My reflections on the Middle East Talent Networking Evening 2022

By Ketaki Banga, EMBA Dubai 2023

Ketaki Banga is Executive VP at BPG Dubai (a WPP Group company) and current EMBA Dubai student.

Most of us spend weeks or months agonising over our decision to disrupt our lives, stretch our finances, test our relationships, push ourselves to the limit, and juggle our jobs to go for an Executive MBA. While we all have our reasons to pursue an EMBA, at the core of it is the desire to be better, go further and ideally earn more. It could be through growth in your current organisation or through new opportunities – including some that you may not even have thought of.

You’d think being at London Business School would result in a red-carpet welcome to most roles and a line of recruiters beating down your door, but that’s not quite how things work. While an LBS EMBA is a great steppingstone, the challenge EMBAs face is that many conventional campus recruitment opportunities are not really geared for how organisations hire mid to senior level executives. So, when we had the first ever Middle East Talent Networking Evening in Dubai for current EMBAs and alumni, organised by the LBS Career Centre, many of us were unsure how this would pan out. Would it be like a regular LBS networking evening? Would it be awkward to go around looking for suitable opportunities like at a “career fair”? Was it even worth attending? Let me start by answering these questions.

The event was a hybrid between networking and career fairs. All the attending companies had clearly marked stands and their teams were around to answer any questions. There was also a lot of networking on the main floor. We received the list of attending delegates including companies and alumni, along with exhibitor profiles in advance, which included information such as company overview, growth areas, company culture, current hiring requirements or interest in expertise, and interview and selection process. There were about 26 companies present across sectors ranging from financial services to technology, management consultancies, logistics, healthcare, retail, automotive, executive search and more.

Here are a few suggestions to make the most of such events at LBS:

Start early
When you join LBS, you will work closely with your executive coach and the Career Centre. Make the most of these workshops and one-on-one sessions to have more clarity about your career goals and build a stronger CV and LinkedIn presence. Distil that into your one-page bio, which will be included in the talent directory that the career centre will share with attending companies.

Try and get regular updates through your class career rep about confirmed companies at the event. If you have a wish list, share it with your career rep. If you have access to recruitment teams in some organisations, introduce the LBS Career Centre to them. This is as big as we collectively make it.

Research the attending companies – a little preparation goes a long way. At the very least, do skim through the profiles that will be shared with you ahead of the event. Keep in mind that attending companies will meet many smart people, so be prepared, sound knowledgeable, and try and be memorable. This could be through a conversation on an engaging topic that concerns their industry, or by asking people about themselves and what they find exciting in their organisation, or even a joke. Have a clear idea about what you’re seeking and whom you’d like to connect with, but keep an open mind. Opportunities come in many forms, and they may be things you had never considered before. Keep your LinkedIn QR code handy, along with a digital copy of your CV and a cover letter on your phone.

Wear multiple hats
You are in a leadership role and may also be looking for top talent. So, keep an eye open and network with other cohorts and alumni. If you hear of opportunities and know someone who fits – make those introductions. The career universe works in mysterious ways and is amplified by such seemingly random acts.

The morning after
It isn’t over. In fact, this is when the real work starts. Connect with the people you met at the event and, if there were any live opportunities, hopefully you had a memorable enough conversation the night before, so they’ll remember you. Even if there was nothing immediate, develop these contacts for future roles in their organisation. Check out the multiple resources at LBS on how to build your networking skills and nurture relationships.

While it’s unlikely that anybody got hired on the spot at the LBS Middle East Talent Networking Evening 2022, it was a great opportunity to connect with many companies and even get some intel on not-yet-announced roles. As a career rep for my cohort, I worked closely with Ki Kuganesan, Head of EMBA Career Centre & Talent Development at London Business School, who led the team that pulled off this event.

If you would like to learn more about the EMBA Dubai programme and how it might excel your career, please visit our website.

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