Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Final blog posting

I think the time has come to close this blog down now that I'm out of the MBA for 5 months (graduation was beginning of July 2010). Today is also a good day to write my last post because the official LBS employment stats for the MBA class of 2010 were just released: 91% of the class found a job within 3 months of graduation with a mean starting salary of £70K (or $113K). That's pretty awesome! Compared to last year, that's an increase of 10% in employment rate, but we are very fortunate I guess that the economy has picked up quite a bit since. Here is the detailed report.

Like many of my classmates, I've been fortunate to have found a job in London. I started working in product marketing for an internet company where I also worked part-time during the MBA and did my summer internship. Thanks to the LBS network I was able to switch from consulting (manufacturing industry) pre-MBA to marketing in the tech industry post-MBA. I'm very grateful to have found a company and a job I like, that I was able to experience 2 amazing years at LBS, and for the friends I've made. The past 2 years were such an incredible journey - what a roller coaster ride.

For those going through the MBA application process right now: I wish you best of luck!!! And for those already in b-school: Enjoy the time with your classmates, it goes by faster than you think...

All the best!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Which round to apply?

That's a common question people post on MBA forums. And the answer is always the same: Apply when you can present your best application. However, always avoid round 3 (and 4 where applicable). They are the most competitive.

At London Business School, with 4 admission rounds, about 1/3 of seats get filled after R1, 1/3 after R2, and the remaining 1/3 is split between R3 and R4 (or that's what I recall). But how many people apply for each of these rounds? In a previous post, I mentioned that an admissions officer said that most people apply in R2, followed by R3, R1, and the least apply in R4. Hence, with 1/3 of seats going away in R1, but not many people applying then, your best bet is R1!

However, if I ask Google, most apply in R2, followed by R1, R3, and R4. Here's how I estimate this. Since my blog is very LBS centric, I used Google Analytics to track how many people visited this blog on which dates. So for R1, for example, I looked up how many people visited my blog on November 6, 2009 (R1 interview decision date) and December 16, 2009 (R1 admission decision date). Most visits on these days came through Google Search (e.g. "acceptance rate LBS"). I then took the sum of both, and did the same for all other rounds. The data is below, and it shows that 50% of applicants apply in R2, followed by 25% in R1, 18% in R3, and only 8% in R4. Well... the real truth is probably somewhere in between what I heard from LBS and what Google says :-).

Number of visits to this blog:

Monday, April 5, 2010

The London Business School exchange

I realize it's been a while since I last posted and thought I'd update my blog to tell you guys about the LBS exchange and my experience in Hong Kong.

First, here's how the whole exchange process works at LBS. Around 30% of students decide to spend one term abroad in their 2nd year (either fall or spring). There are two rounds where you apply. In the first round, you may not apply to schools in your home countries and wherever you lived for more than 3 years after you turned 18. Say you are American, and you would like to go on exchange to a US school, then you'll have to wait until round 2 and see which schools still have open spots after students from R1 accept. Less popular schools with spots in R2 include Chicago Booth, Tuck, Ross or Duke so there is always a chance to go back to the US even if you are American. The most popular (and therefore competitive) US schools among LBS students are MIT, Haas, UCLA, Wharton and Columbia. Overall, the top spots by city this year were New York (~15 exchangers from LBS at Columbia and NYU, then Hong Kong (10 LBSers), and then I think it was close in between Cape Town and Sydney (7-8 LBSers each). The application just involves writing a 350 word limit essay for each school you are applying to (you rank your top 3 choices).

On another note, many ask whether any b-schools have an exchange with Harvard Business School or Stanford. The answer is no, both don't have exchange programs with any partner school. But, there is a way to take classes at HBS. If you do an exchange to MIT Sloan, you can cross-register and enrol in classes at HBS (max 2 courses I believe). Getting into the MIT exchange from LBS is super competitive though. There are only 2 slots. Aside from LBS, I believe only IESE also has an exchange with MIT. As to Stanford, I'm not sure if Haas has a cross-registration policy for business school courses.

For more information on the LBS exchange, I've attached last year's LBS exchange handbook. It gives you more important information for each school such as slots available, exchange terms (fall or spring (or both)), alumni access, or recruiting access.

As mentioned, my exchange was to Hong Kong, more specifically to Hong Kong University. LBS has exchange programs to 3 b-schools in Hong Kong, so if you want to go there's no problem at all. Looking back, it was for sure a highlight of my MBA, if not one of the best times in my life. Classes were less demanding, leaving lot's of free time to socialize, explore Hong Kong, and travel in the region.

Should you travel to Hong Kong, here are my top things to do aside from the touristy stuff:
- Go hiking on Hong Kong island! The best hike was Dragon's Back. On a hot nice day, bring your swim stuff cause there is a fantastic beach at the end of the hike (see bullet point below)! I've attached a file for hiking in Hong Kong.
- Check out the town of "Shek O" on the south side of HK island for a nice seafood lunch and the amazing white sand beach!
- Have dim sum at Maxim's (City Hall close by Central station)
- Go out in Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), start off with drinks at amazing Lei Dou bar (20 D'Aguilar St) and then hit Azure club in the LKF Hotel for good party and an outdoor terrace with nice views of the city at night.
- Have seafood dinner at Temple St market in the evening

The touristy stuff you will know (The Peak, Star ferry, laser show, Lantau Buddha, Wednesday horse race, etc.).

If you're not bound to London (e.g. partner, job search) then I highly recommend going on exchange. Almost everyone I spoke to had a fantastic time no matter where they went. It's a life experience you won't regret!

Hong Kong island at night, taken from Kowloon across the bay.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The first year @ LBS

It's been quite some time since my last post - almost a year! As you can imagine, the first year has been crazy busy with lots of challenges, but overall it's been an absolutely amazing journey. My last exams at LBS finished 2 weeks ago, and I already started my summer internship at an internet company in London.

But let's begin from where my first year journey started, my first term at LBS. It was awesome meeting so many people from all over the world. I know European b-schools always brag about their diverse student body, but I now truly believe that this is the greatest asset they have compared to US b-schools (European b-schools: 70-90% international student body vs. US b-schools: ~30%). With the first term also comes the time to choose clubs you want to be involved with over the coming academic year. Tip: Focus on 1-2, at a maximum 3 clubs you want to be heavily involved with, instead of spreading yourself too thinly. Clubs will take up a large amount of your time! And being actively involved is a requirement if you want to hold a leadership position in the club in your 2nd year. Overall, I'd say the first term was the most stressful, where I was close to burning out in the end (and in fact was close to developing some chronic health issues). Take it easy! You don't have to attend every single speaker event, every birthday outing of classmates, or participate in all travels. Your well-being should come first. And if you come with a partner to LBS managing your time will be even more challenging.

In the second term I knew I had to relax more especially with recruiting starting in January. I was happy not to attend "milk round" or corporate partners week, where all the consulting firms and banks give presentations. This year, many just came to show up (with less than half the internship openings from these companies compared to 2008). My plans were to work in Industry in strategy or business development - so no need to be in London for milk round. To give you some stats:
- Firms I applied to through LBS: ~25
- Interviews received: 5
- Offers received: 2 (including 1 offer I received through a LBS student - the network actually works!)
- Interestingly: For some companies I interviewed with I never heard back (or at least not until a very long time):
- A large healthcare company: Passed 1st round interview, but never was contacted for 2nd round, only got an email after 4 months that no business unit found a fit for my background therefore I was never contacted for a second round interview (what a late ding)
- A large US conglomerate: Passed 1st round, but only was contacted 2 months later for a 2nd round interview (by then I had already committed myself to another company)
- A large online retailer: Interviewed, but never found out what happened (didn't follow up though cause already had committed to other company)
- A large agricultural company: Applied, the only company of the 25 which never told me whether my application was successful or not
- Firms I applied to through speculative applications: ~15
- Replies received: 0 (that didn't work well)

On another note, as we all know the GMAT score is important when getting into b-school. It can also be important for recruiting purposes! Google, for example, asked for GMAT scores in their internship application form. The strategy consulting companies do it too (so do the top banks). One more reason to maybe think about re-taking the test if you're not satisfied with your score and know you can do better!

My highlight of my 2nd term: Spring break with 40 of my classmates sailing in Thailand for 2 weeks - THE BEST TRIP EVER. If you come to LBS, make sure to be nice to the people in the sailing club, because they decide who will come on the trip and who won't (there are usually double the applications than spots are available).

In your third and last term, you can take electives. Depending on how busy you want to be, you can choose between 1-3 electives. I only took 1 elective, because I started working part-time at an internet company during the summer term. Along with course work, working part-time during your MBA can be killer!!! But it can also open you doors, and only thanks to my part-time job I was able to secure a summer internship at this awesome internet company. I love it there.

Towards the end you will start becoming nostalgic, because you won't be in your streams (or sections) anymore in your second year. Some people you won't see for almost a year, since some work abroad over the summer, then go on exchange, and then you go on exchange (or vice versa). Definitely stay in touch with peeps from your stream. It's sometimes a matter of luck though. This year, there was one stream with little camaraderie, one was mediocre, and the remaining two stuck together tightly. I was lucky to be in one of the latter (on this note: go Stream D!).

So is the MBA all about fun and success? Unfortunately not. You will also learn how to cope with failures (though luckily not too harsh ones). You will apply for roles at LBS (e.g. club positions, student ambassador or association positions) and you will not always get what you want. The same of course pertains to recruiting. Get prepared for plenty of dings. Especially the ones of companies you really like will hurt. Lastly, sometimes you are so stressed you wish you were back in your old job and wonder why you ever came to b-school.

However, overall as mentioned it's been a very positive experience. Some other stats:
- Places I traveled with classmates: Amsterdam, Dublin, Tenerife, Morocco, Thailand, Rome, Paris, and Athens (the best thing about being in London - cheap flights to anywhere in Europe!)
- Rent I paid: 190 GPB per week (!) for a tiny room (excl. utilities), but good location close to school
- Books I purchased for classes: 0

My plans going forward:
- Enjoy the summer while working (yes - the working life has so many advantages: free evenings during the week and free weekends!!!).
- Travel for 3-4 weeks in September before classes begin.
- Find a company to do my second year project in fall (since I will only have 1 modular class during the regular term, meeting every two weeks!)
- Go on exchange to Hong Kong in spring 2010

That's all from me now, stay tuned and I will most likely post at least one more time, maybe in July 2010 :-)? Take care!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

London Business School Class of 2010 Statistics

Quick update on the LBS class of 2010 stats...
Average GMAT: 694
GMAT range: 600-800
Class size: 320
Average age: 29
Applications received: "Approaching 2500" (up from 2100 last year)

One interesting announcement: Next year a 5th stream will be added to the class, raising the class size to probably 375. This is good news for this year's applicants, especially with the bad economy.

On another note, classes have started and I LOVE IT!!! Well not exactly the classes, but my peers, so much fun...

Update: Interesting fact I heard today (10/27/08). Supposedly, most applications are received in R2 (makes sense), but LBS receives more apps in R3 than R1!!! However, there are about 2-3 times as many offers given out in R1 than R3! So def avoid R3 if you can (and esp. R4!). Good luck everyone... (btw, R1 apps are up 10%, not as bad as expected! R2 will probably be up much more...).

Update (02/09/09): As of R2, apps are up 18% so far (so counting R1 & R2 only)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Update: MBAvolunteers

You might have read my previous post on MBAvolunteers - a group of current and former MBA students who provide MBA application reviews in exchange for a donation to a non-profit organization. This application season will be the first time our idea will be tested. At least from a volunteer perspective there has been some interest so far. We are 12 volunteers now from 7 different countries representing the following b-schools:

- Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
- Harvard Business School
- London Business School
- MIT (Sloan)
- NYU (Stern)
- Stanford
- UCLA (Anderson)

If you like our idea, please spread the word!

Update: I just updated the post to include the correct number of volunteers and schools represented. Also, our service has been very helpful for applicants! After having reviewed several applications myself I feel they greatly benefited from our feedback. So far (Dec 08) we have reviewed more than 30 applications!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Post-MBA careers: More Finance, Less Industry...

Just got back today from Bombay, ending my 4 1/2 month travels before I start my MBA at LBS this August. I ended up traveling to Brazil, Ecuador, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and India. If anyone is interested about the cost of traveling for 4 1/2 months: I burnt about $9K and used up 90K in frequent flier miles. As for my plans of a pre-MBA internship, that never materialized. Traveling is just too much fun, it's very hard to start thinking about work once you're on the road. To anyone considering pre-MBA travels, I highly recommend it. It also allowed me to meet up with 8 of my future classmates around the globe.

Anyways, to the topic of this post. There's a very interesting Employment Report (2007) which LBS publishes on its website. It reveals some interesting stats. Looking at data from 2003 and 2007, it seems like more and more MBAs go for Finance at the cost of Global Industry. Here's the breakdown of post-MBA employment by sector:

Why is that? The average starting salary per sector might explain this. In 2007, the average starting base salary including year end bonus for LBS grads in Financial Services was about $183K, compared to "just" $139K for Global Industry. Also, the average sign-on bonus of $48K in Financial Services is juicier (vs $24K for Global Industry, exactly the half). Simply put, graduates are going to where the money is.

More interesting data: If you ever wondered how many people actually switch careers after their MBA, the report also casts light on this (showing where people came from for each of the three sectors).

I personally plan to go into Global Industry as my post-MBA goal. You probably make as much as in Financial Services - on an hourly basis.

Update: Given the financial crisis and downturn in the economy, the trend described will most likely reverse for the class of 2009. Go Industry!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What do the GMAT and crack dealers who still live with their moms have in common?

So I was trekking in the Indian Himalayas (Ladakh) - fantastic trip. Unfortunately, when I wanted to fly back to Delhi my flight got canceled because of bad weather. They put me on the next available flight - which was 3 days later!!! If you happen to go to the Ladakh region (the city there is called Leh) then plan for some contingency days. Some people at the airport were really furious about missing connecting flights to Europe in Delhi.

Anyways, back to the weird title of this post. During the 3 days I had to wait in Leh, I had plenty of time to finish the book I was reading: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt. I found that this book would be a good read for those wanting to improve on their GMAT verbal critical reasoning problems! The author uses statistical data to answer weird questions (e.g. why crack dealers still live with their moms). He discusses correlations and causalities of data, similar to some of the GMAT verbal critical reasoning problems. For example, you might recall something like:

Company X increased its advertising expenditures. As a result, more TV ads were broadcast and hence its brand awareness among TV viewers increased. Sales increased over the next quarters.
What can we say about advertising expenditures for company X?
a) Increasing them led to higher sales in subsequent quarters
b) Increasing then led to higher brand awareness among TV viewers
c) I hate TV commercials

Answer b) would probably be best. Now an example from the book: In the 90s, the crime rate was falling sharply while the economy was booming, more cops were employed and policing strategies were introduced. The media quickly used these events to explain the drop in crime rates. But just as with the GMAT example above, these occurrences just come in handy as an explanation, the same way higher advertising expenditures could be a good reason for higher sales (but maybe a better product was launched, or the main competitor shut down, etc.). If you're interested, according to the book, the biggest factor for the reduction in crime in the 90s was the legalization of abortion in the 70s (pretty shocking, can you guess why?).

So what do the GMAT and crack dealers who still live with their moms have in common? I don't know :-)! Maybe it's that both enjoy a monopoly. The crack dealer usually has the exclusive distribution rights (backed by his gang) to sell crack in a certain area. The GMAT guys have the monopoly on standardized tests for b-schools around the world. Man, maybe I should have written a book during my 3 day wait on things the GMAT has in common with random stuff.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

LBS Waitlist

A quick entry as someone on the WL asked about R4 stats. As for the WL, there definitely has been some movement. When I checked the portal occasionally, the number of admits suspiciously went up by a couple from time to time. After application rounds, the number of admits goes up in large batches, so these small increases are probably people from the WL.

Now to the number of current admitted students. There was just a reduction (not very significant) meaning some didn't pay up the 6000 pounds and decided to go to another b-school or just changed their plans. If the class size remains the same as last year (316 students) then there are still more admits than that (roughly 10% more). One big question is if the deposit deadline for R4 admits has passed - I don't know this. If yes, then the prospects for current applicants on the WL could be a bit bleak (if those who didn't make the deposit were included in the recent drop of admits). If not, then there might be some more open spots as some R4 admits will decide to go to other schools. But if you calculate for a normal yield, then I estimate the class size to be at around last year's class size (maybe even larger), again not the best news for waitlisters.

Update: The deposit deadline for R4 admits probably has not passed yet, since they were just notified on July 4th about their admission decision.

Some positive things to mention though: As stated above, people are coming off the WL! Also, LBS might increase the class size due to the increase in applications (I'm assuming they have increased, looking at what other b-schools have said). And then there is always the deferred admit for next year (estimated at around 5-10 from what I've read on the BW forum? I might be completely wrong).

Please don't let this post influence you in any way. I have no idea what's going on at LBS behind closed doors - I'm just babbling about some stats and making crude assumptions. I wish everyone on the WL best of luck! Don't give up hope.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Be a lender and support entrepreneurs

Greetings from Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City as it's called today). This is my last day in Vietnam before I move on to Cambodia today. Just wanted to pass along a link to a cool non-profit a friend of mine sent me the other day. Basically, you can pick an entrepreneur of your choice in a developing country to provide a loan. So this is not really donating money - you get the money back (after 12 months they say). Pretty cool idea.

Check it:

Ps: I just gave out two loans. $50 to a Vietnamese pancake maker and $50 to a Tajikistani farmer. Will keep you updated if I see my money again :-)

Pps: I've been continuously getting my money back and re-lending it. Fantastic microfinance platform!

Monday, May 19, 2008

LBS Round 2 Statistics

What up! Sorry I haven't been posting in such a long time, but the internet cafes in South America ain't the fastest (most share a dial up connection!) and I actually didn't have much to share. I'm sure nobody gives a crap about my travel experiences so I will spare you guys and get straight to the LBS round 2 stats. Unfortunately, I have to say that getting the yield is not as clean as in round 1, mainly because of the people who were lucky and got off the waitlist - I have a feeling that there are quite a lot of them. Anyways, if we assume that all admits since R1 are R2 admits (which is of course not true), then the yield for R2 would be roughly 75% - too high I think since it was more around 60% for R2 in the past years.

So basically, this entry is quite useless, cause the data is wrong :-) but I tried! One more note, if you go by the class size of last year (about 330) then roughly 90% of the class would be filled at the moment, leaving 10% remaining for R3 and R4. Of course, this will change as the June 20 deadline approaches, when much currency has to be paid to LBS as a deposit to secure your spot. We can expect that several admits who paid the first smaller deposit will have chosen another b-school by then and then more spots will be open again.

Last but not least, I do have to rub it in and show you some nice pix I took on the Galapagos Islands this week (buy an underwater housing for your camera if you happen to go!). I went to Ecuador after spending two months in Brazil. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Good bye Boston

Just a quick post as I still have to pack up my stuff! I'm flying out this afternoon, ending my 7 year stay in Boston. To anyone considering an MBA here or just spending a few years in Beantown, I can only highly recommend it. The past years have definitely been the best in my life and I'm incredibly happy and thankful for all the friendships I made here and for the good times spent together.

So my first stop on my travels will be Brazil, after I will go back home to Munich for a few days in June, then head over to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before meeting up with my current roommate in India, which will be my last stop before I return home in August. Mid-August it will then be time to move to London and meet my fellow LBS classmates!

Since I will be traveling the next months I will probably not post as often anymore. Maybe if I have time I will check on LBS' R2 stats and post some comments.

To all admits out there, congratulations! We have some exciting times ahead of us. And to all applicants awaiting decisions, GOOD LUCK!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Traveling before your MBA

I've heard from many admits that they would like to travel before their MBAs but that the cost of an MBA and the lost income are already enough burdens from a financial perspective. Then there's also other issues faced such as health insurance coverage, leases for your apartment, etc. Hopefully this post will change your minds though.

Cost/lost income: Say you decide to travel for 3 months before your MBA. And let's say you earn $4K a month post-tax. So you'll forfeit $12K for the 3 months - that's about the same as the average sign-on bonus after our MBAs! Also, the cost of traveling is probably about the same as the living expenses during that time. The money you save on rent (say $2400 for 3 months) can be used for a round the world ticket. The remaining living expenses (utilities, food, car, nightlife) you save will get you quite far when you back pack! Btw, this is also a great way to use all those frequent flier miles since your travel dates are most likely very flexible.

Update: At LBS, you can also expect to make about $30K through your summer internship and the Second Year Project. Check the stats for 2008 here (expand "Tuition fees and funding").

Health insurance: Yes when you quit your job you'll lose your benefits (in the US at least). But you can either enroll in COBRA, which is quite costly (was $350/month for me). Alternatively, there are travel insurance packages that cover you while on your trip (outside of the US only though!). I paid $260 for a 5 month coverage (no deductibles) with very good coverage (e.g. $1M in medical benefits). The insurance company I used was HTH Travel (picked TravelGap Voyager - plan for those without domestic insurance during travel). There are also a bunch more listed on The US Department of State website. The website also lists non-US providers.

Apartment: Ok if you own your place, then I can't really speak to this. But if you rent, then sublet your place or ask your landlord/landlady if you can terminate the lease 3 months ahead (depending on your terms). If finding someone to sublet is hard for your luxury penthouse then consider subsidizing it with a couple bucks.

Most importantly I believe that the time before your MBA will be your last chance in your life to just take off 3 months (yes I sound so dramatic :-). After your MBA, you most likely have to start that new job soon, then one day you'll have family, and soon you'll rather go to that all-inclusive resort with your kids. So even if you forfeit $20K in total during those three months - it's little cash when considering the amount we'll make over the next 30 years as corporate slaves.

Ok, enough of my crap - but hopefully I could convince some of you :-).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Last class at my non-profit

As mentioned in my first post, I have been an ESL teacher at BEAM in Boston for the past 2.5 years. Since last year I've also served as a board member. As I'm preparing for my departure from Boston in March, another BEAM teacher (who is also going to b-school this fall) and I held a little farewell class this Sunday. I always love when students bring foods from their countries. Yummy!

Anyways, the reason I'm posting this is to find replacement teachers. If you enjoy teaching ESL classes on a voluntary basis and are still looking for a solid extracurricular activity to boost that resume then let me know! BEAM is only in Boston (Allston). The past 2.5 years at BEAM have been a lot of fun and a great way to meet interesting people and learn more about other cultures.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

LBS R1 stats

So as you noticed in my previous post on the LBS yield we can't publish any hard figures obtained from the LBS portal. Some admits from previous years have done so (not knowing that you probably shouldn't do so - we greatly appreciate it though!). Below is a chart with the R1 yield % for this year and the past two years (class of 08 = 75%, class of 09 = 72%). As you can tell, the yield has been going down slightly, which is surprising considering the increase in application volumes over the past years. It can be explained though looking at the number of admits in R1: For the class of 08 it was 140, then the year after 179, and this year it is again higher. Maybe LBS is changing its strategy and accepting more people in R1 (and less in R2) since R1 admits in general are more likely to attend (class of 08 R1 yield: 75% vs. R2 yield of only 59%). Maybe more top students now apply who end up choosing Harvard or Stanford over LBS. Or maybe I just have no fu?king clue :-). Anybody have an idea? Anyways, here is the chart (the yield has gone down only slightly).

Another beautiful chart I made (can you tell I'm getting bored now that the application process is over for me?):

Update: Out of curiosity I checked the yield by the nationalities shown above. All nationalities had higher yields than the average - except for zeee Chermans!!! Hardly anyone left! As a German myself, I can say that this is "Scheisse"! But on the other hand, good news for other Germans on the waitlist...

Haas Ding

I guess I'm a bit late with this post since I got the ding two weeks ago :-). Of course I was a bit disappointed when I read the message, even though Haas moved to my #3 choice of schools after LBS where I was already in.

So that is the end of my admissions experience I guess - there are no more schools where I'm awaiting a decision. I should probably consider myself very fortunate to have gotten two offers in a competitive year like this one. It's funny, during the application process I was desperately awaiting the end of this strenuous time. Now there's no excitement left. Instead I am bored at work (sometimes checking the BW forum though :-) and can't wait until my last day. Ok, I should probably stop whining since I only have 3 weeks left! And then I'm off to travel for 5 months before I finally move to London.

To all other applicants waiting on R2 and R3 (or even R4) decisions, I wish you best of luck!

As for me, this blog will slowly turn into an LBS blog I guess. LBS just released its R1 stats yesterday, which I will comment on in my next entry.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Application advice in exchange for donation?

Sometime last December I had an idea I actually want to somehow implement before next year's application season begins for the class of 2011. Unlike many applicants, I was fortunate to have a friend who already went through the application process and was willing to give me feedback on my essays. The majority of applicants probably doesn't have such resources - and hence some use admissions consultants. This means spending lots of $$$ (and many consider it to be unethical).

That's how I came up with the idea of providing a list of volunteers who give feedback (like my friend did) in exchange for a donation to a non-profit.

What do you guys think? I already asked a couple of friends I know in b-school and inquired on forums. Everyone thinks it's a fantastic idea - but unfortunately nobody seems to have time. Well I'm done with the application process and will be leaving my job in March. So if anybody needs feedback on their LBS essays in exchange for a donation then let me know :-) !!! Even better, if you belong to the lucky group of admits (or current students, alumni) and would like to volunteer then drop me a line too (regardless which b-school you're affiliated with).

Update: We are three volunteers now and therefore "live"! Horray, spread the word...
Update 2: Now we're 9... check our new website: www.MBAvolunteers.org

On another note, check this cool non-profit:
They match up post-MBAs with for-profit companies in developing countries as part of a consulting project. I emailed them to see if I could maybe join a project on a voluntary basis even though I don't have my MBA yet. I would like to do something like a pre-MBA internship somewhere in South America before LBS begins in August. As I wrote in an earlier post, I'll be leaving my job in Boston in March. First destination will be Brazil.

Update: Just got an email back, you need to be post-MBA to join a project :-(

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Post-MBA location

Last week some of the LBS admits from Boston met up. Was great meeting some of my fellow future class mates. We are planning on meeting up again next week since not all of us could attend last time. There was also an alumni who shared some info on LBS and working in the US afterwards. For those applicants who are considering working in the US after their MBAs, European schools are typically not the best choice. But according to the alumni, LBS does have an excellent brand recognition among recruiters in the US, in case you want to leave the options of your post-MBA location open. He is currently recruiting for his company (BCG) and will be interviewing 3 candidates from LBS for US offices. One interesting fact he also mentioned: Only McKinsey, BCG and Goldman Sachs tend to pay attention to degrees with distinction. So if you don't plan to work for one of these three (they also want your GMAT scores btw) then don't bother working your ass off like a maniac - nobody will care about your class rank.

Then I also heard about a very funny tradition at LBS: The Santa Pub Crawl. 400+ students in Santa costumes hitting the nightlife in London. Check some pix:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

After our MBA, when the $$$ are rolling in...

...lets not forget what some of us might have written in our MBA applications! Yes for the first years some might be busy paying off those loans, maybe then it's time to buy that nice house for the family. But at some point, wouldn't it be cool to do something good with all that money we'll (hopefully) be making? I mean before the MBA we all did our volunteering stuff to make that resume look nice, why not after an MBA as well? I wanted to introduce two guys (not sure if they got an MBA though :-) who did some pretty cool stuff with their money and their time:

John Wood (check his Wikipedia profile): He was a top Microsoft manager in the 90's, earning a shit load of money, when he once decided to go backpacking in Nepal. After seeing the poverty and visiting a remote school which had a few lousy books in its library, he promised to return and help out. The school director said: "Yeah of course you'll come back, like all the other tourists said..." A couple months later, he fulfilled his promise and returned with 3,000 books loaded on 37 donkeys. Soon later, he quit his job at Microsoft in 2000 and founded Room to Read which today supports 155 schools worldwide and has collected $33MM in donations to date.

Mo Ibrahim (check his Wikipedia profile): Mo made a fortune on the sale of his mobile phone company in Africa in 2005. With the money he made from the sale (estimated at $650MM) Mo founded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which awards $5MM over 10 years and $200K for life after to any African leader who demonstrated good governance and leadership (such as handing off power after losing a democratic election). Through this "competition" Mo wants to promote democracy in Africa and hopes that African leaders might stop enriching only themselves instead of their countries.

Well maybe these are two extreme examples, but I hope I'll remember what I just wrote in my blog in a few years out.

Update: Thanks for the info mbabound, John Wood got his MBA from Kellogg.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Just made my deposit...

...of 1500 GBP to LBS! Can't wait to move to London and meet my new class mates. After 7 years in Boston I'm so looking forward to living in a new city....

On another note, my last day of work will be March 7, 2008. A week after, I will be leaving to Brazil with a couple of friends to go backpacking. After they return to Boston, I will travel North along the coast and try to find a nice place where I can learn how to kite surf. If anybody knows of good kite surfing spots in South America please let me know! I also plan on working somewhere in S. America for 1-2 months, maybe in some interesting business/industry or a non-profit, something like a pre-MBA internship.

Anyways, if you have similar plans (no matter which b-school you're attending) and if you want to meet up somewhere for some beers at the beach bar, drop me an email!
anselmino at gmail dot com

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How I picked my schools…

So HBS, LBS, Haas and IESE might sound like a weird combination of b-schools, but I sure did my research and ended up with these 4 programs. In order of my preference of schools, here are my pros and cons:

1. HBS
Pros: Harvard was my top choice simply because of the brand. Who wouldn’t go there if they got in? I also liked that HBS was strong in General Management and Entrepreneurship (I want to pick Strategy and Entrepreneurship as my majors). When I visited I was also impressed by the current students and the class atmosphere – most students there are not of the arrogant / full of themselves type but are rather kind and helpful. Of all places, however, I was least passionate about HBS, simply because of the cons below.
Cons: The location – but don’t get me wrong here, I love Boston! It’s my second home. But after having lived here for almost 7 years I have the strong desire to live in a new city and experience something new while I still can. 7 years in the same place is way too long at this age. Plus, did you know that HBS doesn’t have an exchange program? That would have meant another 2 full years in Boston.

2. LBS
Pros: The city – I know the weather there isn’t the best, but I love places with diversity. I mean just take the subway there (excuse me, the "tube") and you will hear hundreds of different languages and see faces from around the globe. Now to the program, the same is reflected in the student body at LBS – almost 90% is international! I love this! Compare this to any top US b-school and you will find that most have merely 35% international students, many of whom have already lived in the US for several years. Another big plus for LBS is its brand – also outside of Europe, which is why a wide range of leading companies recruit there. And LBS has quite an impressive exchange program (plan to go to IESE for a semester if I can).
Cons: It is known that LBS is a top destination for people who want to get into Finance. Since I want to go into the industry (maybe a rotational program or strategic planning) I hope LBS has strong enough recruiting ties in this field. A last con: The city – because it is damn expensive.

3. Haas
Pros: If you had asked me 1 month ago I would have stated Haas as my clear #2 choice. However, that would have been before I went to London to check out LBS. I must say though that my preference shift to LBS has two causes: I have an admit from LBS (while I will most likely get dinged from Haas – no interview invite so far) and my Haas visit was last year in April (while my LBS visit is just a few weeks back). Also, while I was just back home in Europe for 4 weeks, I realized I really wanted to make my move back across the Atlantic – and going out west to California was clearly the wrong direction. Now back to the pros: So during my visit in April 2007 I was really impressed by the current students – the most laid back students of all places I’ve visited. One guy I was sitting with in class really fascinated me, he had tattoos and piercings all over (and made great contributions to the class discussion), which speaks for the diversity of characters at Haas. Another pro you can’t go wrong with is living in San Francisco with warm temperatures all year round. Lastly, Haas is also a powerhouse when it comes to Entrepreneurship.
Cons: Well I think I covered them under the pros. If you go to Haas, you will most likely end up in the Bay Area, which just wasn’t my plan I realized.

Pros: Of all programs it is probably the most similar to HBS (100% case method) which is no surprise because HBS helped found IESE and both schools still have a strong cooperation. This means a strong focus on General Management and Entrepreneurship. Another pro is definitely Barcelona, a great city to live in and like LBS it brings me back home to Europe. If I can, I plan to go on exchange to IESE, also because I always wanted to live in a Spanish speaking country and this would be a great opportunity to polish up my Spanish.
Cons: Opus Dei. Just kidding, the organisation (and your religion) has absolutely no influence on admissions at all (but many professors do belong to this bizarre club!). The reputation. While IESE is well known in Europe (esp. Spain) and South America, it does have a quite limited brand reputation beyond that. Also, I know this makes me sound like a lazy slacker :-), but I’ve heard from so many current students that the 1st year at IESE is just killer, leaving you virtually no time to enjoy other things like club activities, etc. A regular day involves 3 classes, then a mandatory class of Spanish, and then preparing 3 cases for the next day, which takes another 4-6 hours according to the students I spoke with. Sounds like work hard play little to me.

A fifth school that initially made it on my list was Kellogg. However, when I saw how many essays I would have to write for my other 4 schools and then looked at Kellogg's application I decided not to apply. I was initially interested in Kellogg for its strong community (Chicago GSB I felt was more like a commuter school) and I was just slightly more impressed with the current students there than at its local rival. But in the end my passion for Kellogg was not strong enough to keep it on the list. Another school I considered was ESADE in Barcelona, as a backup since I had no idea how my low GMAT would effect the outcome of my applications. Once I got the IESE admit, however, I canceled my informational interview.

HBS ding

So today is probably an active day for the MBA blog community, because Harvard released its R1 decisions. I got dinged! Which was of no surprise to me, since I hadn’t received an interview invite (a requirement to be admitted). I must say I was a bit disappointed when I read the message (even though I knew it was coming) but in my next blog entry above I will explain why getting this ding is perfectly fine with me. Before I forget, congrats to all of those who got accepted! Boston is an awesome place to live, you will love it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

LBS extension on decision date?

Just one more thought, if you're thinking of getting an extension on your LBS decision date, they specifically write in the admit package that there are NO extensions (unlike with IESE, they were so kind to give me an additional 6 weeks to think things over). European b-schools seem to give little time, as I wrote IESE gave me 1 month from my acceptance date, and LBS is in the same time frame (accepted Dec 19, have to decide by Jan 25 by making a 1500 GBP deposit). US b-schools give you more time. Most R1 admits have until April to decide (3 months).

LBS yield

Quick addition to the post on LBS' acceptance rate: So last year for the class of 2009 (accoring to RusGirl's blog) the yield rate in round 1 was 72%. For the class of 2008 (according to Angie's blog) the yield was 75% for round 1. As for round 2, RusGirl didn't have figures but Angie's blog mentiones 59%. Because of the lower yield rate in R2 there are more offers of admissions than in R1 (220 vs. 140 for the class of 2008). Looking at the class of 2010, I can tell you that there are roughly the same number of admits in R1 than for the class of 2009 (which was 179 admits).

Either way, my estimate below of an overall yield of 65% sounds fair to me, maybe it should be slightly higher by a couple % points, lowering the acceptance rate to ~20%.

Class of 2009 R1 stats
Class of 2009 R2, R3, R4 stats
Class of 2008 overall stats

Thursday, January 3, 2008

LBS and IESE acceptance rates

First of all: Happy New Year! Before I grow old and rusty (and start forgetting), I wanted to share some stats on LBS' and IESE's acceptance rates. Both schools don't publish any of these. So during an informational interview, I was told by an IESE admissions officer that the acceptance rate of the class of 2009 was 17%, which is remarkably low and hard to believe. But it could be true, considering the small class size of IESE (210 students) and the competitiveness among Spanish and South American applicants for the bilingual track. As a comparison, both Harvard and Berkeley had acceptance rates of around 14% for the class of 2009. Now for London Business School, they received 2100 applications last year and the class size was 310. Assuming LBS has a yield rate of 65% , we can assume that LBS gave out offers to around 480 applicants which would translate into an acceptance rate of about 22%. That ain't too bad for a top MBA program!

Update: According to Veritasprep LBS has an acceptance rate of 20%. No source is given, they probably did the same simple math as I did...

Update: Check the comments to this post for more info on IESE's acceptance rate... According to BusinessWeek's 2010 Ranking LBS has an acceptance rate of 18% and IESE has an acceptance rate of 21%. No source is given.

Update: Check my post regarding LBS class of 2010 stats... The number of applications increased to roughly 2500, so using the math from above you get an acceptance rate of 19.7% (using a class size of 320).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Got into LBS!

So it's been a while since I last posted here. I had my LBS interview on Dec 7, the last day we were supposed to complete the interview. The alumni was very nice and tried to help me I felt but still asked lots of questions: Why an MBA now, why LBS, what will you contribute (aside from the standard things such as international experience, etc.). One question you should really prepare for: I was asked which other schools I'm applying to and then I was asked how I'll decide which school to attend if I got accepted to all. Your answer should obviously favor the school you're interviewing for! Remember, the yield rate (% of applicants accepting offer of admission) is a key factor for b-schools, the higher the better the spot in the rankings. While Harvard's yield is somewhere around 90%, other top schools typically hover around 50-70%.

Btw, my impromptu presentation topic for LBS was something like "What are the advantages and disadvantages of a UN passport that allows people around the world to move freely?" LBS is an international place favoring free trade so your answers to any questions like globalization or immigration should probably favor these. They say though that your answer is not important (more so your argumentation and logic) but I'm sure it has some influence on the "fit" evaluation.

Anyways, so I visited IESE on Dec 14 and LBS on Dec 17. At both places, I met very nice admissions people and great current students. Both are amazing schools!

On Dec 19 I was quite excited to learn that I got accepted to LBS as well! So if things stay as they are (no interest from Haas or HBS) then I'll probably go to LBS, since it has a stronger reputation outside of Europe. Most people probably would decide the same way, but IESE definitely has amazing students as well! Some of them didn't even apply to LBS, even though they prob. would have been accepted there as well, just because they love Barcelona and want to learn another language. I definitely want to go on exchange there if I can.

As for Haas and HBS, same as before: No love from them so far.

Update: Other impromptu presentation topics for the LBS interview I've heard of: Are you in favor of breaking patents for medicine in developing countries? And then something on carbon emissions trading, don't remember that one quite correctly, sorry!

Update 2: More topics I heard of: If you could make a documentary, what would it be about? And: Are you in favor of globalization? Quickly also wanted to share a funny story I heard from a fellow admit. While most interviews take place in offices or Starbucks, she had hers at home in her living room!

Update 3: Another interesting topic I came across on the BW forum: An employer sacked its store keeper for posting bad comments about the employer on facebook. Would you agree with the employer, and why?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Haas and HBS...

Hmm... still no word from Berkeley and Harvard. I haven't even received the email from Berkeley that my application is ready to be reviewed! As for HBS, I submitted the app on Oct 1! That's almost 2 months ago... don't have a good feeling :-(

In two weeks I'll go check out the campuses of IESE and LBS while I'm back home in Europe. I will be at LBS a week before they send out their decisions. Well, I guess I'll have to take the risk since I'll be in Europe, hopefully I won't get dinged just right after I visit :-).

Monday, November 26, 2007

London Business School interview

Just received an email with my LBS interview logistics (luckily it will be in Boston). It seems like everybody has to give a 5min. impromptu presentation? Man, the whole MBA application process is getting a bit too crazy. I wish I had applied in the days when you didn't even have to interview! What's going to be next? Two inteview stages? 15 essays?

Received an extension from IESE...

As I wrote in my first post, I am very happy that I already received an offer from IESE. Definitely takes away some of the pressure and anxiety. A little issue I faced though was the decision deadline I was given by IESE. I got accepted on November 7, had to give IESE word by November 23 if I was accepting, and make a 4500 Euro deposit by December 5! That was quite soon! By December 5 I will not have heard back yet from any other university and also I haven't even visited the IESE campus! So I called admissions (after having sent 2 unanswered emails) and finally today (three days after I should have sent the fax) I received an email that the admissions committee granted me an extension to January 16 (and a deposit extension to January 30). I really appreciate IESE's responsiveness and look forward to checking out their campus and meeting current students in December!

Friday, November 16, 2007


...quick update: I got lucky and received an interview invite! Hurray.

Curious to see where I'll have to interview, hopefully here in Boston... back to work now.