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.


Javier said...

Hi Thomas. I'm going to apply to the IESE Business School and I would like to know if there is any handbook just like the one you attached in your post, but for IESE instead of LBS.


Thomas said...

Sorry but I don't have such a handbook for IESE. Perhaps contact the school directly if you can't find any information on their website.

Javier said...

OK, thanks.

By the way, I'm Spanish and I'm thinking of applying to IESE and LBS.

As you've been in both of them, I'd like to ask you about networking and recruiting.

On one hand, do you think LBS networking with people who are going to work in Spain is good compared to IESE? Do many Spanish recruiters attend to LBS events?

On the other hand, does IESE have a good reputation in Europe (out of Spain)? Do european recruiters attend to IESE events?


Thomas said...

Spanish recruiters do come to LBS events. However, if you're 100% sure you want to work in Spain (forever) it may be better to attend IESE. If you want to go beyond Spain at some point then LBS may be a good choice.

EU recruiters definitely attend IESE events, but from my perception the IESE brand recognition is limited to Europe.

Javier said...

OK, thank you for your answers!

Alex said...

Hi, can you try to evaluate the career value from participating in exchange program? I mean did you receive the same exposure to recruiters and proximity to other on-campus career events during your exchange just as "native" students had?

Thomas said...

Alex, often students go on exchange to take advantage of networking and career opportunities at the MBA programs abroad. The level of support will vary by MBA program. Some give exchange students full access, others don't. You will have to do your research.

Others go on exchange for the cultural experience.

Hope this helps.

Alex said...


Alex said...

Can you describe somehow the level of career search support that LBS provided for incoming exchange students?