Career Conversations with Masters in Management Alumni

By Malak Hammoud, Recruitment Manager – MiM, GMiM, MFA

I sat down with four Masters in Management (MiM) alumni to get insights into how the programme and LBS experience helped shape their careers, and learn more about their experiences with the Careers Centre. 

Preston Bloskas (MiM2017) – Strategy and Operations Manager at Amazon
Catherine Jonan (MiM2020) – Project Specialist at Boston Consulting Group
Zoé Teyssier (MiM2018) – E-commerce Manager at Diageo GB
Ricarda Roller (MiM2018) – Senior Consultant at Kearney

Was there anything in particular that you wanted to improve through the MiM programme? How was the programme aligned with your careers goals? 

Zoé Teyssier (MiM2018)
“Fun fact was that I actually didn’t want to apply to LBS. I knew the school was great but I had just completed my undergrad in London and kind of wanted a change in scenery but, at the same time, I kept my options opened and still applied. I went through the process and during my interview my interviewer highlighted that between all the schools I was considering LBS was the best choice. What he stressed most was the fact that I was focusing more on the cities rather than the actual schools and what they offer. Out of all the ones I was considering, LBS had the strongest network. Before joining, I had no idea what I wanted to do except for the fact I wanted to be in consumer goods. I was surprised to learn that there was a strong community of graduates who went into consumer goods later down the line in their careers, which I didn’t expect. I initially applied because it was the best school in London and later discovered the strong network that was going to help me get to where I wanted to be.”

Ricarda Roller (MiM2018)
“I also wasn’t sure on exactly what I wanted to do. I just knew I didn’t want to stay in Germany because the teaching there is quite theoretical. What I really liked about LBS was how it was very hands-on. There’s smaller classes, you work with your study group on case studies and you’re actually working with your classmates throughout the year on projects rather than studying on your own for exams at the end of each term. Those were the factors that made me choose LBS in terms of style of teaching. Once I was a student they really helped me shape the idea of where I want to go in my career. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by all the career choices available and most people at that age don’t even have a clue what they can actually do – LBS gave the structured overview of the different options I could explore and possibilities out there.” 

Catherine Jonan (MiM2020)
“I was looking to improve my business sense. I came from a very social sciences background. I had done a few internships but felt like there was an entire world in terms of the network and number of companies I could be working for. Being at LBS and having the support of the network, Careers Centre and seeing the number of potential possibilities and geographies which I could be a part of after graduating, was what I wanted and that was what I got from the experience.”

Preston Bloskas (MiM2017)
“The oxymoron in my case was I was transitioning from finance – investment banking. I wanted to transition into tech so the most reasonable thing to do was to probably go to a school in California as opposed to going to a school halfway across the world. I had realised at the time that I didn’t want to pursue an MBA and I wanted to transition much faster than what an MBA would allow. I applied to a variety of schools both in the US and abroad and what really sold LBS for me was the alumni network and there was a very clear, tangible difference between alumni of other schools and alumni at LBS. I reached out over LinkedIn and asked to hear about their experiences, as they were working at companies that I wanted to work at; doing things that I wanted to do. I asked if they liked what they were doing, if I’m making a mistake transitioning from finance into tech. The LBS alumni were far more helpful, friendly and always available to offer support – that’s what cinched it for me. I found the alumni network so helpful before I even signed on the dotted line which told me that there’s something very special about the school. I’ve been paid back dividends by choosing LBS. Just recently, I finished a variety of different negotiations with other companies and I tapped into the Careers Centre on how to evaluate private equity versus public equity and how to handle negotiations that involve that, and even now, having graduated years ago, I’m still reaping the benefits.”

We know that the Careers Centre has so much to offer in terms of support and opportunities to students, but was there anything in particular that you found stuck with you until now in your career or that helped you at the time? Do you look back and think something was particularly useful? 

Zoé Teyssier (MiM2018)
“For me, there’s not a single doubt that it was the practice interviews. When I joined LBS, I was so rubbish at interviews you wouldn’t believe it. I completed around 10 -15 mock interviews with Kira Hugh’s who prepped me for group assessment centres and individual interviews. From all the practice I did, I could feel the improvement before I even started the recruitment process properly. I didn’t get that at LSE. The kind of tailored one-to-one coaching had a big impact. Even the practice with other students was great. Especially because I was interested in a diversified sector where there’s potentially less students applying. So I was like is anyone interested in the alcohol sector? Apparently they were interested but only for parties and not as a career! So I really feel I took advantage of those one-to-one practice interviews and I don’t think I would have managed to secure a role if it wasn’t for that help.”

Preston Bloskas (MiM2017)
“The bulk of students in early careers at the time wanted to go into either finance or consulting – from the recent stats I can see there’s much more of a growing interest in tech in recent years. So tech back then wasn’t always the popular choice. In my experience the Careers Centre was so useful in helping me understand exactly what I was walking into when I go for an interview. Tech interviews can be all over the map – you can get a McKinsey style case study or a group interview and how do I answer the dreaded googleyness question when I interview with Google? In my experience the tech and media experts at the Careers Centre were always helpful in refining my story and making sure it’s compelling enough to warrant additional questions that dive deeper into my background, and in my case that was something my undergrad couldn’t do. They were spectacular in providing a lot of value with my initial conversations with companies.”

Was it difficult to stick to the sector you were interested in rather than following the crowd into the more popular consulting career?

Preston Bloskas (MiM2017)
“Yes, that’s very interesting because Tech in the United States is a little different, so when a role is posted they want that position filled within 2 weeks. So when you’re going through a graduate programme and you see your friends getting job offers from McKinsey and Goldman Sachs you do start to think and question yourself if you could really do this. If you were to ask David Morris who was the head of Technology and Media Careers at the school he would tell you I was at his office weekly asking what am I doing, how do I manage this stress and am I doing everything correctly? Yes, it was intimidating to stick to my guns and making sure I upheld my interest but the school was very supportive and it worked out!”

For those of you who were interested in consulting what was the journey like for you?

Catherine Jonan (MiM2020)
“It was a very supportive community within the students but as well the Careers Centre support is unlimited. You are supported by your peer leaders who are MBA or Executive MBA students. You also have industry experts who literally walk you through what to expect and what consulting is really like – they help you debunk all your worries! In the first 2 weeks, I found the Careers Centre really helpful and special. They will go through your CV with your peers and really make sure that your CV is ready for any interview at any company and that is what I think makes LBS special. Having your CV go through 40 people, from your peers to career leads and experts within the Career Centre, is what makes your CV so sellable.”

For many applying students the content and academic experience of the programme is very important. Was there any class or project that you found particularly useful or you felt supported you in your careers?

Zoé Teyssier (MiM2018)
“Ricarda mentioned one earlier on how practical the mandatory classes are. Having done my bachelors in Management, I can tell that LSE were preparing me for a PhD and I was like, that’s not what I want! Then at LBS they were saying, let’s prepare you for real life, so this is the theory but let’s apply it straight away. In terms of classes that prepared me the most I thought the electives were of great value. The fact that you can choose what you want to learn and focus on according to the type of skills you were looking to develop. My negotiation skills were about as low as my interviewing skills so I chose a negotiation elective which was absolutely incredible. With the benefit of being mixed with students from other programmes, and some who are more senior in their experience, you really learn a lot from them. The fact that I got to do that at school made me rethink the whole definition of school. I also had a similar course when I started working so it’s definitely something that’s stuck with me and supported me in my career.”

Preston Bloskas (MiM2017)
“The elective that stuck with me the most was the Strategy and Entrepreneur elective. It was a course where you had to essentially come up with an entrepreneurship idea and basically build a product and pitch it to an actual panel of venture capitalists. Stating why this product deserves to be built. The class would then divide into the products that were voted as successful. So if you weren’t part of a successful product you select a product that you thought was and you put a whole semester’s work behind it to bring that product to market. There were a lot of start-up companies that were created out of that class which I thought was phenomenal. It’s interesting because it’s something that I still use today. We had to write a BRD (Business Review Document) and pre FAQ which is a questionnaire list for any internal stockholder teams to build something. From how do you market the product to how do you process it? Did you price it correctly? How are you going to sell it?  Do you need an engager sales team? It’s literally from start to finish on building a product. I’ve tapped into that at my current team at Amazon and that’s something that I didn’t expect. I still keep in touch with the students that I met in that class and keep the book on standby that was recommended by my professor just in case I need it in the future.”

Could you share some of your involvements with the Clubs or Student Led activities that supported you career-wise or in terms of personal development?

Preston Bloskas (MiM2017)
“The MiMs and all the Early Careers students get to join the same clubs as the MBAs, Executive MBAs and LBS Sloans. That is spectacular for a variety of reasons. You get to network and mingle with students across the entire school who have a variety of experiences and who more than likely have taken on a project or worked in a sector that you’re interested in joining once you graduate – so you could really tap into them as a resource. I was the Vice President of the Tech and Media Club – just a fancy way of saying I was on the executive committee and I was working alongside a lot MBAs who were also trying to network their way into tech. We worked on a variety of projects. A lot of clubs facilitate their own trips and through the Tech and Media club we organised trips to China, America and Europe. I was also part of the Foodie’s Club which is exactly what it sounds like. It was an opportunity to showcase the food from your culture. I’m from Dallas, Texas so I brought a lot of barbeque, tacos and salsa – it was a fun club to learn about different cultures of the world that you don’t really expect. There’s a variety of professional clubs, sports clubs and fun clubs that add value to the overall experience that you can be part of depending on your interests.”

If you’re interested in hearing more from our MiM alumni network on the impact the programme has had on their careers, register to attend our upcoming Careers Conversations events here

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