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June 02, 2011

Q&A with a Member of the LBS MBA Class of 2012

My former client, LBS2012, is Japanese. After working 8 years for a global IT company as an engineer and a management consultant, he joined the MBA program at the London Business School in August 2010.

Adam: What parts of the program have you liked the most? The least?

LBS2012: What I like most is that the program is extremely flexible. For students who do an internship in autumn, they are allowed not to take any lectures during the autumn term. I also know some students who have a part-time job. Instead, some students sometime choose to graduate early. MBA program at London Business School is not just lectures but also everything that you can do for your career.

One specific program that every student appreciates is exchange program. Every year about 30% students go abroad to study. Because London Business School has a good reputation and is located in UK, it has exchange programs with many US schools, European schools, Asian schools, and so on. This year 6 out of 11 Japanese students are going to different countries for the exchange program.

On the other hand, one specific program that I could not enjoy was the field trip. In the lecture of operations management, students are required to visit a factory in UK. (Land Rover, Jaguar etc.) There were a couple of things to learn but we have more sophisticated factories all over Europe. In fact, until last year, students visited some different countries. There is a strong feedback system in the school so I hope the students from next year get to travel to factories in other countries.

Adam: What has most surprised you about your first year?

LBS2012: A well-known fact is that London Business School is a diverse school. Nevertheless, I was surprised by the truly diverse environment. For example, my study group has a Mexican, an Indian, a Bulgarian, an Australian and an Icelander. (No American or British!) Their jobs were management consulting, hedge fund, financial consulting, lawyer, and government officer. Americans and Canadians are the single biggest group at LBS but they consist of only about 15% of the students.

Adam: How would you describe the culture of the business school?
LBS2012: The culture is truly student-oriented. Almost all the club activities, trips, parties, forums and any other except lectures are initiated by students. For example, there are countless student-oriented trips such as Japan trip, Portugal trip, Istanbul trip, Russia trip, Hong Kong career trek, France career trek, Africa micro finance trek and so on. I think this is the unique aspect of London Business School where people from different countries can make use of their uniqueness and take their own initiative.

Adam: Do you actually have any time for clubs? If so, which ones are you active in?
LBS2012: Yes. I have enough time doing non-academic activities such as clubs except when academic workload is high. I actively involve with basketball club and Japan club. Also I participated in consulting case competitions. I personally recommend everybody to join some competitions because it is a great chance to learn from your teammates and expand networks even outside schools. In my case, although we lost at the final, I got a chance to travel to Barcelona and met a lot of students from other MBA schools.

Adam: Are there any common characteristics you find amongst your classmates?
LBS2012: Background of students is extremely diverse, but most of them are generous to difference. One reason is that almost all the students have spent their life in different countries. Also they have a common high level educational background or career experience. Many of them graduated from the top universities in their countries or spend their career in prominent firms. (There are so many McKinsey consultants from European offices!) I also feel the career focus is somewhat similar. Many of the classmates will do internships at investment banks or consulting firms. (However, at the same time, there are other types of students who focus on social, entrepreneurship, energy industry.)

Adam: What is hot at your school right now?

LBS2012: In the past few weeks, MBAT was the hottest topic among students. We created LBS kits and over 200 students went to France for MBAT. This was simply a sports competition (plus party) but you can strongly feel the unity of the school. You can feel the atmosphere of MBAT at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqQ_ANeAiIQ.

Adam: Are there any changes coming to the school?
LBS2012: One change is that the Second year project will become an elective for graduation. I think the project is the great chance to utilize what we learn for the real business issues. However, this change rather increases the flexibility of the program so this will help students who commit their internships or graduate early.

Another change is regarding visa. Until recently, students who acquire UK master degrees are automatically allowed to get a temporary work permit. This change has been thought to reduce the attractiveness of London Business School compared with the top-tier US schools. However, for UK companies, the requirements to issue new work permits for graduate students coming from outside EU are mitigated. As a result, MBA students still have enough chance to work in London. (In fact, many students got internships from UK companies.)

Adam: What are you doing this summer?
LBS2012: Fortunately I got two internship offers from a top-tier investment bank and consulting firm. Both offices are in Tokyo. I am also looking for another chance to work in UK for the next autumn term.

Surprisingly, many Japanese students got internship offers from companies/organizations in UK or different countries. In Europe, London Business School has a good reputation and it is not very difficult to get a job compared with US. It is true that a chance to work in Europe is another attractiveness of the school.

Adam: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to your school?
LBS2012: One really important thing is commitment. Some misunderstand that London Business School does not require a strong commitment because it is a liberal school. However, the school culture is student-oriented. Therefore, the school requires the students who truly initiate something in the school. You need to keep showing why you want to be a member of the London Business School community at the initial application, interview, and any other chances to communicate with admission offices.

Adam: Are there any specific websites or blogs that you would recommend that applicants look at to learn more about your school?
LBS2012: I personally do not write any blogs but there are some Japanese students’ blogs that you can find at the Japanese student website, http://lbs-mba.jimdo.com/. The school also has its own student blog, http://blog.students.london.edu/. Also you can see some London Business School activities such as tattoo on Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EswoNWK5Hw0.

Adam: Anything else you would like to tell us?
LBS2012: London Business School is a really flexible business school. If you want to do something except the lectures, you can manage your time and start what you want. This also means that the school and the students provide you with an immense opportunity of exploring your career and enjoying your life at London. Also we are in London where amazing number of business opportunities, entertainment and chance to network exist. (In reality, weather, food and public services are not good though…) I feel that half of the attractiveness of London Business School comes from its location. If you like London, why do you choose going anywhere else?

I want to thank LBS2012 for taking the time to answer my questions.
-Adam Markus
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