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My MBA: From broadcast to the boardroom!

Written by David Simpson

One of the most fulfilling parts of our work in the Admissions Team is knowing how much the MBA is going to change our students’ lives. This is especially true for the many students who join us looking to make a career shift from non-business backgrounds. Although such candidates have a lot more work to do, especially in the first year core courses such as accounting and finance, taking the longer route within a 15-21 month MBA programme enables students to make some big career transitions. To see their educational progression and growth is fantastic. And as you will read in the following piece, Portia moving from the BBC to McKinsey & Co is a great example of that!

 

Portia Williams: From broadcast to the boardroom!

“I was working as a broadcast journalist at the BBC in London. I had been a journalist for almost seven years, mostly focusing on news and current affairs across the Middle East and North Africa.

I wanted a new challenge and found that the opportunities offered by business school really appealed to me.  I was also impressed by the experience of my some of my peers who took MBAs and by their personal development during and following the course.

It’s unusual to even consider applying to business school without experience in industries like finance or consulting or an academic background in disciplines like business or engineering, all of which are already very male-dominated.  This means that a lot of great potential candidates don’t even consider applying.

To women considering business school, I’d say, be open-minded!  There’s so much out there when you start thinking about business.  Just because you didn’t study commerce or haven’t worked at a bank doesn’t mean that you won’t have an amazing experience at business school or that there aren’t fantastic professional opportunities out there for you as a result of having done a course like this. London Business School is a great place for women to study.  There are some really inspiring and supportive women here both among the student body and in the faculty. 

I’ve really enjoyed the learning component.  The MBA has taught me a lot in terms of academic content but even more importantly, it’s altered my outlook.  I now think about problems in a completely different way to how I did before starting this course.  I’ve also really enjoyed making lots of new friends!  It’s a real privilege to be able to study with so many impressive, energetic and fun people from around the world.

One of my academic highlights was an elective course called “Leading Teams and Organisations”.  Each of the sessions involved interactive workshops with different groups of classmates from different programmes.  It was an extraordinary shared learning experience that I don’t think you could replicate outside of the MBA classroom.

Negotiation and bargaining with Dr Lisa Shu transformed the way I approached negotiating by helped me to think about potential conflicts in a completely different and much more positive light.  Taking part in simulated negotiation situations with our classmates each week meant we could try out different tactics and approaches in what felt like a safe environment.

Being part of the TELL Series Committee allowed me to meet with a number of extremely successful and very inspiring European entrepreneurs and to hear their stories first hand.  It was also a great way to get to know other students from outside of my stream and programme.

I went on the 2015 trip to Moscow and St Petersburg.  I’d wanted to visit Russia for as long as I can remember but had been waiting until I had the chance to go with Russians.  It was fantastic to be able to get their insights into life there and experience the country with them.

My Global Business Experience was in South Africa.  We spent a week doing a really fascinating project working with micro-entrepreneurs in the Alexandra Township in Johannesburg.  It was interesting and challenging in equal parts.  We also got to learn about the history of South Africa while we were there through trips and lectures and about what’s happening with business and the economy through visits to various businesses there.

I am currently on exchange at NYU’s Leonard Stern School of Management in New York.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to get to spend four months living and studying in a different country. Upon graduation I’m going to join McKinsey and Company as a consultant in their London office.  It’s a role I’m looking forward to and one I don’t think I would have even considered if it hadn’t been for going to LBS.”