Saturday, April 29, 2006

LBS scholarship applications

I am writing this one week later than announced since I worked a lot this week, even more than the day I complained about another 17 hours day. I worked till 3 am Wednesday and Thursday and got up at 6:30 the next morning. At least I got to take the flight back home at lunchtime on Friday already so the weekend has been relaxing.

The first thing I want to do is to welcome my future class mate Ellen Ke to the ever growing group of the LBS2008 bloggers! We have been e-mailing each other for a few weeks now and it's nice to keep updated through blogs.

My main task this weekend will be to finish my scholarship application for the Deutsche Bank Women Scholarship and I hope some of my readers with experience in the financial services industry can give me some advice! The list of scholarships offered for LBS students this year is incredibly long. Basically, there are two types of scholarships, the London Business School Annual Fund Scholarships and the Class and Company Scholarships. Annual Fund Scholarships are awarded at the same time you receive your admissions decisions and one doesn't need to apply for those. The Class and Company scholarships in turn require a couple of additional essays that need to be submitted by May 26th. As far as I know, only admits from Rounds 1, 2 and 3 are eligible for these scholarships.

The most attractive scholarships are those covering roughly 50% of fees. Assuming you haven't received a school scholarship, the most generous company scholarships are those offered by Vodafone (eligible to all "who would otherwise not be able to do so" - probably not directed at German management consultants!) and Deutsche Bank (women only). I need to hand in the following two essays:

1. What are current/likely key developments in the global financial services industry and how do you think these will affect Deutsche Bank?

2. How do you see yourself being an ambassador for Deutsche Bank if you were to be awarded a Deutsche Bank Women's Scholarship?

I'm not so worried about the second question, I assume there are ample ways of representing your donor on campus through clubs, societies, speaker events, summer internships and so on. But I'm a bit worried about the first one. I have brainstormed some ideas but I'm afraid to miss some important trend! Also, "the global financial services industry" is a VERY ample industry, including insurance companies, tax advisory firms and so on.

So here's my brainstormed list of bullet points about current/likely key developments, and if anyone out there has come across such questions in interviews, articles or anything like that please share you thoughts. So, what's happening in the "global financial services industry"on a "bullet point level"? The format of the list will be "trend-recommendation for DB":
  • Consolidation within markets - eat or be eaten
  • Cross border mergers - eat or be eaten
  • New/emerging markets (esp. China/India) - don't miss the opportunity (every Western bank seems to be moving to Asia now, but when are Asian banks going to come to the West to compete? Will they ever?)
  • Increasing complexity of markets/products - risk management
  • Increasing regulatory pressures - corporate governance
If some of you are very worried about my chances now I understand ;-), but obviously I will elaborate a little bit more in the actual application. I'm just wondering if there are any important developments I am missing? Please feel free to comment.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Honesty is such a lonely word

In the corporate world, being honest and to the point gets you into trouble. I have been warned this week that I am "too honest". When the partner tells you something you know is not going to happen,I am not supposed to say "that's not going to happen anyway". Instead, I should smile and say "Sure, I'll do my best to achieve that" and come back a week later, confessing that there is a "slight problem" and a "significant risk" that, despite my best efforts, it's not going to happen.

I was quite good at shutting up and smiling in the first year of my job. Somehow now though, such a short time before the MBA starts, it's hard to get going. I'm just myself which is not always good. There is another complication though. Not everybody likes politics. In my case, I should smile and say yes to most people initially, but then there are others even higher up than the partners who like honesty. They will rip your head off as soon as you try to waffle and blabla. They are the ones who like me. So it seems I have to change my approach constantly.

What is tough about this is that I know it's not a problem of my company. It happens everywhere. The higher up you get, the more politics you'll have to deal with. It's going to happen at any job in the future. So I'm seriously considering setting up my own business.

The final application deadline for company MBA scholarships at LBS is approaching and I want to dedicate this weekend to the Deutsche Bank women's scholarship worth
£20,000!! I'm sure I'm not the only one applying for that one, especially since the share of females in the MBA program seems to have jumped to ~30% this year. So my next post will be dedicated to scholarship applications. I hope my honesty doesn't get in the way of writing convincing essays ;-).

Friday, April 14, 2006

The beauty of knowledge

A long time ago, internet information and services were for free. I remember a time when permanent e-mail accounts, sending sms, newspaper articles, archives etc. were all for free. Then a few years ago companies realized they weren't making any money and cannibalizing their offline business, and it has been sad for me to watch how little by little access to knowledge has become more and more restricted.

Today I have discovered a great site awash with knowledge though and it has made me remember lots of websites that I used to use for information purposes as a student. Well, here's my list of favourites that I would like to share with you. These organizations and companies deserve praise for sharing their insights with the world. Here's my list of favourites.

MIT OpenCourseWare
This is a site I discovered today including contents, lecture notes, exam papers and assignments from a wide variety of courses offered at MIT. If you click on the Sloan School of Management, you can download lecture notes on investment, macroeconomics, behavioural finance, game theory... you name it. It's a great way to get an overview of the business school curriculum.

I have a very bad attitude towards Wharton since they launched their stupid advertising campaign in the Economist a few months ago (the slogan goes something like "There are lots of interesting things to do in Philadelphia - not that you'll have time to do any of them" - sorry guys, I want to have a good time at business school!!!!). But they do have an excellent site discussing relevant issues in finance, management, real estate etc.. The approach is to discuss current business issues and citing faculty opinions about them, it's a good way to know what's going on.

Moving from business to international politics, my favourite sources of information are the International Herald Tribune (since the New York Times charges for access to its articles, it's great its international equivalent grants free access to everyone). For more in-depth analyses of emerging markets and countries in crises, I like browsing the free country reports offered by the International Crisis Group. This is a group I would have loved to join upon graduation, but since paid jobs in the field of political risk analysis are scarce, I ended up working in management consulting.

Finally, though many areas of the site are restricted, there is enough free content offered by The Economist to include it in my list of favourites. I especially enjoy the Business Education section (though I find their ranking of business schools very peculiar). An interesting story in this week's edition is a Guide to Womenomics that I plan to read now, the title looks promising!

By the way, I took the picture above at a visit to Oxford two years ago and I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Rusgirl on her admission to Oxford University!

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Another 17 hour day

What can I say, it is Thursday night 1am and I worked 17h today, finally going "home" to the hotel now, but next meeting will be at 8am tomorrow, then steering committee at 10am, another meeting at 1pm, and then hopefully around 5 or 6 pm tomorrow I'll finally fly back to Hamburg. What a mess. On days like these I really look forward to being a student again.

Wish every one tight sleep.