Posts by Stephanie Kernwein
Summer is the time of changes in the world of admissions. On Friday 14 July we said goodbye to the MBA2017 class who had their official congregation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London. It was a bitter sweet day. On one hand we celebrated the success of the MBA2017 class who have completed their MBA and are about to embark on new and exciting adventures all around the world; on the other hand we also had to send them our farewells as we’ll no longer bump into them on campus. We will definitely miss that! It’s been two years since we first welcomed the class on campus at their official Orientation day and it has been an incredible two years watching them go through their transformational MBA journey. This class has had a real positive impact on the LBS community and it is hard to only mention a few reasons why they are such a great bunch. BUT my two favorite highlights from this class has been its take on inclusion and diversity.
The Women in Business Club officially launched the Man-bassador scheme which aims to encourage both men and women to openly discuss issues regarding gender diversity. The scheme has created opportunities for all students to learn how to be a successful male ally, and promote the message of equality to fellow students. This very important initiative from the Women in Business Club will be carried over to this year’s presidents who are continuing to build bridges and include allies in the discussion. Speaking of diversity and inclusion, the MBA2017 class has also been instrumental in propelling the Out in Business Club. Their mission is to raise awareness of the LGBT+ community, promote diversity and facilitate interaction between its members and other LGBT+ business networks. Last year the club organised the biggest ever EurOut conference, attracting more than 200 students from 45 leading global business schools and universities and speakers from BCG (the event’s lead sponsor), McKinsey, Cisco, Google, KPMG, Telegraph Group and Mishcon de Reya just to name a few. It has been an incredible experience watching the Out in Business club grow both in size and presence (the intake of openly LGBT+ students at LBS has more than trebled since 2010) and I am confident that the club will continue to make a positive contribution not only to LBS, but to the wider community as well.
The MBA2017 class have of course been involved in many, many more activites and causes, and these are just a couple of my personal highlights. So while we say goodbye to an amazing class, we are also saying hello to a brand new MBA class, something we in admissions are really excited about! We have been working with the new class since our first application deadline in September and in just a few weeks we welcome all 430 of them on campus. The new class will be as diverse as previous MBA classes, with students from over 70 different nationalities and of course from a variety of different professional backgrounds.
I was privileged to meet some of the new members of the MBA2019 class last month when I went to the annual Forte Foundation conference. At London Business School we invite our Forte Scholarship recipients to join the conference and this year we had four of our MBA2019 admits attending. Inspirational as always, this year the conference was hosted by Amazon in their home town of Seattle, Washington. Whether it was Amazon, the amazing line-up of speakers or the Forte Foundation’s amazing brand, this year’s conference ended up completely sold out! It was attended by more than 600 incoming or current MBA women from over 40 different schools in North America and Europe. Four of those 600 attendees are starting their MBA at LBS in just a few weeks:
- Sherry, a brand manager for Clif Bar in California and a wine enthusiast. Enthusiast is actually a real understatement, Sherry has not only worked in vineyards in Napa, she is also named after two wines…Sherry Rose. Sherry’s marketing experience will be extremely valuable for her classmates at LBS, but so will her experience in wine, particularly in the Wine and Spirits club!
- Neressa is a scientist at BioMarin Pharmaceiticals Inc, a biotechnology company which focuses on treatments for rare genetic diseases that mostly affect children. Neressa’s unique science background in a very male-dominated world will provide different perspectives to the classroom discussions. Neressa will bring a completely unique set of skills to her class.
- Elsa, a finance major who started her career on the trading floor, but later moved into retail in merchandice planning at Macy’s in New York. She is also a keen football player which she will have plenty of opportunities to pursue in the UK.
And finally we were also joined by Shannon, a Boeing engineer specifically in charge of designing the galleys on 737 air crafts. As part of my trip to Seattle I went to visit Boeing and now fully appreciate the immense complexity of Shannon’s work in designing and building air crafts. So there they are, four women from the MBA2019 class at London Business School each bringing a unique and diverse perspective to their new community. As part of my job I have read most of the applications from the new class and I can tell you that Sherry, Neressa, Elsa and Shannon will be joining a great group of unique and diverse individuals.
So while we were sad to say goodbye to the MBA2017s we also celebrated their achievements and we look forward to welcome the new group of MBAs who are all keen to make an impact on the LBS community.
I once read that one of the reasons women should undertake an MBA programme was because the alleged “bro-ski” or fraternity culture of business school prepares you for the male executive suite. On one hand I understand the argument. If you are surrounded by this type of culture for a couple of years you may very well grow a thick skin, handle critique better, become less emotional. All the stereotypes we associate men with and assume women don’t have or can’t handle (I don’t necessarily think this is true, but for the sake of this argument I am going to make general assumptions). On the other hand the statement implies that executive suites are always going to be dominated by men, and in order for women, to be successful they should conform to the male-like norms of the C-suite.
The assumption that all business schools have a cut-throat, ruthless environment is wrong. In fact, I would argue it is the exact opposite at London Business School. Our global community with nationalities from over 130 different countries creates an environment where different perspectives are a crucial part of the learning. In order to be successful at London Business School you will need to respect the collaborative nature of the school by building bridges rather than competing with your peers. I can say with confidence that the entire school community is collaborative, open-minded and inclusive. When you meet alumni or current students of the school they would be able to confirm this statement. We don’t believe that women should go to business school so they can “do business like a man… with men” I doubt that would go down well with most women. Instead women, just like men should pursue an MBA programme because they want to invest in themselves, their personal development, their career and lifelong network. However, women who are pursuing MBA programmes also have certain opportunities to change the c-suite and make a positive impact on gender equality.
It’s been said many times that business schools play an important role in creating the pipeline of women leaders. I couldn’t agree more. As a top business school we are educating future global leaders. Leaders of large international organisations who will go on to shape the business of the future. The more women who go on to graduate from business schools the more women we are able to promote into leadership roles. The more women we have in leadership roles the more opportunities we have to change outdated c-suite norms, in-equality in pay, maternity leave policies and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I am not implying that business schools are a single solution, but it can act as a very powerful and important catalyst.
I am very proud to work at a world-leading institution where promoting women in business is high on the agenda. Our faculty are producing great research on the topic of gender in-equality, we have a prominent student-led Women in Business club, the School is a long-time member of the Forte Foundation and we have recently launched our own “Manbassador scheme” asking men to pledge their support to gender parity. Just last weekend our team hosted the annual Women in Business Weekend for future women on the MBA programme. We welcomed a group of MBA candidates to join us in London for a weekend of faculty lectures, sightseeing in London, afternoon tea (we are in London after all) and to participate in our 17th annual Women in Business Conference.
These are just some examples of the many activities we do every year as a school to promote women inbusiness. We are making good progress as a school by educating more and more women and bringing them into senior positions once they graduate, but we still have a way to go. Being part of the MBA recruitment & admissions team, I and the rest of our team are responsible for bringing in talented and ambitious women who are going to shape the future of leadership. It’s one of my favourite parts of the job. It creates an enormous sense of purpose knowing that we are part of helping someone achieve their goals in life, but also helping to foster positive change in gender in-equality. I have a very special interest in bringing more women to business school as I sit on the School Advisory Council for the Forte Foundation and also chair its European School Advisory group. Through the School’s work with the Forte Foundation we collaborate with major corporations, other top business schools and influential non-profit organisations to direct talented women towards leadership roles in business.
I care deeply about this cultural shift and I look forward to continuing our work as change agents not only at London Business School, but across other schools and organisations.
The Women in Business Club strives to celebrate and advance women’s leadership in business. It is one of the largest and most active clubs on campus. With more than 500 student members and 60 events per year, the club provides excellent networking, skills development and recruitment opportunities. The club strives for an inclusive conversation about gender equality in business, inviting both men and women to take part in the conversation. Over the past year, the Women in Business Club has organised: recruitment events, personal development workshops, career panels, networking and social events as well as the annual flagship event: the LBS Women in Business Conference.
Carola Gruenert: LBS is as a place where you are respected and challenged in your views and thinking!
“Throughout my studies, I have been an active member of the LBS Women in Business Club Executive Committee. Currently, in my second year, I am Co-President of the club and lead an Executive Committee of more than 30 men and women who shape the agenda of the club.
As member of the ExCo and as Club Co-President I have had the chance to set up events that cater to the club member’s and my own interest: Bringing speakers to campus to talk about their experience and share their insights, as well as connecting the students across programmes. This year, we made a significant contribution to making the conversation about women empowerment and advancement more inclusive, including men in the conversation. We now have men in the ExCo and launched a ManBassador programme.
Taking on a leadership position as a Club President, allowed me to work on my management and leadership style. I was able to execute my ideas and have an impact on the school community. Also, it enabled me to meet even more members of the School community and broaden my network.
I am also a peer leader at LBS. As a peer leader, I support fellow students who seek a career in Management Consulting in preparing them for the recruiting process. The one-on-one coaching and mock-interview sessions that I hold have been a great experience for me. On the one hand I had the chance to build meaningful relationships with classmates who I otherwise have not met, and on the other hand I could work on my interviewing and coaching skills and learn from the people I work with. To me, the peer leader programme is only one example of the strong LBS community. We are all at LBS to learn, develop and seek new opportunities. While at times, we are perhaps competing against each other for the same job opportunities, the support that you receive from your classmates and the broader LBS community and alumni prevails.
London Business School is a great place to study for everyone. Given the diversity of the school – no country is represented by more than 10% – no one feels like a minority. This holds true for nationalities as well as gender. From my experience, I would recommend LBS as a place where you are respected and challenged in your views and thinking. Where everyone can grow and develop and find their niche. Whether you are into Organizational Behaviour classes or prefer something more tangible like Finance classes, you can tailor your curriculum to your interests.
I have to admit that before coming to LBS I had the pre-conception of MBA students being super self-confident, extrovert and having strong opinions. It was a nice surprise to see that actually the students in my class are a balanced mix of introverts and extroverts, and no opinion dominates the discussions, given that we all come from different professional backgrounds and countries. For me, this makes a great learning environment.
Pre-MBA I was a Management Consultant with Oliver Wyman in Munich, Germany. I was a generalist and worked for clients across Europe. I am returning to Oliver Wyman in Munich post MBA as a Management Consultant (project manager) focusing on consulting projects in the retail sector. In the long term I seek to build a portfolio career, keeping management consulting as a substantial part of my portfolio of activities.
In Germany, a Masters degree is highly valued and almost seen as necessary for a successful career. When I finished my Bachelors studies in General Management, I was eager to start working and see “the real world”. I didn’t see the benefit of studying a Masters degree at that time and decided to embark on a career in Management Consulting and return to business school after a few years of work experience . The idea of studying real cases and with students who all had seen “the real world” fascinated me. As my first commitment towards my goal, I took the GMAT – with the GMAT being valid for 5 years, this gave me some flexibility on when I would do the MBA and the confidence of already having completed one of the challenges of getting into a top business school.
A few years later, I was ready for my career break and eager to do an MBA. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to go abroad and develop my personal skills before transitioning into a manager. The MBA also allowed me time to think about my long term career plans.
It is not a secret that pursuing an MBA is a substantial financial investment. It is an experience and investment that I consider totally worthwhile, but also a decision that one should think through. I think women potentially see this financial investment as a barrier, especially when considering starting a family in the near future.
However, I see the hurdle in making it into a top business school like LBS more challenging than setting up the financing. There are a lot of scholarships available for women in your home country as well as through LBS. Student loans are available as well as firm sponsorships, well paid internships or part-time jobs which you can do during your studies can also contribute to your financing.
In addition, the flexible length of the MBA programme at LBS allows you to get back to work after only 15 months or 18 months, which also reduces the financial burden significantly.”
Do you have an eye for detail and a passion for a career within the luxury goods sector? London Business School’s MBA should be your number one choice. With our Luxury Management programme, taught within our MBA and in partnership with Walpole British Luxury, you’ll have a unique opportunity to gain real experience in successful luxury brands. Find out more about how we support careers within the luxury sector.
I recently caught up with Renita Bakshi, MBA2017 to find out more about her experience on the MBA programme. Renita studied an undergraduate degree in Marketing and International Business at Indiana University- Kelley School of Business. She most recently worked in Planning for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan at Tiffany & Co., United States of America.
What are your post MBA goals?
I hope to build a career in an industry that I am most passionate about and eventually be CEO.
Why did you decide to consider business education? And why did you choose to embark on an MBA at that point in your career?
I was looking to transform professionally and personally. While, I was at Tiffany & Co., I noticed that everyone in the C-suite either had an MBA or robust international experience. I knew that if I wanted to grow into a business leader, I needed to garner both and there was no better place to do it than London Business School. Apart from the international student body, LBS provides students with many opportunities to gain global experience. Next year, I am going on exchange to Hong Kong. I want to do my Global Business Experience in Johannesburg, Africa and take block week classes in Dubai. By the end of my MBA, I will have had exposure to doing business across four continents and living in three of most magnificent cities in the world – New York, London and Hong Kong.
Through the MBA, I was also looking to gain exposure to new industries as I had spent five years in the retailing industry. Through the recruiting process, I was able to secure two offers, one from Google and another from Accenture Strategy. I am interning at Google this summer and hopefully at Accenture in the fall. When, I come back from Hong Kong, I am thinking to do a third internship in private equity within the retail space. LBS’ flexible program will allow me to experience three industries – Tech, Consulting and Private Equity and that would not have been possible at any other business school.
Lastly, I was a Marketing and International Business major in undergrad, and wanted to round out my skill set by taking more Finance, Accounting, Operations and Strategy classes which would provide me with a solid business foundation to set me up for success for my long term goals.
Are there specific barriers you think women face when deciding on whether to go to business school or not?
And what advice would you give women when considering them?
I have seen women with kids and spouses certainly face barriers when deciding to go to business school. I certainly would like to encourage these women as many of my classmates have children, are balancing long distance marriages, and have managed to secure some of the most sought out internships at top consulting or banking firms. It is completely doable and the LBS community is very supportive.
Why is London Business School a good place for women to study?
LBS has ‘Manbassadors’ and a whole ‘He for She’ campaign by which women are seeing men being supportive of both their personal and professional aspirations. The idea is that when these manbassadors and other MBAs return to the workforce, they will continue to be supportive of women.
Tell us about your interaction with other students through study groups?
LBS is a very unique place when it comes to the student body. What makes this experience so special is that we have students from 68 different countries where no one country represents more than ten percent of the class. The class room discussions as a result are amazing because you are literally learning from a world perspective. No one voice or country is dominant. My study group comprises of six students from different countries and industries. I have someone from China and Private Equity, Italy and Management Consulting, India and Tech, Portugal and Civil Engineering, Brazil and Banking, and I am from America with a Retail background. Through the study group experience, you not only learn how to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds but truly get a sense of how business is done across the world.
The LBS community is truly a collaborative and supportive community. About a month ago, a student had a great idea of LBS making a Guinness World Record and hundreds of students from 72 nationalities came together to make this happen. LBS currently holds the world record for the highest number of different nationalities taking part in a popular singalong.
Tell us about your involvement in professional or social clubs. How have you contributed and how have you benefited?
I am extremely involved in the community here and its a great way to make an impact as well as to personally and professionally grow. As the VP of Speaker Series for the Luxury & Retail Goods Club, I organised a Private Equity in Luxury Panel with the Managing Directors of Private Equity companies – Permira, L Capital, the Carlyle Group and with the Boston Consulting Group. I am currently organizing an event called “Inventing the 21st Century Tech Company” with Glory Zhang, CMO, Huawei Consumer BG who has lead taking a Chinese consumer tech company to $20B in five years. I planned the LBS Speed Networking and LBS Olympics to bring together all the programs at LBS. As the VP Logistics of the Women in Business Conference, I am organizing the conference for 350 attendees and the first ever leadership workshops for the attendees. I organized The World Class Temple Tour for 40 classmates introducing them to two world-renowned temples and the Indian culture in London.
I am a part of the Walpole Program in Luxury Management and my mentor is the Head of Reserve Brands at Diageo. Through this program, I have been able to interact with some of the biggest leaders in the industry such as the Managing Director of Harrods and the CEO of Style.com. I am also looking forward to attending the launch of a new report with Walpole Corporate Partner, McKinsey & Company, to look at the key growth drivers of luxury brands in the UK. The report examines how successful British luxury brands have grown, and what it takes to build British luxury brands at each stage, the key growth phases and tools to develop sustainable businesses in the UK and internationally.
My name is Stephanie Kernwein Thrane and I am the Senior Recruitment & Admissions Manager for the MBA programme at London Business School. When speaking to prospective candidates, I’m often asked the above question – it’s a tricky one to answer, but I would say that there are certain intangible characteristics that make a great candidate stand out.
When submitting your application I would recommend thinking carefully about the following areas:
Great applications ‘Glow’. Make sure you convey your passions, motivations and your dreams. If you have a dynamic personality, illustrate this in your application. The key thing is that we can get a picture of ‘you’ from your application.
Do your research and show it off! If you’ve have been to an event on campus or around the world, met a member of the school or spoken with alumni or students, make sure this is clearly mentioned in your application. There is a separate part in the application just for this!
Why London Business School, specifically? The best applications address this question head on. It’s crucial that you’re able to explain why our MBA Programme is particularly compelling to you. Which clubs will you be involved in? Which faculty members are you excited about learning from? What is it about London that attracts you?
Think carefully about your referees. Titles are less important than content. If you ask for a reference from someone who hasn’t worked with you directly, they are unlikely to provide sufficient detail.
Make sure your CV is as strong as possible. Your CV is likely to be among the first thing that the admissions committee will review. Explain any gaps and ensure it is well formatted and easy to read. We ask for a one page CV. I appreciate it’s difficult to distill your experiences onto one page, but if the CEO of a blue-chip company can do it, you can too!
I hope the above provides some general help on how to approach an application to London Business School. It’s not rocket science but we appreciate it isn’t easy either and it takes time. The next deadline is Friday 25 September and I look forward to reading your applications.
If you do still have unanswered questions about the programme or your eligibility, I’d be delighted to meet you at one of our upcoming information events on campus or all around the world.