2013 London Business School MBA Q&A with Mary Ferreira and Zsuzsanna Buczko
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Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham, and I am the Founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First, I want to welcome all applicants to Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about London Business School’s MBA Program.
It is critical in your decision-making process and your admissions chances that you know as much as you possibly can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today, allows you to ask the experts, the London Business School experts, about this top international business school.
I also want to give a special welcome to our panelists, Mary Ferreira, and Zsuzsanna Buczko, recruitment admissions managers at London Business School, and Alina Vivian, and Finnbar Cornwall, the MBA 2014 Student MBA ambassadors.
A little bit of information and background about the two student ambassadors:
Alina graduated from the University of Virginia in the U.S. with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, with concentrations in Finance and Management and a minor in American Politics. Immediately following university, she joined Rolls-Royce’s Customer Management Leadership Program, where she worked in a breadth of functions across the civil aerospace sector. After the program, Alina lived in the U.K. for two and half years working with a strategic supplier in Spain. When she moved back to the U.S. she managed customer airline accounts across Western Europe, and later moved into Rolls-Royce’s Naval Marine sector managing all contracts which supported government (mainly the U.S. Government) aftermarket requirements for Rolls-Royce products. Following her MBA, Alina aims to begin a new career in consulting, where she can apply her industry experience and breadth of skills.
Finnbar Cornwall was born in Ireland but moved to England at age 2. After reading for a Joint-Honours Degree in Modern History and Political Science at Birmingham University, Finnbar worked as a diplomat for the British Foreign Office. After two years in the UK as the lead desk officer on the Middle East Peace Process, Finnbar was selected for Arabic language training and posted first to Jordan and then Iraq. Following this, Finnbar moved to Hong Kong and, in search of a new professional challenge that wouldn’t involve being shot at in a war-zone, he joined UBS. There he worked first for the Asia Pacific Chairman and CEO and then for the Regional CFO. Realising that he didn’t want to be a banker, Finnbar returned home in 2012 to undertake his MBA at LBS and spend more time supporting his beloved AFC Wimbledon.
So, we have two very interesting candidates, and I had a minute or two to speak to Finnbar before we got started, and I was enjoying it thoroughly. Very interesting background here, and I hope you will take advantage of the people that we have here to ask them some great questions about both London Business School’s admissions policies and student life because you really have experts at your disposal.
But to start out I’d like to ask Mary and Zsuzsanna, what’s new in London Business School?
Mary Ferreira: Hi, Linda, and welcome everybody. It’s great to have you joining us this evening. Lots of new things at London Business School this term. In fact, this week sees the return of some of our second-year students from our second Global Business Experience, where 80 students went with 2 of our Strategy and Entrepreneurship professors for an experiential week to Johannesburg, where they worked with micro-entrepreneurs.
The other thing that’s new this week is that tomorrow we’ll be making our stage one offers to people joining the Class of MBA 2015. So, although it’s the end of term, it’s still pretty busy.
Linda Abraham: Well, sounds good. I also read you’re getting a new building, that you’re expanding.
Mary Ferreira: We are. That’s for the longer term. Realistically, we’ll probably move in, in about 2016 because there’s a lot of major architectural work that needs to take place. But it’s right in the heart of London, about five minutes from our main campus.
Linda Abraham: By foot, five minutes?
Mary Ferreira: By foot, yes. And some people might know it because it’s where Paul McCartney got married fairly recently.
Zsuzsanna Buczko: It’s perhaps also interesting to mention that this is the end of the first term for our first-year students, so most of them are studying very, very hard, and they’re revising for the final exams, after which they will be taking their well-deserved winter holidays starting next week or the week after.
Linda Abraham: I’m sure they’re looking forward to that. Okay, so let’s get to some of the questions, here. Joseph asks, “What are the percentages of internships done in the U.K., Europe, and in the U.S.?”
Mary Ferreira: Well, I wish I could answer that straight off the top of my head, but I do know a place that can and that’s our employment report that was posted on our website this week. And that has internship information by sector and geography, as well as the permanent placement.
But I should say we hope that all of our students are very proactive. We have a fantastic career service here who puts students in contact with different organizations, but the students also reach out themselves through student treks to different geographies and focusing on different industry sectors. We’ve actually got one coming up to Hong Kong over the holidays, for example.
The students also organize a lot of professionally-focused conferences, and that’s where they also get many job leads. So two of the very high profile conferences that our students organized this term, for example, included a Health Summit and a Global Energy Summit. And the Health Summit, the keynote speaker was the Chief Executive of Johnson & Johnson.
Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. There are several questions in queue about giving work Visas. One is from an American, “Is it possible to work in Europe or U.K. after graduation from London Business School?” Others, just in general, “How do recruiters respond to the new U.K. Visa rules? Are they willing to sponsor Visas? How easy was it for the 2012 batch to get Visas?" This is from Ruchita. And then, “What are the chances of non-Europeans working in London, especially considering the changed Visa norms?”
Mary Ferreira: Again, I would say the key element is that the students need to convince the company that they are the individual they need to hire, so that the firm really wants to recruit them. Saying that, we have graduates who work right around the globe, and if you look at our most recent employment report for the Class of 2012, it also shows the sectors and the geographies where the students work. Because we’re a business school based in the U.K., our graduates are covered by companies if the company’s applied for eligibility to recruit MBA students, so we’re not limited by quotas in that regard.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. Now, a couple of questions for Finnbar and Alina. Could you both go through a little bit how you chose to attend London Business School?
Alina Vivian: So when I was looking at business schools, that actually started when I was living in the U.K. and so LBS was one of the first schools that I looked at. After returning to the U.S., I visited a couple of schools. I went to Harvard and researched some other schools, Wharton, and all those other good ones.
And really what it started coming down to was, I could mention the classes, I could mention the quality of the faculty, but for me personally, I think it really came down to the international diversity of the students, and the international diversity of the program. The opportunity to go to the Global Business Experience, and also a big one for me was just that. So when I went to the recruiting events and I spoke with alumni, current students, and recruiters, it felt like it was the right place for me. It felt like I fit in with the culture.
Finnbar Cornwall: So my reasons were kind of broadly similar. I looked at a couple of all the top programs, and as I began to look I think I filtered down my decision into kind of three major areas. So one was personal, the second was professional, and the third was about academic reasons. And I think as I began to look at like the various programs, when I looked at the sort of professional opportunities that were available, I just felt that LBS, the career services that they have, the fact that it’s in London with every major company you would want to work for is here.
I felt that LBS, was going to give me the best opportunity to find the job that I wanted. You can look at the employment stats that show the range of employees they have coming out of LBS. I think academically as well, it’s just very highly ranked. It’s got excellent teachers. And as I looked at the other students in the program, I think the fact that the age group is slightly older, and the range of experience is slightly older, it just really appealed to me. I think it reflected the fact that I’ve had a range of experiences, and there would be people that I could really learn from. And I wanted to sort of be a part of that.
I think personally, as well, it just seemed to be the right fit for me. As I said before, the LBS has quite a big focus, actually, on the culture on campus and the community on campus, and that’s something that was quite important to me. I really wanted to feel like I was part of a community, and LBS even from before applying, it looked like it offered, and having got here, it certainly has done that.
Linda Abraham: If I recall correctly, there is a question here and I think your responses are both partially addressing that. From Bassoon, “What makes LBS different from other top schools?” One of the other things that makes a difference is that the extracurricular clubs are participated in by all segments of your business school, so it’s the EMBA's, the Sloan Fellows, the MBA’s, the MIM’s, the MIF’s. Am I correct about that?
Finnbar Cornwall: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. So I’m in several clubs, and it’s really interesting. There’s a really good mix. I was also able to I attended a lunch where there was a strategy session, one with really interesting participants from companies all around the world. And so, I went to a lunch with them. All the various clubs, there’s a whole range of people, and that’s been really interesting, the chance to meet the Sloan Fellows, executives. That’s definitely been part of it as well, that’s true.
Linda Abraham: Let’s look at some of the other questions here. We have a couple of questions about entrepreneurship. “I know London Business School obviously is famous for its strength in finance, but does it also have resources for would-be entrepreneurs?”
Zsuzsanna Buczko: London Business School is not only about finance. London, in general is bedrock for entrepreneurship, as well, and London Business School truly reflects that. A lot of our students come to London Business School with the intention of setting up their own business, or they might already have their own business running at this point. And we give them all the opportunities to either build this business or to support their existing business while they are students or after graduation.
During the summer period, some of our students are out doing internships and some other students are actually becoming part of the summer entrepreneurship summer school here at London Business School, which is a campus-based team supported by faculty and the whole school community where our students are able to take courses for one week related to their entrepreneurial activities in future. And then they go to the field to learn more about how to build their business. So I believe London Business School is truly a great opportunity for future entrepreneurs.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Then, two specific questions. One is from David and he’s asking about data-driven entrepreneurship. I assume data driving decision-making is in most of your classes, but if you could address that. And then, Nashita asks specifically about social entrepreneurship I think is another question also on that.
Mary Ferreira: I’m not sure I actually understand the question about data-driven entrepreneurship. I mean there are all sorts of ways, and one of the aspects of life at business school is that students not only get very involved with their academic learning, but it’s some of the extracurricular opportunities that they can optimize. It really adds the value. I’ve mentioned some of the conferences, but our students also take part in many different business case competitions where they work on different problems.
One of these which our school helped initiate, along with Hass at Berkeley and Columbia Business School, is a Global Social Venture competition where teams of students work on an idea or a product that has not just an economic impact, but also a social impact. It’s a world-wide competition with different heats, and then the finals take place in a different country each year. That’s just one very practical way that some of the students can roll out their entrepreneurial ideas.
In the first year of the program, the academics are heavy, so it’s pretty hard for students to do any sort of outside work, but you do see from the summer onwards through things like the entrepreneurship summer school during the second year, that many students do get involved in new ventures, or testing out a business or idea.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Alina and Finnbar, do you have any entrepreneurial ambitions? I mean it certainly wasn’t in the bio I received, or do you have classmates who are pursuing entrepreneurial dreams?
Finnbar Cornwall: I actually don’t have any entrepreneurial vision, so I might not be the best person to answer that, but I have been really struck at LBS about how the range of entrepreneurial things that are on offer. There’s an entrepreneurial summer school, I think Mary’s already spoken about it. There are lots of talks. There’s just from really small things you’d never think about, like, they get a lawyer to come in to teach you basics you need to know from a legal aspect to sort of get a company started. A number of my friends in London have set up small companies, and seeing them struggle with these little issues as they go about setting their company up. I can just see the range of services on offer at LBS, really a fantastic to help people get underway.
There are a number of people in my year that are looking at setting up their own company. They’re looking at the entrepreneurship summer school that LBS are going to do. LBS also runs an incubator, where you can start up your idea inside the LBS incubator before heading on. So I’m not the best person that you can ask, but there’s lots going on at LBS, and there’s lots of people looking at it, and there’s loads of support for it. It is quite fantastic.
Alina Vivian: Well, I think Finnbar covered it pretty well. The other thing that LBS, does offer though is the Entrepreneurial Club. As Finnbar mentioned, we are quite active and almost every single club, and community activity that we have here on campus. And they we have a Tell Series, which is a series of various entrepreneurs that the club gets to come in and speak to aspiring entrepreneurs, which is quite useful for those interested in figuring out how to start their own businesses, and lessons learned from previous startups.
And there are several people who have been starting their own businesses. I know actually a couple of friends who are starting. And the great thing about the LBS is not only do you have older students, but you also have teachers who are more than willing to take their time to discuss your idea with you, and try to develop it as much as possible.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Thank you very much. Let’s move on to a different topic here. We have a couple of questions from people asking, and I guess this would be more for Zsuzsanna, and Mary. Is there any difference in the way recruiters look at students who complete the MBA in 15 months? Are they at any disadvantage? Is there any difference in terms of career opportunities?
Zsuzsanna Buczko: There’s no difference really in terms of how the admissions committee looks at an applicant.
Linda Abraham: Not the admissions committee, the recruiters. In other words, when they graduate are they in any way disadvantaged?
Zsuzsanna Buczko: No, I don’t think so. I believe if anything it is an advantage for a student. London Business School’s MBA is extremely flexible compared to, perhaps other MBA’s out there, and one of the reasons is the duration of the program. What’s important to know is that the format of the first year is very similar regardless of how long the program will last for each individual student, you don’t need to know when applying to the program, how long their MBA will last. They have time to think about that during their first year.
It’s the second year when the duration differs depending on how long their MBA will last. Those who finish in 15 months will need to take all their elective courses in the first term of their second year. So they need to do a little bit more advanced planning, and they won’t have a chance to take an international exchange, unlike the rest of the students here at London Business School.
Now, in terms of recruitment, I don’t see a big difference. Recruiters come on campus from the very first week of the MBA. Our students all have the opportunity to make the most of it, and those who finish the MBA in 15 months, do so probably because they have plans of returning to work earlier on, or they have other commitments why they do that. And those who would like to benefit fully from the program will stay on for 21 months. Overall I don’t see a big difference in terms of recruitment.
Linda Abraham: Wonderful, thank you. That answered that question pretty well. Okay, question for Finnbar from Dee, “Since he mentioned that LBS has been a great fit for him in terms of the student’s community culture, what is unique about LBS’s campus culture that stood out from the other schools and attracted him?”
Finnbar Cornwall: I guess it’s slightly difficult for me to say because I haven’t attended any other schools, but I can certainly tell you about my impressions. What I was struck by when I went through the application process is one of the questions that LBS asked is, “What will you contribute to the LBS community?” And at the time I was obviously looking at one or two other schools, and looking at one or two other application processes, and I was just really struck by that question because it was one that made me think about exactly what is it that I’m going to bring to this school and the community.
I mean alongside the other questions, you know, “What have been your achievements and failures?” and the other sort of questions you’ll find in an application process. And I think that sort of statement from the outset, from the obvious application process, they are wanting you to think about the school, and the community and what you’re going to bring, is then reflected when you then arrive on campus, because everybody who’s got in, is actually able to look at LBS, think about the clubs that are there, what they might want to get involved in.
So, when you then get onto campus, you immediately just sort of feel that. All the people have thought about these clubs before they arrived. When you’re there at the start, there’s just so much activity with all these clubs. I think it also helps the fact that LBS, because it’s a graduate school, it means it’s slightly smaller, so you don’t get lost in a big undergraduate population. You sort of feel the community, and you can see the other students getting involved. And so, that really helps you to feel part of it, feel part of what’s going on, because you’re really in the school, you can see all the clubs. You can see everything going on.
And also, the way the day is structured at LBS, it’s structured so that there’s time in the day, every day, for you to get involved in some club activities. It’s made a sort of a priority, you’re not only there to attend your corporate finance lecture, but you are there to attend whether you want to explore something entrepreneurial, or you want to play rugby or whatever it is you might want to do. Whatever club, whatever it is you want to do, there’s a club for that at LBS. And everybody is getting involved.
And so, I think that is what has come together for me, the fact that there’s a focus before you arrive, and you get onto campus you can really feel it. All the people are there that want to get involved. It’s a smaller campus, but that generates a kind of close community with people getting involved, and you’re in London. There are so many opportunities to get involved in things whether it’s getting good speakers on campus, or going down to Facebook, or whatever it might be. All of these things are going on, and you get opportunities to get involved in all of these things.
Linda Abraham: You’re also in the heart of London.
Finnbar Cornwall: Yes, the heart of London.
Linda Abraham: A short subway trip to all kinds of fascinating places, and plays, and shops, and restaurants and all of that. Okay, we have lots more questions here. AJ asks, and this is asked by some other people too, “What does LBS, offer for people interested in energy or more specifically, energy and finance?”
Mary Ferreira: Well, I don’t want to keep on talking about the clubs, but because you’ve got more than 70 that are focused around cultural events, social events, sporting events, but also very many with a professional focus, this is where they also play a big part.
As I also mentioned, we recently had a Global Energy Summit at campus with more than 300 guests attending. So a fantastic opportunity for students to network, and also for the committee organizing that conference to get their faces in front of high-profile people from different industries.
Just this Monday evening we had an information session in London, and one of the panelists was telling everybody how he rolled out his entrepreneurial venture through taking part in something called the London Business School Clean Tech Challenge. He worked on the idea with a couple of students, and now five years later he’s running that as his business called Decarbon Limited.
Linda Abraham: Now, we also have specifically some questions in queue about clean tech, in general, not just energy but clean tech.
Mary Ferreira: I’ll post to you the link to that competition, as well, so that the viewers can watch it.
Linda Abraham: Yes, because he’s specifically asking about energy generation technology, smart grids, electric vehicles, etc. obviously clean tech. So, yes, he’d probably be very interested in that.
Mary Ferreira: Yes, I know for example, one of Finn and Alina’s classmates work specifically on electric vehicles. A Japanese student was working out in California before he joined the program at the end of August.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Alina, do you have anything, or Finnbar do you have anything to add from a student perspective on what’s available in terms of clean tech and energy?
Alina Vivian: I’m not part of the Energy and Clean Tech Club, but I do know that it’s one of the most highly involved and active groups on campus. So, the Energy Summit that I think Mary mentioned earlier on the session, it’s actually the 9th Annual Energy Summit. And the great thing about that is that it’s not just focused on the industry itself. It’s actually focused on the industry in every possible way that you could approach it, so it’s interested in jobs for people who are interested in getting into energy into the actual sector.
There are jobs in different companies that attend from a consulting point of view, and also from an investment point of view. And those are the type of panelists that come to that Energy Summit. I also know that the clean tech portion of energy is actually rolled up into the Energy Club itself, so there’s not a separate club. But I also know that, that’s being reviewed as well to see whether or not it needs to be a separate club without overlapping at all.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Thank you. Zebas asks, “London Business School is obviously known for its strength in finance.” Clearly, it has strengths we’ve discussed in entrepreneurship and clean tech and energy. Zebas is asking about strengths in marketing.
Mary Ferreira: We’ve got some fantastic faculty teaching on our marketing core, but also on the elective. The Marketing Club, again, is one of the very active run by the students. They do everything from lunchtime sessions where everybody pitches up with a sort of sandwich bag lunch, and they sit down in the lecture theatre and get to hear from someone, possibly working in FMCG or brand management. Another great series they run is almost like speed dating, but this time with companies. So, we’d have 10 to 20 firms represented in a room, and then the students go in, and they get to have a couple of minutes with each firm, and then they move on to the next table. So, lots of imaginative ways for students to connect with people from that sort of area of expertise.
Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Okay, before our next question I just want to ask the audience a question. How many of you have already applied? Not too many, okay. And how many of you are planning to apply round two for the January deadline? Now we have a lot. Okay, this is where the bulk of you are holding.
How many of you are planning to apply round three? Not too many. Okay, the next question is, “Is there a disadvantage to applying round three?” Specifically, he thinks he wants to retake the GMAT, and he’ll definitely need to reapply round three to be a truly competitive applicant. “Are round three applicants at a significant disadvantage?”
Zsuzsanna Buczko: There isn’t any particular disadvantage in applying at stage three. Each year we have four application stages, and each year we take applicants on board at every single stage. There’s no mathematical disadvantage whatsoever. We get quite a few questions from our potential candidates. You know, what are my chances if I apply in this or that stage? And the answer is there’s no answer. This may vary each year, and as I said, in stage three, the deadline for which is actually the 28th of February 2013, they will have an equal chance to get admitted to London Business School.
What I would emphasize is there’s one particular disadvantage in applying at stage four, which is that they might not be considered for a scholarship at that point. The reason for that is we are communicating our scholarship decisions at the very end of May or beginning of June, which is the time when we’re still processing stage four applications, so we won’t have the chance to consider these applicants for financial aid.
Linda Abraham: Right. Now, a question for Finnbar and Alina. And that is, “How do teams work? Could you share more insight about the study group experience for a student at LBS?”
Finnbar Cornwall: So the makeup in my study group is it’s really fascinating. In my study there are six of us in the – for those that don’t know just to start from the outset, there’s 400 in our year. We’re split into five streams of about 80, and then within your stream you are in a study group of six people, sometimes seven. So, my study group is me, there’s an Egyptian girl who worked in marketing for American Express in New York. We have a Chinese guy, former banker, and then he worked in clean tech in business development and clean tech in China, an Italian-Japanese consultant from Italy, an Australian consultant, and an Israeli girl who was formerly in the army and then a journalist. So, that is my study group and that sort of diversity that you can see there is just reflected across my stream of 80 people, and then again across the year of 400.
And really one of the most interesting parts of being at LBS is you get a group project, and sitting down and taking on that group project, and getting a range of views, seeing the consultant’s comment, to then a banker’s view, and then the sort of marketer, she always wants to spend more on marketing, whatever the project is. It’s really, really interesting, very fascinating.
And then beyond that within the stream of 80 people we can get some very interesting discussions going within class. If we’re looking at a particular or particular topic somebody has more than likely been involved in that, whether it’s interest rate trading, and has a perspective when we’re talking about corporate finance through to a strategy project or an accountant in the Accounting class. So that’s definitely been one of the pluses and it’s one of the reasons why I picked LBS, I think is the range of experience that people bring. You know the average years of experience I think is slightly more than in some other programs, and you really feel that. You get the benefits of that, sort of the diversity and the range of people.
Alina Vivian: Let me sort of mention the makeup of how our streams are coordinated, and I’m actually in a group of seven. There are not very many groups of seven. And I’m the only native English speaker in my group. There are five guys and one other girl. One of the guys is from Brazil, and he used work in finance and consulting. There is another guy originally from Nigeria, and he was previously working for Shell as an engineer, so industry. There’s another guy working in Kuwait, or he’s from Kuwait, and he is an economist. And then, there’s another guy working in consulting in the Netherlands, and another guy who is working for his family business in India, and his family business is actually traded on the public exchange in India. And then the last person in my group is another girl from Russia. She has a PhD in finance, so again, it’s a quite diverse group, but we actually get along really, really well.
So, there are several group projects that are homework projects throughout the term, and we not only do that work together, but we also often find time just to get together as a group to either hang out, or go to our social activities through one of the clubs where we have common interests or one of the school-sponsored events.
Linda Abraham: Thank you.
Finnbar Cornwall: Could I also just add one other thing about the study group actually I should mention is we’ve done a really nice thing of kind cultural dinners. So, last night was the Egyptian food, and we’ve had Italian foods. That’s been a really fun thing, as we’ve all tried to bring something from our different backgrounds, and organize a dinner, and it’s been really fun to do the social stuff. Just sort of hanging out with this range of people from different nationalities has been lots of fun.
Linda Abraham: That does sound very exciting. Dinner’s sound good, too. Both for Alina, and for Finnbar, and Finnbar, you were just talking now, what do you like best and what’s your favorite class, what’s your favorite activity at London Business School?
Finnbar Cornwall: So, my favorite class has been – we have a class called Data Models and Decisions. And I’ve actually found it really, really interesting. It’s about how you take large amounts of data, build a model around it, and you get taught the skills to do that, in Excel, and various software programs, and then try to make a decision off the back of it. I’ve just found it so interesting because I can really see practically how I’m going to be able to use that. How you can take data, analyze it, and then be able to make a decision off the back of it. And it’s really well taught. It’s a fascinating course, so that’s definitely been the course that I’ve enjoyed the most.
Outside of that, I think the things that I’ve enjoyed the most have been the trips that we’ve done. There are so many trips that are going on, almost anything you want to do, and they’re professional, and fun and cultural, so I’ve just recently come back from France. I was playing rugby for LBS. We went over to play INSEAD and beat INSEAD at rugby in France. There are other trips to Germany to the beer festival, or some people went to see Warren Buffet in America.
Linda Abraham: You seem to be focused on the food.
Finnbar Cornwall: Yes, it’s about enjoying yourself. It’s not only about the studies, so it’s about having some fun.
Linda Abraham: That’s for sure. Alina, what are you enjoying most in terms of both the academics, and then non-academic?
Alina Vivian: Yes, so starting with the academics, I don’t think that there’s one class in particular that I probably like over the others. I find them all very interesting in their own respective subjects.
However, what I really, really enjoy is actually how well the professors relate the different topics to each other. So regardless of whether or not you’re studying in finance, or accounting, or strategy, or econ, or data models and decisions, you can always see the connection between what you’re doing in one class to the next, and I think that the professors do that really well. Because when you’re in a business context, you’re not going to have any one thing come at you that is in a silo. You’re going to have to think about it from a holistic perspective.
Socially, there are too many things going on at LBS. It’s actually quite fantastic. You really can get involved in whatever you want to. I joined the Women’s Touch Rugby team, so actually we went to INSEAD the week before Finnbar did. We did not win, but we had a fantastic time, and it’s just really great meeting, not only the other MBA’s in a social setting because when you’re in a stream of 80 you may not get as much of an opportunity to meet the other streams, or the other people coming out of programs.
But the clubs are open, again, to everybody at LBS, including partners for those people who may be thinking of bringing their partner with them. But there are also school-organized events like Santa Pub Crawl. So, we have 400 people dressed up in Santa suits walking across London, and that had to be probably for me, one the most memorable experiences I’ll take away.
Linda Abraham: Right, that sounds like fun. Good. Let’s see we’ve got a lot of questions here. One in particular keeps popping up and this is from different people. This is about family business, and family business clubs. What are the resources at London Business School for people coming from family-business backgrounds and want to return to their family business.
Mary Ferreira: Yes, we have one of our research centers, and of course research is a very important aspect of life at business school because the faculty interest and their research is what drives really interesting conversations, the debates, the strident arguments in classrooms. And one of them is on family business. We get quite a few MBA students who come from that background, who at some stage are going to be expected to take on the succession of a family business. And they come from a whole range of different sorts of business backgrounds from hardware through to hotel management, through to retail, through to food.
So, it’s something that seems to have been growing in interest amongst our student population. And any year there’d be up to about 10% of the incoming class on the full-time program with that sort of background, slightly larger proportion on our executive MBA intake.
Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. Hassan asks “How does the hire ability of an applicant factor into the admissions process, especially those changing their career trajectory?” The realism of the career goal combined with their background?
Zsuzsanna Buczko: I would say that the majority of our students here at London Business School intend to change their career path around, and they would like to do something different following their MBA from before. Of course, some of our students have entrepreneurial ideas, and some would like to stay in their chosen career path, but they’d like to move on to more senior roles. However, the majority of our students will change their career one way or another. They might change their geographic location. They might change the industry or some other aspect, and an MBA is the best opportunity to do that really.
It is a transformative experience. It is really taking a step back and looking at yourself as a professional, looking at your skills, your strengths and weaknesses, and after identifying all the strengths and weaknesses, perhaps an opportunity to learn the necessary skills to strengthen your profile further. The hireability of course, is always a question, because an MBA is a big investment and everyone intends to continue following the MBA with a great job, the job of their dreams. Of course, people who hire MBA’s understand this, and they understand that they would like to change their career, so I wouldn’t say that’s it is a problem at all.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. We have a couple of questions from people from Rashita, and Cherin who are coming from backgrounds like media, media entertainment. Are there opportunities for the London Business graduates? Do you have both classes and recruiting connections to the media entertainment world?
Mary Ferreira: Again, I would say we are expecting students to be proactive if there’s an area that they’re particularly interested, so to do a lot of working on their networks through our alumni community around the world, with Career Services, with organizing conferences. One of the things the students have organized is a media trek. Typically, that goes to the west coast of the United States where the students will meet with different organizations that are active in that area. We always have students in the class who come from that background.
One of the alums who helps me a lot in terms of conducting candidate interviews is working for quite a well-known film company at the moment, actually based here in London. So, it’s certainly an area.
Any of those niche areas, the students are going to do a little bit more work, because those are sorts of organizations that don’t come to campus as a large management consulting company would come saying, “We’re going to hire 50 people for internships around the globe.” So, it just needs to be a little bit more focused and structured.
Linda Abraham: Okay. We have a couple of questions about heath care. What are opportunities both in terms of course work, you’ve mentioned extracurriculars very prominently, and recruiting connections. I realize that people have to do their own work on homework too; they can’t rely exclusively on a career management center, but in terms of healthcare management and the whole exposure of business in healthcare?
Zsuzsanna Buczko: Again, I would refer back to our student clubs. One of our big clubs is the Healthcare Club here at London Business School, and it gives an enormous opportunity for those interested in healthcare management to broaden their networks, and meet top speakers, or take part at conferences. One of our big conferences here at London Business School is the annual Healthcare Conference, which took place a few weeks back. And one of the keynotes speakers was the CEO of Johnson & Johnson. Here at LBS our students might be doctors or hospital managers. There’s a great interest in healthcare overall, and I would say the primary place to extend your knowledge is the Healthcare Club, and all their related events that the club organizes.
Mary Ferreira: Linda, some of this is outlined on our employment report. But, just for example, I can see that we have several students working for Johnson & Johnson, Abbot Laboratories, Novartis, during their summer internships.
Linda Abraham: Great, thank you.
Alina Vivian: Healthcare is a fascinating industry, and I actually started paying more attention to it after attending the Introduction to Healthcare session earlier this semester. And I just wanted to mention that there’s a lot of activity aside from the club events themselves. Not only do we have people within the healthcare industry coming and speaking on campus, but it’s also actually consultants coming in and speaking about the healthcare industry on campus.
So they’re actually talking about the impact of Tele-health or any mobile technology in the healthcare system. And then you also have the Healthcare Club organizing a trek every year. So this year they’re going to be going to Switzerland and visiting several healthcare companies there. There are several people that interned with Johnson & Johnson, and I believe there are already internships up with Johnson & Johnson, and Eli Lilly online on the internship portal. So, there’s quite a bit that actually does happen around the healthcare sector.
Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Okay, a question for Finnbar and Alina from Dee. "What was your experience with the academic and career counseling at LBS? Has it been the key source of career and recruiting support, or is it mainly through peers and club activities?" Now, I realize that you’re both first-year students, so you may not be able to address this from personal experience. How do the second years that you know feel about the support that they have received?
Finnbar Cornwall: In two parts I guess. Firstly, my personal experience is in the first term, there’s a huge amount of support that I’ve received from the Career Services team, so quite early when you arrive on campus there are courses to help you get ready. They initially start with talks about the different sectors, so you can begin to understand some of the areas you might be interested in. Then, they run a CV writing course to help you sort of structure your CV in a way that’s going to appeal to the right audience if you are looking at finance or consulting, for example. Those CV’s are then reviewed, and you get personalized feedback.
There’s also a program to help you with your cover letters. Running throughout that and underneath that, Career Services are running something called a Peer Leadership session, which is where students that have worked in the industry that you are interested have done some internship or come from that industry. You can go and meet them for half an hour to talk to them about the industry. You can also talk with some of the experts that LBS has in its Career Services. So in my first term I feel like I’ve had quite a lot of support in terms of getting me organized and ready for the recruiting period that’s going to happen in January for me for the summer internship.
So I’ve had a very decent amount of support to get me there. I think talking to the students in the year above, what’s been reflected is those that got the summer internships in the roles that they wanted, those are the people who took advantage of everything that I’ve just described in that first term, were ready for the industries that came in January, got the summer internship in the company they wanted, and very often those roles turn into a full-time role. What’s also interesting for those students who want to do the summer internships, some have decided that it wasn’t for them, and I can see them now working quite a lot with the Career Service people at LBS.
And what’s interesting, say if you wanted to do finance and you went and did, what a good friend of mine did who went and did an investment banking internship, and now knows that’s not for him. There’s a whole range of other services that are offered in LBS if you are now thinking about starting your own business or all the other things we’ve discussed, but that’s all there to help you. And taking January as an example, I mean any company that you think of that you might like to work for, whether it’s McKinsey or BCG or Barclay or Johnson & Johnson, they are all going to be on the LBS campus in January, so you have an opportunity to meet with them all, to submit your applications to get a feel for it. So I feel very well-supported in what I’ve had so far, and I think talking to students above, they’ve had a similar experience.
Alina Vivian: Just a couple things to add. Not only are there CV and cover letter sessions, but there’s also a presentation skills class. We had a mock interview a couple weeks ago. There were sessions, you could sign up for personal fit preparation, how are you going to pass the personal fit part of your interview with the person you’re interviewing with, and also if you’re interested in consulting, they have these classic case super-Saturdays. So you actually go through and you basically try to go through the case interview of a consulting interview. So there’s so much preparation and actual practice that we’re able to do with these various activities that Career Services organizes. It’s really great.
Linda Abraham: Wonderful. So either of you taking advantage of interview prep, or I assume you started your internship search if you’re not in the midst of it already?
Finnbar Cornwall: I’ve absolutely been doing that. I mean I’m looking at consulting. I would like to move into consulting, so I’ve been doing those “crack a case sessions” that Alina’s just described. They’ve been very useful to help you get some practice on that. I have also been meeting with the consulting firms who have all come to campus, and they’ve all run coffee chats. They’ve had their formal presentations where you get a sense of the firm.
What they’ve also run are the more informal coffee chats where you get a chance to sit down with one of the consultants. They’re usually LBS alumni, and I’ve found those very useful, just to ask some of those questions that you don’t want to particularly want to ask somebody who might turn out to be hiring. What is really like being consulted? What hours do you really work? You know, what is the job really like? And so, there are opportunities to do that. I’ve done a lot of that, and I’m looking at getting myself ready for the consulting summer internship interviews, which will be happening in January.
Linda Abraham: All right. Then you’ve found the Career Services Center to be supportive and helpful to you as you prepare for this in terms of giving you the skills to do the “crack a case”, or for interview preparation and all that presentation skills you mentioned, all that kind of stuff, right?
Finnbar Cornwall: Hugely. So, I’ve had all of that. As you can see from my background I’ve come from a non-consulting background, so on the CV review that I went through, there’s a dedicated person at LBS who’s dedicated to help people get jobs in the consulting industry. You apply for a job, he reviews every CV, and then I had a personalized half an hour with him, feedback session where we went through my CV, for areas for improvement.
I’ve done the crack a case sessions, which have been organized by Career Services, but also in addition to that, there is the Consulting Club, which also runs crack a case session, which I’ve been doing. Within my study group, I’ve got a McKinsey consultant, so I’ve been using him. So there’s lots of resources, from not only more formally that the Career Services have, but what the clubs are organizing, what your fellow students have, and also just some of my personal lectures.
You’re in London, and the BCG offices are 10 minutes from LBS. It’s not difficult to get down there, there’s lots of LBS alumni there, to get down there to meet them, and just take them out for coffee. So I’ve done a lot of that and from the mixture of things that I’ve been able to do, either formally organized by LBS or the more informal things, just leveraging on the obvious names, the alumni contacts to really get my headline into the consulting industry and to get prepared for the interviews in January.
Alina Vivian: The only thing I would say is that the support is there, and they have a bunch of formal sessions set up in the beginning of the year. And after the formal sessions are over with, and you start looking at what it is you are actually going to apply for, and how you’re going to do it, there is a support network there too, to help you through that, and to guide you through that.
But all of the things that Finnbar mentioned, going and meeting with the different companies and having a chat with them, and doing all the practice cases, those are things he’s had to set up on his own or he had to organize on his own, and I’ve been doing something similar. So the tools are there, but it does take a lot of individual work after you have the tools necessary to get to work.
Linda Abraham: Right. Well, our time is just about up. I really want to thank all the applicants for your questions. I realize that we actually have only touched on a few of them, but I do believe that Mary, and Zsuzsanna, Finnbar and Alina have provided excellent answers and real insight into the London Business School experience, its internationalism, its energy. And I wanted to thank you very, very much both for the questions and the answers.
Mary Ferreira: Thanks so much for hosting us. If there were a couple of gaps I hope that we can through Accepted.com supply you with some links so people can get some further information. And as ever, I would encourage people to continue looking at our website or student blogs, and if we’re coming to a city where they’re based or if they can get to London to come and experience the campus firsthand, we’d really love to welcome them here.
Linda Abraham: I wanted to also add, I visited London Business School about four years ago, and I was really impressed, and I must say that the actual visit really enhanced my appreciation for the school and the program. So if you can make it to London it will really help you applicants decide if it is the right school for you, and give you insight into what is special about it, and that culture that Finnbar and Alina have been talking about.
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So, at this point again I want to thank you very, very much, Mary, Zsuzsanna, Alina, Finnbar, and also to Claire who helped organize the event. Thank you very much again for your time. Thank you, applicants, for your time and your questions and good luck with your applications.