Posts by Linden
There has been a big boom in the number of food related start-ups in the last few years; London Business School itself incubated many entrepreneurs with a passion for food – amongst them are Adrian Collins, founder of the KUPP, Corrado Accardi , founder of Pizza Rossa and Kalina Halatcheva who founded Coppa della Maga. We caught up with Kalina who talked to us about her experience of making a shift from the automotive industry to becoming a food entrepreneur. Kalina graduated from the EMBA-Global Americas and Europe programme in 2010 and has since launched her own company, Coppa della Maga which in Italian means “The Bowl Of the Magician”. Her product is an all-natural ice cream, free from gluten and sugar.
Tell us a bit about your business – and what makes it different?
The brand Coppa della Maga was created three years ago, after discovering a niche for an ice cream that is both healthy and delicious. Everyone has a favourite brand of ice-cream, but they are usually full of sugar and often other unhealthy ingredients. While health is currently a big issue and more and more healthy ice cream brands have appeared on the market, they still lack the indulgence factor. Meanwhile, all the research and marketing polls were showing that the number one reason to buy ice cream was for indulgence. Coppa della Maga has it all – ‘a healthy and indulgent ice-cream’.
This is a departure from what you were doing before – what triggered this change?
I was very happy in my previous roles in the automotive and insurance sectors; however I was looking for something more fulfilling. The factors that were most important to me were: 1. To have maximum control over the whole process and value chain of the business model; 2. The possibility to create a brand that has the potential for worldwide presence and sizeable scale; 3. A premium and healthy product that would relate back to the business model.
The manufacturing of healthy food ticked all of the above boxes for me. I was ready for a change and I had already been looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity for a couple of years when I came across a bankrupted ice cream manufacturer that was for sale. I did not end up buying this business but during the due diligence process I discovered the niche for a healthy and delicious ice cream and I decided to start my own business from scratch.
What do you love about it – what drives you mad?
I love everything about it. It’s more than just a job. It’s both fun and a pleasure and provides extensive opportunities to travel, to meet people, to continue learning through the business and to express my creativity. This is not simply my job or career, but rather a platform for living my whole life.
Did you always know you had a business start-up idea or was it something you discovered in yourself as part of your time on the programme?
I have always felt very entrepreneurial, even while I was working for the bigger companies. I knew I was there to do the best I am capable of for the companies I worked for and to learn so that I can do it on my own one day. The EMBA-Global programme gave me the confidence to actually go for it. After graduating I felt there was no big missing piece in my skills toolbox.
How did you approach first stage funding? What are/were the next steps?
I built my factory in Bulgaria where I was born. As a start-up company, I did not have access to any funding and I did not want to have equity partners. A big financial help, however was an EU funding, to which many Bulgarian companies have access to. I was granted this financial aid due to me being a manufacturer of a food product.
What advice would you give to a would-be entrepreneur in this sector?
Start small, make it profitable, and only then expand. A lot of people I speak to are tempted by the idea of coming up with a fancy food brand, outsourcing the production, then selling the franchise and becoming exponentially rich. It might have worked for some companies in the past, but I don’t believe this could be applied successfully in the food industry today. People are looking more and more to know about the quality of the product, its provenance, and the people behind it. I always give the advice to people that if they believe that the entrepreneurial idea will bring them the same good salary they have now, they should go for it. Food is deeply related to us in so many ways and working in that sector can bring lots of satisfaction. Greater financial success will come with time, both as a byproduct of the success of your brand and as a reward of your customers loyalty.
What did you hope for when you chose EMBA-Global – have you achieved your objective?
I think I still keep realising and discovering the benefits of the EMBA-Global programme, through the skills I have gained; through the things I’ve been told and the wisdom of the professors. The alumni network is a priceless resource for professional matters and also for friendship. I believe the people who gain the most are the ones who choose the programme because of their eagerness to learn and not just because they have studied at two prestigious universities.
Julia Marsh is Executive Director for the Leadership Programmes Portfolio at London Business School – for experienced executives, professionals and entrepreneurs. Her own experience is in business education in top ranked schools and programmes, coupled with management consulting, and she holds an MBA from London Business School.
We caught up with Julia after the Christmas break, bringing in January classes of the Executive MBA, and the Sloan MSc in Leadership and Strategy, and looking ahead to the next cohort of the EMBA-Global in May – so we asked her a few questions…
The EMBA-Global Americas and Europe and the sister cohort in Asia have been running for some years – can you tell me a little about the programmes’ background?
It seems impossible to believe that the EMBA-Global Americas and Europe had their first cohort 15 years ago. This partnership between London Business School and Columbia Business School was created to meet the career aspirations of the trans-national executive, for whom living and working with teams across regions was fast becoming the norm. We wanted a programme that combined the best and complementary business school thinking in two world leading business locations.
The decision to add Asia to the global “mix” was a natural extension of wanting to see our students prepared for careers in any region, and the first cohort entered in 2009.
These globally focused executives have gone from strength to strength, we’ve seen the consistent performance in the FT rankings – always in the top 5 when other programmes come and go. Their career paths are accelerated, and for some of the class the EMBA-Global has led to successful entrepreneurial ventures.
Leading on from that, what makes the teaching stand out?
The faculty – drawn from the partner schools – have enormous enthusiasm and engagement with the classes. They contribute different perspectives in core courses, bring knowledge, connections and speakers to their classes. They advise and discuss their subjects and the issues of the day. It is a powerful edge in the programme design that the faculty travel with the classes across the locations. The teaching style is highly interactive, designed to draw out our students’ experience as well as the subject knowledge. The case based methodology and the faculty’s research connections across the worlds of business, government and NGOs ensures that the learning is fresh and relevant.
The students benefit from the different teaching styles and perspectives – European and US– this is where the Americas & Europe students really earn the right to have two MBAs from LBS and CBS.
And what do you think is the value in the learning experience for the students?
Our students place enormous value on the quality and international dimension of the class, scrutinizing this as much as the rankings and reputation. This will be their network, and they must be able to contribute to the class learning as well as the faculty.
We are also passionate about development of the softer skill sets – the curriculum is just one facet of the learning experience – we want to develop people who can work effectively with others as well as lead, and much of this takes the form of executive coaching as well as practical skills development.
And what do the students get from the structure? Balancing class weeks and different locations combined with high pressure jobs isn’t easy.
You are exactly right – this is a demanding programme. But we think that the structure is one that optimises learning and creates close bonds through the class week “immersion” once a month. There is time to absorb the ideas and work on assignments between sessions – and the locations of London and New York – as well as Hong Kong give the students exposure to three world class financial hubs.
When students start elective courses they can choose from the three schools’ offerings and multiple formats from intensive block weeks to weekend or cross term classes.
I do have to say that it is not just about work – we have social reps for each city to ensure that the class gets the maximum out of their time there, and most classes will set up side trips – to wine producers, skiing trips, sailing, and Tim Kopra – who has been in the news recently on his mission to the international space station – took his classmates to NASA!
Julia, what type of student do you look for when recruiting for the programme?
We take the composition of the class very seriously – we are creating a cohort who will become the unofficial “family” for 20 months and beyond. Our students need to be smart, curious and be able to apply the learning in their current roles – it goes without saying that they are open and adaptable, they love to travel and share new perspectives, most have international responsibilities or aspire to an international career path.
The application process is designed to make a case for their candidacy, highlight their experience and achievements (as well as set-backs) and with a smaller cohort we can look at each individual. They must have management experience – which we define as managing processes, resources and projects – not everyone has the opportunity to practice line management. We expect them to contribute in class, so they will need to be proactive and be able to push themselves. The recommendations, our interactions with the candidates, and the interview all help to build a rounded picture of the candidate.
Thanks Julia – good luck with your next intakes.
EMBA-Global in London in February – it’s the most exciting week of the calendar for us at LBS. Not only do our two classes (Asia and Americas and Europe) come together for a joint learning week, but the social side really takes off. Classes included Strategic Management, Global Economics, Capital Markets and Managerial Negotiations. There was at least one dinner to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year.
There was a powerful launch to the week on Sunday with an inspiring session on accelerating your career and securing your next promotion. Thursday evening saw the red-T-shirted classes sponsor Sundowners, (some) made time for a Leadership Speaker event with Luke Johnson, Chairman of Patisserie Holdings PLC giving tips on how p/e really works and what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and held a Talent Show showcasing the amazing skills of a class that can dance, sing, ride a unicycle and drink a glass of wine while doing a headstand…..
Friday bought a highlight talk by Lynda Gratton discussing her latest insights on the Future of Work followed by a reception to close the week Talking about the hollowing out of the workplace, the global shift of Fortune 500 companies, what robots will be doing instead of us in the next 10 years (though NOT paying taxes or indulging in retail therapy) the whole evening felt like a glimpse into the future – the world you, the kids and grandkids will be working in….
It’s cold outside, but the spirit of the class is tangible – warm, supportive, working and playing hard.
From an Admissions point of view, this is exactly what I wish for our classes. They are riding the challenges of balancing work, study and life – they are involving their partners and families, and they are smarter, better networked, increased in confidence and ambition – and they can catch up on sleep later.
We are interviewing now for the May 2015 class, and seeing some great people. The next deadline is March 2nd so get in touch if you are planning your application and want some last minute admissions tips.
The November 17 deadline is coming up for EMBA-Global and we’re getting a lot of questions about the application process and admission.
As EMBA-Global (a pioneer programme in the trans-national Executive MBA world) involves two partner schools and two admissions committees, some of you have been curious as to how we manage this. EMBA-Global Asia brings in the University of Hong Kong – so there are three partners involved in the process!
First, we only need you to do one application. All the information provided in the application system is read carefully by the schools, and depending on your region – and a successful shortlist decision, you will be invited to interview on campus at Columbia Business School or London Business School. If you are applying to EMBA-Global Asia, most interviews are in Hong Kong but we also see candidates in New York and London.
It’s a good idea to run through the application requirements in the website Apply section. Once you’ve applied we check as well, and let you know if anything is missing, when you can expect to hear from us, and what the next steps are.
We expect you have a role where you can apply your learning, and have built increasing management responsibilities – though this is not always direct line management – it could be projects, teams, resources and budgets. We also expect you to have a transnational element in your career. It’s normal for executives to manage across time-zones, deliver successful results across geographies and work with people who never or only rarely have the chance to meet. And that’s normal for us as well.
After interviews, the schools hold Admissions Committee meetings where each candidate is discussed in detail, and final decisions are made.
Our expectations are that you will be smart, ambitious, resilient and ready to contribute to a high achieving class where you will make lifelong friendships. You will have a global, not a local mindset and ambitions. We know that this is the first step in making significant changes in your career – whether its moving up the ladder or a new direction. It all starts with that application.
Sloan applications opened up in January, and with the first deadline on 25 February, we’re looking forward to seeing more applications from senior, experienced executives, professionals and entrepreneurs who are beyond an MBA and planning the next stage of their careers.
Please make use of the fast track option. You can apply with the application form, cv, one reference and your essays and in most cases receive a review decision in 10-15 working days.
The application form and CV track your career moves, choices and responsibilities – and gives us a sense of your academic background. Your recommender will give us a sense of who you are. Your essays have been designed to showcase how you will contribute and benefit through the experience you have earned over the years.
For the 60 Sloan Fellows who started this January the main focus of these early weeks is around getting to know each other. For Sloan Fellows sharing experience is critical. We select the candidates who we believe are really engaged with this, and will be open to offering and listening to insights from each other. We all noticed how intently they listened to each other.
What do we mean by experience? With an average age of 40 and with nearly 60% of the class in General Management positions, from 27 nationalities and multiple career backgrounds they have a lot to contribute to their class learning and the school community. The week offered briefings on how to navigate the school, introductions Career Services and Alumni Relations, a relaxing dinner in Kettners’ and a family and partners’ lunch with stickers and colouring in for the kids, and a chance for the Sloan’s partners to get to know each other.
What happened in class? Sloans start their courses from Day 2 and have embarked on Executive Leadership, Biography, Understanding Top Management and Marketing. There have been tutorials in Corporate Finance and Speed Reading. They are choosing Class Reps, hearing from the Students Association, Elective briefings and brushing up on stats. They are being inspired by Professors Randall S. Peterson, Nigel Nicholson, Dominic Houlder and David Arnold.
To round off their orientation, the Sloans enjoyed a leadership weekend in Windsor. They took part in a variety of challenges aimed at testing their teamwork, leadership and strategy skills. It was also a good chance to further the social cohesiveness of the group. The Sloans reveled in the challenges especially in an idyllic setting such as Windsor, which for many would have been their first real experience of the British countryside.
As usual, all your comments and suggestions are welcome. Let us know about any topic you want to see on the blog and we will do our best to make it happen.
So finally it begins again, the moment we have been waiting for. The new EMBA-Global and EMBA-Global Asia admissions process for May 2014 has begun which will bring with it the hustle and bustle of interesting interactions with exciting new applicants. The timetable for the new class, as usual, will enable highly-focused learning and minimum time away from the office. The courses will span between London, Hong Kong and New York, which ultimately means that students have access to elective portfolios of London Business School, Columbia Business School and Hong Kong University. An amazing feature of the EMBA-Global Asia is that it deepens students understanding of both Western and Eastern business practices.
The current EMBA-Global classes were in London for their August class week. It was lovely seeing the EMBA-Global class again. Both classes came together and the process of getting to know each other began. In addition, it was nice to meet the EMBA-Global Asia class for the first time as they were in London for their programme.
Class week is and always has been an important aspect of both EMBA-Global and EMBA-Global Asia, as it enables students to come together to study and interact, no matter what continent they are based in. This is an interesting aspect for us in Admissions because we not only get to know the students during the admissions process but also witness them bonding as students. We must not forget that EMBA-Global students are high calibre globally-focused leaders from a variety of nationalities and industry fields. Ultimately this means they bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience to the course and come together to share with each other this life-changing programme. This unique experience of global business perspectives in rapidly-changing economies will do more than give the students a head-start; it will enable them to operate as successful leaders. The August class week saw some exciting social events including an opening dinner for the Asia class and an on campus barbeque for both classes. I enjoy seeing the energy and excitement students bring with them during class week.
Here in London there are three of us in Admissions who are here to answer your queries and to assist you on your application. This is also an opportunity to find out more about London Business School. Applications are now open for May 2014 and if you feel that this is the valuable opportunity you have been waiting for then wait no more and start your application today!
Right now we are waiting for our May 2013 classes to arrive in London for their August block. We’re bringing together the two streams of EMBA-Global, and it’s always an exciting time to see the whole cohort together. These programmes are designed to deliver a truly global Executive MBA, tapping into the need for managers, entrepreneurs and professionals to have the tools, skills, knowledge and networks to succeed and deliver on demanding trans-national projects – and be effective in any environment.
From an admissions standpoint, having a shared decision making process across the partnership (Columbia Business School for the Americas and Europe group, and the University of Hong Kong for the Asia group) gives us fresh perspectives and insights into our candidates’ education and careers. We know that we can check in with our colleagues at Columbia for their take on a transcript, or our colleagues in Hong Kong to understand the career path of an Asian Government officer, or share our views on why a particular candidate is exceptional in their achievements. And we all enjoy a healthy debate about who should get his or her place.
Until admissions opens again in August we are taking some time to look back over the cycle, and capture some of the highs and lows that went into creating our EMBA-Global class.
Lows – when great people who really fit the class profile leave the application until too late. Being unable to include them in the cohort is frustrating for everyone. We do run a waitlist, but we want to ensure our students have the best possible experience, so it’s a short one. There are so many factors to take into account, including time for visas. The natural question is can I join later, but we do not admit people after the class has closed.
Our programmes are designed to pack in the maximum value, so unlike full time programmes there is no lengthy orientation week – we start you on courses right away.
Highs – seeing candidates using the programme as a springboard to develop their careers, even before the programme has started. Great examples include the candidate whose team was being expanded to support the workload, another used the business case to frame a successful discussion about her support and direction in the organisation, and another had already framed a project that would enable him to add value to a strategic goal.
With EMBA-Global we often see you in the “research” phase, we could be looking at your CV, or meeting you at an information event – and it’s clear that this is a major life decision, so really it’s not surprising that having done this thinking, you will be well placed to continue to succeed.
A good year will start with smart, well informed and ambitious people at our information sessions, and a buoyant interest in class visits (which you can do in New York, London or Hong Kong depending on your location). For this August, with the two cohorts coming together, we have almost all of our visitors’ places filled, so this looks like being another great year. But if you want to visit, classes will be running again in the three schools between now and March 2014.
One of my programmes is the Sloan MSc in Leadership and Strategy, a full time Masters designed to develop senior, experienced executives for their next career challenges. If you haven’t already seen this from the website, I’d encourage you to take a look right now.
Why would I start a blog asking you to look at a video? It was created by the current class of Sloan Fellows (2013) during an insanely busy time. This term sees the class balancing core courses, electives, an international trip, skills development, careers work and increasing involvement in “school life” with clubs and activities. They created this video – and I found it completely inspiring.
Listen to what they say, I hear these themes again and again as I review and interview candidates.
They talk about new perspectives, challenging thinking, a learning process from experienced, exceptional peers and world class faculty. They are mindful that new skills are needed in strategy and leadership, and how this greater level of self-knowledge will play a key role in their future success. They demonstrated how a small team of people who have only known each other for a few months can work together, deliver results and create something that goes to the heart of the programme.
As we have lots of practical and factual information to give – and will do this in the coming months, I wanted to let you know what it feels like to be part of the process that creates these great classes of remarkable people – and thought that this would be a good introduction for a blog.
You probably already know (painfully) how much work goes into presenting your candidacy – its’ a substantial investment of time and effort.
This means that in admissions there is a corresponding volume of material to read, analyse, plan for interviews, review after interview and discuss for each individual. Technology helps in delivery. We don’t get fat packets of post with stamps from round the world any more (a shame, I quite liked the stamps, but that’s showing my age!). But even when everything is on a screen, the process of thinking carefully about each candidate and deciding whether to interview, encourage a re-application or recommend other ways for that individual to achieve goals takes time and focus.
So as the pressure builds, applications pile up, and the Admissions Committee review lists get longer, time must be taken to ensure that we keep to our competitive processes, and that no candidate gets overlooked. But we are also keeping in mind that that each Sloan Fellow we admit will be making their contribution to the next class, and also that this is an anxious time for candidates and their families. So it’s easy to think that all the work you do as a candidate just gets rolled into processes, but from our point of view, we are building classes that our faculty will love to teach, who will share their lifetime learning, and really contribute to the life of London Business School as students and alumni. And that, to go back to the first lines and the video, is inspiring.