Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Lien Le, London Business School

Lien Le

London Business School

“Reader and amateur chef with a passion for decision analysis and data-driven design.”

Hometown: Palm Springs, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was “unschooled” as a kid and didn’t attend a real school until I was 12 — this is where I think my interest in decision-making comes from, since I spent the next few years just trying to understand what was going on with my classmates!

Undergraduate School and Major: Harvard University, Applied Mathematics and Decision Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Boston Consulting Group (New York office), Consultant

What makes London such a great place to earn an MBA degree? London is one of the world’s great cities; studying at LBS offers the opportunity to live at a global crossroads, surrounded by diverse peers and world-leading firms across a full range of industries. The city itself is beautiful and vibrant, and residents also have incredibly convenient access to destinations throughout Europe and beyond.

London Business School is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next two years? From day one, it has been immediately apparent how much value the diversity of the student body adds to the MBA experience at LBS. People participate in classroom discussions and team projects with not only unique professional perspectives but personal ones as well; my study group (like most, if not all, at LBS) is made up of people with completely different backgrounds, hailing from six countries across four continents. I’m confident that this diversity will help prepare me to take on leadership roles in an increasingly interconnected global environment and make business decisions suited to a broad range of markets.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of London Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I was also really drawn to the flexibility of the LBS curriculum. The school provides the ideal combination of a highly structured, rigorous set of fundamentals in the first year and a significant amount of latitude to specialize and explore particular interests in the second year. There is even a lot of flexibility in the course formats themselves; some classes are offered on a term basis and others in as little as a week of intensive sessions, allowing students to plan out their course commitments alongside other learning experiences, like term-time internships or study-abroad programmes. I find this aspect of the programme really valuable because it lets me take the lead on designing my business school experience and pursue the opportunities that come with being an LBS student and living in London as they arise.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at London Business School? Other LBS students and alumni have spoken highly to me of the elective classes in the Organizational Behaviour concentration, especially in regards to developing actionable leadership and management principles. I’m looking forward to exploring this concentration as well as the Marketing concentration. On the extracurricular side, I’m hoping to join LBS’s Snow Club, which organizes the largest trek (student trip) of the year for a ski week in the Alps. I love skiing and I love trip planning, so the opportunity to do both while bringing together a significant part of my class is really exciting to me.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In March 2020, as the full scale of the COVID-19 pandemic was becoming apparent, I was asked to join a BCG taskforce focused on coordinating our commercial response — essentially, determining how we would support our clients through a period of unprecedented changes and sweeping economic turmoil. The taskforce team was sourced globally, with members from the US to the UAE, and worked directly with BCG’s Executive Committee to react to the rapidly-changing situation in real time.

As part of our response efforts, I helped to design, create, and populate a centralized internal site for general and industry-specific COVID-19-related materials, sourcing information and sharing guidance with BCGers across the world as we worked to provide whatever direction we could to clients and external partners. The experience could not have been more different from my usual focus in market insights for consumer goods and private equity cases, but it was deeply inspiring to see — and to help — my colleagues from around the world pull together in the face of massive tumult and uncertainty to do our best for our clients.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? If I had to pull a single personal lesson from the past 12-18 months, it would be how important face-to-face connection with colleagues and clients is for me. Never having worked remotely for any significant period of time before, I hadn’t realized how much energy and value I was drawing from being in a team-oriented environment with others. I was delighted when LBS announced that our classes this term would primarily be in-person; even after only a few class sessions, I feel like I’ve already gained so much from the interpersonal interactions I’ve had with the other students in my stream. As I look forward in my career, I know that I want to seek out opportunities that will allow me to continue working in highly collaborative settings.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I joined BCG after finishing my undergraduate degree in part because I thought of it as a “boot camp” for basic business skills like analytics, communication, and business instincts. I was lucky to have exactly the experience I had hoped for. In the past four years, I feel I’ve built out those fundamentals. The next step for me is to continue strengthening the more nebulous “soft skills” that are critical to success as a manager and eventually a senior leader in business—executive presence, client management, and team management. The MBA programme offers a great opportunity to focus on building these skills in a structured environment, and I believe it’ll help me develop into the person I want to be for the next stages of my career. After graduation, I’m considering returning to management consulting in the consumer-goods space before potentially transferring into industry in a marketing or strategy and insights role.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I also applied to Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business in the United States.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into London Business School’s MBA program? I would recommend potential applicants reach out to LBS student ambassadors and alumni to discuss the programme; I spoke with several former and current students before applying, and it was extremely helpful for me to learn more about the unique aspects of LBS as I was deciding which programmes to prioritize and starting to frame my essays. The LBS application is concise but wide-ranging, with a number of short-answer essays on different topics. As a result, think it’s also important as an applicant to try to choose experiences that convey the fullness of who you are as a person and a candidate, rather than over-focusing on a single experience or aspect of your background.


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