2012 London Business School MBA Admissions Q&A with Mary Ferreira and Karen Benge

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2012 London Business School MBA Admissions Q&A with Mary Ferreira and Karen Benge

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Linda Abraham: Hello, my name is Linda Abraham. I’m the founder of Accepted.com and moderator of today’s Q&A. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today and I want to applaud you for taking the time to educate yourself about London Business School’s MBA program.

It is critical to your decision-making process and your admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you’re applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts about this top international business school.

I want to give a special welcome to Mary Ferreira and Karen Benge, recruitment and admission managers of London Business School’s full-time MBA program. We’re also going to have with us shortly Payal Patel, who I was privileged to meet during my visit to London Business School last year. She’ll be joining us shortly. When she does, I’ll tell you a little bit about Payal, but in the meantime I want to thank you all for being here.

I’m going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question.

Mary and Karen, what’s new at London Business School? We’ve heard that you have new enhancements to your full-time MBA curriculum. Can you give us an overview or some of the highlights of that new curriculum? Also we’ve heard that you had a very large intake of women this year to the program. I know that’s something you’ve been working on.

Mary Ferreira: Hi Linda and everybody. This is Mary Ferreira. It’s great to have you all here. Welcome to the chat. There’s lots of new things at London Business School. Of course, very obviously it’s the start of the new academic year for our full-time MBA. Our first-year students, the class of 2014, have been on campus for a few weeks and they’re our first class who are following the enhanced flexible curriculum.

Some of the highlights of their first year are now including a leadership launch program that really helps students develop their own individual leadership development plan. It’s very much tied in with our career team. Our language program continues, so all students will speak a language in addition to English by the time they leave the program.

We’ve got a fantastic new core class filling in a lot of the learning at the end of the first year, by which time students will be looking at organizations with a much broader view, looking at the world outside, having already looked at organizations internally in Term 2. That new class is Business, Government, and Society. We’re focusing a lot on things that we’ve already always learned, but really making quite a push and a theme about the fact that we are here in London and making the most of that. So that’s packaged under the London experience for our students, and includes a whole range of fantastic speaker series and visits to companies operating in the London area, just as two examples.

Linda Abraham: Thank you. Karen, what would you like to add to the "what’s new" question and what’s your response?

Karen Benge: I think Mary’s covered that very well, but I will touch upon the increase of women we’ve seen in the program this year. We’re very pleased to see 32% of our 404 admitted students being female, which is very important to us as a school. We’ve placed this huge emphasis on all different types of diversity as a part of the learning experience at the school.

This means that every one of our study groups which our students study in the first year, which is a group of around six or seven students, every one of those groups will have at least two women in their group. This has been the result of a lot of hard work by the admissions team, by our fantastic Women in Business Club, by working with various organizations such as the Forte Foundation to advance women in business, and a number of other projects too. We’ve got some really fantastic both male and female admits to the program this year.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. We have several questions. I want to start taking the applicants’ questions. First of all, Angeline asks "What is your job placement rate? Have you had any problems placing anyone due to the recession in Europe?"

Then the follow-up question is – "What is the placement in the internship rate for American students, and placement in the US also?"

Mary Ferreira: Yes. Obviously there’s a lot of information about statistics, and our employment rate for the full-time MBA class is published on our website each December. Because we have a physical Europe location, our academic year actually finishes at the end of June. We then analyze all our placement statistics, and those, like most other top business schools, are combined three months post-graduation. That means that they’re ready in December.

We have information from the class that graduated with their MBA in 2010 and our 2011 class details will be posted up on the web in December.

I can speak in very general terms. Obviously following an MBA there’s an investment in your own learning, as well as your future career trajectory. Typically between 40-60% of our full-time MBA class would take an initial position based in the UK. However, as I’m sure many of the people listening will be aware, you may well take a position with a consulting firm where you’re hired by the London office, but the reality is you’re going to be working on projects all over the world. One month you might be working in Indonesia, and another month you might be working on a project in Canada.

The other thing in general terms is that we have students that move into consulting and actual services. We have a large grouping that moves into what we call industry. That could be anything from health care to telecom to not-for-profit, and we have a growing number of students that will either be getting ready for the succession planning in a family business, or probably setting up their own venture. If you look at them three years down the track there will be far more people that move into that entrepreneurial side.

Linda Abraham: I know you don’t have this stat off the top of your head, but let’s say three years or five years out, approximately what percentage of your graduates are running their own business?

Mary Ferreira: Immediately on graduation it will probably be no more than 5%. Three years out that would have tripled at least. I suppose another thing that might be of interest to prospective candidates listening in is that one of the advantages of a very international business school with alumni who work around the world is that often for people launching their own ventures, some of their funding will actually be coming from their fellow classmates. That’s very sort of familiar several years down the track.

Linda Abraham: Karen, you were going to mention something?

Karen Benge: I was just going to add, if anybody listening wants to have a really detailed breakdown of our internship statistics, our employment statistics, or the companies that recruit from us on salary increases and so on, I very much recommend they plug into the MBA 2010 Employment Report. This is a very detailed breakdown after the graduating of our MBA 2010 class.

You’ll see there that around 91% of our graduates had accepted offers within three months of graduation, and that was in 2010. Obviously the economy in Europe has been stronger since then, so I think we’re actually doing very well. We’re certainly back to some pre-recession levels with our recruitment, but I really would direct people there who want the data and numbers for that.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. Just to finish off on Angeline’s question, she was also asking specifically about placement in the US and the ability of Americans to go back to the US after having received an MBA from London Business School.

Karen Benge: As Mary pointed out, we’ll have a percentage who head over to the US immediately after graduation. However, those numbers will change, as Mary touched upon, as we go three years out of graduation, five years, and 10 years. A lot of people will either choose to stay in the UK or in Europe after they graduate, with maybe about 15% going further afield.

A lot of people will either then move on to have another sort of international experience working if they move out of Europe to another location, or people will go back to their home country. We actually work very closely with our alumni and our admitted students and our candidates in North America. We have a very strong alumni network there, which I think surprises a lot of people who are perhaps also considering American schools. We have a very strong showing of our alumni at fairs that we organize and recruitment events that we hold.

We do have two coming up very soon – one in New York on Saturday and one in Boston on Monday, if anyone listening would like to see the proof of that in person.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Mithun asks "LBS gives a lot of importance to work experience, unlike US schools."

I’m not sure that’s necessarily accurate, but the question is –"Can I apply to LBS with three to four years of experience?"

Mary Ferreira: Yes, absolutely. Our minimum is a two-year requirement for work experience, and the average is just over five years, which I think the person is perhaps touching upon there. It tends to be a bit higher than the average of some US schools.

What we’re really looking at here is the caliber of that experience, so it’s not about the number of years. We do assess the years from the date that the person would start the program, so the next intake is in August next year.

We’re looking at applicants with two to four years’ experience, and we’re trying to make sure that they’ll be able to contribute with their experience in a very collaborative work environment with someone maybe with five or six years’ experience.

That being said, we regularly take people with two to four years’ of work experience. It’s about proving that you can hold your own in a classroom with people who are more experienced. That may be because you’ve had exposure to the way business is conducted in a number of different countries with your experience so far, or you may have progressed very quickly in your job, or you may have unusual experience that would be very useful to your colleagues in the classroom.

It can be anything that can help you stand out, but please don’t be put off by the five-year average. As I said, the minimum is two and we regularly take people with that amount of experience.

Linda Abraham: The two-year figure is a hard and fast minimum, right?

Mary Ferreira: Yes, that’s two years from when you would start the program full-time – post-graduation work experience, or if you performed an internship or maybe a year of working in-between your different years of a degree. If there’s confusion about whether people meet the minimum, we are more than happy to assess that on a case-by-case basis.

Linda Abraham: Great. Let me ask the audience a few questions: How many of you are concerned that you have too much work experience? 40% are concerned and 50% are not. Conversely, how many of you are concerned that you have too little work experience? 40% are concerned and 50% are not concerned. How many of you think that focusing on the quantity of work experience is the wrong or bad question? 20% agree.

Mary or Karen, any feedback on this poll? Is focusing on the quantity of work experience where they should be focusing, or is it really the qualitative elements that are more important?

Mary Ferreira: I think really at London Business School we flip it around a bit when we’re meeting with prospective candidates. I know this afternoon is all about our full-time MBA, but we actually have a portfolio of several degree programs that are offered in a different mode.

When people are at the start of their research they need to be quite honest to themselves in thinking about, "How best do I learn?" for example. "Am I the sort of person that wants to get completely sucked in, make the most of impromptu opportunities and do full-time learning, or am I someone that I would like to carry on receiving my salary? I love my industry. I want to upskill, and maybe a more modular program, a sort of Executive MBA for example, might suit me better." Obviously at London Business School we’ve got different formats. We’ve got programs for those people who are at different stages in their career.

Linda Abraham: London Business School is really very distinctive in the breadth of its programs for different needs and different stages of one’s career.

Mary Ferreira: Yes. Going back to the full-time MBA, professional experience is obviously one aspect of the admissions package that we consider, so that we know the people who are coming into class can talk with some relevance about a particular industry or job function, for example. But we know that if they’ve been going to work in an ongoing format for a few years, that they will have come across some of the tough challenges that happen at work that might not necessarily crop up in more of the sort of project internship-based type of role.

Alongside looking at professional experience, it’s very important for us to know an individual’s motivation, what they enjoy doing not just at work but sort of outside work. We’ll look at things like comments from their references in terms of is this an individual who’s coming in with ideas? How do they interact with the rest of the team?

We have a very holistic view when people are applying. If we think when someone applies that they might not necessarily be quite the right fit, we have a conversation with them and also inform them about some of our other degree program portfolios.

Sorry, that was quite a long answer. I hope people haven’t nodded off.

Linda Abraham: No, I think that’s fine. Thank you very much. That was kind of a break from applicants’ questions and I want to get back to them, because we have a lot. Sudhir asks – "How many students are placed in Asia – especially in Hong Kong or Singapore – and in private equity and venture capital?"

Karen Benge: I’ll have to look it up. If you can give me one second I can find out for you.

Mary Ferreira: While Karen is looking that up, I can say that Asia is one of the regions of the world where we have very strong links. We do have alumni clubs in more than 130 different countries, so we are very global in nature, but we have alliances with programs specifically in Hong Kong, New York, and Dubai. We have a global EMBA that’s based out of Hong Kong University in conjunction with London Business School and Columbia Business School. Historically we’ve always had a very large alumni pool in Asia. In fact, I think we’ve got an information session in Hong Kong tomorrow evening at the Conrad Hotel, just in case we have any Hong Kong residents who are listening in from Asia. While Karen’s looking up the stats in an area like private equity, a lot of it is about your prior experience, as well as the contacts you make during your time at business school. We expect our students to be very proactive if they’re interested in that area. For example, they would immediately join our student-organized private equity club that runs a fantastic conference here at campus. The focus of so much around private equity and VC is through personal connections.

Karen Benge: Just under 10% of the class will go to Asia immediately after graduation, and around 5% in venture capital and private equity. I think Mary’s given quite a good summary of the strength of our brand and our network in Asia, and the type of students who are successful in getting into private equity and venture capital.

Bear in mind that where our students go, both in terms of location and job sector, is incredibly varied. It’s more reflective of their own personal preference rather than the school’s ability to place them in certain places.

The program and the school is really set up to let you go wherever you want to go in terms of location and job sector due to its flexibility, as Mary touched upon, because we recruit proactive students who are going to work very hard to make sure that the program will work for them to get them where they want to be after they graduate.

Linda Abraham: Do you look for students who have a clear idea of where they want to go, both professionally and geographically?

Karen Benge: Geographically, not as much. I think what’s most important is that people are really reflective on their career to-date and they think about why they want to do an MBA, why they want to do one now, why they want to come to London for it, why they want to do a London Business School MBA, and how they can see that fitting into the career path that they envision for themselves.

Everybody knows you’ll be exposed to a lot of different career paths and different industries and job functions that you might not have even heard of before you joined, so we appreciate that people may change or adapt their plans, but it’s important that we see the applicants have reflected on the things I mentioned about where they want to be with their MBA when they come to apply.

As much as anything it’s about making sure that the student is therefore a good fit for the school, given what they want to do, and the school is a good fit for them as well, that the expectations are right, and someone can really achieve what they want to achieve by coming here.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. AJ asks – "Is there any course which stresses more regarding Cleantech?"

Karen Benge: I’d have to check that for you. We’ll talk about the cleantech and energy club and I’ll have a look at the specific courses.

Mary Ferreira: The energy club is definitely one of the very active student clubs. Yes, we certainly have students going to work in areas like oil and gas, but we also have students going to work in areas such as wind energy. I can think personally of a couple of alumni who went into that. That was their first role in Australia and they’ve now launched their own business in southern India linked to Cleantech.

Linda Abraham: This is a question that’s popped up several times, so it’s kind of a summary of several questions. "Has London Business School adapted its curriculum at all in response to the current economic crisis and perhaps even the current debt crisis and turmoil in the EU?"

Mary Ferreira: We’re now rolling out an enhanced curriculum for the class of 2014, but the faculty who teach at school, the majority of them are involved in undertaking their own research in their areas of interest, so there’s a lot of debate around that in going to class. Most of them are also involved in advising companies or governments, so they bring a lot of real-life experience to the classroom.

Obviously this isn’t the first time that many of our faculty have been through a downturn, so those conversations go on the whole time. It’s not that we have to adapt the program, because these cycles are a matter of business life, so that would be sort of typical conversation and debate that would come up in class.

When Payal joins us, she is running here from an elective class that she’s just taken. I’m sure that she’ll be happy to revisit that and also revisit the question about Cleantech.

Karen Benge: As regards the original question, the first year of the course is designed to cover a wide variety of different areas, so if that’s what you’re looking to be specializing in, in such a specific area. That being said, it will no doubt feed into some of the courses that we offer – for example, Business, Government, and Society and The Business Environment. These are two core courses we offer.

And of course the debate in the classroom is very much driven by the students who are there, and there is a strong interest in the energy and particularly the Cleantech sector.

Now I should go into your second idea. We do offer two specialized courses in sustainability and in energy, which alongside opportunities like the Asian club and the Cleantech club offers options to go on internships, to go on exchanges, and to take part in other projects as well. It really can help you sort of develop expertise in this area. We have a number of alumni working in this field at the moment.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. Kevin asks – "For prospective students, will cumulative GPA affect more heavily than GMAT score, recommendations, and professional experience put together? How do you weight the different factors when you’re evaluating applicants?"

Mary Ferreira: I wish there was an easy answer to that. We don’t have a secret percentage. It’s a very holistic process. When we’re looking at your undergraduate degree, the subjects, the GPA, the organization that you got it from, alongside your GMAT, we’re really looking to be confident that you can cope with the academic side of the course, and your work experience may well feed into that as well, as well as professional or post-graduate qualifications.

I can’t give you a percentage. We accept people really on a case-by-case basis, and we’ll often find that some people will compensate for weaknesses in some areas by strengths in others, which may be excellent leadership experience or being somebody we really think is going to contribute to the clubs at the school, and vice versa. We may have people who will be very strong academically in that sense, so that will sort of skew the average.

This is something where I think candidates need to reflect on their own strengths and really think about what they specifically can offer the program, and not get too bogged down in what’s the ideal candidate or the average sort of minimum requirements for each and the GPA. We don’t work like that when we assess candidates.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Emma is asking – "Do you have a maximum age for your MBA applicants? What is the age rank of your typical class?"

Karen Benge: Just off the top of my head I’ll give you a rough age range. It would be from around 23 to about 38-39. As I mentioned earlier, this really is again about experience rather than age, and how well that experience will fit in the classroom, and how well-positioned our full-time MBA program is to help you achieve your goals.

This feeds into what Mary touched upon earlier, that we offer a portfolio of courses for people in all stages of their career, so it’s really about making sure that they’ve chosen the right school and the right program after researching schools. Age is not a barrier to entry.

Linda Abraham: Great. This next question I think almost could have fed off your answer, Mary. "How important is it to have international experience? I work in India, catering to clients in the US and Europe, but I’ve never had opportunity to visit clients’ sites. Is this valid international experience, recognized by London Business School?"

Karen Benge: Certainly international experience will strengthen a candidate’s application. This would ideally be people who’ve worked abroad, but this is certainly not a requirement. Things like experience leading to multicultural teams, for example, or doing an exchange at the undergraduate level would all be classified as international experience. It can even be an internship that you had in your own city if you worked with teammates from all over the world.

What’s most important is that students that we recruit are very much open to an international dialogue. They want that dialogue. They want to learn from people who have had businesses and experience all over the globe, and they’re willing to deal with the benefits and the challenges that working in very multi-cultural groups bring.

Linda Abraham: Thank you. Mary, do you have anything to add to that? I think it’s a really important question.

Mary Ferreira: I think our candidates, like the person asking the question, might be based in one country, but they have virtual teams that are dotted around the world and interact with people from different cultures on a daily basis. That is certainly something relevant that should be included in a candidate’s essay when they’re telling their own story to us.

With the essay we’re looking for – as Karen referred to – people’s motivation for coming to London Business School specifically, an idea about why they want to make this MBA journey, but also telling their own story quite honestly and in as succinct a manner as possible.

Some people will have worked in multiple countries. They might have been educated in another country, but not everybody will have done that. If you’re working in virtual teams internationally, please tell us what that involves.

Obviously we do hope that people are going to be curious about working with other cultures, because we have, the current class, for example, we’ve got 66 different nationalities who’ve joined, so we want people who are willing to be quite flexible in who they work with. But don’t feel that you’ve got to make something up that you haven’t done.

Linda Abraham: That’s always good advice. Adit asks – "Can you tell us more about the 15-month program versus the two-year program?"

Karen Benge: Sure. The 15-, 18- and 21-month programs, for those of you who don’t know, our full-time MBA can be completed in one of those three durations. Students don’t need to know when they apply or even necessarily in the first year of their course which duration they’re going to complete in. It’s designed to give you an awful lot of flexibility. All the class comes through together through their first year, so everyone will do pretty much the same first year, no matter which program duration they choose.

The 15-month program is an accelerated MBA. However, that includes an internship should students choose to secure one, and it includes the same core course portfolio that our students doing the 21-month program get, so in terms of the number of courses that you’re doing, you’re getting a very good return on your investment in getting quite a lot completed within a very sort of short period of time.

There are trade-offs, of course. You can’t go on an international exchange program that we offer to 34 schools across the world. That’s not possible if you’re in the 15-month program. You may be a little more restricted in the electives you can choose in your second year.

We offer international business experience in the second year, which is a two-week trip overseas led by two members of the faculty to do a report on a company based in that country. We’ll run five of those trips. Again, if you’re completing in 15 months you may be a bit more restricted on which location you can go to.

That being said, there are some huge benefits to it as well. I think it compares very favorably to the other shorter MBA full-time options that are available.

The 18- and the 21-month program really give you sort of the benefits and the flip side of what I said about the 15-month program – the opportunity to go on exchange, to take on additional projects, to get very heavily involved in the over 70 clubs that we have on campus, to have a bit more flexibility about where you would go on your international business experience, to really get a bit more head space when it comes to reflecting on what you want to do after you graduate, to have more time to put into your preparation for getting a job after you graduate as well, to get your resume sorted, to be able to prepare for interviews and so on.

Some people even choose to set up a company in their second year as well. It gives you a lot more flexibility on the longer program. They’re both great options. It really comes down to what’s going to suit you best. As I said, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know that now. That’s the point of the flexibility of the program.

Mary Ferreira: I’ll just jump in for two seconds here. With Karen highlighting all that flexibility, people tend to find as they progress during the program how they set the pace. If their situation changes, they can decide ahead of time, "Actually, I do want to complete an 18-month rather than 15." Nothing is set in stone.

I’ve actually just returned from a week in North America where we had many of our current second-year students who are making the most of the flexibility of the program and are spending a term on exchange. It was great to see how they’re developing and really enjoying one of the flexible options, which is the chance to spend one term at another business school internationally.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. Payal Patel has just joined us. I want to share with you a little bit about her background. She’s an MBA student ambassador at London Business School and takes an active role in many of the student clubs and the wider London Business School community. Her student involvement includes participation in this year’s first London Business School TEDx event initiated by the student-led marketing club.

Payal’s academic background is in accounting and finance, and she worked with Alvarez & Marsal in Houston before joining the MBA program. Payal is about to start the second year of the 15-month London Business School program, having spent the summer doing internship work in asset management.

Payal, it’s nice to talk to you again. I believe I actually got to meet you when I was in London last December, correct?

Payal Patel: Yes. It’s good to speak to you again, Linda. Thank you for hosting this.

Linda Abraham: My pleasure. There was a question a few minutes ago before you joined about whether professors are incorporating the ongoing economic crisis into the classroom. I wonder if you could address that.

Payal Patel: In the classroom, professors are bringing it up as a topic. However, our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, so they’ve experienced the financial crisis firsthand working at the firms they’re at, so those experiences interact with class discussion, as well as the fact that our professors are also leaders in the financial services industry. Also they advise many regulatory agencies and advise financial firms and speak at the World Economic Forum, so those types of experiences are also brought to the classroom.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. Let’s go back to the questions here. Applicants, if you have any questions specifically for Payal about her experience as a student at London Business School, please submit them. Akash asks –"How do you compare the MBA in finance and the MSc in Finance?"

Mary Ferreira: The MBA is a general management program. If students take five elective classes linked to a particular subject area, then they can graduate with a concentration in finance, for example, or in marketing. But the program has a lot of flexibility, so they can also learn about areas such as marketing, entrepreneurship, and strategy.

The Masters in finance is a specialist degree program, and the majority of people undertaking that will continue with their entire careers in areas linked to financial services.

Linda Abraham: More of a technical number-crunching kind of degree?

Mary Ferreira: Yes. I should just add to that that Payal has just joined the second year of the program, so the classes that she is now taking in the classroom, there will not only be MBA students, but she is joined by students from our other degree programs such as the Masters in finance, Sloan fellowship program, which focuses on leadership and strategy, and the Executive MBA students.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. Payal, Emma asks – "What would you say has been a highlight so far in your MBA journey at London Business School?"

Payal Patel: That’s always a hard question to answer. I would say there are so many great things. The thing that I’ve benefited from the most has been the actual community. The peers, the professors, the administrative staff – we’re all just community and we’re all there to help each other share our experiences and learn from each other. The global reach of this community, in my opinion, is second to none.

I feel if I wanted to learn anything about any country, region, industry, or function, I am one or two connections away from being able to talk to the right person to help me, and we’re all there to help each other, so it’s just really incredible in that sense.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. AJ asks – "What percentage of students are going for a career change in a London Business School class?"

Karen Benge: 71% of our MBA 2010 class started with a completely different employer after graduation. We see roughly the same representation in terms of industry sectors that people are coming from as a class, and going to when they graduate, but I think there’s a lot of popping over between those, too.

Maybe Payal might like to give a couple of examples from her own feel for what her colleagues are sort of looking to do after they graduate, but I’d say a significant proportion, if not the majority, are looking for a career change, but as I mentioned earlier, people change their mind a lot when they’re doing an MBA so it’s a bit of a hard one to answer with a solid figure, I’m afraid.

Linda Abraham: I emphasize in my advising a lot the importance of having a goal when you’re applying to a school. You have to have direction. You have to have some idea of where you want to go in order to know if a school is right for you. The most common argument against my point of view is that everybody knows your goal is going to change while you’re in business school, so what does it matter? How would you respond to that? This could be for Payal as well as Mary and Karen.

Payal Patel: I’ll take a stab at that. I do agree with you in the fact that having a goal allows you to prioritize your efforts and focus during your two-year experience, and that will only increase your odds of achieving your goal.

However, when you get here I would say the counterpoint is you’re going to be exposed to many new ideas, many new people, and you’re forced to challenge yourself. Being in an environment like this may actually give you the courage to try out something new or think of something you haven’t thought of before.

I would say both of those end goals – either going down the paths that you set across, or changing your mind along the way – everyone gets to their end point at the end, so my advice to people is go in with a goal, but be open-minded enough so that you may not know exactly what you want to do afterwards.

Linda Abraham: Kind of like life! Mary or Karen, do you want to add to Payal’s answer, or should we move on to other questions, because we have quite a few.

Mary Ferreira: Let’s move on. I did just want to backtrack slightly. After this talk, Linda, we’ll give you a link because an earlier questioner had asked about Cleantech, and there is actually a fantastic competition that our students host and organize, along with students from UCL, which is another graduate school at the University of London, and several alumni businesses have actually been set up as a result of that competition. We’ll send you the link after this, because people might like to look at that area of Cleantech.

Linda Abraham: Okay, sounds good. There’s a question here from Mithun and he asks – "What is special about LBS in comparison with US top schools?"

I don’t think that’s really a fair question to ask you because you probably would say, "Different schools have different strengths. I’m not an expert on other schools. I’m an expert on London Business School," but Payal, I think it is fair to ask you why you chose to apply to London Business School and ultimately attend London Business School as opposed to other schools.

Payal Patel: Sure. I knew when I was applying that I wanted to have an international career. I wanted to go to a top-tier school, so that helped in my application process. London Business School caught my eye because of the diversity of the student population, as well as the faculty population.

We have a #1 ranking in the Financial Times for three consecutive years, and after visiting the school and meeting everyone I realized that this was the community that I would like to be associated with.

Linda Abraham: So you did your homework and felt it was a fit, right?

Payal Patel: Yes. I think most important decisions in life should be made based on the people, and coming here I felt there was a natural fit with everyone, and that was how I made my decision.

Linda Abraham: Thank you. Just going back to an admissions type of question for a second. AJ asks – "Does applying in round two or three affect admission chances in any way?"

Karen Benge: No. Generally speaking, competition is roughly equal across our first three rounds. We also have four rounds by which you can apply. The first three rounds are in October, January, and March. We would very much recommend if somebody feels they can put forward a stronger application at a later round, that they would do that rather than put forward a compromised application at an earlier round.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Sudhir asks – "Is articleship of 3 yrs in Indian Chartered Accountancy considered work experience?" I would assume it’s some kind of apprenticeship or what we in the United States call auditing. In the US, CPAs have to do two years of auditing even if they pass the exam.

Mary Ferreira: We’ll look at it, but we do want people to come in with full-time salaried professional experience.

Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. Adit asks for Payal – "Before starting your MBA, what was the career you were looking for post-MBA? What was your summer internship, and are your goals one year into the program still the same as they were when you started?"

Payal Patel: Prior to business school I worked at a restructuring firm, and going into business school my goal was to either start my own business or make a career switch into asset management. I was successful in that endeavor and worked at a large investment firm over the summer. It was an incredible experience and has given me confidence in my initial gut feeling that I wanted to pursue it.

Over the upcoming year I have a few interviews lined up with hedge funds. The school has been very gracious in helping me. My study group has been very influential in helping me in my career search as well, so I’m very optimistic about it.

Linda Abraham: Great. That’s wonderful. So you basically have pretty much continued in the path that you thought you wanted to go in before your MBA, right?

Payal Patel: Yes. One thing I realized through this experience was that I have a passion for entrepreneurship, and I have built a network here and gotten to learn from experiences of my classmates who are entrepreneurs. I may not be an entrepreneur directly after school, but I know I have the skills to pursue that at some point in my life.

Linda Abraham: Right, sounds good. Kevin asks again for Payal – "I understand that academics are the most important aspect of the LBS experience; hHowever, have you found difficulty in balancing academics with social life?" Karen and Mary before the Q&A began said you were one of those people who doesn’t recognize the need to sleep or that there are 24 hours in the day, so do you want to address Kevin’s question?

Payal Patel: Yes. The academic experience is quite rigorous, but very rewarding in terms of the caliber of the learning experience. Just diving into the academic experience, each student is given a study group, and these study groups are randomly assigned. I was in a group of seven individuals. We had representation from seven different countries, five different industries, and several different university experiences as well. They were a lifesaver my first year. This is the group of students that helped me study for tests. Half your grade in each of your core classes comes from group work or team work with your study group. So in terms of the classroom experience it is intense, but you have a study group who’s there to help you, and it’s an incredible learning experience.

Then outside of class I affectionately call it "the other education." We have a rich vibrant community. I forget the exact number, but it’s 60-70 clubs and we’re all very active.

One thing about London Business School students, I think it’s a characteristic, is we all want to give back. We all want to help each other and our school, so it’s a fun and rewarding experience in being able to give back, but also taking on leadership roles.

I think some of my closest friends have come from working with them in clubs. I’ve made contacts in various different industries, so I wouldn’t trade that for anything as well. As Mary and Karen said, I’m a very busy person, but I do not regret sleeping less at night.

Linda Abraham: So you feel you have maintained balance, just with a little less sleep, right?

Payal Patel: Yes, exactly, but I think that’s true for any grad school experience.

Linda Abraham: I’ve mentioned a couple times that I was at London Business School last December, and I actually met with Payal and with another at that time second-year student. Now he’s graduated. I was in the cafeteria or lunch room or student lounge, and the electricity and energy in that room was really something impressive.

As I was listening to you talk, Payal, about the clubs, I remember my conversation with you and with Richie, the other student – the way you talked about all the activities, the clubs, this opportunity and that opportunity. It was very impressive. One last question, and this comes from several different questioners, and then we’re going to wind up. "Is there a cap on the number of applicants from any nationality, especially from India?"

Mary Ferreira: We’re keen to receive as many applications from people as possible. Obviously, there’s a caveat that people have reflected quite carefully about when it’s going to be the right time for them in their personal situation and career to apply to business school. We look at candidates on an individual basis, and if we feel that a candidate has got potential, then we would invite them for a face-to-face interview. Everything depends on the motivation and the quality of the individual application.

Because we do a lot of marketing around the world, both online and face-to-face, we are fairly confident that we’ll receive applications from a very wide variety of geographies and industries, but the nationalities certainly differ year-on-year. One year we might have five Italians in a class, for example, and another year we might have 15. It depends on the context of the quality of the applicant pool within a given year. There are no quotas.

Linda Abraham: I want to thank you all for joining us. Thank you very much for your participation and your questions. I want to give special thanks to Karen, to Mary, and to Payal for their responses and their time.

If you have additional questions for the London Business School admissions team, please email them to mbainfo@london.edu.

We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. Coming up next:

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Once again, thank you to Mary, Karen, and Payal for joining us today. It’s been an excellent session. Many listeners are typing their thanks, and you’re most welcome. I just wanted to share that with you before we close. Best of luck to all the applicants that are here with your applications, and once again thank you to Karen, Mary, and Payal for joining us.

Mary Ferreira: Thank you very much for having us.

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