Meet London Business School’s Class of 2019

Divya Babu 

London Business School 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less:  I’m an actuary, a social connector and collaborator, passionate about micro-insurance and financial inclusion.

Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa

Fun Fact About Yourself: I took jewelry classes for a year and learnt how to work with a variety of metals to melt, anneal,, drill and saw them into their final products. The classes were creatively challenging but something I’d definitely want to pick up again if I get a chance.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Business Science, majoring in Actuarial Science and Statistics at the University of Cape Town. I then went on to complete my professional actuarial qualification through the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: During my career, I’ve worked in a variety of traditional roles, such as technical actuarial valuations, and non-traditional roles on deal structuring of profit share arrangements and launching drought insurance for subsistence farmers in rural India and Zimbabwe.

The bulk of my work experience has been at Old Mutual Emerging Markets (OMEM), South Africa’s largest insurance company. Most recently, I was the executive assistant (chief of staff) to the CEO of OMEM – a challenging but deeply insightful role that exposed me to strategic decision-making and a variety of leadership styles amongst the executive management. This experience also played a crucial role in spurring my interest to pursue an MBA.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  While I can’t say that I have achieved large scale accomplishments in my limited career to date, I can recall a project that was deeply purposeful in my career and linked to my passion for micro-insurance and financial inclusion. Recently I worked with Blue Marble, a virtual team spanning eight leading global insurers, to launch a drought insurance product for subsistence farmers in Zimbabwe. The product leverages technology (in this case, satellite captured weather metrics) to automate payouts and drive down costs. We were also exploring how best to leverage social structures in the insurance arrangement, ultimately to reduce risk levels. The product launch was a challenging process for the team, but was ultimately successful and fueled my passion to actively pursue social enterprise initiatives focussed on financial inclusion.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? I would advise future business school applicants to view the application process as a critical opportunity to articulate, examine and interrogate your career ambitions thoroughly – and not view it as just another tick box exercise. As part of my application process, I had several close friends, family and colleagues painstakingly review my essays. Openly articulating your ambitions to another is an extremely vulnerable exercise in itself, but is also a beneficial first step ahead of executing on your ambitions and selecting the skillset and exposure you want at business school.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? While LBS has a number of heavyweight standout points such as its unique location or its flexible programme, the advantage of LBS is its astoundingly international class organically brought together through experiential learning. With over 90% of the class from outside the UK and over 70 nationalities in the class, the class is a melting pot of cultures from across the world. The average age of the class is 29 which is also slightly older than other schools. Often, those few extra years of depth in a field add to the discussion and insights shared within the classroom.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? Success, after a year, would involve a fair deal of introspection, personal growth, understanding what I bring to a team and how I can play to my strengths. This would undoubtedly result from actively engaging with the thriving and diverse community at LBS. The experiences over the coming year will bring a high degree of learning through collaboration, insights drawn from knowledge sharing and reflections from new experiences tackled together.

I also see success in the collective sense by creating a community through the friendships formed and through our time here together at LBS.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.