London has long been known as the business capital of Europe. By some measures, it has surpassed New York City as the world’s financial center. But that’s only part of the story. Beyond the sparkling skyscrapers in the Square Mile and Canary Wharf, you’ll find Tech City, a swath of start-ups and incubators in East London that serves as Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley. Plus, London continues to reign as a world destination for culture, media, tourism, and trade.
Indeed, London has something for everyone. Not surprisingly, the London Business School mirrors its diverse and dynamic setting. Ranked among the world’s top business schools, LBS (as it’s known) is renowned for attracting some of the world’s most talented professionals to its ranks. The Class of 2018 is no different. This year’s 425-member class boasts students from 65 countries, including Pakistan, Peru, Myanmar, and Nigeria. In fact, 91% of its students hail from outside the United Kingdom, giving the LBS experience an international flavour that few schools can match.
BANKERS WHO ROCK AND ENGINEERS WHO ROLL
Professionally, the class includes Edward Adlard, an Indie rocker who became a banker and entrepreneur. Contrast that with Brandon Lew, a U.S. Army officer with a passion for clean tech who describes himself as a “can’t sit still, sarcastic prankster who just wants to understand why the sky is blue.” They are joined by Ellie Stoneham, who studied geography at Oxford before closing $100 million dollar deals as head of African retail at BlackRock Investment Management. Not to be outdone in the finance sector, Adesoji Solanke was named as Africa’s top equity analyst by the Financial Mail in both 2015 and 2016.
Shall we go on? Nick McClish, a buyer for legendary firms like Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys, was listed among Vogue’s “Best Dressed Men” in 2015. Looking for a student destined to make an impact? Keep an eye out for Aastha Pitalia, a self-described “engineer-turned-political reformer” who headed policy and new initiatives for Supriya Sule, a member of the Indian parliament and daughter of the President of the Nationalist Congress Party. However, few can compare to the adventurous spirit of Taha Dar, an engineer who drove his motorcycle from the UK to Mongolia — 10,000 miles — in just five weeks.
“Every year we have great cultural and professional diversity in the class,” says David Simpson, the school’s MBA Admissions Director. “This year is no different in that way. We continue to have a large number of engineers, consultants, bankers and other finance professionals, but we also have a huge range of people from very different and unique backgrounds. There are some extremely interesting individual stories!”
SCHOOL SEEKS PASSIONATE PROFESSIONALS “DESPERATE” TO SHARE THEIR INTERESTS
Ximena Galvez is one such story. A Peru native and Wharton grad, Galvez recalls her difficult-yet-exhilarating climb in finance, which included earning a CFA at 25 and her former firm’s fastest-ever promotion to vice president. “Working in the intense world of finance as a woman has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she says. “I remember attending investor meetings where I was the only woman, only person under 30 years old, and only minority in the room. To me, these were all opportunities to demonstrate my drive and ability to excel in such competitive environments.”
Pitalia enjoyed a similar triumph, stoking innovation by launching a social incubation center in her rural constituency and personally coaching several aspiring entrepreneurs. “Within six months of start, we incubated two business ideas, a smokeless stove built by women in a particular village, and a school bag that could be converted into a desk to overcome poor infrastructure problems in village schools. We also trained local talent empowering them with ideas, resources and basics in commercializing and launching such businesses.”
That said, Simpson adds that such students are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the 2018 class’ global, professional, and cultural diversity. “We have students who have saved lives as doctors in hospitals around the world, improved people’s lives by working on social initiatives for politicians, worked on green entrepreneurship in Africa, run shipyards in India and started their own successful advertising agencies. We recruit people who are passionate about something…and are desperate to share it and involve others.”
HEADY TIMES AS LBS ADDS A NEW DEAN…AND NEARLY DOUBLES ITS CLASSROOM SPACE
Statistically, the incoming class brings a 709 average GMAT to the table, up eight points from the previous class. This is roughly the same neighbourhood as the University of Virginia (712) and New York University (710), but higher than European counterparts like Cambridge Judge (690), IESE Business School (690), HEC Paris (689), and IE Business School (680). The overall range of GMAT scores ran from 600-790 as well. Women also accounted for 35% of the school population, a 2% drop that put the school on par with full-time MBA programs like Georgetown, Duke, and NYU. The school declined to provide thenumber of applications it received or the number of students it accepted, along with the undergraduate majors or previous industries of the incoming class. Last year, consulting comprised the largest segment of the class at 29%. The average age of the 2018 Class was 28, with students possessing five years of work experience before enrolling.
The uptick in GMAT scores also corresponds to other big news at the school. Earlier this year, for example, LBS reported that salaries for the Class of 2015 had risen 7.5% to $117,596 over the previous year, with one graduate pulling down $219,786 to start. The school also bested its fund-raising goal of $177 million dollars a full two years early. In the process, LBS will be funding 800 scholarships, along with adding three new research centers and earmarking $4 million dollars for technology upgrades. First years will soon be taking classes in Sammy Ofer Centre after a $50 million dollar facelift, enabling the school to boost its teaching space by 70%. Last, but not least, LBS boasts a new leader in François Ortalo-Magné, an pioneering dean best known for his KDBIN (Knowing, doing, being, inspiring, and networking) framework at the University of Wisconsin.
Despite these developments, if you asked the Class of 2018 to share why they chose LBS, you are likely to get one of three answers: flexibility global experience, and location. Unlike most full-time overseas MBA programs, LBS offers a two year MBA curriculum. This setup frees students to take deeper dives into subject areas, a key for a school where nearly 100% of students complete internships. However, the two-year approach, with students able to exit at 15 or 18 months, features additional benefits, says Simpson. “It also gives students the time to really get to know their classmates and other students from across the school, fostering greater collaboration and richer networks. We recruit students who really value sharing ideas and experiences with students from all around the world.”