Interview with Gareth Howells, Executive Director of the MBA, MiF & Early Career Programmes at London Business School [Show Summary]
Harvard Business Review declared in 2012 that being a data scientist is the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” Bloomberg Businessweek’s headline in May 2018 pronounced, “This Is America’s Hottest Job.” Let’s hear from the director of London Business School’s Early Career Programs about its response to surging demand for graduates in data analytics, its brand new master’s in analytics and management.
The Master’s in Analytics and Management Program at LBS: Everything You Need to Know [Show Notes]
Our guest today is Gareth Howells, Executive Director of the MBA, MiF & Early Career Programmes at London Business School. He graduated with a degree in Politics in 1995 from the University of Leeds. In 2004 he joined London Business School as Associate Director of the MBA Program, and has been at LBS in different and expanding roles culminating in his current position.
What is the master’s in analytics and management at London Business School? Can you provide an overview? [2:17]
It is our newest and most exciting program. We have four different early career programs which make up about 500 students, and we launched this new program last summer and are enrolling our first cohort for the Fall of 2019. There is a strong focus on analytics with a rigorous leading-edge curriculum and strong emphasis on experiential learning. The program is customizable as well.
Can you give us a bit of background on how it came into being and how it fits into the portfolio of early careers programs at LBS? [3:42]
We have 13 different degree programs at LBS, but early career programs are split into two groups. We have two general management and two specialized master’s – one in finance and this one in analytics and management. We came to this because data analytics is transforming the way the world does business. It is sector neutral. All businesses are switching on the power of data and responding to a data-driven world, and business school is nothing if it doesn’t create graduates and programs that speak to the needs of business.
We talked a lot to our recruiters who wanted this level of capability and we wanted to respond to that. There has been a real explosion of programs of this type. We wanted to leverage our own faculty, and London is the largest data center in Europe. There is a projected 250% increase in data jobs in the next five years so we wanted to meet those needs.
Business analytics master’s programs have been mushrooming around the world. What is distinctive about LBS’ program? [6:21]
We feel that the blend between analytics and management is unique. When we talked to recruiters, they said they see data scientists in an organization, mining the data and then handing it off to business managers to analyze. If you can develop those skills and capabilities in one candidate – mining data but then also translating the data, we would hire those students. We are trying to develop that skillset in one graduate as opposed to needing a data scientist AND a business manager. The curriculum is roughly 60% analytics, 40% management. It is a one-year program with an option to stay for a third term.
What kind of careers will graduates go into? [10:39]
We graduate 1200 students across all programs, and we have 200 recruiters on campus. With this new program, it is a specialist program with a wide variety of sectors and employers interested in hiring. We expect the consulting firms to be big recruiters, but the tech firms are roughly 20-25% of our pool as well. A lot of our graduate students from other programs are hired by many other sectors – accountancy firms, fintech, energy sectors, etc., and the universal feedback was that data analytics is transforming the world, but it’s sector neutral. We are excited about the wide variety of employers seeking and keen to hire from this program. We will graduate the first cohort in June/July 2020.
What are you looking for in the admissions process? [14:37]
There are a lot of similarities with all of our programs, and our application is quite detailed. First and foremost we are looking for dynamic and committed individuals wanting to make an impact – those who are intellectually curious, passionate, with a very high technical quant skill. We are typically looking for a quant-based undergrad background, but are open to different types of work experience. We are looking for a diverse class from around the world, and individuals with a global mindset. Since these are early career students, we are looking at potential as well. We have a series of essays where we try to understand more deeply the student’s motivation. We are looking at a minimum score of 600 for the GMAT. About 80-90% of our applicants take the GMAT, but the GRE is also becoming popular. We look at quant scores and once we’ve considered an application no one gets an offer without a face-to-face interview, which are conducted all around the world. We will try and interview you near your home town either by one of our alums or one of our staff/admissions managers. We sometimes do interviews by Skype. We ask for two references, transcripts, three essay questions, and an interview. Our target is to enroll 70-80 students in the first year.
What about relevant work experience? Is it optional? What is the maximum amount of work experience that you would consider? [19:38]
We typically get a blend. The max is two years, but our average tends to be one year. For the vast majority of students they have a series of different internships, though there are a few candidates with fulltime experience. When students go into electives there is a shared portfolio and they will be alongside MBAs, EMBA, and sometimes Sloan Fellows, since we want it to be a mirror of what the real world is like. Clubs are also for the entire set of students. The list of clubs keeps growing – currently we have 75 different student clubs that the school supports, including professional clubs, regional clubs, sports, and social clubs as well. We feel this is also a critical part of this program and the experience.
We put a huge emphasis on experiential learning as well. Two key parts of this program will be taking part in the London Lab program, where they will be with teams of 5-6 doing a live business consulting project based in London. We have a version of this for the current master’s in management program.
With global being so important to us, all students will also go on a Global Immersion Field Trip (GIFT), selecting among six different locations around the world, going away for a week with an immersive experience. Some recently planned trips for our other programs have been to Colombia, Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and Cape Town to give students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in a completely different context. These two requirements are inclusive within the tuition fee and we’ve been running them for a few years.
What are the master’s in data analytics essay questions?[26:51]
We do have some minimum requirements, like having a quant background and some programming skills, but we will be getting hundreds of applications, many who will already meet the minimum requirements, so we need to get to know more about these students. The three questions are:
- How does undertaking the program fit with their aspirations and goals? What do they want to do when they graduate – are they employable and can we help them?
- What do they think their contribution will be to LBS while in the program? With such a huge emphasis on extracurriculars that we have we want to know how are they going to take advantage of them. We want active and not passive learners and are a community of over 2500 students in the heart of London. We want to have students who make an impact on each other and on the world of business.
- Take us through a data-driven project you have been involved in. We want people who have some competency but more importantly a passion for analytics, the power and value of data. We ask for about 400-500 words. A big tip to anyone tuning in to this podcast: with some schools slashing essays you may think that we don’t read them, but we do. We need something that tells us more about the person and these essays often inform who we do interview and who we don’t.
Any discussion at LBS about a joint MiM/MAM? [31:17]
The short answer is no. With our MiM we have already increased the amount of analytics content, and students can still take their electives in analytics. It is about proportion. With the MAM we have a bigger diet in analytics and a slightly smaller bit on management. With MiM you have more management with some analytics. This is one of the most frequent questions we are getting – MiM vs MAM.
At the time the show airs, the next deadline will be March 4 and the last deadline is April 11, 2019. For Chinese applicants, the last deadline is Jan 24. Any advice for those interested in the MAM and still aiming for an application this year? [33:42]
First and foremost try and apply as early as you can. We’d rather people apply with a completed application rather than rushing it, of course. We want to know what the GMAT score is rather than you still be studying for it. Spend time and be thoughtful about the essays, but recognize the cycle is rolling on. After April 11th we will still consider late applications, but at that point the application really has to be super strong since we will have made the vast majority of our offers. We don’t want to be going above 70-80 students in this first cohort. Bottom line, there is still time, but with a later application after May 1st the chances of being admitted are reduced.
What about those planning ahead to apply next year? How can they prepare? [36:03]
Make sure that you do your research on the schools and the programs. Understand the differences. You’d be surprised that when we ask, “Why LBS?” how many people give quite generic answers. We understand people are applying to a number of schools, but we are impressed by people that have clearly done their homework and mention specifics about the programs, so do the research. Some people might just go to a rankings organization and apply to the top 5, but this decision should really be about fit. If you don’t get it right it is a costly mistake. Look at the essays and think about those. Too many people spend all their time focusing on the GMAT or GRE, and not enough on the essays. The tests are important, but it isn’t just about a high score, we take a holistic approach. Continue to embrace your internships, and be successful and be curious. Also, be excited about the work experience you are getting. Make the most of it.
What question would you like to answer that I didn’t ask? [44:11]
Not a question, really, but wanting more to reiterate that we put a huge emphasis on experiential learning, that London is our classroom, and global is in our DNA. Every school talks about being global, and they should, but our faculty come from 40 different countries and our students from 100 different countries.
We are really excited about this program and encourage listeners to take the opportunity to learn more about us. We run monthly events on campus to tour and meet current students, we have blogs, webinars, etc., and we would invite anyone to take a good look.
• London Business School’s Master’s in Analytics and Management
• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Grad School Statement of Purpose, a free guide
• Today London, Tomorrow the World! One Year MFA at LBS
• London Business School Master’s in Management (MiM) Essay Questions, Tips & Deadlines
• London Business School 2018-19 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• Accepted’s Admissions Consulting Services
• Early Career Management and European MBA Programs with Jamie Wright
• The Berkeley MFE: One Tough Program with Amazing Opportunities for Grads
• UCLA’s MS in Business Analytics: Prep for the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century
• Contemplating a Career in Data Science/Business Analytics? MIT Sloan’s MBAn