With applications in full swing, it’s time to narrow down your choice of MBA programs. If London Business School (LBS) isn’t on your shortlist, it should be. London Business School touts itself as offering a highly flexible and applied MBA program that will challenge your perspectives. The most recent class profile includes a student body that is 89% international, with 60 nationalities, while the opening of its superb new Sammy Ofer Centre in 2017 has increased teaching space by 70% (and enrollment by 14%). Even more impressive, last week Forbes crowned LBS #1 in its global ranking of two-year MBA programs for the seventh consecutive year.
The dynamic culture and economy of London are at the heart of the LBS experience, which is, as yet, seemingly undaunted by Brexit worries. The School competes with INSEAD to offer career opportunities in the corporate sector, consulting, technology and media. For those applicants looking to move ahead in the world of finance, it competes with US schools such as Wharton, Columbia, Harvard and Chicago Booth. It’s also clear that the increasing focus on technology is starting to pay off – 23% of the 2018 graduating class moved into technology roles with top recruiters like Amazon, the same percentage as moved into finance roles.
One growth path for LBS as an institution is an ongoing investment in Early Career programs. The School has long offered a comparatively broad portfolio of leadership degree programs, but since the highly successful introduction of its pre-experience Masters in Management (MiM), LBS has moved on to launch a Global Masters in Management (in conjunction with Fudan University, Shanghai) in 2015, and a Masters in Financial Analysis in 2016. Last month, the School welcomed yet another Early Career cohort, this time to its brand new Masters in Analytics and Management.
As former London Business School Senior Manager of MBA Admissions and a coach at Fortuna Admissions, I’m practiced at guiding candidates how to most powerfully position their candidacy. I’ve distilled my advice into the following tips – useful for the MBA and other leadership programs, but also for the MiM, GMiM, MFA, and MAM. But if you’re confused by all those acronyms and not quite sure which program is for you, get in touch.
TOP FIVE TIPS ON POSITIONING YOUR APPLICATION TO LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL:
Tip #1 – Convey your passion for LBS.
In this competitive environment, the admissions office is looking for clear evidence of your commitment to the school. If at all possible, try to visit LBS before you submit your application. The admissions team offers a number of options for candidates; in addition to monthly London Information Sessions, you can also attend a ‘drop-in’ session each week or book in to take part in a class. All of these opportunities give you invaluable time with current students and staff, which will help you discern if the school is truly right for you. If you manage to speak with one of the admissions team it may get you on their radar as a strong candidate, and it means you can include your visit on the application form, which in turn helps reinforce your commitment to the school. If you can’t visit the campus, try and attend one of the many Information Sessions LBS holds in different countries around the world each year or failing that, log in to one of their regular webinars.
Tip #2 – Contribution to the program and alumni network.
LBS students are very active in community-related events – social, sports and clubs. The Admissions team is looking for candidates who will participate and lead these activities enthusiastically and contribute beyond as alumni. So, you need to have demonstrated similar energy and dedication to activities outside of your professional life. Admissions want to understand through concrete examples, just what role you will play on campus and how you envision contributing; this is where the value of visiting LBS and knowing it well pays off. The more specific and authentic you can be, the better.
Tip #3 – Know it’s not just a finance school.
LBS has a strong tradition in finance, supported by its superb position close to the City of London, top finance faculty and exceptional links with global finance recruiters. But ongoing rankings success means the admissions pipeline, and consequently graduate career choice is diverse. LBS has a strong in and out pipeline from top consulting firms like BCG and McKinsey, while tech recruiters like Amazon and Google now regularly employ a large chunk of LBS graduates. So don’t be afraid to explore and sell yourself on less traditional career paths. Just be realistic about your aims and remember to reference transferable skills from your existing experience which link to your future goals.
Tip #4 – Demonstrate collegiality.
Like other business schools full of high-caliber students, the LBS MBA program has a competitive element. But internally it also enjoys a very collegial campus atmosphere, something that is enhanced by having a smaller class than some of its competitors. Teamwork is key and students actively work to support each other in weaker coursework elements. The optional Essay 2 is a perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate your understanding of this facet of LBS life. Think of value-add not just in simple terms like club involvement, but also on a deeper level, as it relates to the experience and skillset you can offer fellow classmates.
Tip #5 – Remember that ‘global’ is not just a word, it’s a culture.
There’s no doubt that LBS is a truly international business school. It’s based in a supremely multicultural city, and only around 10% of the MBA class is British. But at LBS, global is more than just a word – it’s a culture that is woven through the fabric of the entire institution. The school is continually reinventing the curriculum to best represent this focus, and highlights applied aspects such as the Global Business Experience immersion weeks within its highly customizable program. So it’s no longer enough just to state confidently that you’ve backpacked across Europe – the admissions committee will be closely scrutinizing your application to see exactly what global flavor you’ll bring to the new class. Internationalism can take many forms. Have you worked on international projects or liaised often with international clients? Do you work on multi-cultural teams? Have you invested time in learning other languages? Are there any global secondment opportunities coming up at your company?
Any and all of these things can add weight to your application. Serious LBS applicants will have worked, lived and traveled on multiple continents, so if the international aspect of the LBS experience is what drew you to the school in the first place, make sure you sell that side of yourself. Getting across your passion for travel, for experiencing other cultures and for working in a global capacity post-graduation is crucial. And if you are thinking about applying to LBS in a year or two and have not yet traveled, get out there and do it!
For more insights from Emma and the Fortuna Admissions team on positioning your application to LBS, INSEAD or IE, view the recent video strategy session: Decoding the Essays to the Top European Schools.
Emma Bond is a director at MBA admissions coaching firm Fortuna Admissions and was previously responsible for MBA admissions at London Business School. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.