In what industry, role and where (companies, locations) do you see yourself working immediately after graduation from London Business School? What motivates you to join this industry and how will your academic, professional, and personal experiences help you achieve this career goal? What is your alternate career plan? How will the Masters in Management contribute to your personal and professional development and why is this the right time for you to pursue this degree?
After graduation I plan to work in my own existing enterprise in the fashion industry, as a young entrepreneur. In April 2013 I set up my own new business in fashion (accessories such as custom jewellery and leather goods). I am strongly motivated/interested in fashion and art, having acquired a great deal of my knowledge and doubtless my initial interest by being involved in the family business, which is also fashion-related (clothing, accessories, and leather goods). Obviously I have already been able to obtain a considerable amount of firsthand knowledge and practical experience through the long-established family business, but I am certain that the Masters in Management programme will help me improve my management skills and thereby to build my company further, give me the knowledge to help me manage my staff, develop the size and scope of the business and more.
Additionally, I have noted from the LBS literature that the course is aimed specifically at people like myself; i.e. those who have recently graduated and have relatively little postgraduate work experience, and who would benefit from being taught the most relevant skills and management knowledge that can readily be transferred into one’s own career in management. I also believe that the programme’s core subjects like accounting, economics, finance, organisational strategy and behaviour are exactly right for my needs. I am especially enthusiastic about the inclusion of entrepreneurship and marketing as they will be directly beneficial in my own business venture. Although I already have good competency in the Microsoft Office technologies, I also welcome the inclusion of Excel and other associated subjects in the curriculum; I am very much aware that familiarization with and competency in technology is vital in any modern business venture.
As regards earlier work experience, my own dates back as far as 2009 when I worked as an executive assistant for a Costume Jewellery business in Paris, France. I had a varied role there, which included design work, research, dealings and contractual negotiations with suppliers, as well as participating in fashion show events. Then more recently – in 2012 – I worked as a sales assistant for a London jeweller, again with a varied role including presenting and selling products – in many instances to international clients, which also helped enhance my communication skills.
Another attractive feature of the programme for me is the opportunity to see what other people are doing in Career Week and Business Immersion Week. It is always good to gain an insight into other successful businesses and maybe to “borrow” some ideas from them. Although I already have a lot of ideas that I intend to put into practice in my business, the possibility of someone else having thought of a better way to do something is real and not to be overlooked or discounted. Additionally, I am well aware that students on this programme come from a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds and origins. There is bound to be ample opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, in an environment where we are all eager to learn and to become high achievers in a competitive business world.
My alternate career plan is to work in marketing as a consultant. I have just completed a GGSB Bachelor degree in International Business specializing in marketing – a subject I have always been interested in for a number of reasons. The Masters in Management programme will contribute to further developing my knowledge in that regard.
This is exactly the right time for me to pursue this degree because this Masters in Management program is available following almost directly on from that degree. Also, it is of just one year duration, so that I can get back to continuing to develop and expand my own business, but armed with better skills and knowledge than previously, and will be able to put all the theories directly into practice.
Where do you see your career progressing five years after graduation from London Business School and what is your longer term career vision?
As mentioned earlier, I plan to develop and expand my business following completion of the Masters in Management programme. Once I have a solid domestic client base (in the UK), I intend to expand as soon as is prudent into international markets. Whilst I am confident I can grow my business successfully in the UK alone, I am certain that major opportunities are to be found in international trade. With my earlier background and contacts in France and my links with China (I speak Chinese) I know that there is good business out there, I just have to exploit those international markets. I believe that by adopting the right approach and techniques, including using my marketing skills and others I will have learned through the programme, there is no reason why the international aspects of my business should not ultimately become the major revenue stream for me. In fact I see my business in five years time as being fully international – possibly still based in the UK – but certainly with more than one office overseas. I understand that my role will then of necessity involve a considerable amount of international travel, but I welcome that as part of the challenge that will bring me the success I crave.
Based on your experience of working in academic or professional teams, please describe a couple of recent examples when a challenge or conflict affected the dynamics of a group you were a part of and the outcome of these situations. Please detail the specific contributions you made, either as a leader or member of these teams. Given these experiences, what role will you play in your study groups during the Masters in Management programme?
The first example I will provide in this regard occurred during my time working with the Costume Jewellery business in Paris. The proprietor (my employer) had given me the task of researching the market and potential suppliers for a planned new product line. The work seemed to be progressing well until I realised that a colleague (a longer-established employee) was observing my work and undermining my efforts in conversation with other colleagues. I feared that if that was allowed to continue I could lose my job if the boss took note of those comments about me and believed them to be true. I also learned that this same person had expected to be given the task that I had instead been assigned, so their reactions were basically “sour grapes”. However, even though I understood what had caused their response to me being assigned that project I could not afford to let the situation remain as it stood. I gave it some thought then came up with a plan. I approached that person directly when I knew the two of us were alone in the same room and asked his advice on the research and the design aspects. I suggested that because of my youth and relative inexperience I needed to bounce my ideas off someone with much greater experience, and that if he agreed to help I would go to see the boss and ask if it would be OK to seek guidance from “X” during the project. The strategy worked. “X” felt flattered that I saw him as a wise counsel and credited him with better job knowledge than my own, at the same time enjoying the notion that I would inform the boss what I intended to do, elevating his importance in the eyes of the boss. The rest of the project passed without problems, so long as I “consulted” “X” on ideas I had already come up with anyway.
Secondly, I have been elected as team leader in more than one previous academic project. In the role as team leader I was able to resolve different issues related to planning, conflicts between team members, fostered group harmony through use of my interpersonal skills, helped members who had various difficulties, and more. I have found that in any team or committee environment there are individuals who intentionally or not can be a counterproductive and/or disruptive element. “Reining in” such individuals in a tactful and diplomatic manner brings significant benefits to the group as a whole, and is therefore well worth that initial effort.
As regards my participation in study groups within the Masters programme, I intend to be a full and active participant, and will always be prepared to take on a lead role if invited to do so. I intend to work hard throughout the duration of the programme, and that will of course include the study groups, which will doubtless be an important contribution to the total learning experience, once again emphasizing the value of sharing ideas and techniques to increase the value of the time spent in the programme.
Active involvement in our community is an integral part of the Masters in Management experience and expected of all students on campus. Which role do you see yourself playing in the life of the School and how would you concretely support the student community during your studies? Which professional, regional, sports or social clubs would you engage with and why? How would you plan to stay involved after you become an alumnus/alumna of the School?
I intend to be actively involved in communities whilst at LBS including of course the Student Association (SA). If I think I could contribute to the SA by becoming active in the organization of campus events or working actively in the running of any of the associated clubs, or come to that of any other role that would help the SA, I will gladly do that to broaden my LBS experience. For as long as I can remember it has always been my ethos to “join in” and to be “doing” rather than “observing”. As well as participating actively in class, which almost goes without saying, I shall also be taking part in extra-curricular activities such as the table tennis club (I won numerous table tennis awards in high school). Also, if the opportunities are there I shall also join clubs to help me to continue to enjoy my other hobbies which include football, swimming, art and photography. I also like the sound of the MBAT annual sports event in Paris and would be keen to be involved in that, too. It would be good to see Paris again and maybe renew old acquaintances there. The more clubs I join, the more people I will get to know, and the more contacts I will make as result. Whilst the primary objective of the Masters programme is of course to learn and to complete the programme with the best possible results, I also intend to develop contacts and participate in networking, which I believe will be crucially important in the future for my business purposes.
I shall also stay involved with the school after graduation as a member of the LBS alumni community, which I know can offer me a number of benefits including: access to business research and other related information; opportunity to further develop my networking opportunities via the global network of alumni clubs (this one may be especially useful for me in developing the international side of my business), and more, including discounted course fees should I decide I want to avail myself of further study opportunities at some time in the future.
Other LBS alumni benefits that I shall be glad to take advantage of are the library facility (always useful to have access to current business and research resources) and the quarterly “AlumniNews” which will help me to continue to feel part of the LBS community. It may also be very useful to me in the future to be able to tap into the Career Services facilities available, although my ambition is that I shall be predominantly a recruiter of staff myself in the process of expanding my business.
What will be your biggest contribution to the Masters in Management class?
I believe that my experience and background as a young entrepreneur, coupled with my multicultural background (I am French-born Chinese) will enable me to make a positive contribution to the class. My lifelong background as a member of a family running a family business is also likely to give me an informed view in some respects of business management. Having already gone through the process of setting up a new business (with useful tips and guidance from my parents), I know that I could help others in that process and perhaps be in a good position to offer useful contributions in class when that subject comes up. Of course not all businesses are structured in the same way, but nonetheless some of the fundamental “unknowns” and obstacles are common to many and can be simply explained by one who has already encountered them firsthand.
In addition, my work experience in both London and Paris has given me a wider perspective on workplace culture. I believe that with an international business in mind, neither I nor anyone else of similar mind can afford to restrict ideas in that respect. Studying alongside a diverse spectrum of students from different countries will be of mutual benefit. I am optimistic that I will be as much a contributor as a beneficiary in that regard. It has been my long-held opinion that those who have lived, studied and worked entirely in their home country have a limited and somewhat distorted perspective of the world, particularly with regard to customs and culture. To be successful in business in the 21st century, a truly international perspective – an understanding of other cultures – is essential. I believe I have that perspective and can help others to see the need for it, too. Naturally, I am applying to the LBS for the Masters in Management programme for my ultimate benefit, but I know that the experience will not be one-sided and that I will endeavour to make a positive contribution as a student on the programme.