A cultural journey through the EMBA programme at LBS after term one

By Ruxandra Ștețca, EMBALJ 2025

The first term of my EMBA is already over. Needless to say, quoting C. Brâncuși, that time flies by like a ghost. When contemplating becoming a student I read many LBS articles, listened to podcasts, and subscribed to the LBS newsletter for fresh ideas and opinions.

Of course, my reasons for joining this particular school are similar to the ones that my peers had and have and most probably will have. But one reason, that stands out, is London’s cultural life. I believe that enriching any student journey, at any age with the cultural happenings of the place is shaping one’s intellect and overall behaviour outstandingly.

If Orientation Week is usually very busy one can still enjoy Regent’s Park on the morning walk from the hotel to school. The colours, the air, the buzz, the textures – no matter of the season, even in winter, are heart-warming. And plants have this incredible flair for show that enchant every time.

Not sure whether to visit the National Gallery in January, Frans Hals helped me change my mind as he welcomed me with a whole range of portraits that still breathe life! All of them have such lively grimaces, their gestures are absolutely stunning.

The exhibition was displayed in such a way that if one turned quickly on one’s heels, one could make a short film out of all paintings – sort of like the first Walt Disney drawings. Cheers to that! Plus the 17th-century Dutch fashion – black, gold & white with the irresistible collars.

2 hours flight delay? Transform the negative into positive! The Courtauld Art Gallery has marvellous masterpieces by Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh – some of the iconic pieces are nestled in this not too big but precious collection. My favourite? Difficult to decide but I fell for one of Degas’ ballerinas. Almost impossible to resist them!

Beginning of February, during the last Friday evening course it struck me that Wigmore Hall is actually not far from school. Obviously, pianist Andras Schiff is almost always sold out but that 2nd of February evening, two young players – cello & piano simply enchanted the audiences’ hearts. A really soothing experience that helps ponder all the events and thoughts in a student’s life.

And on Saturday, during some free time before the lunch break we, me and some colleagues this time, took the opportunity to visit the Wallace Collection – it just lifted our spirits in a ludical way and it was a much vision-changing get-away from school. The sweet, sheer French works of art are simply refreshing one’s mind on a school day. Only 20min away, this hidden gem has a whole range of artworks just waiting to be discovered, besides paintings: sculpture, furniture, arms & armour, and porcelain.

March brought tree blooms and a change of scenery on London’s streets and a few more degrees made long-distance walking a joy. Heading to the data analytics course one late morning through Hyde Park I checked what’s on at the Serpentine Gallery and to my amazement I visited an exhibition of a pioneer in the aesthetics of machine learning: Rafik Anadol – Echoes of the Earth Living Archive.

Never thought of such the creative potential of AI. But his works of art complemented what we did in the Data Analytics course and enveloped the topics touched upon in a whole new perspective. And the real blooming magnolias enchanted the whole way to school.

But the evening at the V&A offered me the model for a woman’s determination in business: by the end of her second decade in business, Gabrielle Chanel had 2400 employees in her 26 sewing ateliers alone plus other employees in her perfume laboratories and at her looms.

Throughout her career, she maintained her design philosophy to always dress to feel young, i.e. free easy and unpretentious. To breathe and move and sit without being conscious of what one’s got on. An inspiring life. Toujours.

Sunday morning is always a good idea to discover Liotard’s The Lavergne family breakfast, at the National Gallery. Two works of art – one in pastel and one in oil, same artist who was fantastic enough to replicate the pastel work of art, after 20 years in oil, without seeing his first work in all these years. It’s once in a lifetime

event and even more so when one gets to play “Spot the difference” with a super-special goddaughter! And after that not to be able to decide which one is more impressive? The sheer pastel or the rich oil? Liotard was a Swiss painter with quite some business acumen as he sold his paintings well and retired in Constantinople, nick-naming himself “the Turkish painter”.

“Don’t refuse the big things but go where the small thing is.” said Flinders Petrie in 1931, the British Egyptologist who has endowed us all with the Petrie Museum – another London gem that shows us that nothing new is under the sun. We wear similar bracelets and necklaces as 3000 years ago, pursue the same quest for beauty & attraction, and wear quite the same cuts. But he embodied his belief that archaeologists should catalogue all their findings, no matter how insignificant they may seem at first sight. The whole museum is accounting in the form of art. Among the treasures is also the oldest surviving linen blouse in the world.

On a light rainy St. Patrick’s Day London metamorphosises into a cheering city and invites us to walk – this time I took the time to stroll to the John Soane Museum – a sort of curiosity museum or how to dedicate one’s life and full soul to one’s students. What impressed me most were the seniors present in every room and open and keen to explain all the details and secrets about the room we were in.

Beginning of April I made time to discover the work of one of the greatest Italian designers of the 20th century: Enzo Mari. When I saw the designs of his books exhibited it hit me that I grew up with those books! But this retrospective brings together a huge amount of his projects, ranging from furniture, books, games, product and graphic design and more conceptual installation works. This exhibition lasts until September but the building of the Design Museum itself is absolutely fascinating and invites to an immersion in the world of design.

End of April was the time for “The Cult of Beauty” a much-apprecised exhibition at the Wellcome Collection.

Going there with my colleague and friend from Hong Kong and her daughters

only enriched the overall experience and reminded me of the bliss that children’s presence offers through their curiosity ideas and jokes – always an enriching and energising experience.

Looking forward to my agenda for term 2 – The picture of Dorian Gray at the Royal Haymarket Theatre, The Swan Lake at The Royal Opera House and the exhibition Legion at the British Museum with my family, among other spontaneous events, only motivates me to study, meeting my colleagues, enriching my life. And commuting does not feel so tiresome any more.

Stay tuned!

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To find more about the student experience in the EMBA programme, click here.

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