It is hard to imagine that until the mid-1980s, middle management from the Commonwealth had a free ride for their business education at London Business School (LBS).
“It’s been a long time since it’s been a British school for British candidates – long before my time, many deans ago,” remarked LBS Admissions Director David Simpson in last month’s panel discussion at CentreCourt MBA Festival. “I would say LBS is completely tied to London in its sense of identity rather than to the UK, and that’s where the global element comes in.”
At LBS, global is more than just an adjective – it’s a mindset that’s deeply woven through the fabric of the entire institution. Not only are the culture and economy of London at the heart of the LBS experience, the student body reflects over 65 nationalities in the MBA classroom. The school is constantly reinventing the curriculum to best reflect this global focus and showcases applied aspects like the Global Business Experience immersion weeks into its customizable program. When asked about the qualities that make LBS special and most memorable for grads, this element is at the top of the list.
As former LBS Senior Manager of MBA Admissions, I’m admittedly enthusiastic about encouraging candidates to explore LBS and its unique benefits. As is my former LBS colleague, David Simpson, who has led LBS admissions for more than 20 years. On May 27 at 12pm ET (5pm GMT), I’m hosting a live conversation with David to discuss his perspective in this most unprecedented of times, along with his admissions insights and application tips for the MBA curious. (You can register now to join our free webinar and to submit your questions to David in advance.)
Ahead of my live chat with David on Wednesday, I’ve captured some of his insights from the CentreCourt panel to pique your curiosity, where David spoke about Covid-19 admissions adjustments, what makes LBS special, its global culture, and the key qualities he’s seeking in LBS applicants.
What accommodations has LBS made in response to Covid-19?
It’s been an eventful year unlike one I’ve ever known. I thought I worked hard before but, wow, it’s busy! We want to still bring in the same size class and the same calibre of candidates, but we might have to make some adjustments to end up there, namely around the timing.
We’ve extended the commitment fee deadlines for the largest group of admits, allowed candidates to apply without GMAT or GRE scores – although now that those are online people need to submit a test result before admission. We’ve extended the final application deadline to June 4 – we’ve actually seen a huge rise in applications coming in the final round. But we figure there are still a lot of people who aren’t sure what they’re doing or perhaps have to change their plans. We are listening to candidates.
What are a few key qualities you’re looking for in a candidate?
Above all for me is the idea of an inquiring mind – someone who’s fascinated by other views gathered from around the world, somebody who is open for personal growth. A good business school program will help you to develop yourself in order to make good decisions. Making good decisions means taking on data and analyzing it – and data being people’s views and lots of different perspectives. For me it’s being interested in those views, and also recognizing that you have to and want to share your experiences – those are two really important factors.
In addition: ambition, collaborative nature, curious / questioning, global outlook and desire, reflective and self-aware… with some humility. These are factors that everybody needs in business and in society.
What makes LBS special? What are some of the most memorable elements for graduates?
The Global Business Experience is a huge takeaway. Whether you’re spending time working with micro-entrepreneurs in townships in South Africa or going to frontier-market Myanmar, or looking at innovation in Israel – although it’s just a week of the program, for some it changes their lives. In addition to the Global Business Experience, it’s our program’s flexibility and the openness of the students that makes us so special.
In terms of flexibility, LBS is a full two-year program, yet you allow MBA candidates to choose different lengths of time to study?
Yes, absolutely. We describe it as being 15 to 21 months – it is possible to finish by a January/February date, which is great if you’re sponsored or your business idea is ready to launch. The reality is people come in expecting that’s what they’ll do, and then halfway through the program they all decide to stay as long as they can. Well over a third, closer to a half, think they’ll fast track and finish early when they first apply, and that turns into about 10 people who do it in reality. But the point is having the choice at the start of the program.
What’s one thing most candidates don’t know about LBS (and should)?
We have masters programmes for every career stage, from pre-experience masters, The MBA and MiF, through to senior leadership programmes like the Sloan Masters and EMBAs.
Any common misconception you’d like to correct?
That we’re just a finance school. I mean, we ARE a finance school, but we’re just as much a school for strategy, consulting, tech and entrepreneurship.
Interested in learning more or have questions about LBS? Join my live webinar with David on May 27 at 12pm ET/5pm GMT by registering today. You can also reach out to me and schedule a free consultation for a candid assessment of your chances.
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