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August 16, 2009

Q&A with London Business School MBA Class of 2010 Student

My former client Yoshi Komada, London Business School MBA Class of 2010, was kind enough to email me his answers to some questions I had about the program. Prior to attending London Business School, he worked in financial, consulting and business development roles, including two years in the mergers and acquisitions department of a major securities company. A graduate of Middlebury College, he has lived between Japan and the US and speaks fluent English, Japanese, and Spanish.

I think my readers will find Yoshi's critical perspective on LBS to be enlightening.
ADAM: So what did you learn during your first year at LBS?

YOSHI: I think that business school teaches different things to different people, depending on your personal and professional background. For most of the year, I was disappointed with the academics since I felt like I was not learning anything new. This changed the 3rd (last) semester, and after my internship where I realized that operations management, marketing and managerial accounting were immensely important classes where I did learn valuable things.
Business school claims to teach things like “leadership” and “entrepreneurship”. There are some valiant attempts at this, but in the end I think that they fail. These are things that you just can’t teach. What B-school does give a lot of people, however, is confidence. I came in here with an immense amount of confidence, so was not such a beneficiary. What I did uncover were certain of my weaknesses and a more concrete sense of how my career relates to my personal values. This came from trying to resist the herd mentality in B-school, succumbing to it for a bit, and then finding a comfort zone for myself.
Overall, it was worth it the first year, but I have to take a step back to see the immediate benefits. Hopefully they will last.
ADAM: What part of the program have you liked the most? The least?
Most: social life and living in a new city, as well as classroom debate. There is also quite a bit of flexibility your second year. Following my summer project and previous experience, I am planning on continuing with independent consulting on Asia and Japan market entry this term.
Least: LBS is great because people are supportive, and it does not have that cutthroat cowboy-American mentality that one finds in business stateside. I think a downside of this is reflected in the fact that the classroom dynamics are less intense: less debate, dissent, disagreement and discussion that I had in college and than I would expect from people in business.
ADAM: How would you describe the culture of LBS?
International- the Americans who come here are a self-selecting bunch: many speak another language or have a broader worldview.
Friendly- not cutthroat competition
ADAM: Do you actually have any time for clubs? If so, which ones are you active in?
YOSHI: I played rugby for a while; I enjoyed the sport but lots of the guys in the club have this frat house mentality which gets old after a while.
I am president of the Turnaround Management Club. I am also involved in Japan Interests Club- main activity is planning the Japan trip each year.
ADAM: Are there any common characteristics you find amongst your classmates?
YOSHI: Many are kind of in a middle ground. Not the kind of people with whom you can talk about Turgenev or Andy Warhol, but also not the type that spend all waking hours living or discussing about whatever professional goals they have. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing.
ADAM: How has the financial crisis impacted life at LBS?
YOSHI: Recruiting is down, and this is the most noticeable thing. The dollar tanked as soon as I got here, so it was much cheaper for a while; its stabilized now.
ADAM: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to LBS?
YOSHI: Come to LBS if you want a different experience from the US and are immune to depressing weather.
ADAM: What are your favorite MBA related blogs (English or Japanese sites)?
YOSHI: God, that was so long ago. I remember the only one I used was manhattanGMAT, beatthegmat.com and a couple of the essay sites (including yours).
I want to thank Yoshi for taking the time to provide me with a very candid set of answers to my questions.
-Adam Markus
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