London Business School Calls…

After my interview session at the London Business School in Dubai campus, my wife and I stayed back for a few days to enjoy the city before heading back home. The admission committee members who interviewed me told me that I should hear back from them latest by Thursday this week. I had already set my expectations for Wednesday/Thursday, only for me to open my email on Tuesday, and bam! the offer for admission was sitting right there. I checked the timestamp on the email only to discover that the email had been sent for over 24 hours!

My first instinct was to rush off an acceptance email right there on my mobile phone before they changed their minds about the admission. But now, I know I made the right choice not to send the email immediately because I am quite certain that it would have been full of grammatical errors and wrong spellings and they might have been forced to withdraw the admission. Instead, I took a deep breathe, rushed off to tell me wife about the good news and gave myself some few minutes to calm down. Then I opened up my laptop and sent an official looking and sounding acceptance email.

It was a rollercoaster of a sixteen months, which included three tries at the GMAT and lots of bucks for travels to Lagos and Dubai and application fees, not forgetting those pesky consultant fees. But I am glad the journey is over. For the past 36 hours I have been wondering what would have happened if I had hired my second consultant instead of the first for my Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and INSEAD applications. I cannot predict what would have happened with the first three schools but I feel strongly that I would have been accepted straight through at INSEAD. While the first consultant was able to put many of the puzzles in place, the second consultant brought a higher level of clarity for the LBS application process. The first consultant’s interview training was a goldmine that actually went a long way to help.

Looking back at the long painful journey of self discovery, I am glad that things turned out the way they did. I had a vertical career move in the first week of 2014. My second admission consultant felt that this promotion could have spooked the admission committees because I was unable to explain within the short period before the deadlines why I wanted an MBA at that point. Most MBA graduates who are interested to coming to Africa would be glad to take my current job. It would have been a real struggle to let go if I had been admitted into Harvard or Stanford. But I doubt I would have let go if I had gotten into Wharton. INSEAD would have been easier because I could have looked for a way to talk my employer into letting me go for only ten months and come right back to my current role. But I am glad I do not have to make that decision. I now I get to go to a great school while keeping a great job. It is the best of both worlds. Another thing is that I do not have to face the prospect of getting torn apart by a smart 22 year old in front of the class at Harvard; I think I will learn better and appreciate it more if I am slammed by a 40 year old experienced manager at the Executive MBA program in the city of Dubai. At least, I can always go to Wild Wadi after that.

And I finally got to send an email to INSEAD to take me off the waitlist, and it felt really good.

I am grateful to the Almighty God for how things have turned out. The journey of self discovery was well worth it.

And yes, I am going to London Business School!

Concluding the London Business School Interview

The interview is finally done. The application process to London Business School is coming to a close, and yes, the final closure will be sometime next week. The natural question is “How did the interview go?”

And my answer is “So so. Comme ci comme ca.”

As an MBA applicant who just concluded his/her interview, the first response is to look at the negatives, give them a weight of 90% and then take the positives and apply a weight of 10%. Then pray for the best and prepare for the worst, only to end up a neurotic mess. I have done that before. Strangely one of the questions one of the interviewers (yes, I was interviewed by two nice ladies who are adcom members and who both have names that sound almost alike the Thomson and Thompson characters in Tintin) asked was what I was going to do if I was not accepted into the Executive MBA Programme at London Business School. I was on a roll at that time and my response, which was quite fast, was “I will re-apply”. Both of them laughed at the response. But I truly meant it.

After seeing the school, the facilities, the curriculum, and considering it in the context of my current career trajectory, I feel the school will be a really good fit. And the good thing is this. Nobody is going to tell me one of these pesky little lines that I have gotten really tired of hearing:

  1. You are a little on the older side
  2. You have too much work experience
  3. Your current job title will make adcoms wonder what you need an MBA for
  4. Your quant score is a little weak for a top end school

Strangely one of the questions I was asked was “How were you able to get such a high GMAT score?” The first reaction, in my head, was “Huh?” My brain could not process the fact that the adcom really called my score “high”. I mean this is the same score that I have been told I needed to improve upon to have a shot at Wharton. The question caused a meltdown in the synaptic connections between my ears and my mouth because I could not process the information fast enough. Then I tailgated (you will have to pick up a copy of Pitch Perfect my Bill McGowan to understand what that means), and then I crashed. I ended up answering why I was unable to score 730. That was the third mistake I made in the interview.

Now to the first mistake. I took coffee, without eating, when I woke up in the morning. I had to drag myself out of bed at 8am for a 10am interview. The coffee without sugar and milk caused a sugar crash in my system. That coupled with the jet lag made me a nervous wreck at 9.45am. That was mistake number one.

The interview started off with a presentation. I felt confident, in my head, but my mouth betrayed my nervousness. My voice was shaky. I should have overcome this within 3 – 4 minutes because I really loved making presentations, but it went through all the 10 minutes plus. Mistake number two. Am I going to be marked down for that? I don’t know. But here is what I know. I delivered my message. And how do I know this?

One of the adcom members (not one of the interviewers) was taking me around the campus when another member (also not an interviewer) rushed down the staircase to meet me. She was all excited and went “So you were one of the doctors that delivered a baby on board a British Airways flight from Abuja to London? I actually know someone who was aboard the flight!”. That was one of the “cool stories” in my presentation, and it must have been memorable enough for her to know just a few minutes after I walked out of the interview room. I think it is a dead giveaway.

But…

I am still an MBA applicant. And I will assign a weight of 10% to cool stories and 90% to shaky voice caused by an unusual amount of caffeine in the system and a bloody jet lag. 

So I will hope for the best and prepare for the worst while making a neurotic mess of myself because I am still an MBA applicant after all.