End of Year Reflections: My MAM Journey

Written By, Sam Shuoyuan Ma, MAM2024

10 months ago, with an undergraduate degree in theoretical physics and internship experiences in technical-heavy roles, I embarked on my journey at LBS with 3 main goals in mind: equip myself with enough knowledge in accounting and finance, pivot from STEM to business, and befriend with bright peers from diverse backgrounds. Now, as my student life at LBS is about to conclude, I spent lots of time reflecting on this magical 10-month journey, recollecting precious moments from it and evaluating how it has shaped my personal and professional growth. Here are some key takeaways that I want to keep as I am to embark on a new journey as a consultant.

“Fake it till you make it” is beyond powerful.

During my undergrad time, I deemed “fake it till you make it” as a term with negative implications: it’s bad if a physicist “fake” that he/she knows something in physics, as this may lead to failure of experiments and explosions of equipment.

My journey at LBS has absolutely changed my perspective towards “fake it till you make it”. I was “pushed” by career centre to attend various recruiting events and pitch myself to seasoned recruiters on weekly basis since the very first month of LBS. And as I had to fake that I am a sharp ambitious professional-to-be, I found out that I naturally immerse myself into the “identity” of a sharp ambitious professional-to-be through trying to align my actions with its characteristics. This really accelerated my growth.

I hence applied “fake it till you make it” in many other things. In job interviews, whenever I was nervous, I would picture myself as a junior employee who already got into the firm and about to have a “daily conversation” with the interviewer. And when trying to build start-up with peers that exports porcelain overseas, I faked myself as an experienced businessman who’s been facilitating international trade for years when negotiating with suppliers and business and customer buyers. The faith of “I can make it no matter what it is” behind “fake it till you make it” is the actual thing that matters.

Time and money spent on fruitful socials are not consumptions but investments.

I’ve had a lot of socials during my time at LBS. Several times per week. And I spent considerable amount of time and money in them. But reflecting on this year, I surprisingly realized that many memorable moments took place in these socials. Everyone at LBS has their own unique story, values, and aspirations, and hence socializing with anyone at LBS can be very fruitful. And lots of friendships built at LBS are lifelong, as lots of LBS graduates work in the same city and industry. Some guys in LBS basketball club have been playing weekly games every Wednesday night and Saturday morning since 2008, and they’re still playing together now! So, save some money for socials! You’ll meet so many interesting folks at LBS who may become lifelong friends of yours!

Recruiting is a rollercoaster, be your authentic self and enjoy the ride!

In the end all my friends ended up with good job offers despite the bad job market. So don’t be so stressed with recruiting (it’s easy to say so bad hard to achieve though)!

There will be lots of ups and downs in the process for sure. I still remember on 29th Nov 2023, I received an email from a top consulting firm’s HR stating that she wanted to call me to update some progress on my application. As I thought that I performed well in my final round interviews and got quite positive feedback from both interviewers, I really believed that HR was about to give me an offer call, and I even called my parents before the HR call to tell them the “good news”. And then HR called me, praising me for almost a minute for my performances, and then said, “but I’m very sorry as our headcount shrinks this year we can only make offer to very specific people, and hence can’t make you an offer”. I was devastated. But I had to get myself together quickly as I had another final round interview with Strategy& London on the very next day. I let myself being super miserable for one hour, and at the end of that hour, I went to school and began doing mock cases. And luckily, I passed the final round of Strategy&.

Strategy& London is the only company in London that I interviewed with. But I did lots of interviews with various consulting firms’ Middle East office, which was my primary target location initially. But being very focused on trying to break into consulting in the Middle East helped me to be myself and relax during my interview with Strategy&, which I think mattered a lot. And as I went through the recruitment process, I realized that the culture and the type of work they do on daily basis fits my personality and skillset well. And hence in the end I changed my mind, giving up an opportunity of working in consulting in the Middle East and taking the offer of Strategy& London. I realized that recruitment is a two-way process: the company is trying to see if you fit them well, but at the same time you are also selecting the place at which you can work happily and grow fast. So be your authentic self and enjoy the “selection” process!

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