An MBA after engineering is pretty common. How about an MBA after MS? Neerav (name changed) chose to pursue his full-time MBA from the London Business School (LBS) in the UK. He already had a Masters (MS) degree from America. So why go for an MBA after MS? Neerav shares his rationale.
I have wanted to write this article on my MBA journey to guide prospective applicants with their journeys. In the following paragraphs, I cover my background, advise on GMAT and the application process and provide insights on my school and program: full-time program at London Business School MBA (LBS).
Like most people from India, I studied engineering. And like many engineers of my age, I faced the choices of joining an IT firm, manufacturing shop or studying further. In my gut, I knew I would not like IT very much and manufacturing job prospects weren’t too exciting either.
So, I chose to do a Master’s in the US. During my M.S., very much by happenstance, I studied Statistics after which I joined analytics – more operations and statistics in the beginning and marketing analytics at a bank later.
The kernels of my MBA aspirations were really the lure of finance, mostly for the money. Those were mid-2000s and Wall Street was indeed the place to be. Or may be that was the crowd psyche. In any case, I wrote the GMAT and committed a terrible mistake, which I won’t be able to correct ever again. I scored 710 or 720, can’t remember exact score, but knew I could do better. But here is my advice on GMAT:
a) For people like us – Indian engineers and might I add males, the admission process is highly competitive and my opinion is that a higher score helps. Moreover, the GMAT is the only piece in the MBA application process directly in your immediate control. So, working hard for a higher score seems logical.
b) It is very difficult to train for the exact GMAT as very few close substitute tests exist out there. The older tests from GMAT and other training material are indicative of the real GMAT but not very relevant. Given this, one can train for building up stamina to face the test through whatever material exists in the market.
The best way to do this is to take at least 10 full length tests over 4 to 6 weeks. The results from these tests should be used to improve on the areas of weakness. During the GMAT, I felt my mental agility falling short towards the end and believe a little more practice could have helped.
c) Re-take the test if needed and do so 2 to 3 weeks after the first attempt – a better score will supersede the stigma of second attempt. Your test taking abilities are almost at their peak after the first attempt and you should not lose the momentum.
For this, the introspection after the test is paramount – internal evaluation on what went well and what should have gone well. I skipped this step and immediately went into the application mode – not very wise in hindsight. I say this as I knew I had botched-up the second question in the Math section and my scores in other tests were 20 to 30 points higher.
Writing the MBA essays is not trivial task. Seek outside help if you must, but do not expect a fully packaged essays ready to be shipped. Even if someone offers this to you, the essays won’t reflect your story, your persona. Guidance and polishing is where outside help could be used, more so if English is not your first language.
I did not use any such service as my (American) boss and roommate helped me with the reviews and comments. Essays are painful but important as they give you a glimpse of the writing skills needed in MBA assignments. Do not skimp here.
With a full-time job, I opine that applying to more than five schools with good quality applications is very difficult. Part of my school choosing criteria was based on which essays I could re-cycle! Rather unfortunate but true.
The last phase of applications is interviewing, where I had faltered before and sought help from Sameer (at Crystal Ball).
For the London Business School MBA interview, I had prepared my answers to a few sure-to-be asked questions and practiced them in front of a camera. This helped me with my non-verbal communication.
Speaking with Sameer was a confidence booster and I believe a friend or colleague would not have helped me in this situation, for obvious reasons.
For me the decision to go to the London Business School MBA was straightforward. I was vying for a career change and into finance, for which the next best school I received admit from, could not serve my purpose – a one year program to begin with ruled it out.
Instead of delving into the depths of my experience at London Business School, I wish to mention a few points that distinguish LBS from other schools.
Foremost, the average age of the student body at London Business School is on the higher side compared to American schools. So, the students have more experience and most of them have lived in at least two countries before the application. So, expect more mature audience with a high emotional quotient and tolerance.
Also, the LBS student body has very few students from 3 year analyst programs from consulting and banks versus the typical American school. I would take this student body over that of an American school as I doubt whether I could have learnt much from the 3 years experienced students.
Secondly, I have seen relatively few people use the London Business School MBA to ‘settle’ in UK. So, if an MBA for you is a tool to leave your home country to get a job abroad you will be well-off in US. This may be due to the recent change in UK’s visa regime or the smaller size of the UK market or that the MBA is not as well regarded in UK as in US or that employers in UK are not very comfortable with the notion of a career transition or the mayhem that the European economy is these days.
These are very much my opinions based on my personal experience so feel free to discount them as needed. This been said, everyone returning home or to some other place secured a good job.
Lastly, unlike American b-schools, the London Business School MBA has a highly flexible second year, which I am a great fan of. At the b-school, I was not looking for academic cramming with so many courses a quarter/semester and so many case studies per week. The second year at LBS offers the flexibility to tailor one’s program to suit academics, career stints or world travel.
This flexibility allowed me to work at hedge funds to know what the career I aspired to get into was all about – the most important advantage at LBS. The London location also helps in this regard. At the same time, I was able to concentrate on the academics with many courses being offered in the evening.
Additionally, the electives are shared across programs – Executive MBA, Sloans, Global MBAs, Masters in Finance, and of course exchange students – an excellent way to turbo charge your network!
I hope this is helpful for prospective applicants in knowing a little more about the London Business School MBA.
We’ll get Neerav back for another post, to share tips on what MBA applicants should consider before applying.
Not ready for a full-time degree yet? Check out this article on the Executive MBA from London business School.