London Business School
Hometown: Inverness, Scotland
Undergraduate School and Major (Include Graduate School if Relevant):
Undergraduate – University of Aberdeen – Law
Graduate – University of Strathclyde – Masters in International Banking and Finance
Employers and Job Titles since Graduation:
Royal Bank of Scotland – Analyst
AIG – EMEA Strategy and M&A Associate
Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Firstly, it is incredibly important to understand the test. It has a particular structure and each section is looking for particular things. Understanding what it is that is being tested and why helps ensure you will be positioned for a good score. The GMAT was a bit of a mystery before I started researching it – understanding what the AWA, IR, Verbal and Quantitative sections each curtailed and how they were structured helped me utilize my preparation time more effectively.
I had a good review of the materials before undertaking any questions – especially the quantitative. Whilst fairly simple, I hadn’t looked or used some of it in many years and it was fairly rusty. Once comfortable with most of the syllabus, the test is really all about question practice. Find questions wherever you can. There are books and a few great forums.
I found practicing under exam conditions particularly useful – I got practice test software and sat a number of practice tests, ensuring I practiced effective timekeeping as well as keeping up energy for the whole test. The test is long and sitting there for three-and-a-half hours can be tiring!
Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? First, write out a 1, 5, 15 year plan.
Trying to write down where I wanted to be in my career in 1 year, 5 years, and even 15 years after an MBA helped me to understand what aspects of a business school were most important for me. Whilst the 15 -ear goals were a bit more vague and varied, it did allow me to see how my career might progress across that time horizon (which was actually particularly useful in the essays for applying to schools also!).
Once I had my plan, I identified the skills and qualities I wanted to develop at business school and what aspects of business schools would be most important. Then, I started to identify those that might provide such opportunities. For me, these things included: Good internship placements, flexible programme, diverse global network, language skills, and a strong emphasis on leadership! I identified these in London Business School and others, which allowed me to develop a short list of schools I wanted to apply to in the first round.
What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? I think preparation is the operative word. There is a lot to get ready for in submitting any application, let alone, multiple applications around the same time.
Try to get as much done as early as possible – especially the GMAT. It makes a difference if you know you have a competitive score before starting all the work of applying so get that done first! Also, identify recommenders early – get their agreement well in advance of application season and guide them on what the process is (many recommenders might not have been through the application process and seen how comprehensive it can be!), Then, keep up-to-date with them whilst going through the process so that they know when to prepare to write the recommendations. Also jog their memory on the work you have been undertaking that will be useful for them to talk about!
Finally, for the essays and interviews, really do get to know the school, Visit if possible (multiple times if you are very close by!), email alumni or current students, identify anyone in your firm who might be an alumni or been on exchange to the school, and attend MBA fairs on informational evenings. These will all provide nuggets of information that will help identify what is unique about each school. This will help you determine why it might be the school you want to go to, as well as help you describe in essays and interview why you will be a good fit for the school!
What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I wanted to get a top class MBA education and London Business School’s reputation is excellent (as one of the best in the world, let alone in Europe). I was particularly keen on doing a two year MBA to give myself a bit more time studying and doing an internship before deciding on what is the best next step in my career. In Europe most programmes are one year so London Business School started to rise to the top of my shortlist alongside some of the U.S. schools.
Where London Business School really excelled was in its diversity of the student base – with the vast majority of students coming from around the world with no dominant nationality. The experience that London Business School will offer in each class with so many different cultures and backgrounds is second-to-none as well as allowing the opportunity to build a truly global network with my classmates. I was also keen to improve my language skills. With language classes and so many international students it should be easy to practice them!
The final aspect that made me choose London Business School was the flexible programme – the second year will allow me the opportunity to undertake a couple of internships in different industry segments (having always worked in financial services) that will help my career prospects and allows me to really test whether the goals I have laid out will be right for me.
What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? First, like many other MBA students, I am very keen to build a diverse network with my classmates. The London Business School class is very global and being able to leverage contacts around the globe in the future will certainly help my career. But also it would be nice to hopefully have the opportunity to meet old friends for a meal no matter to what corner of the globe I’m travelling!
I would like to have developed my language skills – certainly to have ability for using in business, something I have neglected but would have found particularly useful in my career so far.
I’d like to have extended my leadership and other softer skills. Undertaking the MBA provides an excellent opportunity for self-reflection and undertaking some of the softer courses that could make the difference in my career in the future. Negotiation and Bargaining is one such course that I’m very keen to have undertaken in order to really develop those skill sets. If I can understand myself better – what makes me tick, how to get the best out of myself and then how to build and motivate an effective team – then the MBA will have been well worth it!
Finally, I’d also like to have undertaken a couple of internships in business areas that can enhance my CV and provide me experience that will help drive my career forward. Having spent the majority of my career so far in Corporate Strategy and M&A, these internships will provide varied experience and skills to leverage in my post MBA career and ensure I give myself the best opportunity to achieve my career goals.