered by the French club. Cheese, bien sur, and the classic dish of French cuisine, the Quiche Lorraine (a baked dish that is based on a custard made from eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust). With this year strong delegation of French coming from oversees territories (Reunion Island and New Caledonia), you will have your share of Creole specialities as well. To top it all, partygoers will be entertain by a fantastic.... Accordionist! I’m not sure that it will really represent the French music style and diversity, but for sure, it’ll be fun to hear ;-)

The beauty of Sundowners

Posted by Kimmi on 15 November 2009

Oh, sundowners.  How I love thee.  In case you are wondering what Sundowners refers to, it is essentially a standing party of sorts that takes place at LBS every Thursday between 6-830pm.  A group of lovely volunteers from the Senior MBA class serves free (yes, free) wine, champagne, and beer to all LBS students.  It's marvelous.  Given that most students dont have class on Fridays, Sundowners provides the perfect opportunity to close out the week and kickoff the weekend.  My favorite part about Sundowners is the many conversations I hear transpiring - from one extreme to the other.  Here's a select sampling of what I can recall from this Thursday (names disguised, and statements paraphrased):

Conversation 1

Student 1: Flip cup rocks.

Student 2: What is flip cup?

Student 1: Oh, man you don't know what flip cup is?  You are missing out!

Student 1: So what is it?

Student 2: Only the best thing the Americans ever invented.

Moral: Try new things.

Conversation 2

Student 1: I'm flying to New York this weekend to close my deal.

Student 2: That's great, so you sold your business?

Student 1: Yes, just finalizing details.  Got more than I even expected. Ready to start my next venture this summer through Entrepreneurship Summer School. Looking for partners actually.

Student 1: I'm in.

Moral: Don't shy away from the unplanned / unexpected.

Conversation 3:

Student 1: I miss X (some food chain in the US). I want to become one of their franchise owners and expand operations to the East Coast of the US.

Student 2: You know I know the owner?  

Student 1: You're bull*itting me.

Student 2: No, I am serious. My Dad and the owner met in Asia;  I have known the owner for ages.  I can introduce you.

Student 1: Yes, please.  Unreal.  I'm so glad I came to Sundowners.

Moral: Go to Sundowners!

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. 

Top 10 Things...

Posted by Jann on 17 August 2009

A year and five days ago, I arrived at London and set foot, for the very first time, on London Business School's campus to get my welcome pack from the MBA Programme Office. My appearance that day was also immortalized on the School's database through what we call the Portal photo (They said there's no way of changing that photo, but let's see after n years).  The same photo is on my ID card so I'm constantly reminded of that fine day. It's not the best photo but it certainly also not the worst. So, it's all good!

Why am suddenly being all sentimental?  Maybe because the MBA Class of 2011, has now started to arrive in London and in a week will start their wonderful journey called First Year!  Of course, most (shouldn't it be ALL?) of the people are here to learn, but sometimes we also need a break from the hectic schedules and demanding core classes.  A fellow MBA 2010 of mine, came up with a list that I thought was a good one to share to prospective students or even first years reading this blog. 

The list is composed of things to do outside the classroom setting to ensure that your MBA experience will be as balanced as possible.  It's also a great way to get to know your fellow-MBAs and take advantage of this beautiful city.

I now present you with the list...(ala David Letterman)

Top 10 Things To Do Outside the Lecture Theatre (in your first term)

10. Explore London
9. Travel to nearby cities 
8. Find a flatmate at the Flathunters Pub Crawl
7. Organise a flatwarming
6. Get to know your classmates (through Stream events)
5. Attend (birthday) parties
4. Unwind at Sundowners after a stressful week
3. Learn about other cultures and share your own at Tattoo
2. Find out just how (strange) interesting your classmates are at Halloween
1. Paint London red at the Santa Claus Pub Crawl

Take note, this is only for the Autumn term (first term).  It goes to show that there really is a lot of activities that can be done in School and outside which would make your first year enjoyable and memorable.

Now, I'm off to make my own list for 2nd year Autumn term.  I'm thinking it will be a Top 20!

Mid-MBA resolutions

Posted by Nick on 08 August 2009

Well, I have accomplished exactly that which I set out not to do; I have gone many, many months without posting anything, either to the London Business School blog, nor to my own.  Shame on me.  I think its time to make some mid-MBA resolutions.

But first, before we get to that, I think I had better fill you in on the last two terms of my MBA life.

Some highlights:

  • Most of my classes were superb.  I am continually impressed by the knowledge level of the professors at this school.  While there were some exceptions to the rule, most of my classes were enjoyable, and provided me with a high level of learning.
  • Spring break was spent with a small group of my classmates on a certain Communists island in the Caribbean of the Southern coast of Florida.  Good times had by all!
  • The Managing Organizational Behaviour audit is a project that all study groups must complete as a part of their MOB class.  It is basically an outside consulting project, where the study group must source a client, and then perform some type of audit for them, looking at Organizational Behavioural issues.  My study group, C7, had what was probably the furthest client from London; we were hired by a small chain of kickboxing/fitness studios in Iowa, USA.  Myself and another study group member were flown out to Des Moines by the company, and spent one week there conducting our research.  The end deliverable was an academic paper to our professor, and a 23 page report to the company on what OB issues they are currently facing, what issues might arise with their expansion, and how they might resolve those issues.
  • The Market Strat simulation was great.  Each group was given control of a virtual company producing an imaginary type of electrial product.  Some companies started off as large, market leading companies, and others (like mine) started at the back of the pack; little money and few customers.  Over the course of a few weeks, we had to decide how much money to spend on marketing, what segments to do, what other types of products we would develop, etc., etc.  In the end, each group was judged not for its final position, but how it had performed relative to the other groups in a similar starting position.  Great fun, and a welcome change from sitting in LT9 all day.
  • Some classmates and I decided that we didn't actually feel like taking one of our finals, so instead we booked a week long sailing course down in Souther Portugal along the Algarve.  (Actually, what happened was that we booked this course months in advance, planning around our classes/exam, but after we had booked it, one exam was moved).  So, with two LBS chartered boats, 10 LBS students, and 2 sailing instructors, we spend one week in the sun and waves learning all of the basics of skippering a boat.  In the end, we each earned our RYA Day-Skipper license!  One of the best trips I've been on!
  • Our Operations and Technology Management course sent us down to Venice, Italy for a two-day long field trip to see a coal power plant and learn something about Lean Management (something I had PLENTY of in my last job).  Most of us extended for the weekend... so basially I got to explore Venice largly on the school's dime (they paid for our flights and hotel for one night, the rest was one us). 

Well, I know that those few bullet points can't possibly summarize the past 10 months of my life very well.  There is so much more to tell, but I will have to let it rest as is.  My two resolutions for the upcoming school year are:

  1. Read more case studies prior to class.  For those incoming 2011's... I can't stress enough how much better your classroom experience (let alone not having to worry about whether the prof will cold call you) will be if you just read your case studies!
  2. Blog.  More.  School & personal.  'Nuff said.
  3. Make more of an effort socially - during the past two semesters, I've become somewhat of a recluse when it comes to school activities.  I need to attend more Sundowners, parties, conferences, etc.  Shouldn't be a problem since next term I only have classes on Monday evenings, and all day every other Friday. :-)  I'm going to try to get a 2nd internship during that time to add to my CV, earn some money, etc.
  4. I'll be spending Spring term of this year (Jan-early April) in Barcelona on exchange at IESE.  I resolve to see as much of the surrounding area as I possibly can! :-)

Well, I guess that's it for now.  But how am I spending this summer, you say?  I am interning at Shell Chemical in London, in a strategy analyst role.  It is very interesting working in the largest company in the world (according to Forbes, July 2009).  I'm learning a lot, and have already been sent to Rotterdam, Netherlands once.  I'll be going back in a few weeks to present the findings of my project. 

Ok, now its time to end this post.  I've been putting off schlepping my bike across London to have it repaired, but I guess I need to get on with it.

Nice to be back!

First event as an alum

Posted by Don on 26 July 2009

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

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 :)

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

Posted by Manish on 12 July 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The end ...

Posted by Don on 28 June 2009

So there we are. The MBA is over. Well, not officially but effectively. I personally am very happy – I managed my transition into finance, got a job in Sales/Trading in Hong Kong, did two internships and finished early. So now was the time to relax and enjoy.

BUT – again, the options were numerous. Should I prepare for my new work? Should I join my good friend and tennis buddy Guido on his 6-week round the world trip? Should I travel Europe? Relax on a beach? (When I asked non-MBA friends for advice, they all strangely enough said something along the lines of f*#* off!...)

So – I decided against the round-the-world trip as I had done it before in 6 months (www.cudon.com) and had felt stressed – there are so many things out there to see and do! So then I wanted to strike a balance between seeing things and relaxing. So I spent a few days wandering around London – I had not seen that much of London during the MBA – too busy! Also went to Stonehenge and Bath and explored Richmond and Greenwich with friends from the MBA.

I then went on a 7 day road-trip through Scotland with a friend from the MBA. We took the sleeper train up to Edinburgh, rented a car and went through Scotland with a map and guidebook, deciding every few hours where we wanted to go and stay. So we visited Lochs (including world-famous Loch Ness) and mountains, distilleries and pubs, coasts and islands. The highlight were 2 days on the Isle of Skye – hiking during the day and having beers and singing with local fishermen at night.

I spent some more days visiting my family and working on my golf handicap. I also started a new activity – hot yoga (=Bikram yoga) – which is yoga done in a 40 degree hot room. It is not only stretching and meditating but also quite cardiovascular – I sweat more than in a sauna and am more tired than after 2 hours of rugby!

As a student you have the great luxury of being very flexible with your time – so I decided on a Friday to go on a dive trip on Saturday (I got a 50% discount J. So I went to yoga on Saturday, jumped on a train to Manchester and jumped on a plane to Sharm el Sheik. We boarded a very very nice dive boat and stayed at sea for 6 days, 4 dives per day. We saw great things – reef, wrecks, turtles, hammerhead sharks, dolphins to name but a few.

The day after I returned I went once more to an airport – this time to fly home to Munich and see family and friends. It was very nice to spend a more relaxed time there as the MBA is over and work has not yet begun. And I had almost forgotten German beer….

So now I am back in London and DisOrientation has begun. While next week we will have the final courses in our old stream settings, a student committee has organized all sorts of events for the coming week. This includes drinks and food but also a scavenger hunt and a London walking tour. A good way to meet friends again – the sad part is that most of us will spread all over the world very soon. And while we will be able to meet from time to time, it will never be that you walk around campus and constantly meet people and stop for a chat. And that I will greatly miss.

Last activities

Posted by Don on 28 June 2009

So – the MBA is over. The final course, after the speech-writing GLDP (Global Leadership Development Program, a course including various aspects such as writing, presentation and other soft-skills training), was a block week in International Finance. Its lecturer regularly receives awards from students as best faculty – and we were not disappointed. Prof. Uppal is very approachable and friendly, yet also very very knowledgeable – even compared to the high caliber of finance faculty at LBS. He gave the impression of being able to teach any finance course in any area (option/fixed income/valuations/currencies) at a very high level. He also spent a lot of time on the case discussion, making sure everyone understood the solution and the way it was reached.

Additionally Prof. Uppal spent 10 minutes of each class talking about life and life changing events. This was fascinating as it shed a light on very interesting, moving and touching events, people and lives while at the same time offering perspectives from a seasoned professor with a lot of experience in life. The only unfortunate thing was that this class was almost to good to be taught in a block week – there was so much additional reading that a normal format might have been better.

I added a weekend training course to become a Dive Medic – increasing my knowledge of Decompression Sickness, CPR and wound suturing to be able to handle dive emergencies better. This also included a dry dive in a recompression chamber to 40 meters which was very funny.

The following two weeks I spent with my team mates on finishing the second year project. I was very fortunate to work with two great guys on a very interesting subject – a Funded Search to acquire a medium-sized German company. This investment idea originated at Stanford and has become quite standardized in the US. First-round investors invest $20,000 on average to fund a search process for up to two years. Equity step-up and right of first refusal ensure that the risk is offset by quite a lot of advantages. The whole report was quite long but very substantial. In the current climate we were unfortunately not able to secure enough investors – the other two wanted to really do this full-time after the MBA. We however agreed to keep in touch regularly regarding the funded search and see if the situation will improve in a few years. The only real challenge was the current economic climate and the drying-up of credit – there is certainly no lack of potential target companies.

When I look back on the MBA then it is this I will miss most – working together with great people on very different projects, each bringing different skills and experiences to the table. Having dinner together and working until late at night or during the weekend, trying to deliver the best possible result. Very similar to the consulting world, actually, but with very different topics.

So we went to the MBA Program office together to hand in our report - and the MBA was over. Unbelievable - it went amazingly fast. So many things to do - so many activities and events to attend, trips to go on, people to meet. Now it is all over - and a new chapter begins.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Posted by Rebecca on 14 April 2009

Business school is really a series of very difficult choices.  It starts when you must decide which school(s) to apply to, and carries on as you accept an offer of admission, select clubs to join, choose your electives, decide whether to go on exchange and ultimately pick a career path.  Some decisions are easy, while others will truly test your character.  One of the most difficult decisions you will make is determining what to do for Spring Break. 

Yes, the life of a MBA student is tough.  I spent many sleepless nights agonizing over the choices. (Actually, that’s a lie.  I may have forfeited a nap here or there, but that’s about it.)  It boiled down to three options:

1. Thailand Sailing Trip*: 30 students, 3 boats, 7 days on the open water. 
2. Japan Trip*: 30 students take on all you can eat sushi and sake in Tokyo and Kyoto.
3. Africa Trip: 30 students + lions + hippos + cheap beer = amazing adventure. 


Ultimately I chose the Africa trip because I have always wanted to visit the continent and figured it is unlikely that work will one day take me there.  The trip was organised by two fellow MBA students, Vata and Gil, who did a phenomenal job both in planning the itinerary and herding 32 unruly students across five countries in 13 days.  Our itinerary was action packed: Sun City, South Africa; Gabarone, Botswana; Kasane, Botswana; briefly to Namibia; across the river to Zambia and Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls; and finally to Cape Town, South Africa. 


What was the best part of the trip?  Two weeks later and I’m still thinking about it.  Africa was truly a trip of a life time, but it was also full of extremes:

  • Visiting the DeBeers diamond operation in Botswana
  • Spending time playing with kids at an orphanage in Gabarone
  • Going on safari and seeing so many elephants and hippos that we stopped taking pictures of them**
  • Seeing Victoria Falls at the highest water levels in the past 25 years
  • Buying a 100 Trillion Zimbabwean note for £1
  • Eating some of the best seafood I have ever tasted in Cape Town
  • Standing at the Cape of Good Hope, the furthest point south on the continent


But after reviewing the 600 pictures I took, the most memorable shots are the ones of us bonding as a group: piling into very small and potentially unsafe minibuses. Us looking very sceptical about crossing into Zambia on a speed boat amid piles of luggage.  Or when we challenged a group of Booth MBA students also visiting Botswana to a beer boat race (we won, obviously).  Making pirate hats while on a sunset boat cruise near Victoria Falls.  32 students and partners shared this adventure together, and that’s what made it such a great trip.  It would have been a totally different experience and not nearly rewarding had I done the exact same itinerary by myself.

*I hope that fellow bloggers on the Japan and Thailand trips post an account of their Spring Break – from what I’ve heard, they had excellent yet completely different adventures. 

**A word of caution: baboons are dangerous.  They will beat you up and steal your lunch if you’re not careful.  Take it from us.

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


Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Posted by Rebecca on 08 December 2008

December! Finally the heart of darkness (November) is over, miraculously the sun is shining and the Christmas lights are twinkling.  There is something magical about London at Christmas, something akin to the holidays that have been immortalized in so many movies.  The streets are coated with blue and white lights (Westminster is particularly proud of its street decorating ability), the pubs are serving hot cider, and there is enough mincemeat to sink a ship.  Last week I was brave enough to venture into Harrods’s Christmas floor, and its tacky glory was enough to tip me over to full-on holiday cheer mode.  My iPod has been on “Swinging Holiday Playlist” ever since. 

On Saturday I went to Borough Market, which might as well be Christmas headquarters: dozens of mulled wine booths, Christmas tree stands, mandarin oranges, roasted chestnuts, Christmas pudding, choirs and Salvation Army jingle bells.  It put me in the right mood for what was the pinnacle event of my holiday season so far: Santa Pub Crawl.

Okay, close your eyes for a moment. Actually scratch that because you need to read this, so open them again.  Imagine you are a weary shopper taking the tube home, when all of a sudden you run into  430 people clad in Mr. and Mrs. Claus outfits pouring into Baker Street tube station, riding the escalator and singing Jingle Bells in unison. At this point, they are orderly and mostly sober Santas:


Later on you venture out into Piccadilly Circus and run into the same 400 Santas (there were some casualties), only they have been hitting the eggnog a little hard and have hijacked several unsuspecting tourists (some Santas forgot that Christmas is about giving, not taking).  They seem to be singing two or three different carols at once, and is it just your imagination or is Mrs Claus’ skirt  a little shorter?



'Tis the season to celebrate, and no one takes partying as seriously as b-school students.  I am grateful for our three week break coming up - it will give me time to recover and prepare (both mentally and physically) for whatever 2009 has in store.