2017 Best MBAs: Julia Paykin, London Business School

Julia Paykin

London Business School

“Russian-Canadian engineer, restless world explorer, passionate female empowerment advocate, with a strong appetite for innovation.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I am helicopter-crash certified after escaping a simulated submerged helicopter four times, despite my strong fear of drowning.

Undergraduate School and Degree: McGill University, Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, Minor in Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Drilling & Measurements Field Engineer at Schlumberger in North Eastern Siberia and somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean (eastern Canada side)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? McKinsey, London

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey, London

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • MBA student ambassador for London Business School
  • Social Representative for Stream D
  • Treasurer for the Women’s Touch Rugby club
  • Head of Professional Development for Women in Business club
  • Winner of Women of the Future- MBA Star Award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Putting my learnings from countless hours preparing for recruiting into good use, I created the content and led a cover letter and CV workshop at a local women’s shelter. It was a humbling experience. I mentored a Russian woman who had spent 30 years working in finance and somehow ended up in a downturn in her life. The workshop was a huge success, receiving very positive feedback from the both the students and the participants. We managed to establish a long-term relationship with the LBS Women’s Touch Rugby club and the shelter, putting forward a strong female role model taskforce and support for the charity.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? After making the difficult decision to leave the city behind and become a field engineer in Siberia, plunging head first in a predominantly male environment, I realized upon my arrival that my career path would be more difficult than was advertised. International employees were not kept in East Siberia for longer than a year, and completing the three-year field career program in time would prove to be a challenge in my particular assignment location. Disappointed, but not defeated, I persevered and kept communication lines open with my supervisor and my staffing manager about my career objectives and progression. I piloted my own projects to help improve the business and won the Russia and Central Asia award for best field engineer project. Eventually, I stayed in Siberia for three years until I was called back to Canada and obtained my field program in record time.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Alex Edmans. He managed to make Corporate Finance interesting both for the CFA’s in our class and for beginners like myself. This is a true talent.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course to-date was Paths to Power. The biggest insight I took away from the class was understanding how to influence without having any power. Learning about how others’ perception of you influences how you perceive yourself, which in turn, influences your own behavior. It was a unique self-reflection opportunity.

Why did you choose this business school? As a career changer, I knew I wanted a top-tier two-year program. London Business School’s high rankings led me straight to it. As soon as I read about the school and its values, I knew that LBS was my top choice. The main reasons I chose LBS were the diversity of the student body, its location in a metropolitan city and the flexibility of the program. Having grown up in a diverse city like Montreal, I prefer an environment in which I am surrounded by people who are different from me. LBS’s diverse student body and London’s global melting pot of nationalities gave me just that. I also appreciated the fact that I could design my second year to my liking. I have now managed to do a second internship at a startup, go on exchange in Hong Kong and I may do a third internship in the last term.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was surprised to see how much learning happens outside the classroom. I would say half of my MBA learnings came from discussions with my peers, various events, conferences and workshops.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?

  • Get to know London Business School and understand why you would want to go there. Research the website and reach out to current students and alumni. It will help you get a perspective on what makes the school different.
  • Focus your application on your achievements, and try to avoid using many job description sounding sentences. Reflect on what makes you different from anyone else doing the same job as you.
  • Don’t be afraid to include personal achievements or interesting characteristics about yourself. It’s nice to show that you are a well-rounded person.

 What was your biggest regret in business school? One thing I could have done better was ask even more advice from the second years. They have been through everything that you are about to go through, and contrary to how bothersome you may feel when asking for help, they are actually happy to give their advice.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Winnie Fuchs. For her tenacity, admirable balance between honesty and kindness, and her ability to form relationships, making every single person around her feel special on a daily basis. I learn from her every day.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I was missing some of the business knowledge required to be able to fully impact, and one day, run an organization.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… progressing in line management at Schlumberger, doing rotations in different functions of the organization in order to understand how it runs.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would attempt to group students through events, case competitions, etc. outside of their social circles and daily classroom exposure. Often, we miss the opportunity to meet and interact with a classmate who could have become a close colleague or friend. I tested this theory when I organized small social dinners, handpicking people that were not acquainted with each other to lead and attend the dinners. Some of these resulted in close friendships that would perhaps not have happened otherwise.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? When I think about my dream job, I think of two things: responsibility and impact. I would like a challenging career where I feel that I make an impact. I have yet to decide on whether this will be rising in the ranks of consulting or starting my own company. I am open to all possibilities.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my fiancé, Jorge Puente de la Vega. He empowers me every day to be the best version of myself, both personally and professionally, and gives me the courage to pursue things I never thought I was capable of.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Kind, smart, fun and loyal.

Favorite book: Failing Forward, by John C. Maxwell

Favorite movie or television show: Life is Beautiful

Favorite musical performer: Adele

Favorite vacation spot: Philippines

Hobbies? Travel (with friends or by myself), cooking/trying new foods, Salsa dancing, painting, hiking, playing touch rugby

What made Julia such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

Julia has been a huge contributor to campus life. Her positive community-focused approach to life as an MBA is exactly what we are looking for. I think a key strength is how she has helped classmates develop their dreams.

Julia is one of our star Student Ambassadors, playing a pivotal role in all activity for new admits.”

David Simpson

Admissions Director


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