How the Elevate Curriculum Fit into my MBA Schedule
by Shirley Wu, LBS Elevate Class of 2020
Everyone who has gone through the first term of the London Business School MBA may have told you that this would be the busiest time of your life. And this is true. From meeting all sorts of new people to signing up for everything that is remotely interesting to me, I was constantly on-the-go and didn't even realise that I was so busy. On October 16th, we received an announcement from the Tech & Media Club about the launch of the LBS Elevate Programme. This email came at the perfect time for me.
Having a background in actuarial science and insurance, I was ready to open my eyes to all of the career options that were available to me as an MBA candidate. After attending almost all of the company presentations from Goldman Sachs to BCG to American Express, and speaking to the Career Centre and current students, I was left more confused than before about where I want to work after the MBA and which companies were the right fit. All the post-MBA jobs seemed exciting but competitive! I did a lot of difficult self-reflection in the month of September, and attended the Build Your Career Vision workshop hosted by Career Centre, which was highly beneficial in helping to arrive at a decision. Finally, I decided to fully commit myself to finding a career in Tech and FinTech.
The LBS Elevate programme really empowered me to pursue a career change into the Tech world because of the opportunities and support provided by the student cohort, Elevate ExCo, and Career Centre. The programme formally kicked off in a November offsite at the Cloudflare offices, where we met the rest of the Elevate cohort and industry mentors. We had a fun 'speed-dating' session where the Elevate cohort could get to know our potential mentors which was quite exhilarating. From the start of the curriculum, we were given a skeleton of a journey map by the Elevate Team for us to fill out. The journey mapping provided such a good structure to plan and prioritise the focus and activities each month throughout the Elevate curriculum. Review sessions were then held with the LBS Elevate Team as well as with David Morris, Head of Tech & Media at the Career Centre . For example, one of my key goals to focus on during the Elevate curriculum was to boost my network in the Tech and FinTech scene in London. With the help of the Elevate Team and the Career Centre, I was able to pin down ways in which to better achieve this goal, e.g. recommendations on which events to attend, etc.
Over the holiday period in December, carefully selected books (e.g. How To Create A Mind by Ray Kurzweil, and The Everything Store by Brad Stone) and online training sessions (e.g. Fundamentals of Visualisation with Tableau, Introduction to SQL, and CS50) were recommended to us as self-learning opportunities to improve our knowledge and exposure into the Tech industry. These curated resources helped boost awareness of and confidence in the Tech industry which not only made me more excited about pursuing a career in Tech, but also feel more comfortable in preparing for the upcoming summer internship recruitment season. When we came back onto campus in January, we had the pleasure of attending a workshop hosted by Sophia Matveeva called Tech for Non-Techies. This was a fabulous workshop where we had a crash course on what Product Management was in the practical world and we got to meet Sophia who was truly an inspirational character pioneering as a startup founder in the retail Tech industry. The workshop helped me crystalise on how the product management lifecycle fits into businesses and how each player could contribute towards reaching a mutual goal.
February was the peak of my recruiting season - from being a part of the structured recruitment process to attending all sorts of Tech and FinTech networking events. Both the LBS Career Centre and the Elevate ExCo helped me immensely throughout the recruitment process, through 1-on-1 and peer-review interview preparation sessions, and specific industry-related mock interview sessions hosted by Tech and FinTech sector leads, i.e. Ania Mirkowska and David Morris. They were the key component in my success in securing an MBA Summer Intern role at American Express. In the same month, the Career Centre and Seedcamp co-hosted a mixer event where LBS students and founders who received seed capital from Seedcamp mingled and networked. This was where I met a visionary founder named Tai Alegbe who founded Contingent, a company that helps organisations detect, map and monitor supplier and business risks through an AI platform and single API. After a few engagements, Tai invited me to join their Product Management team on a part-time basis from March. I was so thrilled to join such a dynamic and product-led business and to be able to contribute to and learn from the team. Early March, we had the opportunity to visit Just Eat in Farringdon where we learnt how the Product team worked - a flavour of how the team designed and launched new products and features. The colourful and lively office space invigorated me and I could see how creativity could foster in that working environment. The visit was really useful in providing a glimpse into what working in a Tech company would look like.
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of an inspirational cohort and learnt a great deal from the Elevate curriculum. The Elevate ExCo team (Nasi Rwingema, Anna Khoruzhaya, Mary Liu, Sarah Miller, and Bhawna Ajitsaria) has been exceptional and volunteered their precious time and effort to make the Elevate experience top-notch for us. I highly recommend students to apply for and participate in this programme later this year. Thank you for reading this post!