London Business School Dean Andrew Likierman On Key Challenges

‘BE AWARE THAT THINGS DON’T ALWAYS GO UP’

“First, make sure to make choices that give you flexibility. I studied politics, philosophy and economics in college, and was determined to get an additional qualification with flexibility in mind: accounting. Today I would recommend people to get an MBA, but back then (the early 70s in Europe, red) accounting was the established option to give flexibility.”

“Second, be aware that things don’t always go up. When I started my career, there was a crisis too: one of the major oil shocks that disrupted the economy. That’s when I learned that what goes up can also come down. My personal savings were affected as well. I was really exposed, and it was a shock. But it was good learning, and everyone needs such an experience to understand this very important lesson.”

“Third, get as much exposure to other cultures as you can. It will help you move between different sectors and countries, as you have a more open mindset. When I was young, I ran a textile plant in Germany, and that was a fantastic experience. I learned there about how people in different cultures will think differently, and that in dealing with people, you can’t simply copy-paste your assumptions of how business relations work. That was really interesting.”

“And finally, understand the importance of communication. You can have brilliant ideas, but you cannot do anything with them unless you communicate them well. Early in my career as accountant, I saw that certain people were really good, better than me, but that because they couldn’t communicate well, they didn’t advance in their career. It’s one of the things I still hold dear at LBS: that here you have a safe learning environment to learn such things. It’s much better to make a mess of a presentation here than later in your career in front of a crucial client.”

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About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.