By Tiffanie Sutanto, MBA2021
I have always wanted to experience living in the UK, especially in London with everything that the city has to offer. Yet, LBS stood out for me for the strong brand that the school has earned over the years and the diverse student body. One of the main reasons for me to go for the LBS MBA was to build a network of strong friendships, I knew that being part of LBS would allow me to meet and work with a broad range of people from different nationalities with varying levels of experience. Fast forward to two years later, I would say that my experience indeed has exceeded my expectations! I was blessed to be part of a community of intelligent, thoughtful and career-driven individuals who are also incredibly supportive of each other especially during tough times.
LBS’ diverse student body allows us to learn from each other’s journey. As one of only four Indonesians in the cohort, I had the opportunity to share the complexities of Indonesia and Southeast Asia market and add a different perspective during class discussions. The global nature of the cohort also opened professional opportunities for students who want to explore a career in a region that is unfamiliar to them. We helped each other by connecting our peers with our contacts in the region for career opportunities.
During the programme, I had the opportunity to attend multiple Women in Business club events. However, the one that stood out was the EQUALL conference. Albeit the virtual format, the team did a fantastic job in engaging great speakers and selecting interesting content. The theme of this year’s conference was “Flattening the (gender) curve”, an issue that was further exacerbated by the pandemic. The conference discussed how the pandemic is affecting women’s careers and explored the discrimination that also happened towards men. The issue of gender gap was something that was not widely discussed back in Indonesia. Having this discussion helped me realise how gender gap is still an issue in many parts of the world, including the Indonesian culture.
One thing that I have learned about LBS that has surprised me is the flexibility of the programme! When I decided to do my MBA, my ambitions were not necessarily to shift careers, but to make room for personal and professional exploration. I followed my curiosities and explored a diverse set of interests during the two years. In my first year, I did a part-time internship with a fintech start-up, which aims to close the gender pay gap. Then, in my second year, I did another part-time internship with British Red Cross and an exchange at Chicago Booth School of Business. Besides professional exploration, I also did some personal exploration by taking the elective classes that I was interested in and getting involved in various projects that the school offered.
I came into LBS, nervous about my ability to participate in class discussions and I questioned how I would contribute to the community. In Indonesia, no one really asks difficult questions to their teachers in class, and disagreeing publicly with someone more senior is often frowned upon. I was very intimidated at the beginning of the programme; I was afraid to speak my thoughts during class discussions and I would always hesitate when it came to leading a discussion.
Throughout the programme, I tried to challenge myself and participate in multiple different activities – taking a role as MBA Student Ambassador, working with various industries, joining an Improv class, and taking a leadership position in one of LBS’ clubs. By actively participating in numerous activities, I was becoming more comfortable in speaking with people from different backgrounds and in doing so, I learned how to disagree professionally. When I needed to respond to a topic that was new to me, I learned that it was okay to acknowledge that I may not have the full information, but I still managed to share a valid perspective based on the information that was available to me.
Prior to joining LBS, I was most excited about the trips! Before my MBA, I travelled mostly to countries in Asia and Oceania. London is conveniently located and is a travel hub to countries in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The opportunity to tailor our own schedule also allowed me to go on multiple trips during the MBA. From exploring Paris at night, to visiting the palaces and gardens in Marrakesh, going down the slopes of Val Thorens, driving through Geneva, walking down the city of Lisbon and Dubrovnik, and enjoying the sunshine on the beaches of Greece and Spain, I have had the chance to make some lifelong friendships and explore new cultures that I wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.
I have always wanted to pursue an MBA, but I knew that the programme needed significant investment. Hence, I am very grateful for the LBS scholarship that helped me to finance my study. The scholarship gave me the flexibility to decide how best to spend the two years of my MBA and contributed to any career decisions following graduation. It allowed me the privilege of accepting an offer with companies that I was interested in working with and allowed me to go for an exchange in my second year without worrying too much about having to do part-time work. I am extremely grateful that I was able to learn and develop myself while being able to make the most out of these two years and get ready for my next opportunity.