Unlike the general (and incorrect) perception that folks in India have about an Executive MBA, here’s a real Executive MBA from the London Business School. If you are looking for an MBA in the UK, without leaving your job in India, the London Business School (LBS) can be a good option to consider.
As is the case with most top-notch universities offering an Executive MBA in India or UK or anywhere else, it can also be an expensive option. The rationale is, you have no opportunity cost (i.e. your salary doesn’t stop). So you can absorb the higher price tag. Unfair? Probably. But that’s how it works if you are keen on getting the best brand without willing to sacrifice your job and your sky-high salaries.
Folks going for an Executive MBA at the London Business School have thought through the process and narrowed it down to a program that offers the best of both worlds. If you are still unsure whether an Executive MBA in London (LBS) or other similar courses is for you, read Tanvi walks you through her thought process. She was attending the London Business School Executive MBA when she wrote this article. And through the article, she does a good job of highlighting the pros and cons of such an option.
The decision to do an MBA after 10 years of your graduation exam is not as difficult as say, 20 years after. And yet, the years do not take the edge off of 30-60 year olds who are as fierce academic competitors as they are lawyers or artists or CEOs.
The executive program at London Business School is offered at two campuses – London & Dubai. In my program in Dubai, teachers are flown down from London and are quite accomplished in their fields as well as at being teachers. It’s a two year program with classes every month (4-5 days a month) in the first year and electives (6-8 electives) in the second year.
The second year is London heavy, where you get the opportunity to study in a mixed class from across programs including full time MBAs, EMBAs, Global MBAs, Sloan MBAs, International Exchange Students, Masters in Finance (MiFs) etc and where one of the most rewarding experiences is probably the realization that your choice of program has little bearing on your class performance, irrespective of the mix.
My decision to join an Executive MBA program was borne out of financial constraints (I just did not have the wherewithal to cough up a full-time MBA program fee) as well as a personal choice to be able to apply almost immediately what I learn in class.
I was very clear about getting an international education and being posted in Dubai helped narrow down my choices as the program is well established and there is sufficient London campus experience. But that said, almost 30-40% students in our class are “commuters”, some from India as well.
The application process is straight forward enough – GMAT score, Application Essays, MBA Interview. Like any other school, or program, LBS EMBA admissions team is looking for strong candidates who will enhance the class learning. If this sounds out of a brochure, having personally been through the grind, I can unofficially tell you of teachers who enjoyed teaching the EMBAs more than full-timers because the class was much the richer for all the experience and a push to understand application of theories.
This is a crude generalization, but make sure to submit a strong application nevertheless. Sometimes they are flexible with the timing of the GMAT but it is necessary to get in. They will usually consider your GMAT score along with your application. If writing 5 MBA essays and sitting for computerized IQ tests sounds rigorous to you, I can vouch that it most certainly is and that also it is nothing compared to what’s in store once you get in. And hence, the rigor of the application process is probably meant to haze you as much as test you.
I had an average GMAT score (680) with respect to the range given in the desired criteria. They mandate a 600+ GMAT to be considered for MBA scholarships, which are available to self sponsored students. While I was confident that my credentials were good (9 years of steadily growing career in Digital Marketing), I still put in a lot of effort in perfecting my application essay as I was gunning for the scholarship. I had already taken my GMAT in 2008.
I remember preparing over 5-6 months and taking 10 days off from office before the exam. I still got nervous and tired towards the end of the exam and may have messed up the last few questions. While I did not know then that I would apply to an exec course, I was unsure whether 680 necessitated a retake, so I let it pass.. Turns out 680 is pretty ok for exec course. As for the application essays, there is a lot of help available out there.
In fact, Sameer from MBAcrystalball was one of the first to give me solid advice. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of answering the questions asked without beating around the bush. Write, rewrite, show them to others and then rewrite again.
The same goes for the Executive MBA interview process. Never let your guard down and always answer the question. I remember my second interviewer was somewhat bored, but I stayed alert and answered to the best of my abilities always keeping in mind that they are looking for people to enhance and not just fill up their classrooms.
The timing of my interview coincided with the admisision committee (Adcom) weekly decision meetings, which meant that I received the news of my admission that very evening, though I think it doesn’t take more than a week. The news of my scholarship took a bit longer.
I was awarded one of the two merit based Dubai scholarships for $15,000.
Even after the MBA scholarships there is a substantial fee component. LBS has tie ups with some banks that offer loans and that helped fund my program. Since the idea is to work while you study the finances are not very difficult to manage with the right planning. It is also prudent to set aside money for the additional travel (3 mandatory London trips, 1 international assignment and electives in Dubai, London and optional international universities) during the course and stay during electives.
What is not-so-easy is getting a buy in from your office for all the time off required for the course, especially if your company is not sponsoring you. Even the most agreeable of managers and management begin to notice your ‘week-a-month’ absence.
Before walking into class, there is just one more thing that you have to be aware of – what you want out of this experience – The learning? The degree? The network? A job? While there is a lot of help provided by the institute in terms of academics and events, finally what you walk out with is almost entirely up to you.
If you want to learn – make sure you prepare beforehand; if you want to network – make sure you suspend judgments and take active interest in starting and maintaining conversations; if you want a job – make sure you talk to as many people as you can across the world, don’t let the medium of conversation deter you. There really isn’t an easy way out of this one. If that is not clear now, it will be within 2 months of joining when your first grades come in or by your second class party!
I went in for the learning. Worked really hard the first term. Lost my way somewhere in the second term when the going gets a lot tougher. And found it back again third term onwards by which time you are sufficiently used to the rigor almost to the point of being tired. Somewhere in the middle one of my classmates also offered me a job and a lot of others gave me places to stay.
Personally the journey so far has been very very fulfilling. The process is meant to widen your thought boundaries. Sometimes there are right answers while other times you are asked to put down your perspective. As long as you are logical, it is all well. And trust me when I say, this is true for the WHOLE experience – academic AND everything else!
While grades were important to me, they were never more important than my relationships. Many people will forget that grades are transient but relationships are forever – try to steer clear of that mistake and you will come out with not just a dry network, but some true friends for life, irrespective of age.
Specifically on the job hunt, the MBA does open doors. Starting with the network to the postings to events and to your own effort, there are opportunities for the not-faint-at-heart. The dedicated Executive MBA program office can be tapped into for some very good advice on resume and general approach as well as on making the best use of all platforms across campuses but finding a job remains largely your responsibility..
Being a part-time MBA student has its disadvantages – companies are not necessarily lining up for you, management consulting companies mostly won’t even consider you if you are not from consulting to begin with and you may be thought of as too old for fresher positions. This is a hard-to-break stereotype but a known evil. Work with this knowledge.
In India, I felt that for some companies my MBA did not matter and for those that did, they never really came out and said it. So again it is up to you to project the right image. My experience has given me a lot of confidence – in terms of the knowledge that I bring to the table as well as the belief that I am certainly worth more than I previously was. Am I worth more than someone who has not done their MBA? That’s a philosophical question not worth pondering over.
If you have done your MBA, then the knowledge (& discipline, & network & any other positives you can think of) is what you bring to the table. Leave it to the company to be the final judge because they know their priorities best and MBA or not, you cannot force fit yourself.
All of the above holds for everyone and not just Indian aspirants. In an MBA class with 60+ nationalities, there is as much variety as there is symmetry. You are sure to fit in and/or stand out – it’s entirely up to you.
Next time you feel like complaining about your commute to office or bschool, please think of this article and the number of frequent flyer miles Tanvi is gaining along with her MBA.
We wish Tanvi good luck as she juggles her job in India and her Executive MBA in UK at the London Business School.
Read these other interesting posts on Executive MBA.