Nikki Gupta, originally from India, grew up in Saudi Arabia and London before starting her MBA at London Business School. She is a new recruit into the 2020 class and will be sharing snippets of her day to day on what it’s like to have a London MBA experience.
It was discussed at every admissions session. I knew it was a big advantage. Studying in London meant being part of the city’s business pulse. The head offices of global corporations would be right at my doorstep. With the culture and nightlife, I knew that I’d rarely be bored. Best of all, I could grab an easy flight to pretty much anywhere in the world.
Yes, I knew all of that in general terms. I just didn’t know the specifics. As I weighed whether to enroll at London Business School, there were so many questions rattling around in my head. Was London going to offer the same advantage for everyone? How would I benefit with my atypical post LBS ambitions of working in EdTech? How would London be different for me, given I have already lived here for 15 years?
These were big questions during the application process. Admittedly, I was teetering on making a different choice. In the end, I chose London Business School…and London itself. Here’s how I know that I made the right decision.
London Has Endless Internship Possibilities
I knew that my passion of EdTech was considered niche going into business school. But I had an intuition that being in a big city would allow me to explore it. The specifics of how that would pan out, however, were uncertain. My ‘big city intuition’ was validated when I managed to secure both my full-time and secondary part-time internships in November – both at leading EdTech organisations headquartered in London.
I say this not in hubris, but with a real sense of relief that I’d chosen London for my MBA. I found these roles by reaching out to people on LinkedIn and requesting meetings for career advice. I’ll be honest: it took a few follow ups before I was able to get them on a call (People were generally too busy for in person meetings).
These phone conversations were very constructive. I listened carefully and made notes. They’d recommend books to read on organisational culture, sprints, and technology. They pointed to meetup groups such as ProductTank and Product Group for me to network. I hadn’t even posed the internship question yet!
I persevered and followed up for in-person meetings and met with them a few weeks later. These meetings were a twenty minute Tube ride away from school. I went between lectures and spent evenings at technology meetups. Having worked on what I wanted, I popped the internship question and got a yes.
London and LBS allowed me to make this happen. These two are a magical combination of possibilities.
It is hard to be bored in London. My flatmate plays the Ukulele with a group on Wednesdays in the city. I’ve started classes on mindfulness to create space of self-reflection. One of our professors took groups of students to Barry’s bootcamp on several Saturdays to encourage health and wellness. LBS is located a stone’s throw from these and many more delightful opportunities such as vintage clothes sales, antique fairs, fireworks shows and cheese making classes (my personal favourite).
Professional events attract an impressive audience too. I spent my Monday this week at the London Educate Demo Day, where EdTech startups pitched for investment in front of an audience of hundreds. This took place at City Hall, an awe-inspiring building of glass and stainless steel overlooking the Thames. I heard speeches from the deputy mayor of London and VC companies that had come to sniff out the next best EdTech idea in London. I met founders of companies that I found fascinating. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.
LBS events also serve as hotspots for great introductions. One of the speakers at an LBS conference was the CEO of a Social Impact Accelerator. Having met him on campus, I reached out to him and met his team at their offices. After I expressed an interest, I was invited to team meetings every other week where I learned more about the ground level problems that these pre-investment companies were facing.
With LBS behind me, I felt I could add value too during these visits. I worked to secure consulting projects for the social impact startups at the accelerator so they could get some top quality strategic input from MBA students as part of a pro bono consulting program at LBS!
Connections are built, not made overnight. Being in London means that introductions and networking are not surface level activities. You can grab a coffee with the startup founder you met on campus a few weeks later; you can meet the CEO of that amazing social impact VC company and ask to learn from his team; and you can even just ask your future boss if you could do your summer internship at their very cool EdTech company. It is not just within reach; it is inherent to how this remarkable city works.
Nikki is a former Math tutor and startup founder who is currently starting the MBA program at London Business School. Her startup was in Education Technology and after four tumultuous years, she wants to use the MBA gain some big business perspective. Having been self employed her whole life, she wants to work as a Product Manager in EdTech post MBA.