2024 MBAs Abroad: Navid Eskandar, London Business School

Navid Eskandar

London Business School

Home City and Country: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Project Manager at Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) and Founder of Ladderly, a career coaching and mentorship service.

How has studying business in the United Kingdom enriched your learning experience? On my first visit to London after securing acceptance to LBS, I remember feeling like the smallest fish in the deepest ocean. So insignificant amongst all the hustle and bustle of the financial district and the flagship retail stores of Oxford Street. It simultaneously scared me and excited me, but it ultimately gave me perspective. I was able to zoom out and recognize how many more opportunities there were here that I couldn’t find back home. I’ve since learned about jobs I’d never even heard of, globally-focused work approaches, and the importance of real diversity (both of thought and background).

What has been the toughest transition to living in the United Kingdom so far? What have you done to overcome this difficulty? Finding a place to live and getting settled was really challenging. London has an incredibly competitive rental market, which means it’s expensive and flats are hard to come by. We managed to work through it leveraging multiple letting agents at the same time, but its best to start looking early. Setting up bank accounts and home services were also much more complicated than expected. Thankfully, our UK classmates were quick to lend a hand or make suggestions. Asking for help for things that were so simple to do back home felt awkward, but it helped me make new friends and allowed me to help our other classmates when they made the move to the UK.

What school service has been the most helpful in transitioning to living in the United Kingdom? How has it helped you adapt? The school gave my class access to a platform called “Meet” which is a sort of social media cross between Facebook, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp. We were able to get involved in the LBS community just a couple days after getting accepted – this was a game changer. Myself, and a handful of students (some of whom would later become my closest friends at LBS) decided that we wanted to help build the community in a somewhat structured way. We set up virtual icebreakers, so folks could meet each other before the program and Ask Me Anything’s answered by consultants and bankers in our cohort. We even managed to plan a huge trip with 250 of our classmates before stepping foot on campus! Being able to make friends nearly nine months before school started made the transition incredible easy, and made London feel like home almost right away.

What has been the most interesting cultural nuance of people living in the United Kingdom? Why has this struck you? British humor is totally lost on me – it’s an odd mix of sarcasm and dry absurdity, all packaged with a deadpan delivery. I thought it’d be more in line with Monty Python, or Mr. Bean, but it’s definitely not. The interesting thing is that you notice it even in UK politics, which was really unexpected.

Are you seeking a Visa to work in the United Kingdom after graduation? If so, what obstacles have you faced and how did you overcome them? The cool thing about studying in the UK is that students qualify for a graduate visa which allows you to work in the UK for 2 years after graduating, a big deal when considering a degree abroad. When that visa expires, I’ll likely need sponsorship from an employer, but students who have pursued this in the past have said that it is quite straightforward and not much of a barrier to employment (which is good news)!

What have you done to make it easier to make friends with people from outside your home country at business school? If you immerse yourself in the LBS community, making friends from other countries is really easy. The cohort is INCREDIBLY diverse. My classmates are from 60+ countries, are incredibly impressive, and are all really eager to make friends.

One thing that helped me was to take a genuine interest in where people come from and the perspectives they bring with them. You get to hear incredible stories and learn about unique places all around the world. LBS also has over 80 clubs and social groups making it easy to find folks with similar interests to yours. It’s also a great opportunity to try new things and meet people outside of your immediate classes. I’ve joined the Consulting Club, where I helped organize case competitions as an executive member, and made friends with people with similar career interests. I’ve also I’ve joined the Football (soccer) Club, where I’ve found friends with the same passion for sports and social activities as me. There is really something for everyone, so finding your place at LBS is almost a given.

What piece of advice would you give to an international student looking to study in a UK graduate business program? Choosing to study abroad is a huge decision, so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before committing. That being said, the UK is the center of European finance and consulting industries. Being able to have coffee chats with people in the industry you want to work in, and being able to visit the offices of the world’s most sought-after firms (just a couple tube stations away from campus), is incredible. The opportunity to travel here is also amazing – I can’t stress this enough. Lastly, the UK, unlike other countries, allows graduate students the opportunity to stay here and work in the industries they have been pursuing during the course of their degrees and, in some cases, also allowing their partners to join and work here as well.


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