By Sunita Chambore, Student-led Learning Manager
Experiential Learning is key to the student experience at London Business School. LBS is the place to develop leadership competencies by applying learning from the classroom into a real-world context.
We caught up with Charul Pant MBA2021, Co-President of the Out in Business Club, before she leaves LBS to start her dream job with Amazon.
What were you doing before you started your MBA?
Before my MBA, I was working with Microsoft in India as a Project Manager. I worked with Microsoft for over four years as a Technical Consultant and Project Manager, solving clients’ business problems through my vantage point in technology.
Why did you decide to come to LBS?
- I wanted to accelerate my career path to strategic senior leadership roles within the tech industry. With an engineering background, it would have organically taken me much longer to land these roles.
- Having worked primarily in India, LBS provided an excellent opportunity to switch my post-MBA location to London and grow myself as a global leader.
- I wanted to pause and reflect on what’s most important to me in my personal and professional life – what kind of job, culture, life, do I want? LBS seemed to have the warmest and diverse community and the most flexible programme in terms of class schedule, and the number of internships you can do. All these plus points were ideal in helping me figure out what kind of life I wanted to live.
Why did you apply to lead the Out in Business club?
I have always been an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, and I wanted to use my time at LBS to turn my allyship into more actionable and output-driven work. I believed leading the OiB Club would push me to do that.
Coming from India, where acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community is still on a growth journey, I felt that my visibility and leadership in OiB would bring more awareness to the South Asian community and enable more South Asian allies to support the club.
I found wonderful friends and mentors in the club and wanted to take this opportunity to spend more time with them.
How did the pandemic affect your club plans?
The club’s mission is to build an empowering community of LGBTQ+ and Allies, thereby creating leaders of consequence.
Due to the pandemic, we had to make up for the lack of physical interactions and social meet-ups with 1-1 walks and Zoom parties. These were nowhere close to ideal, to be honest.
EUROUT had to be re-planned multiple times. This was the 10th anniversary of EUROUT, and we were hoping to make it a grand, in-person conference. We eventually managed to make it the biggest EUROUT ever (in terms of attendees and sponsors). Still, the multiple planning efforts and lack of social interaction did hurt quite a bit.
What has been the highlight of your time at LBS?
Leading the EUROUT 2020 conference amidst the highly challenging COVID-19 scenario was the highlight. I remember how we had to exhibit extreme dexterity in adapting our planning regarding elements such as sponsorship value proposition, finalising speakers, and content format, as pandemic restrictions kept changing throughout the year.
From planning an in-person conference, updating it to hybrid, and finally moving to a complete virtual format was challenging. However, more challenging was ensuring that the participation and engagement remained high even in a virtual form.
In the end, we had over 900 attendees (the highest ever in the history of EUROUT). So I can proudly say we managed it pretty well.
I remember opening EUROUT on the final day and feeling both emotional and overwhelmed. I have always been a strong proponent of inclusion and diversity. But, at that moment – speaking to all the attendees of EUROUT, I felt so powerful.
I felt that I had initiated a ripple of change and by bringing together allies these ripples turned into waves of change. I feel so incredibly hopeful about the inclusive world that lies ahead of us.
Do you have any advice for the incoming Club Presidents?
Leading an active club (and it’s up to you how dynamic you want to make it) is a lot of work.
Only take up the President role if you are genuinely passionate about the club; otherwise, there is no way you can keep yourself motivated.
And sometimes, it feels so overwhelming. There are times you wonder why you’re trying to manage these 30 odd volunteers, organise a huge conference and talk to all these sponsors when you’ve been rejected by the fourth job interview and don’t even know what the future holds for you.
There are moments when you might find leading the club a waste of your time. Still, those moments melt away compared to the moments you feel incredibly proud of all the impact you’ve had on your club members and LBS at large. You look back at all the toil with so much fulfilment and feel that you made the right choice.
What are five words that describe your LBS journey.
You were selected to join the Leadership Incubator. What did you learn about yourself?
I learnt that I am good at mobilising and building driven, passionate teams. When you can get people to be intrinsically motivated, it is easier to get them to work together to create a meaningful impact.
I particularly liked the session on having courageous conversations. I tend to struggle with being assertive and was looking for advice on this. The session focussed on approaching difficult conversations with empathy and having a balance of advocacy and inquiry. This slight shift in my conversation style helped me a lot in my team building.
Which faculty has made the biggest impression?
Aneeta Rattan, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, made the biggest impression on me. I love her research and work on Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging.
She has been one of the biggest advocates of the OiB club and been there at every step to support our club with thought-provoking workshops, content suggestions and stepped up to moderate some of our events as well.
I also thoroughly enjoyed her Negotiations and Bargaining classes and learnt how an excellent negotiation is about understanding what is important to the other person.
I love her communication style of being kind yet assertive – something that is rare and something I aspire to develop in myself.
What are you fascinated by at the moment?
I am fascinated by how, despite everything that may be wrong with the world, there are so many incredibly kind, hopeful and driven people who are doing their best to make this world a more equitable and wonderful place for everyone.
What’s the last book you read?
I read the book A Woman in Your Own Right: Assertiveness and You by Annie Dickson. It’s an interesting take on understanding and developing your assertive personality, managing your emotions and accepting your unique self.
I remember coming to London on a trip in 2019 and was completely in awe of LBS and London and wondered how incredible it would be to study here and settle in this amazing city.
Today, as I prepare to start my dream job in London this July, I feel like I made it! I’m joining Amazon on their Launch programme as a Senior Vendor Manager. I’ll be leading their Retail business, specifically the Books department.
I am thrilled to be joining one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world and driving ground-breaking innovation forward. This was the dream.
I occasionally blog and share reflections and musings on my blog – charulpant.blogspot.com. Some people find it relatable, and it often makes them smile!
The Student-led Learning team offers student leaders:
- The CLAN or Club Leaders Action Network, a network where student leaders connect, solve shared challenges and develop as leaders.
- The Student Leadership Incubator, a space for student leaders to discover, develop, and practice their leadership competencies.
If you’d like to learn more about the CLAN or the Student Leadership Incubator, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.