500 words to make the world a better place…

This post shows my response to one of the LBS Sloan MSc scholarship application essays that I completed. Plus some additional thoughts on the subject topic. The title of the essay given was:

Describe an innovative solution to a worldwide issue of your choice (Max 500 Words).


My response to this was:

A pressing issue facing the world today is; how does humankind supply power to its planet without making it uninhabitable? Solving this problem is gaining momentum, as demonstrated by the international collaboration that enabled the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

This is reducing the use of fossil-fuel generated power; thus supply of ‘traditional’ electricity sources is falling, while total electricity demand increases due to a reduction in transportation’s dependency on oil.

As a result, global solar energy supply is predicted to double every 18 months, while in the U.K (representative of the global average) wind power increased by 45% from 2016 to 2017.


Despite these changes, forecasts beyond 2030 show significant power supply deficits without the use of fossil fuels, and this is before considering that transportation embracing electrical propulsion could eventually double demand.

The erratic nature of renewable energy supply is an unquestionable problem. To mitigate supply shortfalls using only ‘clean’ sources would necessitate system capacities to be far in excess of demand. An alternative solution is to have traditional energy supplies used as back up, such as the U.K’s capacity market, but this is inefficient and contravenes climate change policy.

Research has shown that energy systems can be significantly optimised by both reducing supply fluctuations and introducing electricity storage into the distribution network.

To visualise how a system can be optimised, consider energy as inventory. Distribution systems such as those within the supermarket industry have managed to minimise inventory through intelligent location of intermediate storage facilities, together with increasing sources of supply.

Energy supply variations can be reduced by blending sources (solar and wind often have negative correlation) and by varying sources’ geographic locations. In addition, energy storage offers great potential. Storage technologies are in their infancy, as of June 2017 only 1% of U.K electricity demand was met by storage, but predictions estimate this may increase to 20% by 2022.

What is most urgently required now is a universal understanding of the most efficient energy supply system. Currently developments are often being progressed independently of one another, based on what individuals think will offer the industry the most benefit (and thus return on investment).

The World Energy Council predicts that energy system optimisation will enter mainstream thinking within five years. This approach is illogical; successful projects require completion of system design prior to implementation. Why would implementation of unprecedented energy system changes be any different?

This generates two difficult questions: What is the most efficient supply system? How can collaboration be co-ordinated to achieve this model? Difficult yes, but not impossible, and obtaining the answers could be key to turning a clean energy deficit into an exportable surplus.

An innovative way to develop answers could be through a high-profile competition similar to Google’s Lunar X prize. Google’s competition “sparked the conversation and changed expectations”, by encouraging exploration of the boundaries of knowledge, and sharing discoveries.

If incentives and prestige can help with cheaper space travel, couldn’t a similar approach work for energy system optimisation, and therefore climate change?

[Word count: 500]

panda solar

Now first of all let me start by saying that I didn’t win an award for this particular essay submission, however it was the one essay that I found the most thought provoking and engaging.

My professional career to date has not given me any exposure to the energy industry, and thus quite a significant amount of research was needed. This in turn has resulted in  this essay being quite an educational piece for me, and has got me to thinking about what the possible answers to the two ‘difficult questions’ could be.

The first question: What is the most efficient energy supply system?

Of course with limited technical knowledge it is not possible for me to answer this with great authority, but I can use what experience I have garnered from other industries to presuppose what might be effective.


I did briefly brush over this in my essay when referencing supermarkets distribution systems, which in turn are often used as a simplified analogy to describe a Kan Ban / Just In Time or Lean production system.

A supermarket maximises the quantity of products it is able to supply to its customers, while at the same time minimising the inventory of said products that it holds. It has a small amount of storage within each store, on the shelves. These shelves are replenished from stock that is held in larger quantities at the rear of the store, which are in turn replenished from a local distribution warehouse. Each one of these storage areas will be designed so that it can hold the minimum amount of buffer stock to ensure that there is a constant supply to meet consumer demand.

In addition, each supplier will likely also have a buffer stock quantity ‘on the shelf’ at either the production source or at a distribution centre, which will enable them to react to fluctuations in demand and supply supermarkets immediately as required. The supplier will produce to replenish this buffer stock, allowing a stable production output to meet peaks and troughs in demand.

distribution system

This is a very simplified view, but also consider that a supermarket distribution system must supply thousands of varying products to thousands of customers with various consumer preferences. With an energy distribution system, every consumer has exactly the same requirements, albeit in different volumes. Surely optimising an energy distribution system must be easy compared to a supermarket equivalent? This leads onto difficult question number 2..

The second question: How can collaboration be co-ordinated to achieve this model?

A significant difference between a supermarket chain’s distribution system, and a national energy supply distribution system, is that the supermarket chain is likely to have one organisation leading and co-ordinating operations. Whereas an energy distribution system will consist of several large energy producers, separate organisations responsible for the energy distribution network, and often separate organisations responsible for supplying said energy to the end user. Each of these ‘players’ within the market will be competing against one another to get a larger foothold in the market. Thus collaboration and joint strategy will not be a natural step.

A similar example is the pharmaceutical industry, where traditionally firms have been very secretive of their development activities, which often means duplication of the same research, and thus inefficiencies across the sector as a whole. Squeezes on firms return on investment margins in recent years has resulted in them starting to collaborate on research activities and data. This is certainly an interesting prospect, and if successful could be emanated by many other industries, not least energy supply.


A more mature model that could perhaps be successful has been used for several decades within an industry that is very close to my heart; The Space Industry. Within this industry, most developed nations have a central body (US: NASA, Japan: JAXA, Europe: ESA) that analyses the most effective areas for investment, and develops a coordinated strategy for the whole industry based upon the results of this analysis. It then utilises third party organisations to supply much of the ingredients needed to implement this strategy – be it R&D into new materials and technologies, supply of spacecraft equipment, or bespoke software for specific applications.

This model is perhaps a happy compromise between  an out-and-out capitalist model whereby market forces dictate development (meaning individual firms are primarily reactionary and fighting against one another), and a central government owned model which as history has shown, tends to restrict enterprise and dynamism. Reaching a happy balance between both models above is crucial to the success of a sector that relies upon several brilliant individual firms working together for the greater good of the wider industry. The space industry today is thriving and growing across the world perhaps at a faster rate than it ever has. Could the energy supply industry benefit from utilising a similar model? I certainly think so.

Who am I?.. My scholarship application video entry

A key ingredient to one of the several LBS Sloan scholarship awards was a five minute video titled ‘Who am I’? I would certainly not put TV presentation as one of my strengths, and thus the thought of me trying to hold an audience’s attention while regurgitating my life story really didn’t appeal to me (and neither would it you!). Luckily, I was hit by inspiration, and I did what all great leaders do; I delegated the task!

I hope you enjoy watching as much as I did, and big thanks to all of you who caved in to my incessant requests and sent me your video clips. Without you I would literally, in this instance, be nothing.

For those of you who have not seen enough from the above video, see below also for a few of my favourite entries unedited, together with one or two that I just couldn’t quite squeeze into the five minute time limit.


Scholarship awarded!! The final piece in the application jigsaw..

I am very pleased to say that at the end of August, LBS advised that I have been awarded a scholarship, this means that LBS will contribute towards my fees for their Sloan MSc..


It could go without saying that I am extremely pleased to have been granted a scholarship, however I will take some time to articulate some of the reasons of why I am so happy, together with any lessons that I feel I may have learned during this part of the application process that I can pass onto future candidates.

  • Benefit #1: Financial. This is perhaps the most obvious benefit, although on reflection it is also probably the least important for me overall. I will be seeking to fund a part of my fees through a lending agent (I will cover this with a future blog), and thus the fees contributed kindly by LBS’ donors will have a direct impact on the sum that I will now have to borrow. With that said however, when considering the remainder of the course fees plus loss of earnings during programme participation, this sum is not hugely significant.
  • Benefit #2: Recognition from LBS. I will be the first to admit that there is an element of ego stroking here, but am very, very happy that hat LBS have picked me out for one of their prestigious awards. Away from the ego stroking, this is also a huge vote of confidence that they have given me in my approach to my application, especially after requesting an additional essay from me to help them decide if I was a suitable candidate for the programme. I will cover this in a little more detail below, where I will describe my take-homes from the scholarship application experience.
  • Benefit #3: Future prestige and opportunities. For me this has the potential to be the most rewarding benefit. As part of the scholarship award I will be expected to take part in open events and recruitment activities, as well as potentially being asked to represent the school in media publications and promotions. These activities can only improve my networking opportunities  both internally and externally to LBS, as well as push me outside of my comfort zone a little and thus allow for personal development. What more could a budding Sloan candidate ask for ahead of the start to the programme?


My thoughts on LBS, scholarship selection process

Now this section must come with a huge caveat; I don’t speak on behalf of LBS, and of course they have not spoken with me directly regarding any specific selection criteria. My thoughts below are my gut feel and reflect the approach have taken in order to maximise my chances of being granted a scholarship.

  • Item #1: ‘Awarded on merit’. For me, when LBS state a scholarship ‘will be awarded on merit’ , I read the word ‘merit’ as: ‘The endeavour taken to become an exceptional candidate’. This puts the onus on the effort expended by a candidate to make a positive difference, rather than just latent ability.
  • Item #2: Potential to contribute.  In my scholarship award letter, LBS state: “We also expect that you will contribute a great deal to the wider London Business School community, both during your time here, and as an alumnus/a.”  So throughout the selection process it is probable that LBS are looking for examples of where you may have been successful  at promoting or representing organisations. However they will also likely be looking at your behaviour during your application process; have you shown an interest in the extra curricular events at LBS? Have you got to know and develop relationships with alumni or faculty ahead of your programme start? As well as perhaps promoting LBS within your current network.
  • Item #3: Previous track record. This is where LBS will consider your previous academic and professional achievements, and extrapolate this into how they feel you will perform during the programme, including any entrance exam results (GMAT / EA etc). This may put some candidates seemingly at an advantage to others, but here the onus is really on the candidate to sell their strengths to the school, and how these strengths will be leveraged to maximise their effectiveness. It is also worth noting that one of a person’s key strengths could be awareness of their weaknesses and having a strategy on how to improve  on these.
  • Item #4: Application essays. These really are the medium whereby a candidate sells themselves to the school. I am fairly sure that LBS will consider your entire application plus all of the essays written for your scholarship applications as a whole, when considering you for awards. With this in mind, I would encourage all candidates seeking to earn a scholarship to apply for every available award, not just those wit which that they feel they have higher chance of success. This will once again show your endeavour, while also giving you a chance to build up a more diverse and detailed picture of yourself.
  • Item #5: Need for financial assistance. Once again I am not speaking on behalf of LBS here so this may now be wide of the mark, but up  to and including the 2018 intake there was at least one scholarship award granted with a consideration being a candidate’s financial position. Considering the cost of this programme and the abundance of high achievers that LBS will have applying to join, it is reassuring to think that this factor is also likely to be a consideration for them when selecting people for financial aid.

I hope that any future LBS Sloan candidates that happen upon this post find it useful. That said it is likely that most if not all of the principles could be applied to any scholarship application onto any programme around the globe. I would be very interested to know what thoughts you, the reader, have on this subject.

LBS Sloan Invitation now received, I’m in!!

It has taken a fair bit of time, and research, and effort, but I am very pleased to announce that my application onto the LBS Sloan MSc has been successful. I’ve been invited to join the class of 2019. 


I am extremely happy as you can imagine, not least because it means I can continue on my blog journey with you lovely readers. As is often the way in life, my admission onto the course was not straight forward; I was asked to write one additional written passage which was the deciding factor in LBS’ decision to accept me onto the course.

I firmly believe the decision would not have been a positive one unless I had put in the extra time to learn about the school, and the course, to perfect my written application, to prepare what I wanted to say and how to sell myself at the interview, and to spend time adding to my skill set with online learning and research. This however makes the result all the more sweet. You don’t want to be given something that you haven’t worked for now do you?

The close call also reaffirms just how diligent the admissions staff are and how selective they can be. This should mean that my fellow students starting 2019 will have also passed through a similarly vigilant selection process. It also goes someway to show that through hard work and application, and a little bit of luck, you can achieve things beyond your wildest dreams (OK, OK, I know I haven’t actually started the course yet – but it’s a start!).


So the next step for me is to go all in on the scholarship applications offered with the programme. I will post up anything interesting once I have applied. The first deadline is 30th May, so not long at all, followed by several towards end of July. Competition for these places will be even more fierce than for a place on the course, but I will apply myself in the best way I can, and, who knows?…

Thanks for reading my journey so far, I look forward to sharing my further adventures with you as they unfold in front of me. In the mean time, I will leave you with a short video clip that best summarises my feelings when I received my acceptance notification….




The LBS Written Application..

After receiving positive feedback on my on my written application during my interview last week here are some ideas I’d like to share with you. if you’re going through a similar applications process yourself then hopefully you’ll find this useful.


Referencing back to my experience during my Sloan MSc application interview at the back end of last week, The LBS Sloan MSc Interview.., it was clear that the LBS admissions team invest a lot of time in analysing an applicant’s written submissions. With this in mind, here are a few approaches that I found useful and productive while writing mine.


Fortunately I had quite a lot of time leading up to my application submission as I had decided to apply almost a year ago. From my experience I would recommend the following:

  • Learn as much about the course and the school as possible:
    • If you live near by; pay the school a visit. LBS has several events throughout the year from open lectures to question and answer sessions with alumni and faculty. These will give you a more personal experience of what the school is about, hopefully they will help you pick out attractive elements that are personal to you. I would also encourage you to reference these experiences in your application as they will likely be discussed during interview. You are also likely to meet fellow applicants, who may have questions or have discovered information that you hadn’t thought of.
    • Use the wonderful world wide web to discover as much about the programme as possible. A very useful website to get you on the road to discovery is the exceptional blog written by one of the Sloan 2014 class: LBS Sloan MSc information resources. This blog is a few years old now, but still very much applicable today. It also contains other posts that give tips on the written application.
    • Contact the school! The applications team are very pro-active and helpful with any questions that you might have. Specifically I would recommend getting a copy of the Sloan MSc brochure, and also a breakdown of the elective (optional) courses that are offered on the programme. If you are making initial contact, use this link: LBS Contact.
  • Familiarise yourself with the essay questions:
    • Although one or two of these may change from year to year, not all of them will change, and they will always be on similar topics even if they do. Knowing what questions you need to answer in advance will give you more time to decide what you want to write about. In at least one essay you will be asked to describe a particular instance in your life, and how it affected you and others. The first hurdle here is to select what event you want to write about, if you are anything like me this was not easy and took quite a lot of deliberating.
  • Carefully choose candidates to proof read your work:
    • You will need people who are not only willing to read your inputs, but also are willing to offer positive criticism and amendments. This is a much bigger commitment than simply quickly browsing through your essays and then giving you a thumbs up. Many people are likely to offer to read your essays as most people will not want to say no. However when you are asking someone to read the fourth iteration of the same essay and you need to submit within the next 12 or 24 hours, you really need to have chosen wisely!



As a great woman or man said once (it was more than likely a woman!): Failing to plan is planning to fail. With this in mind, it is very useful to be clear about the submission deadline that you are aiming for, and that you leave yourself enough time to not rush your submissions. Each and every person will have different requirements with regards to timescales needed to complete their application. Personally, I gave myself five weeks, but I was simultaneously working a full time job. I broke down the application into several main elements, these were:

  • One page CV (Converting from my standard two page CV)
  • Organisation Chart
  • Essay #1: What are your immediate and ultimate goals and how will the Sloan help you realise these?
  • Essay #2: What is the most difficult professional decision you have made in your career so far?
  • Essay #3: What are the issues faced by your region and / or sector in the next five years?
  • How do you spend your time outside of work (hobbies and interests etc.)?
  • What impact will your participation on this course have on your family and friends?
  • What do you see as being the key challenges for you on the course?
  • What are / were your roles and responsibilities of you current and previous jobs?
  • Several other smaller entries.

If you have familiarised yourself with the application in good time, hopefully you have an idea of what you would like to write for each of the above. Some will be more straight forward than others, and thus take up less time.

I would put together a loose plan of how many of the above you want to complete over time, and then track yourself against it to ensure you are not getting too far behind. I would also fire off some first drafts of one or two entries to your proof readers as early as possible, this will help you in the following ways:

  • Breaking work into small batches is one of the foundations of productivity advocated by Toyota Production System, which is the bedrock for operational excellence and efficiency across the world today: Wiki: Toyota Production System. Learn about it, live by it.
  • It will mean that they are being read in parallel to you doing other essays – increasing total productivity.
  • Giving work to your helpers in small chunks is less likely to overwhelm them, people are more likely to spend a quick 10 – 15 mins here and there to read your entries than several hours reading every piece of your application in one lump.
  • You will get these ‘chunks’ back with plenty of time to make changes if required.
  • You will get an early idea of how much time each of your helpers needs to review your work, and what feedback they will offer. This will help you plan giving the rest of your work to them, and perhaps more importantly, give you an early indication to whether you have selected appropriate reviewers who will be able to give you what you need. If you need to recruit additional or alternative reviewers, you want to be doing this sooner rather than later.

As with all good projects, it is very likely that you will end up needing more time than you anticipated, so try to leave yourself at least a little buffer of time before the deadline. Additionally, if you can have some contingency plans up you sleeve (taking time off of work etc.), this will reduce the risk of missing your deadline, but also just as importantly will hopefully reduce yours stress levels.


The content

Finally, perhaps the most important part, what to actually write! Here are my thoughts on the main sections. Please remember that these are my own personal thoughts, there are no right or wrong things to include in your written entries.

  • One page CV: I tackled this first as I thought it was a nice intro, and would remind me of the main elements that I will be using when presenting my profile. I am happy to supply a copy of this to anyone who would like a working example to use as a reference. Basically this activity involved hacking large chunks of information out of my standard CV, hopefully leaving the more important stuff behind. The format I used was a few lines as a profile summary, followed by a short paragraph / bullet points for previous jobs, and then a few lines for my academic and professional qualifications.
  • Organisational chart: I took the official org chart presented by the company I work for and then extended it to include details of my team, and any direct stakeholders (customer / suppliers etc.). If you are using your boss as a reference, I would advise asking him or her to review it before submitting.
  • Essay #1: This is where all of your research on the programme and school will prove to be invaluable. I started by reading through the Sloan brochure, and highlighted any elements within it that I found of particular importance to myself. In this essay I also included particular experiences I have had at open events etc. at the school and the positives I have drawn from them. With regards to how these items apply to your goals – only you can answer this!
  • Essay #2: For me, the most difficult part here is selecting what event to write about. Once you have picked this hopefully the rest comes relatively easyily. I was in two minds as to whether to write about a decision that was difficult personally (eg. a career or geographic change that had an impact on me and others in my personal life), or a to write about a tough technical decision (eg. a difficult or complex technical problem and the processes involved in solving it). Eventually I plumped for a hybrid of the two, citing a job change and the impact I had on my new organisation, including a particularly significant decision that was collaboratively made while I was there.
  • Essay #3: I found this one the most enjoyable to write. I spent a fair amount of time listening to relevant podcasts, and took notes of any interesting points. I also canvassed several people within my industry who’s opinions I value. The end result was a blend of all of these inputs. I have included this essay in a previous post: My thoughts #1: The U.K. Aerospace Industry
  • Impact on those close to you and challenges: I’ll bundle these two into one section as they are kind of linked. This really is personal to you so I can’t advise much. However I think the faculty are looking to see that you have made provisions to be very busy and under duress for the duration of the programme.
  • Hobbies and Interests: This is your chance to show your human side, what makes you tick outside of work mode. Remember that the school is looking for a good fit between fellow students. I got the impression that they take this section fairly seriously and the content was brought up at least a couple of times during my interview.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: For my current job I found it effective to keep a diary for a couple of weeks and then from that describe the key activities that I do. I tend to do a lot of ad-hoc activities that if someone asked me I would not be able to instantly describe, so this diary technique really helped. For previous jobs, I used content from my two page CV and then edited it to read slightly more fluidly.

That covers most items – if there are any specific items that I have missed that you would like any advise on please feel free to contact me.

Finally with regards to technique used writing essays, I would say at first completely ignore the work counts – just brain dump, and then edit. This will ensure that you freely include any points that you can think of, and you can then do a triage to ensure you include the most important items. On one of my essays I started with over 12,00 words and eventually trimmed it down to 300 – so don’t worry about the words!

I’m pretty sure I had another nugget to share with you but I can’t for the life of me remember it now. If it comes to me later I’ll add it in here. If you are reading this however it can’t have been that important as I haven’t been able to recollect it.

That’s all for this post, I hope some of you out there find it helpful, and I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who would also like to share similar experiences.

Well almost; I’d like to thank Miriam Haywood and Daniel Noviello for selflessly helping me with my admissions essays. Without help from you guys it is significantly less likely I would have been accepted for interview. Love you guys! xx

All the best, for now..

The LBS Sloan MSc Interview..

That’s right folks, the Sloan admissions interview has been and gone, on a brilliantly sunny day last Friday, I found myself walking through Regent’s Park on route to what could possibly be a life changing moment.


Quite simply put, leading up to the event I was a bag of nerves. I think this feeling hit a crescendo shortly before I arrived at the LBS campus. Running through my head uncontrollably were hundreds of possible questions that I would be asked, and how I would best answer them. My biggest fear was that I would find myself tongue-tied unable to articulate a decent answer.

In actuality I should have had no fear, as quite contrary to this I found myself if anything speaking too much. In several instances the interviewer was about to move on to the next question, but I had one or two things that I just had to quickly fit in before we changed topic. I only hope what I had to say was reasonable and relevant!

So how did I do, this is a question that I really do not want to answer until I hear back from the school in 10 working days time. However, it does give me an excuse to use my favourite info-graphic…


I can hand on heart say that I answered all of the questions to the best of my ability, there was good two way discussion about several topics, and also the interviewer was much more complimentary about my application content than I was expecting.

Some instant takeaways from this are:

  • Firstly, it is of the upmost importance that you really put the time and care into your written application. I’m sure this goes for all courses at a leading business school, not just the Sloan LBS. To this end I will do another post covering my  approach to the written application in the near future, as hopefully this will be useful to anyone else going through a similar process.
  • Secondly, the time and effort invested by the Sloan MSc applications team into reading and digesting my application was clearly significant. I can only thank them for that. This is not just the essays that I submitted, but all aspects of the application, from hobbies and interests through to my specific expectations of what I will get from the programme if I am accepted.

The kind and insightful feedback of my written submission certainly helped me to ease my nerves, and in turn helped build my confidence during the interview. It was an intense hour of discussion, but if enjoyable is too strong a word, it was certainly not as difficult as I was fearing. This is where a strong written application will really help you, as I would imagine if there were perceived holes in it then the questions may have been more probing (or at least would have felt more probing to me).

Some key topics of discussion were:Elaborating on my essays, specifically one where I describe my most difficult professional decision made to date. With this I was asked to explain the factors that lead to the decision, and how I persuaded stakeholders that it was the right thing to do.

  • A brief introspect into my life in general, and my approach to solving problems. Specifically I was asked ‘when do I get time to think?’ which was an interesting question; if there is anything I feel I do a lot of, it is stopping and thinking! Perhaps my depicted profile was a bit more action packed than I intended.
  • I was also asked about my experience working with different cultures, specifically with my time in the Philippines, and also working remotely with teams in the U.S.
  • I was then asked about my expectations with regards to the programme. As the course in relative terms is very expensive and time consuming, I think the faculty wanted to ensure I don’t see the MSc as a magic wand that will fix all of my career aspirations in one fell swoop.
  • Finally I was asked what questions I had, of which I had a few, some of which were:
    • Could I join the many clubs and open evenings at LBS once I had been accepted, or would I have to wait until the start of the programme? (Yes access to these will be immediate).
    • Would I have the opportunity to get to know the fellow future students in advance of the course start date? (Yes)
    • What could I study to help me prepare (I was advised to speak with a CFO or equivalent who had completed a similar course – see what they propose as effective study / reading material).
  • At the end of the allotted time, the interviewer explained that I would hear back within 10 days, and even if I wasn’t successful I would receive detailed feedback. Once again this shows how much time LBS are investing in each applicant, even if you will not be joining the programme.

Once complete, I was very grateful to myself for selecting a Friday afternoon time slot, as it meant that I could walk away and have the whole weekend to unwind from the experience before attacking work again on Monday morning. The simply fantastic weather also helped.

My final words on the whole experience are to go back and describe my nerves pre-interview. If I wasn’t nervous, considering it was something I had worked towards for over a year, there would be something wrong.  I resolved to draw on the spirit of David Bowie, which is a playful way to try and settle myself, as touched upon in an earlier post: An ode to David..

What Really steadied myself however was when I remembered  the last time I had felt so nervous; it was just before my GMAT exam, which I had done considerably well in. So If I could harness the nerves and turn them into positive energy as I did back then, hopefully I would be OK.

I discovered a very useful Ted Talk by Lisa Feldman Barrett on this topic earlier this year; in it Lisa explains that your emotions are actually similar habits. Thus if you can train yourself to think in a certain way under certain circumstances, this will eventually gain momentum, and will become easier over time. I would recommend a listen – see link below.


Now the dust has settled, my main concerns would be that I may have come across too confident, and talkative, quite the opposite of my initial fears leading up to the interview. In addition perhaps I didn’t show enough high level business experience, although I did try to convey as much as possible what I could offer to the class to make up for this (experience of working in intimate teams, strategy ‘implementation’ experience, and a strong empathy and agreement of many of the philosophies developed by the school).

However, when all is said and done, there is no point worrying too much; the decision is now out of my control. As interviewees, we can second guess but we simply do not know the exact profile of the candidates the interviewers are looking for. This concept is explained very concisely by the amiable Dilbert cartoon below.


I’ll be sure to post again as soon as I hear any feedback, as well as another post to give any perceived tips on the application process.

Thanks for reading, and once again, wish me luck!

Application accepted for Interview!

I am very happy to report that my application on to the 2019 LBS Sloan MSc has up to this point been a success.  13 working days after I submitted my application, I received notification from LBS that they are inviting me in for an interview.


Reading the acceptance email (shown below) immediately filled me with emotions of happiness and nervousness; Happiness because my journey continues, but nervousness as this now puts me in front of the final formal hurdle in my application process: The interview!

Accepted for interview

I am yet to agree a specific date and time for the interview, but I estimate that I have just over a week to collect up my thoughts into a manageable bundle that will allow me to effectively access them in my mental filing cupboard to be able to articulate them the way that I would like during the interview.

To help me through the interview preparation process, I will be using a specific entry on a fantastic blog that I recently discovered, written by a guy called Naren who also wrote a blog during his application process back in 2013.

Entry #19 specifically tackles the interview process, and how to approach it. For anyone going through a similar process, I highly recommend a read:

mylbssloanjourney.wordpress.com – how to prepare for Sloan interview

Further to this, I will be referencing two very useful entries to the LBS admissions blog. The first being a summary of what a successful Sloan candidate’s profile will look like:

LBS admissions blog: what differentiates a successful Sloan candidate?

The second being a list of interview tips:

LBS admissions blog: five tips for interview

Using these as a guide, I must be ready to discuss key examples to show my decision making competence, as well as being intimate with my career history. But perhaps most importantly I need to be open and comfortable being myself.

To this end, my next few blog entries will act as a tool to compound my thoughts on the above as well as any other topics that I think will be valuable…

It’s time for you, the reader, to wish me good luck and productivity!



An ode to David..

  1. “The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.”

[David Bowie]

This may seem a very tenuous link, but on visiting LBS in the summer of 2017 for a meeting with the Sloan recruitment manager, I was struck by the cover on the latest London Business School Review periodical that was on display in the reception area:


I am sure I am not alone when I say that I feel a spiritual link to our David, and after he passed away on my birthday in 2016, this link became tangibly  more prominent in my thinking. While sat in the LBS reception, and asking myself if this journey was the right one for me, to look up and see his face looking down on me gave a perhaps irrational but very powerful and profound answer to my question; be brave, dare to do, be who you strive to be.

To that end, I feel it is only just that I attribute at least a little credit of my current journey to the great but humble man himself. Below are a few quotes by David and others on David that I feel are particularly poignant.

“As an adolescent, I was painfully shy, withdrawn. I didn’t really have the nerve to sing my songs onstage and nobody else was doing them. I decided to do them in disguise so that I didn’t have to actually go through the humiliation of going onstage and being myself. “

[David Bowie]

“I must say, the message he gave to my generation was very important … it was basically – be strong enough to be yourself. That is a very strong message and very important for my generation.”

[Arsene Wenger]



“If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”

[Dean Podesta (@JeSuisDean)]

I will end this post with a link to my favourite Bowie performance below, and by simply stating; If David can do it, then so can you!


Be strong, be bold, be yourself.



Navigating the GMAT..

Before I send you down a path that you may not necessarily need to travel, taking the GMAT exam is not mandatory for applicants to the LBS Sloan MSc.

I would advise anyone considering applying to join the programme to first contact the faculty: sloan@london.edu

However, as I did take the GMAT exam, I thought I’d share my experience with you.


For most people applying to business school, the GMAT exam is one of the most daunting tasks, as it also was for me.

Many business schools use this as a strong indicator of a potential candidate’s aptitude for the course content, and thus it is important to get a strong score. To this end, there are many organisations that are set up to offer tutoring services. Many of these services carry significant costs. I was fortunate enough to achieve a more than satisfactory score of 710 without opting for any of these paid services. I however put a lot of time into my studies ahead of the exam, probably close to the 100 hours recommended by GMAC.

The most important and useful media to improve your score by a long margin are the Official GMAT study guides. You will be very lucky to find copies of these for free, however even new copies are not particularly expensive. In fact, I would recommend you purchase new copies as they offer you a software copy of the questions that you can access on mobile devices and laptops. This means you can answer questions anywhere you may be, and considering the amount of time needed to learn the content, this is a god send.

When you have obtained copies of the above, before you do anything else, take the short diagnostic tests at the beginning of the book, these will indicate your relative strength on each of the five key areas: Quantitative Problem Solving, Data sufficiency, Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. I would strongly advise you then allocate your time accordingly to try and improve your skill set on the areas that you are less strong.

For me, the diagnostic test showed I was very strong in the verbal tests, but week in the quantitative and sentence correction tests.

For the quantitative questions, nothing that I found was as helpful for preparing you for the test than the official GMAT guide books. That said I did also work through several GCSE  (UK high school) level maths text books to reacquaint myself with the theories needed to solve many of the questions. The main problem that I found with these questions was that they are set up in a way to purposely catch you out. This is proven by the fact that I also worked through an unofficial guidebook by Kaplan titled: GMAT 800, that supposedly contains examples of the most difficult questions needed to achieve the maximum score. I found these questions relatively easy, simply because they weren’t set up in the same way the the official GMAT questions were in that they attempted to deceive you into choosing the wrong answer.

Away from the official guide books, an honourable mention should also go to the Veritas Prep smart phone app. This app is a very useful digest for each of the question types, and more importantly gives examples of some of the tactics that the GMAT test uses to try and lead you away from correct answers. This app is also free to download, and means that you can learn while on the move. I found a useful tactic was to take a screenshot of the frame shown on my phone to capture key points during the videos; This would act as a handy reminder in future study sessions.

I found that the Veritas Prep app was especially useful for improving my ability of answering the sentence correction questions, as was the Keplan GMAT800 textbook to a lesser extent. The Veritas Prep app was also exceptional at guiding me through the Analytical Writing part of the test, offering a very simple and bullet proof approach to passing this section without using up valuable brain power for the more challenging later sections.

I completed several mock tests as provided by the GMAC (you can get two tests for free and then further tests for a small fee), one every few weeks, to re-calibrate where I should allocate most of my study time. I was very happy to find that I achieved my best ever score on the real test. In the practice tests I registered two consecutive cores of 680, before hitting a low 650 a few days before my actual test. The main contributor for this low score was a woeful performance in the Sentence correction questions; being only in the 40th percentile. This in hindsight worked in my favour as any chance of complacency was quickly thrown out of the window, and the last days were spent mostly improving my approach to tackling the sentence correction questions – my approach was almost entirely taken from the Veritas Prep app.

My final grades included an exceptional verbal reasoning score – in the 98th percentile, even though I spent minimal time practicing these types of questions throughout my study. This verbal score also included a 94th percentile for Sentence correction, a massive improvement in just a few days! My quantitative score perhaps suffered due to spending so much time cramming Sentence Correction; I scored in the 84th percentile for Data Sufficiency questions, but only the 37th percentile for Problem Solving, coming in the 52nd percentile overall. I attribute the poor performance on the Problem Solving questions to simply not being able to be calm enough under pressure to avoid the ‘traps’ set by the GMAT team. I am sure I could have improved the Problem Solving score with more practice, but I may have had to clone myself to also have the time to cram the Sentence Correction problems.

I am aware that this is a very long post, and even so I have only covered a small detail of my experiences in studying for and taking this test. If you have any questions please contact me and I will be more than happy to help in any way that I can.

Good luck!