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August 02, 2010

Q&A with London Business School MBA Class of 2011 Student

My former client Ryuhei, London Business School MBA Class of 2011, was kind enough to email me his answers to some questions I had about the program. After studying international political science at KEIO University, Ryuhei worked for NTT DOCOMO in the telecommunications sector in a number of roles. These included brand marketing, intellectual property management, and business development in Amsterdam, Athens, Bucharest, Sofia and Tokyo.
Adam: So what did you learn during your first year at LBS?
Ryuhei: Obviously I learned a lot of things! But here let me summarize them in the following three points;
First of all, I learned a lot about myself. Paying an expensive fee to an MBA program, and learning about yourself? I know it sounds like a joke, but what happens every day is that I always rediscover my own capability. In a business school, you interact with people from different countries with different backgrounds. They will give a fresh insight into your personality, and accordingly you will learn “ The New You.” In my case, I realize that I am good at organizing a big group and therefore I joined the Student Association to manage many student events.
You cannot experience this in the monotonous environment where the students’ profile is similar. In other words; you can only do this in such a highly diverse business school as London Business School, where 403 students came from 58 countries speaking 45 languages: non-UK represent approximately 90%. At London Business School, I daily enjoy my own voyage of discovery.
Secondly, I relearned teamwork. It is not that simple to read dynamics and quickly find one's place in the team. One could easily do so in the group of same nationality, but under multinational circumstance, that's a different story.
A skill to find a delicate balance in a diverse environment and change one’s role flexibly is necessarily required to manage the international business, and London Business School gives you great opportunities to develop your multinational teamwork skill.
I have been learning this daily in a study group, classes, clubs, and teams for business competitions: in some cases, I play a role in leading the team, while assuming a role as a specialist in other cases.
Finally, I well learned an importance of networking. Surprisingly “business is business” does not work, but rather “who knows whom” really matters in business. This does not mean that network is all you need to develop, but the personal connection, especially global connection if you pursue international business, is obviously a key success factor.
Given the school’s diverse student body and highly active interactions in the student community as in MBAT, Summer Ball, Treasure Hunt, Santa Claus Pub Crawl and etc., London Business School is one of the best places to build one's international network of contacts. Personally I benefited from the school’s network when finding a summer internship!!

Adam: What part of the program have you liked the most?
Ryuhei: I liked my entrepreneurship class the most.
London Business School is famous for finance. This is absolutely right. The school has many world-famous finance professors. London Business School, however, is also strong in other business areas, especially entrepreneurship.
Most of the entrepreneurship faculty are/were entrepreneurs or venture capitalists, and accordingly they have very strong network in the area. In the classes, the professors actually give us opportunities to pitch our business idea to real angels (investors). Furthermore if the idea is attractive, then the angels seriously consider investment to the students. This is very exciting! The school also prepares a special entrepreneurship summer school for those who seriously pursue building business during two years MBA. This course is very popular and there's often a waiting list.
Should you have preconceptions that London Business School is designed for only those who are into finance, please throw off the prejudices and check the website (English: http://www.london.edu/programmes/mba.html and Japanese: http://lbs-mba.jimdo.com/mba/). You will see that London Business School asserts its strong presence in many business areas including but not limited to finance!

Adam: What has surprised you the most about your LBS experience so far?
Ryuhei: I was surprised that London Business School is a powerhouse of talent. There is no wonder that the students have multinational business experiences. Also does the school have an army commander, Olympic athlete, doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur…you name it. This is just amazing! For Japanese students, please see http://lbs-mba.jimdo.com/japanese-students-profile/mba-students/.

Adam: How would you describe the culture of LBS?

Ryuhei: In a word, it is “initiative.” The school will give you tools and opportunities, but will not help you grab at those chances. You are the one who must initiate actions to seize the moment and deliver!!

Adam: Do you actually have any time for clubs? If so, which ones are you active in?

Ryuhei: Yes I do! I am extremely active in extracurricular activities.
I am a treasurer of the Student Association, and a vice president of Japan Interests Club. Also, I was a committee member of MBA Sports Tournament, MBAT. I strongly believe that half of the learning comes from the extracurricular activities and this is a great opportunity to try one’s leadership and teamwork skills,

Adam: I know you were one of the organizers of the Japan Trip 2010. How did it go? Why do non-Japanese want to come to Japan?

Ryuhei: It was great success!! For a while, people only talked about the Japan Trip on campus. I strongly believe that we could step up presence of Japanese students in London Business School. I would really like to thank the trip sponsors including Adam!!
Admittedly most participants are mainly interested in Japanese culture, but not in Japanese business. Given that Japan has achieved the status of a great nation with economic power and has a lot of world-class companies, I would like the fellow students to have more interest in Japanese business. I will do my best to further boost Japan’s presence in the school community through the class participation and the school events in my second year.
To see more details of the Japan Trip, please visit http://lbs-japan.jimdo.com.

Adam: You mentioned to me that you were running for election as officer for the Student Association. What does the Student Association do? Why do you want to be involved in running it?

Ryuhei: Student Association provides the students with a vehicle to voice their interests and concerns and to work with the faculty, administration and alumni to improve the experience of every student life at the school. Obviously this is singularly unique opportunity to prepare for taking influential leadership at multinational organization in my future career.
Before coming to the school, I have some international business experience, “but not in such a diverse setting.” At the very beginning of the school life, I was definitely not in a position where I could stand in front of hundreds of multinational students. However thanks to the study group fellows, classmates, and many friends I have worked with at the school, I gained a little bit of confidence, and decided to run for the election.
I would like to thank my fellow students who voted for me, and will do my very best to make student life even better.

Adam: Are there any common characteristics you find amongst your classmates?

Ryuhei: Honestly I cannot really find any. But if I have to, I would say that the students are hungry for change in a good sense.

Adam: How has the financial crisis impacted life at LBS?

Ryuhei: Given that one third of the students still applied for exchange programs, I do not think that the crisis is having so much impact on students’ lives.

Adam: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to LBS?

Ryuhei: I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Strong commitment: it seems that London Business School very much emphasizes applicants’ commitment. You should really, really, really show your strong will to study at London Business School in the essays and the interview.

  2. Fit: I recommend that you directly talk to the students and/or alumni and analyze whether you really fit to the school culture. If you think you fit, then sprinkle your essay with the “unofficial” information you collect for the appeal!! The more people you talked to, the better you will understand the school. I actually talked to four current students.

  3. Not too much focus on GMAT/TOEFL: the school equally emphasizes your business experience. Actually the GMAT score rages from 600 to 780 in MBA2011. To see Japanese student average/range score of GMAT/TOEFL, please see http://lbs-mba.jimdo.com/japanese-students-profile/mba-students/.

Adam: What are your favorite MBA related blogs (English or Japanese sites)?
Ryuhei: Please check the following three website to get more information of London Business School:
Japanese: http://lbs-mba.jimdo.com (London Business School Unofficial Site for Japanese Applicants and Recruiters) and http://london-twk.blogspot.com/ (経営コンサルタントのLondon留学)

Adam: Anything else you would like to tell us?

Ryuhei: Read my testimonial [See client admitted to LBS and Oxford at http://adammarkus.com/results.html#FALL_2009_Client_Results_and_Testimonials] about Adam! Good luck!!

I want to thank Ryuhei for taking the time to provide me with a very candid set of answers to my questions.

-Adam Markus
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