We spoke to Marianna Taki, MAM2022 about her London LAB experience at LBS and what the new MAM class should expect.
When I was first admitted to LBS as a Masters in Analytics and Management (MAM) student, one of the things that I looked forward to most was LondonLAB. I didn’t know what to expect at first, but I realised that this part of the programme would give me the opportunity to combine all the data, business, and communication skills that I would develop during the programme and bring it all together in a real-life business project. And that’s exactly what happened.
LondonLAB – What is it?
Every MAM student is required to complete a 10-week live business project in the final term. The project focuses on solving a real-life challenge faced by a client, using all the knowledge and skills gathered throughout the year.
To start, we were briefed on the different clients and projects and submitted our project preferences based on interest. We were then assigned to a project in groups of 5-6. Over the course of the project, we had regular meetings with faculty and the client to define, understand and tackle the business challenges in the given timeframe. Finally, all deliverables had to be completed and presented to the client at the end of the 10 weeks.
There were various project opportunities to consider in the ‘Project Preferencing’ form. Every project scope had its own unique value and every company involved was attractive in its own way. The projects ranged across different areas of data analytics and data science, giving each of us the opportunity to choose and work on something that we would be genuinely interested in. Additionally, being able to work with such major clients was exciting on its own, as I knew that I stood to meet great individuals and learn from them whilst bringing an impact to their organisation.
A week later I was allocated a project for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and assigned to my respective team. After a year of the whole cohort working in several study groups and teams, we all knew each other well but it was exciting to be able to work for 10 weeks with people that I had still not gotten the chance to work with before.
Step 2 – Meeting the client:
EBRD is a 31-year-old financial services company, with 4,000 employees. It focuses on promoting private and entrepreneurial initiatives and has handled over 5,700 projects, with a total investment of over €145 billion. Internally, it focuses on fostering a dynamic and high-performing work environment. In support of this, our team collaborated with the HR People Analytics team to support them in their efforts to use data to bring useful insights to the bank.
The first big step for my team was meeting our EBRD contacts and defining the business problems and their expectations from us. After that, we had everything we needed to start tackling the issue we were assigned with.
Step 3 – Bringing it on!
As the project kicked off, the next weeks were a roller coaster ride. Between trying to understand how best to tackle a real-life large data set, to dividing tasks amongst us, and comprehending exactly what the client deliverable was, we were all overwhelmed to say the least. It was then, that I slowly started observing all the skills we had gathered throughout the year, being applied and coming together to let us face this challenge. The data analytics and machine learning skills from our core courses enhanced our ability to complete the technical part of the project, whereas the management and business skills were key in facilitating professional communication between us and the client, as well as the construction of the final report and presentation.
Daily casual meetings in the library and over zoom became common practice and week by week we could see significant progress. We were getting closer to our final target. Teamwork was at the core of being able to deliver our best work. By the end of the first few weeks, we all knew each other’s strengths and competencies and would divide work accordingly. We knew we could rely on each other and ask for help at any given point in time and, bearing in mind that we had recruiting and other elective courses happening at the same time, it was comforting to know that we had each other’s back.
Every client meeting was a major mark on the project roadmap as we would present our progress and findings. This kept us on track and ensured that we were executing exactly what the client was asking from us. Of course, as with every project, there came a point when we found ourselves completely stuck and unsure of everything we had done so far. However, with each other’s help, and our faculty consultations, we were able to overcome this plateau and get to the finish line in the final few weeks.
Step 4 – Getting to the end:
To finalize the project, we had to submit a report and give a final presentation to our client. The report consisted of all our findings after cleaning, processing, and analyzing the data we were given. Using our knowledge obtained through the course, we were able to break down the whole dataset and use it in a constructive way to come up with the findings that the client was asking from us. Then we combined the business skills we had acquired from our management core, to put these findings in context and provide explanations and recommendations to the EBRD People Analytics Team.
Personally, the most rewarding part of the project was the moment we gave our final presentation. With EBRD Directors present, as well as our EBRD points of contact, who we’d been working with throughout the project, we aimed to show up in the best way possible. It was exciting to see the whole project come together and provide useful findings to our client. Most importantly, the comments and praise that we received from EBRD in the end, made it all worth it.
Finally, this was an opportunity to develop my professional and communication skills and work with some of the best people that I have ever worked with. After 10 weeks, the team was practically a family and the project was like our baby. This was a great close to the whole MAM programme, as I got to apply everything that I had learned throughout the course in a real-life setting and get a taste of how this course will help me in my future professional career. It was ultimately the opportunity to combine all the technical, business, and communication skills that the programme had given me and bring them together to complete my MAM experience.
To find out more about the MAM programme, please visit our website here.