2011 London Business School MBA/MiF Admissions with Peter Johnson and Karen Benge

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2011 London Business School MBA/MiF Admissions with Peter Johnson and Karen Benge

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Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about London Business School’s MBA and Masters in Finance Programs. It is critical to your decision making process and your admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts about this top business school.

I also want to give a special welcome to Peter Johnson, Senior Admissions Manager at London Business School MiF program, and Karen Benge, Recruitment and Admissions Manager at London Business School. Also joining us today are three London Business School Class of 2012 students, Frosti Olafsson, Wouter Van Der Gaag from the MBA Program, and Luciana Soriano, from the PT MiF program.

  • Frosti is from Iceland and prior to joining the MBA Programme, Frosti worked as Deputy Director of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce in Reykjavik.
  • Wouter is from the Netherlands and prior to joining the MBA Programme, Wouter worked as a Senior Associate with Clifford Chance.
  • Since 2009, Luciana is a partner at Arianna Sim, an Asset Management firm mainly dealing with Italian Institutional Clients.
Thanks to everyone for joining. My first question is what is new at LBS?

Frosti Olafsson: If you are referring to what is new in the sense of how LBS is distinguished from the other schools, for me it was mainly the flexibility of the program.

Linda Abraham: What does that flexibility mean to you? How have you taken advantage of it?

Frosti Olafsson: In LBS, you can choose either 15, 18, or 21 months for the full-time MBA program, and you can choose from a large portfolio of electives with different courses. The structure is also more diverse than most of the other schools that I was exploring. You have the case study method used a lot here, but also a more theoretical approach, as well as applied assignments like a second year project where you work in cooperation with corporations on consulting assignments, and so forth. So regarding the flexibility, it allows you to cut it short if you feel you have a motive to do so, but if you want to capitalize on the large portfolio of electives available, you can extend your studies up to 21 months.

Luciana Soriano: What is new this year in the Masters in Finance program is that we can start studying and attending electives from the first year. If you want to, you can choose more than six electives per year, so it's interesting because then we have more time to study and keep concentrated on topics. On the other side, what is also interesting is that now the Master's in Finance is also granted. We also have our ranks, which are separate from the MBA. I'm attending the Part-Time MiF program, and it's interesting because there are many people who are really commuting from other countries, so there is an exchange of experiences and a different kind of approach to financial business. We are a community comprised of people from Geneva, Rome, and from elsewhere Europe.

Wouter Van Der Gaag: From a slightly more personal perspective, I think that since I started the MBA, basically everything is new. I absolutely love the interaction with new people on a daily basis. The courses are really good. I get exposed to all these new ideas. In my former job, I thought I was working in quite an international environment, but what is new to me is the truly international nature of the school and I am enjoying that very much.

Linda Abraham: Peter and Karen, could you tell us what is new for each of your respective programs?

Peter Johnson: The newest thing for me is really that we are looking forward to the end of term which is happening on Sunday. It's been a really intense term for the students and for the staff in the Admissions Team in the program office. So final exams for the first year are on Sunday. We'll have a really big party, and I'm very much looking forward to that.

Linda Abraham: Sounds like fun too. Play hard, work hard or work hard, play hard.

Peter Johnson: That is basically one of our fundamental rules.

Karen Benge: It's pretty similar to the MBA. They are coming to the end of term and are finishing their last exams weekend. That is our first year MBAs, so a well-earned Christmas break is coming up for them. We have our MBA 2011 students, who are our second year students, and a lot of them are returning from exchange. They've been on exchange since October all over the world, and they'll be back on campus for the New Year too. And we'll be welcoming our part-time executive MBA students on campus next month, and celebrating Christmas in lots of different ways.

Linda Abraham: We have tons of questions. Rajneesh asks, "I have an interest in investment management. Can you share with us aspects of the program related to this area; some of the popular electives, main clubs, activities, internship opportunities with buy-side firms, and recruitment stats, etc.?"

Frosti Olafsson: The extracurricular activity is mostly organized around the clubs on campus. We have an active Finance Club, and we also have clubs acting within the finance spectrum. There is an Investment Management Club, there is a Turnaround and Restructuring Club, and there is a Private Equity and Venture Capital club. So all of those clubs support students looking to seek careers in all those different fields within finance. This is done through recruiting events; presentations where all of the Bulge Banks and smaller boutiques join us on campus with networking events afterwards. Career Services also support us with skills, courses, and support in tailoring the CV to the needs of exploring a career within finance; writing cover letters and so forth. In addition, we have a Finance Team within the Career Services that basically has the sole job of supporting students seeking this career.

Luciana Soriano: I agree with him. The clubs are very interesting and useful. And from our perspective, coming from the Masters in Finance, we are more focused on this field. But on the other side, it's also interesting to join some clubs like the Finance Club, more generally speaking. We also have the Private Equity Club and the Emerging Markets Club, and many other clubs. There are some career events that are very focused on finance so it's useful. If you want to go into details, you can just attend them and meet people and former students and many of the management companies or private equity company firms. It's quite interesting and the networking activity is very large.

Linda Abraham: Thank you both. Peter and Karen, could you also comment on opportunities in investment management?

Karen Benge: I'm not sure which of the two courses the questioner is interested in, but I'll speak to the MBA program to start with. So in the first year, our MBA students do twenty core courses. These cover a wide variety of topics, and they include a few in finance so that includes Corporate Finance, Financial Accounting, and Macroeconomic. Students can then in their second year specialize in Finance if they wish to; so they can have an MBA with a specialization in Finance. And they can choose from around thirty electives at that point in the course, and these are the same electives that are available to our Masters in Finance students. In terms of the recruiters that come to campus and recruit our students in the financial sector, name a big financial organization and they pretty much come here. I am happy to answer in more detail about that if necessary.

Peter Johnson: Just to carry on from that, as Karen said, we have over thirty finance electives available in total. And that is really only possible because of the size and strength of our finance faculty which is one of the school's significant strengths. On the Masters in Finance, of course people will only be choosing finance electives, but they certainly have the option to declare a specialization within the degree, and that would either be Corporate Finance, Quantitative Finance, or Investments. And that really just means that people would choose predominantly electives within the general investment theme.

Linda Abraham: Padmini asks, "Is a 710 good enough to apply? I am from India, currently in the US; am I eligible for a scholarship?" I'm going to post a poll now, and I'd like the applicants to respond to it because in the past fifteen years that I'm doing this, I've found that there is a lot of anxiety about the GMAT; some it justified, some of it not. Let's see how you feel about this. Are you concerned about a low GMAT? Okay, here are the results of the poll. 60% are concerned about their GMAT score, and 40% are not concerned. This might be interesting data for Karen and Peter. But now back to the question. Do you want to comment on whether a 710 is good enough for the MBA and the MiF?

Karen Benge: Unfortunately, the question is not an easy one to answer. It's not a straight yes or no. I think Peter will echo some of the things for the MiF program. The GMAT is one part of your application that we will assess in combination with a lot of other things. So when we are looking at the GMAT, we are essentially assessing how well we think you are going to cope with the academic side of the course. Obviously, this is a very important thing to assess, but it's not the only thing we are assessing. We are going to be looking at work experience, contribution to life of the school, international experience, the strengths of references, and a number of other criteria too. To give you an idea of numbers, the average in our current MBA class is 701, and our range is from around 600. We advise students to get 640-650 or above to be reasonably competitive. But the reason these numbers are so varied is because, as I said, it is a holistic assessment process. We have rejected candidates with GMATS at 780 over candidates with GMATs at 620 because we felt that other aspects of their application were very strong. So we are looking at the entire candidate when we are assessing them, and we are not purely looking at the GMAT which is why there are no strict minimums and strict guidelines there.

Linda Abraham: Otherwise you wouldn't need an admissions staff; you would just need people to arrange the GMAT scores.

Karen Benge: Then I'd be out of a job!

Linda Abraham: Peter, do you want to comment on whether a 710 is good enough for the MiF?

Peter Johnson: Absolutely. Really in general when we are making admissions decisions, I think we are really asking ourselves three questions. The first one is whether people have the kind of intellectual ability to do well in the program. That can be evident by grades in former studies, by GMATs, but also very significantly by the type of job people are doing. That says a lot about what kind of intellectual skills they need to do well in their job, and we look at whether those match the skills which tend to do well on the program. The second question we tend to ask ourselves is if people benefit. Whether it is the MiF or the executive MBA, is this the right program for the applicant at this point in their career? And finally and really importantly is what do people contribute? Even though it's a really collaborative, very dynamic environment, it's really important to us that people bring something along in terms of their skills and abilities. I'll just make a general comment about the GMAT. On the MiF and the MBA, we would say that below 600 is going to pretty much rule people out. A 600-650 is okay if you like GMAT as a neutral factor in an application. With a 650-700, it starts to be a positive factor in its own right. And at 700+, it becomes a significant, positive factor within the application. I absolutely agree with what Karen said; we are looking at the whole application, so weakness in one area can very often be offset by strength in another.

Linda Abraham: Here is another question about opportunities for graduates of LBS from Andrea. He asks, "How does LBS leverage possibilities to work in PE/VC? How many graduates from LBS worked with PE/VC companies?"

Peter Johnson: I don't have a mass of statistics in front of me while we are doing this chat. So this is one of the instances where I would refer people back to our website because we publish our employment reports both for the MBA and for the MiF. And we are currently collating data for the graduating class of 2010. Having said that, yes, we do have very good links with PE/VC recruiters, and it will be a route for a lot of the finance qualified people. Bear in mind that it is a difficult area to get into right now. Finance education, whether it's the MiF or the MBA with the Finance specialization, and the right background is going to position people very well for those kinds of roles. It's a very general answer and I can't be more specific than that because so much of it will depend on the background of the individual candidate.

Linda Abraham: Karen, do you want to comment from the MBA perspective?

Karen Benge: Sure. Obviously the sort of direction that our students go in is a little bit different than the graduates from the MiF program, but we still have around a third of the class going into a financial role of some kind. And private equity and venture capital were both solid components of that third of the class going into these roles. As Peter said, yes, we do have links with a number of private equity and venture capital firms. We are obviously very well located in London. But if the question is really asking about how likely it is that someone is going to be able to get into private equity or venture capital coming from LBS, we have the connections here, but the more difficult factor is how well qualified the candidate is. And we find students who want to go into this area are most successful if they do have some kind of "quantitative" background already. That is not to say that it is impossible to make the move without it, but we find our recruiters prefer that. And as Peter said, it is a highly competitive area, but a very interesting one as well.

Frosti Olafsson: The student support is structured in a similar way to what I mentioned before with the finance industry. Specifically for private equity, we have a Private Equity and Venture Capital Club which organizes both events and skills workshops. The most recent one that I can remember is the CEO of Blackstone, Steve Schwarzman, came onto campus and held a presentation on the industry. With regard to Career Services, I know that they recently hired a person specifically to focus on private equity because they wanted to strengthen that area within the Career Services. And finally, we have a number of competitions and other things that give a good exposure to the industry like an IPO Challenge competition and other stuff. For myself, I can say that I have received a number of emails offering internships especially in VC, but some in PE as well. How successful students are in acquiring or capitalizing on those opportunities, I wouldn't be able to tell, but there should be some statistics in the work statistics post-graduation from the school.

Linda Abraham: Andrew asks, "Hello, and thank you to all of the participants. My question is what makes LBS a better choice over other European MBAs or business school programs in the US?" The question is really why did you choose LBS?

Wouter Van Der Gaag: I think there were some very good reasons for me to choose LBS as opposed to other European schools. I think the first of them is the fact that you can do a two-year program here in LBS. I myself am a career changer, so I really wanted to get out of legal services and go into probably the financial world, but it could also be the industry. And I really wanted time to think about what it was that I really wanted to do, and I was afraid that I couldn't do that in the 10-11 month programs. And also I'm really keen on doing one or two internships during the MBA which would not have been possible with the short program. One of the other reasons why I chose LBS is the location. I had lived in London before. I had moved back to Amsterdam, and was really keen on going back to London. I think one of the added benefits of the school being in London is the fact that most Fortune 500 companies have either branches or their headquarters within twenty minutes to a half an hour from the school which is just an added benefit. I think those were my two main reasons for coming here. The third reason was obviously the reputation of the school, especially in finance which was one of the skills which I wanted to improve.

Linda Abraham: Luciana, do you want to take a crack at that question? Why did you choose LBS?

Luciana Soriano: To be honest, I didn't find any other optionin finance like LBS. There is no other option because the location is the best one, because London is the financial center of Europe, and I would say also of the Western countries at this stage. And the program is a two-year program and it is organized during the weekends, so it's very convenient for people who are working hard. We are all at the management stage, and the average is 7-13 years of working experience. So it was the benefits of the program, and the location. If you are focused on a career in finance, maybe it is the best choice.

Frosti Olafsson: I totally agree with the location aspect. That's definitely a big factor. The brand and the reputation of the school are obviously very good as well. For me, I was choosing between two-year programs in Europe, and out of the ones that I explored, for me the structure of the program and the flexibility was by far the most attractive one. The curriculum is really interesting and has a massive supply of interesting electives. The teaching methods seemed to me at the time, and it has proven to be true, a good mixture of case studies, practical assignments, and theory. So it's not as monotonic as some of the other schools. The internship was also something I wanted to do, and the school supports us in doing so. So for me, the biggest factors were the flexibility and the structure of the program.

Linda Abraham: Ira asks, "With regard to the various essays in the application, would you recommend a more formal professional tone, or a lighter tone that reveals some of the applicant's personality?"

Karen Benge: I think that is a personal decision, but the importance of the essays is that we can get a sense of the individual who has applied. While I don't recommend being very informal, I would let some personality come through so that we can get a real sense of that. There are points in the application essays where it is more appropriate to do that. For example, there is the question about involvement in the student community. Another question is not as directly related to the course and your career goals.

Peter Johnson: I 100% agree with Karen, and I'm sure it's something that you will back up Linda, from your years of experience. It's remarkable sometimes how little effort people put into their essays, and the essays are the most critical part of the application. It's the short opportunity people have to sell themselves. And sometimes people actually treat it so superficially despite the fact that the rest of their application may be very strong. So for us, people should always remember that we are looking at a vast volume of applications, and it is an applicant's real opportunity to sell themselves. In terms of style, I wouldn't expect people to be overly chatty or informal. What is critical is that your real personality shines through and that we can really get a sense of who you are and what you would add to the program. So Linda, I'm sure you tell people this all the time: however much time you were planning to spend on the essays, spend twice as much.

Linda Abraham: I don't, but I will! I think it's a great piece of advice. In terms of the whole idea of being professional or being casual and letting your personality shine through by being casual, there is a professional side of you that is an authentic part of you, and that is probably the side, the professional you, that should be coming through in most of the application. If there is an essay that you want to address on a more personal note or a recreational interest, then maybe there you can show a different side of you. We, as human beings, are multi-faceted and we present different sides of our personality at different points in time. And what you want to make sure is that you are not presenting a careless side in the silly sense or that you are not presenting something that you would not want to present to a professional colleague. You can be casual with a colleague but still be professional. And I think that is what you want to have come through. The other thing is that unless you are trying to really hide your personality, and believe me, I've read essays where applicants are definitely trying to hide who they are, maybe unintentionally but that's what they are doing, your personality shows through amazingly well in your writing, for most people. So I would be concerned about answering the questions authentically, informatively, and engagingly, and less worried about presenting your personality because I think that will come through.

Peter Johnson: I agree, and I think that is really good advice. I've been reading application essays for 15 years, so I hate to think how many hundreds and hundreds I've read.

Linda Abraham: So I guess we've come to the same conclusion. Sannan asks, "I have read that internationalism is greatly valued at LBS. I am a candidate with no international, professional exposure, except for a holiday in Malaysia and Singapore. Though I work for an organization with presence in more than forty countries, my client is a domestic one. Would you discourage me from applying?"

Karen Benge: Firstly, we should probably address how we determine an international experience, and it doesn't mean that you've lived abroad necessarily although this obviously is included. It really means that you've had meaningful interactions with people from different cultures or different countries. So if you've done that in your home country or in your workplace with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and you've developed knowledge about different cultures, countries, and skills in this area, that is absolutely valid in terms of international experience. So I wouldn't discourage somebody from applying who didn't have formal international experience in terms of living or working abroad. What I would add though is that it is important to have willingness and an openness to be very much immersed in a highly international environment because that is what LBS is. On the full-time MBA program, we have 90% of our class coming from outside of the UK, around 15% from North America. So it's a very international environment, and we want people who understand what value that brings and who would enjoy that, and be ready for the pleasures as well as the challenges that environment brings with it.

Peter Johnson: The only thing I would add is that I certainly wouldn't discourage somebody from applying entirely because they haven't worked abroad, but I think I would be very uncomfortable with a candidate who had no awareness of what is happening in the news internationally, and no real interest in engaging with other cultures. So it is exactly as Karen said; we don't assume that people have that, but we do want them to be hungry for that international experience.

Linda Abraham: James asks, "I intend to meet or talk to a lot of current LBS students coming from financial backgrounds. Do students coming from non-traditional sectors, i.e. in this case non-financial backgrounds, integrate well with the student body, or do people tend to work well and associate with like-minds?" This candidate is coming from a military background.

Wouter Van Der Gaag: I think one of the things that surprised me the most about LBS was that everyone is so incredibly collaborative in terms of helping each other out. A lot of people have a financial or consulting background, but I feel that they are spread evenly over a stream of study groups which I think is really good. And it seems as though they are keen on passing on knowledge to people who have a less traditional MBA background. Quite a lot of people have a military background as well, and they seem to be doing very well in this community. So no, I wouldn't be worried about that if I were him.

Karen Benge: I think it is a fair question and because we do have a great Master's in Finance program, a lot of the time this assumption is made, and I think Wouter has very clearly said that that is not the case. To give you a few stats and ideas about where our students do come from, we get about 31% of the class from a finance background. So actually the vast majority of the class isn't from a finance background. And we've seen a rising interest in areas outside of consulting and finance for people applying to the program, and again in the destinations that people want to go into after they graduate. In terms of military candidates, we do have a Military Business Club at the school as well, and we very much value the team and leadership skills military students tend to bring. We have a number from that background in the course this year.

Peter Johnson: Certainly on the MiF, everybody will have prior finance experience; it is designed for people with that experience. It is not programmed for people trying to make a career change into the finance area. But I think it is definitely the case that it is a very integrated student body in general. I think how that tends to work is that when people arrive, typically the first term they'll spend a lot of time getting to know their small study group and their stream and their class. But then as time progresses, certainly into the second and third term, club activities and social activities become much more important. So there is a huge range of opportunities both socially and professionally for students across all the programs to mix. And given that the electives portfolio is shared across all the programs, MiF students will be studying alongside MBAs, and I think they generally get on very well.

Linda Abraham: Shawn asks, "I'm interested in the view from the students regarding the geographic location of positions which they've seen available in the recruitment process. Can they tell us examples of the geography of their or other job internship offers?" Two weeks ago, I visited LBS and I spoke with various representatives including Peter and Kara and some students also. And one thing that really came through was the global reach of the school. Obviously it's in Europe, it has strong ties to New York, and it has strong ties to Singapore, India, and Dubai. One young man that I was speaking to, a very dynamic, energetic individual was saying how he'd worked in New York, he'd worked in London, the next stop was either Dubai or Singapore, and then he was going to go back to New York and present his resume in private equity or venture capital investment banking. So that internationalism is something that really impressed me about my visit.

Wouter Van Der Gaag: I think in terms of internationalism, it doesn’t get any better than this place. The MBA class of 2012 has 65 nationalities in it. I know that in terms of internships, people are looking to do them for next summer all over the world. It's hard to say at the moment because the applications for the internships will be sent out in the next coming weeks. But just to speak from my stream which is a group of 80 people that I usually have my lectures with, maybe 20-25 people are keen on applying for the Asian internships, especially in finance. They are working hard on their applications at the moment. There is a big group of people who would like to stay in Continental Europe or in the UK for their internship as well, coming from for instance, the Americas--North America, South America. They want to really spend their time in Europe. And I know that for those of us who have work authorization in the US, there are certainly groups of people who are keen on going to New York or somewhere else in the States to do their internship. I think Brazil is also very popular this year.

Luciana Soriano: Our class is composed of many different nationalities. We don't apply currently for internships because we are all already working. But there are some guys who are moving back and forth. There is one guy who commutes every two weeks from Pakistan, for example. Some others were living in Europe. There is a wide coverage of many countries. It's very diverse and interesting also for that reason.

Frosti Olafsson: Regarding the internship, you can actually access employment reports on the LBS webpage which explains in detail both the sectors and locations of the internships. From the 2010 report, you can see that two thirds of the students did their internships in the UK. And I think that is mostly because that is just more practical, especially for students who moved over here. Usually we do one-year lease agreements so in the practical sense of it, it is more attractive to stay in the UK. However, that doesn't mean that you don't have the opportunity to seek internships, and you have obviously a good chance of finding opportunities outside of the UK, especially in Europe and Asia, according to the 2011 summer employments.

Linda Abraham: Igor asks, "How does LBS prepare students for landing a job in strategy consulting?" We've asked all about finance; this is a little bit different.

Karen Benge: Our students will always study Strategies, a core course in their first year. And then as you go into your second year, through electives you can specialize in Strategy, so you can have an MBA with a specialization in Strategy, and we have a very strong Strategy department at the school. And there are also different points in the program where you can customize beyond there. So we mentioned the internships; that is a great way to get hands-on strategy experience, both for your CV and also to see if you really like doing it for the future. And then again in your second year, you will also do a one month consulting project as part of the program, and again, if you want to do something strategy focused there, that is again possible. And on top of this, we offer an opportunity for our students between their first and second year to join the "Consulting Team", which is a group of 7-8 MBA students who are recruited by our Career Services Department in a very competitive process. And these seven or so students will work together to source consulting projects over the summer period, carrying the LBS brand. And it's a very successful and prestigious program. And again, there is plenty of opportunity to gain more experience in strategy through doing that. On top of that, the Consulting Club is extremely active on campus. It is one of our biggest clubs. I would probably say that Strategy is where most people have their interest within that club as well. So they have put on numerous speaker events and also provide a lot of support for people in preparing for case-based interviews, at the top, strategy consulting firms. I think the Consulting Club is actually trained by one of the top major strategy consultancies. It trains our Consulting Club members who then train our students in preparing for these interviews. So it is a very strong part of life at the school here, and around a third of our students will go into a consulting role. And we have all the top strategy consultancies on campus recruiting for positions in London, Europe, and across the world as well.

Linda Abraham: I'm going to ask the applicants, what stage you are up to in the application. How many of you are just researching schools to apply to? How many of you have already submitted your application? How many of you have actually interviewed and are waiting for results? Anybody wait-listed, or at some other stage? So 86% are researching schools to apply to and are working on their applications. 8% have submitted their application. 6% have interviewed. 2% are wait-listed, and 9% are in some other stage. 88% have voted. Hakim asks, "Applying for LBS this year, I will be sending my application in by the round three deadline. Will it be a concern that I have missed round one and round 2?"

Karen Benge: I'm assuming that the candidate is applying to the MBA program. The first three stages for the MBA program are equal in terms of how competitive they are. So while if we take different numbers at different stages, we also get the number of applications related to those numbers as well. The only stage which is more competitive is our final stage which is stage four. By that point, we've already offered people places in the class. Students aren't eligible for scholarships at that stage. If you are choosing between stage 2 and stage 3, we would always recommend that applicants make sure that their application is at its strongest when they apply. This means if you are choosing stage 3 or stage 2, we would certainly recommend that because as I said, the competition is equal. But even between stage 3 and stage 4, we would always argue that it's better to put your best application forward even if it is at a more competitive stage in the process.

Peter Johnson: I entirely agree with what Karen said. On the full-time and the weekend format of the MiF, we will always try to apply exactly the same selection criteria, through all the initial stages. But in the final stage, the supply demand equation means that places have started to become in shorter supply, so automatically it just becomes more competitive. But I think Karen got it exactly right. People sensibly are already researching programs for next year's intake. Now is a good time to be in the research mode. But people should really have a plan about when they are going take the GMAT, how much time they need to prepare, when they are going to have everything in place, and time it so that they are putting forward the best application that they can, and avoiding the very last stage. The issue in the very final stage also becomes that people aren't eligible for scholarships. If they need a visa to study in the UK, it's not out of the question, but it just means that the process of going through that becomes much more stressful because the remaining time becomes very short.

Linda Abraham: On this, I completely agree with you, Peter. This idea that you can decide in September that you want to go for an MBA, do your GMAT, do the research, get it in, and get it done; it doesn't work. The best applications start months before they are actually submitted. I'm not saying that you have to start planning in high school, but certainly to give yourself 6-9 months before you actually plan to submit an application is very reasonable. And anything less than that starts to produce a crunch and could really compromise the quality of the application, and ultimately your options.

Peter Johnson: And as we saw with the poll earlier, a lot of the people are concerned about GMAT which is quite understandable. Given that the ability to get into the top school is very important to them, that can be a very stressful part of the process. But I think it is always the case that the more time people allow themselves for that part of the process, the less stressful it is.

Linda Abraham: Absolutely. And the better the decisions are. Yuval asks, " Thank you for the great webinar. Can you refer to changes in the visa policies in the UK and how it can affect job offers and partner's working visa?" And there have been some other questions related to jobs in the UK at this point in time; visas, etc.

Peter Johnson: Visas is an ever changing question. At the moment we are just waiting for a lot of clarification from the government on what they actually really intend, and what will be in place by the time people graduate in 2011 and 2012. I think people may be picking up a lot of coverage that it will be extremely hard to get visas to work in the UK. Visas to study in the UK are actually relatively straightforward; we've had very little problems for the recent intakes, provided that people have all their paperwork properly together. It's a complex process, but in the end it works out. But I think in terms of employment in the UK, there is still a lot of argument in the government about whether the government goes for more of a restrictive policy which is popular in some circles, or whether it continues to look to attract greatest the talent to work in the UK, which is obviously something that the school would strongly argue is absolutely integral to success in the UK economy. So we are waiting to find out more at the moment. I think we'll have a lot more clarity in late January, early February, so people should just keep checking.

Linda Abraham: I think we've had a very productive session. Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Peter, Karen, Frosti, Wouter, and Luciana for joining us today. If you have additional questions for our London Business School panelists, please email them to mbainfo@london.edu.

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Good luck with your applications!

UPDATE: Several questions that were not able to be answered during the Q&A were graciously answered by the London Business School representatives in a post Q&A interview.

Q: I hear so much about students entering the job force post-graduating LBS, how about entrepreneurship? How does the school help address starting or continuing a business post-MBA?

Karen Benge MBA Admissions: The school is very strong in entrepreneurship and has research centre for innovation and entrepreneurship. Academically, we offer two core courses on the MBA in entrepreneurship and the option to specialize in entrepreneurship during your second year with courses by highly regarded faculty, such as Michael Hay. You can also participate in the entrepreneurship summer school, where entrepreneurs are matched with a faculty member to develop and research their entrepreneurial idea. In addition, we have a very active entrepreneurship club on campus that assists students in networking and hosts fantastic speakers, such as Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet Travel Guides. The school also has an angel investors network which links investors with small start up companies. The London Business School network itself is also a strong source of contacts and advice for those starting a new business.

Q: How would you describe the type of student LBS is looking for? What's one word to describe an LBS graduate? I imagine the process is similar for MBA/MiF applications – is that correct?

Karen Benge MBA Admissions: There is no one perfect student as we recruit students from a wide range of backgrounds. Generally speaking the school is looking for students with the intelligence and drive to cope with the workload, with strong professional experience to bring to the classroom environment and to help them achieve their professional goals, and the willingness and interest in contributing to our highly active and international community. Again, there is no one word to describe our graduates, but they tend to be ambitious, friendly and international. The process for MBA and MiF applications is similar, but do look specifically at the information online about these two processes. Do bear in mind that you cannot apply for both courses at the same time. Please contact the school if you have questions regarding which course is most suitable.

Q: For the last 10 years I have worked mostly for non-profit organizations and in the public sector. Does LBS have any specific courses or programs that focus on management in the non-profit or public sector?

Karen Benge MBA Admissions: The school does not have specific courses or programmes that focus on the non-profits sectors, rather throughout the courses examples and case studies are drawn from various industries, including charities and government. Students with an interest in these areas will often join related students clubs, such as the Responsible Business Club, the Volunteer Club, Asperata (a pro bono consulting club) and the Business and Government Club. They also take advantage of opportunities such as internships and the 2nd year project to gain hands on experience in these fields. For example, this year we had students working for the carbon trust, cancer research UK and a hospital in Nigeria in their second year projects. We also have numerous high profile graduates in these fields, such as Mary Marsh, former head of the NSPCC (biggest UK children’s charity), two British MPs and the prime minister of Mongolia. Similarly, we value the contribution students from these backgrounds can add.

Q: The length of the program is 15-21 months. How would a student finish the program in 15 months? Would this impact the possibility of benefiting from an internship or exchange? Are there more course options offered in the 21 month program? Is there a difference in program cost?

Karen Benge MBA Admissions: On the 15 month MBA programme students will take their electives more intensively. You can take between 9-12 electives no matter the duration of your MBA, however, most students on the 15month programme will not take the full 12, although this is possible. You will definitely still go on internship on the 15month programme, and it is possible to do an exchange also, although you must plan ahead to ensure you will complete all your necessary electives. There is no difference in programme cost as the academic side of the course is essentially the same on all durations.

Student Questions:

Q: Can the current MBA students who are taking a language course discuss their experiences i.e. how successful have they been in learning a new language while at LBS?

Current MBA 2011: Plenty of students pick up a new language when they come to LBS whilst many others brush up on languages they have let get a little rusty. Both are great choices and depend on the person doing the choosing and how much time they are willing to invest in their practice at home. A friend of mine studied Mandarin for the first time ever when he came to LBS!

Q: Can any of the current MBA students discuss how participating in the Global Leadership Development Programme has helped developed their leadership abilities?

Current MBA 2011: There are plenty of choices an individual can make within the GLDP framework as it is meant to help students focus on their weak areas. If you are not used to writing presentations in English then there is a course for that, or there is one on negotiations or public speaking. By choosing what is useful for you, every student can tailor their own course and get gain additional skills.

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