Lucy Chaplin – My MBA Experience

When considering an MBA I decided that I wanted a world-class education with a strong brand. I wanted classmates of strong calibre, diverse professions and global experience. After years of working abroad internationally, finding such a strong programme in my home city was incredibly attractive. During the welcome weekend and admission events I found some of the most intelligent, interesting and friendly peers. Characteristics which continued to reflect my classmates, our alumni and the broader LBS community.

My LBS experience has been all the more valuable to me as a state-school educated woman, raised in a traditionally working-class background, first in my family to attend an undergraduate degree. As a teenager, I worked three jobs whilst studying to afford my education but also to pay the bills and cover basic living costs. After my undergraduate degree I landed a lucrative role in a prestigious graduate scheme. Forgoing the financial stability afforded by a consulting job has been tough, but the rewards I’ve gained from this experience are invaluable (positive ROI for sure!).

I think it’s easy to look at business education as an elite endeavour, I certainly never would have imagined myself here 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. Again, this is where the diversity of LBS shines through – I’ve met so many people, from all different background, sincerely learning from our vast range of life and professional experiences.

The experience level and diversity of my peers was of utmost importance to me – coming from a senior management position, I wanted to ensure that I would find peers who had similar levels of experience, that the opportunities available to me post-MBA would be competitive and challenging and that the network that I would build would be truly global.

Before LBS I was on the senior management team of a technology consulting company after 5 years in the KPMG Financial Services and Technology consulting teams. Despite having a few ideas about what I wanted to do before I joined LBS, when I started those quickly went out the window as the breadth of opportunities and experiences I was exposed to became clear. I’ve spent a huge amount of time in the last 18 months working to define what is important to me in both my next role and future career, reflect on past successes (and failures) and define a robust, deliberate (and fun!) plan for the future. I spent my summer with Google and would love to continue my career in the Health-tech space.

It’s so difficult to narrow down my favourite classes and faculty! The stand out ones for me have been Isabel Fernandez-Mateo (Building your career strategy), Michael Parke (Leading Teams and Organisations), Eliot Sherman (Paths to Power) and Keyvan Vakili (core strategy and Digital Strategy).  One of my favourite classes was from Michael (in Leading Teams and Organisations) on Organisational Culture where we examined Bridgewater Associates and their culture of radical transparency in depth and then discussed as a class. It was so interesting to hear the diverse viewpoints of my peers; coming from such different professional backgrounds demonstrated the contentions of creating and implementing cultures and the differing opinions on what makes a culture “strong”.

I am always someone who has dived into every organisation that I’ve been involved with. LBS has been no different! Since joining I’ve been a member of our Students’ Association (as Chief of Staff, then Senior Alumni Officer), Women’s Touch Rugby Club leadership team, organised our GIGANTIC campus-wide diversity festival TATTOO, ran Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, attended tens of speaker events (some professional, some political, some just interesting topics) and travelled to 6 new countries (adding to my list that now sits at 57!) – to name but a few of the amazing experiences I’ve had. All of these are primarily student led events that rely on our community to build, share and continue them into the future.

Having worked away from London for a few years prior to my MBA, I was keen to return and continue to build my network here. London is home, but it is also a huge cultural melting pot, a place where you can pursue any career you’d like, a truly global hub of business and a hotbed of innovation and disruption. The calibre and variety of professional opportunities, our exposure to world leaders and the history and culture combine to create a city where whoever you want to be and whatever you want to do can be met with ease – as well as a whole heap of opportunities you could never have imagined! For me, this means I’ve been able to re-establish myself in this city that I love, found opportunities I may never have considered and met people truly from almost every country in the world that I hope to remain connected to for life.

As one of many students who make it to campus and lose their initial career development plan when they realise just how many doors are open to them through LBS, I’ve leaned heavily on our careers centre to help shape and guide my subsequent planning (and re-planning) of my career so far. We have access to all sorts of online resources but also career centre professionals who have strong networks in their industries in London, who provide high-quality career coaching and who offer robust and effective challenge and guidance. I am also participating in our Leadership Incubator and the Direct Hire Coaching Programme, two programmes that are helping me define and pursue the next step of my career and become a better leader when I get there.

Being a committee member of our Students’ Association has been the highlight of my LBS experience. In my first year it was so valuable to build strong relationships across other programmes and work on our agenda of inclusion and diversity, represent the student body in interactions with the school and affect real change on and off campus. In my SA role this year, I’m a member of our International Alumni Council – seeing how our Alumni continue to engage with our school is inspiring and exciting. I’m also involved in running our Women’s Touch Rugby Club – one of the most empowering, diverse and welcoming collection of kick-ass women I’ve had the honour of playing, travelling and working with.

In my first year I jumped on a last minute flight to Malta with a whole heap of strangers (and made some lifelong friendships), drove through the mountains of Georgia and Armenia in a Lada Niva (with a friend discovering her Armenian roots), hit the slopes of Val Thorens guiding hundreds of us off the mountain by kerosene torch light, threw a New Year’s Eve party in a French Chateau, caught some sunshine in Dubai, played rugby in Madrid and the Global MBA Rugby Championships in the USA and discovered some of the hidden gems of Japan (onsen convert). Yes, I have had to live on baked beans for the remainder of the year.

In the first term of my first year I remember being really overwhelmed – I was in this place with so many really smart people, completely able to define my own destiny but almost paralysed by how much there was to do and deciding which of those things I wanted to experience. It wasn’t until our ski trip (Snow Trek) that I really felt settled – I still didn’t have much of a career plan (!) but I realised I was now surrounded by hundreds of new friends and had experienced more fun, laughter, challenges and introspection in that 4 months than I could ever have imagined.

Sadly next year I will have graduated – I’m looking forward to staying connected to our community, offering my support and guidance and participating in occasional alumni rugby matches. I’m looking forward to meeting the next batch of LBS students and helping them in their experiences in any way I can!


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