For many, mastering global markets and cultural etiquette means bouncing from one nation to the next – a jumbled, costly, and time-consuming path. At the London Business School, students can immerse themselves in 60 nations without ever leaving campus. Here, 90% of the class hails from outside the United Kingdom, making it a melting pot and an intercultural laboratory. The school boasts over 40,000 alumni from all corners of the world. Best of all, it is based in London, a diverse global hub where over 300 languages are spoken.
For the Class of 2019, a London locale with a cosmopolitan cohort was an unbeatable combination. Brady Dearden, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot from the U.S. Army, considers the next two years to be a chance to “learn first-hand more about the world’s many rich and diverse cultures.” At the same time, Amy Dobbin, an Australian political advisor, was drawn to the program’s “global outlook” and looks forward to “building friendships and networks from people all around the world.” At its heart, the London Business School is about understanding an issue from the widest array of international perspectives, a thought-provoking exercise where one study group may include members from five different continents.
“There is nothing more valuable than being able to test and challenge your ideas with a class of intelligent and driven classmates from such diverse professional and national backgrounds,” writes Claire Vassie, a Lloyds MBA Scholar and physician with Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Trust. “Building a global network is vital for anyone wanting a global career…London Business School truly offers this.”
The LBS experience is best summed up by Alana Digby, a 2017 grad and Best & Brightest MBA: “Having friends from all over let me travel the world without leaving Regent’s Park.”
THE SURGEON WHO FEARS NEEDLES
Like previous classes, the incoming first years are unquestionably global. Their alma maters include the University of Lagos, University of Sydney, University of Cape Town, U.S. Military Academy, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and Oxford. However, their backgrounds are equally diverse. The class features a plastic surgeon, a cancer researcher the head of an NGO, and the senior adviser to a prime minister – not to mention a chemical engineer turned award-winning shoe designer. “The average age of the class is 29,” adds Divya Babu, an actuary and jewelry designer, “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.”
This extra maturity won’t be the only aspect of the class that adds heft to classroom discussions. For one, the Class of 2019 isn’t afraid to parade their personalities. Allie Fleder, for one is a “Gay gringa with a passion for Latin America.” Amanda Morgan equates herself to a 19th century advertisement for barbed wire: “Lighter than air, stronger than whiskey but NOT cheaper than dust.” And Vishal Jha comes to campus with the perfect temperament for an MBA candidate: “I live by two questions ‘why?’ and ‘why not?’”
The class is happy to showcase their quirky sides as well. Fleder admits to playing the accordion – “Badly. So very, very badly.” Fabio Pucci windsurfs with his pooch…adding his dog is the more talented member of the duo. Robert Haigh maintains an offbeat annual tradition: “I surf on the freezing, British west coast every New Year’s Day.” If you’re looking for a rarity, ask Sergio Álvarez García-Peñuela, who wields a mean scalpel as a plastic surgeon, about needles. “I don’t like needles at all,” he confesses, “so drawing a blood sample from me becomes a bit of a circus.”
If you thought your GMAT test was stressful, your story probably pales in comparison to what Dolapo Adeyemi experienced. “I wrote the GMAT exam whilst 37.5 weeks pregnant with my second daughter! The coordinators at the examination centre had the ambulance on speed dial as they thought I would have the baby before finishing the exam!”
AUSTRALIAN FIRST YEAR HELPS ELECT A PRIME MINISTER
For a class steeped in diversity, it comes as little surprise that their biggest accomplishments were global in nature. At the Council of the Americas, Fleder boosted membership to the Young Professionals of the Americas network to 250 high potential leaders, including “leading young entrepreneurs, economists, and policy experts, as well as sons and daughters of Latin America’s magnates, prime ministers, and congresspersons.” Morgan brought the first KFC franchise to Myanmar (Burma) after a two year effort. In South Korea, Dearden gained first-hand knowledge of the barriers and blessings of intercultural teams when he commanded a 130 member company of American and Korean soldiers.
“In this mixed international setting, our team had the opportunity to work together on some complex training scenarios supporting US Army and Korean Army aviation missions,” he says. “To see two different cultures work seamlessly side by side and accomplish some tough tasks was a tremendous feeling for all involved.”
Dearden wasn’t the only member of the 2019 Class to come to campus exhilarated. As a senior adviser to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Dobbin helped develop messaging and policies that enabled him to be re-elected in 2016 – including a $49 billion dollar effort to build the nation’s National Broadband Network. Not to be outdone, Pucci headed a breast cancer research effort that included 19 scientists in eight labs spanning three countries. In the process, the team pinpointed a group of cancer cells that fueled tumor growth. “When we killed specifically these cells, the tumor progression drastically reduced,” he shares “This study could open the way to new therapeutic approaches for some types of breast cancer.”
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN RISES 4%
The past year has been kind to the London Business School in terms of rankings and graduate pay. In October, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the school #1 overall among international MBA programs. Notably, LBS finished 2nd in the employer survey and 4th in the student survey, while also ranking 2nd in pay and 3rd in job placement. It was also a banner year for the Class of 2016 – the last graduating class to report its employment data. Overall, the class earned mean base pay of $121,295 in international dollars, with 94% accepting job offers in 40 countries within three months of graduation. Overall, 35% of the class entered consulting, followed by 25% heading to finance and 21% choosing technology. Like many MBA programs, BCG, McKinsey, and Bain ranked as the top three consumers of LBS talent, with Amazon, Google, and Expedia comprising the second tier.
In the 2016-2017 cycle, the London Business School received 2,740 applications, accepting 685 candidates for an acceptance rate of 25%. Such numbers were on par with American counterparts like Chicago Booth, Virginia Darden, and Michigan Ross. The 432-member class also produced a 708 GMAT average, just a point shy of the previous class’ performance, with scores ranging from 600-780.
The big news, however, involves the recruitment of women. The 2019 Class features 39% women, up four points from the previous year. The ‘BREXIT Effect’ also failed to materialize in the 2019 Class. During the 2015-2016 cycle, 96% of the applications received by LBS came from outside the United Kingdom – with the class ultimately being comprised of 91% international students. In the 2016-2017 cycle, those numbers were a near identical 96% and 90% respectively – though the number of countries represented in the 2019 Class slipped from 65 to 62.