Meet London Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Aerial view of the London Business School

This news also comes on the heels of a stellar employment report for the Class of 2017. Despite the supposed threat from Brexit, the school reported a 94% placement rate for students within three months of graduation. Adding to a stellar year, base pay rose from €77,693 to €79,866 ($92,400). By the same token, other guaranteed compensation jumped over 20% to €34,894. While LBS has the reputation of a finance school, it has become a AAA talent development outpost for consulting firms, with McKinsey (37), the Boston Consulting Group (36), and Bain & Company (35) landing the most talent from the 2017 Class.


Beyond the input and output numbers, London Business School is as healthy as ever. In the 2017 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking, LBS finished 2nd to INSEAD among international schools, while placing 2nd as well in the employer satisfaction survey. Similarly, the program ranked 4th in the world according to The Financial Times, including being the 5th most-recommended program by students and alumni. One reason? LBS offers a flexibility unmatched in the business school universe. Here, students can set the length of their full-time program from 15 to 21 months. In other words, LBS students are given an exit point to start work earlier with lower cost – all without losing the opportunities for networking, internships, and community in a two year program.

That community will come in handy. Overall, the Class of 2020 can tap into 42,000 alumni, who operate out of 150 countries. That doesn’t even count the 162 faculty members who come from nearly 30 countries. It is an international experience, par excellence – one that also boasts some unexpected benefits too, says Margaret Millea Walsh, who worked in consulting with Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience.

“My husband and I wanted the added challenge and adventure of the global experience. It’s easy and tempting for us to take a U.S. centric perspective to business, but it’s not only fair, but also practical, to understand cultural and political situations globally. It’s also a personal challenge to be in a different country. Just figuring out the washing machine took us some time.”


London Business School students
Photo by S. Burnett

A different country? London can seem that way sometimes. Let’s just say calling London “cosmopolitan” would be an understatement. Home to 250 nationalities and 300 languages, London is an experiment in diversity at the largest possible scale. More than that, it is a cultural, recreational, and business hub. In fact, London features over 240 museums and 100 art galleries, with over a third of city land devoted to parks. At the same time, it is the headquarters for nearly a quarter of Europe’s 500 largest firms, with 75% of Fortune 500 firms maintaining offices within greater London. It also ranks with New York City as the world’s center of banking, accounting for nearly 40% of all foreign exchange trading.

For Tyler Hayes, London was a place where he could stay current professionally, considering the cutting edge life sciences and biotech research being conducted in nearby Oxford and Cambridge – not to mention the wealth of global pharmaceutical powerhouses headquartered nearby. However, it was the “cultural richness” of the city that truly sold him. “I love that I can walk one mile and be in a new neighborhood with a totally different architecture and ethnic makeup, and all of the sounds, smells and, most importantly, tastes that come with it!”

That makes the London Business School a complementary spirit to “The City,” says Nikki Gupta.

“In one day of classes at LBS,” she writes, “I meet far more nationalities than I would anywhere else in the city of London. All the stereotypes of Londoners being grumpy, reserved, and always in a rush do not apply to the day-to-day at LBS. Instead you get the perfect marriage – London’s location, influence and buzz combined with LBS’s warmth and almost refreshingly friendly presence.”


London’s business prowess has also sparked an entrepreneurial explosion. In 2017 alone, the city chalked up 145,993 startups, with recent additions like Revolut and Deliveroo already reaching billion dollar valuations. LBS has broadened its curriculum to amplify these location advantages. Stephanus Wicardo was sold on the deep roster of entrepreneurial-themed electives and an entrepreneurship summer school. For her part, Nikki Gupta, who has already co-run a startup, LBS was the place to truly experience the “day-to-day” of startups “in a grass roots manner.”

“I want to work in education technology – and I already have my next month booked up with peer leader sessions with alumni in technology, presentations from Amazon and Google and multiple coffees with experts who work minutes from the school at the offices of Microsoft and Pi-top,” she shares. “David Morris who heads up careers in technology, could barely fit the possibilities into his presentation to us [at orientation]. There was one common thread to his message: If you want to work in technology, London is the place to be. The sheer number of incubators, meetups, VCs, hackathons and workshops just minutes away from school mean you can literally get your foot through the door and ask for internships.”

David Simpson heads up MBA admissions at the London Business School

That said, the development inside London Business School are nearly as dynamic as the hyped-up, non-stop, get-ahead ethos of the London outside its doors. Not content to rest on its laurels, LBS has been conducting program reviews for its Masters in Finance and Masters in Management programs, according to David Simpson. This is an outgrowth of the MBA’s new ‘Tailored Core’ program, a flexibility-driven structure designed so students can customize the second term based on their interests and needs. This includes the LondonCAP module, which taps into London’s dizzying business ecosystem. Here, students can immediately apply what they learn in projects with London-based institutions ranging from Amazon to the Bank of England to the British Fashion Council.

The same is true for the Global Business Experience (GBE), considered by many alumni to be a life-changing experience. The international version of LondonCAP, GBE enables students to travel overseas and complete projects on behalf of employers, gaining both cultural understanding and practical experience in the process. This year, Simpson notes, the school has added Brazil to a stacked roster that already includes India, China, Israel, Peru, South Africa, and Myanmar. Jacob Applebaum, for one, can’t wait for it to start. “Exploring the business environment and challenges in another part of the world will be a great opportunity to further broaden my horizons and apply classroom learning to real scenarios.”


Even more, the school is investing more heavily in electives. That includes Dan Cable’s Employee Engagement and Positive Portfolio – an extension of his acclaimed Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do. Located in a fashion capital, LBS is also bulking up in fashion-related offerings. This includes Luxury Strategy, a new course led by Professors Stefano Turconi and Dominic Houlder. “Our Retail and Luxury Goods Club is one of the fastest growing student professional clubs in LBS,” says Simpson. “Our Luxury Management Development Programme in collaboration with Walpole, the organisation that represents British Luxury, is proving to be a very popular option.”

Like many top business schools, LBS is also pouring heavy resources into analytics – and for good reason. In a 2018 interview with P&Q, Gareth Howells, executive director of the school’s MBA and MiF programs, sounded the alarm on the urgency of mastering analytics for MBA graduates.

“Analytics is transforming the way the world does business. We need students who are going to be adaptable, who are going to be agile, and be able to be comfortable with ambiguity. What we want to do is give them those tool and frameworks with which to manage ambiguous situations, get their hands round the data, but go that next step — turn that insight that they gain from data into business transformations and genuine business action and improvement.”

London Business School

To capitalize on this opportunity, Simpson notes that LBS is “mainstreaming” analytics across the curriculum. “We aim to lead the way on closing the growing gap between analytics and management,” he explains. “Firms are amassing big data in ever increasing volume, government is increasingly concerned with how we protect it, but maximising its potential is the biggest question. This takes talented managers schooled in the philosophy of experimentation, who are able to translate the results of big data into compelling strategy that shareholders will buy into…[Along with] the obvious data analytics elements, students will be working on Data Visualisation and Storytelling, Decision Technology and Managing a Digital Organisation. A live company-based project is another critical component, leveraging our London location and building our students’ experiences.”


These new degree programs, courses, and opportunities, Simpson adds, are courtesy of something more fundamental: funding and growth. “Following a very successful £125 million fundraising campaign, we opened our Sammy Ofer Centre, increasing our teaching space by 70% and giving students a magnificent environment for learning in our central London location. We have responded to ever-increasing demands for our talent from recruiters by growing student numbers on our MBA, Masters in Management and Masters in Financial Analysis programmes and have record student employment levels.”

Looking ahead, what does the Class of 2020 hope to accomplish? Dr. Faheem Ahmed is looking to gain better understand of the business of healthcare, so he can pair it with this medical experience to “design and lead high-impact programmes.” Similarly, Stephanus Wiardo plans to channel his inner Muhammad Yunus and bring affordable financial services back to Indonesia. And if all goes to plan, says David Tshulak, he’ll “be in a role that I love, still living in Walthamstow (East London), just swapping my casual media wardrobe for slightly smarter attire.”

For Gupta, a successful career after LBS involves something far less grand, yet lies at the heart of what every member of the Class of 2020 seeks: “Working with great people, on a great product that makes work not feel like work at all.”

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates. 


Students Hometown Alma Mater Hometown
Dr. Faheem Ahmed London, UK King’s College London NHS England
Priyanka Ahuja Bhilai, India VTU, India Uber
Jacob Appelbaum Shrewsbury, MA Dartmouth College Marshall Islands Mariculture Farm
Andrea (Andi) Frkovich Dana Point, CA Duke University U.S. Navy
Nikki Gupta London, UK University College London
Tyler Hayes Allenhurst, NJ Duke University Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Gabriela M. Kestler Guatemala City, Guatemala Universidad Francisco Marroquin Guatemala The Kellogg Company
Audrey Koh Singapore National University of Singapore foodpanda
Margaret Millea Walsh Cincinnati, OH University of Notre Dame Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience
Karthik Rathinasabapathy London, UK Imperial College Harris Federation
Nasi Rwigema Johannesburg, South Africa University of the Witwatersrand Solafrica Energy
David Tshulak London, UK Durham University Big Content
Stephanus Wicardo Jakarta, Indonesia University of Indonesia President’s Advisory Board – Republic of Indonesia


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