How much experience do you like to see in applicants to the Sloan Fellows Program?
The range of experience among the Sloan Fellows at London Business School is 8 – 22 years. The average amount of full-time work experience is 15 years, and the average age is 38-39.
This program is about both seniority and diversity, so what I want to emphasize is that we are looking for a track record of real success, not a number.
What about academics? The GMAT?
The GMAT is required, and the score should begin with a “6.”
We hope people will have a first degree. Occasionally we will take someone without a first degree if they have an exceptional background. It doesn’t matter what kind of degree they’ve earned.
A number of Sloan Fellows every year have an MBA or a PhD. It isn’t a problem. If they do have an MBA, and given that we will cover the same broad ground, we will probe to ensure that the MSc. will be intellectually stimulating and rewarding enough. We have to be absolutely clear that they understand the level of challenge.
In evaluating the undergraduate transcript, we want to see good performance, but we don’t put inordinate weight on grades from 15 – 20 years ago. The undergrad performance is a factor and plays a role, but is not a huge concern. We would worry about fails or dropping out.
Are many Sloan Fellows sponsored? Is sponsorship important to you?
About 20% are fully sponsored. But this carries no weight in the admissions process. Most of our Sloan Fellows are self-sponsored, and this is important to us as we seek diversity and richness of learning. At London Business School there are two critical factors we seek, and neither implies or requires sponsorship.
- “Globalness” We seek a fit with the current business milieu and the greater London Business School environment, both of which are global. The business world today is an international marketplace, and London Business School has120 nationalities represented.
- Diversity. I’m not talking just about culture and nationality when I say we value diversity. I am referring to a diversity of aspirations as well as previous functional, industry, and professional experience. That diversity enriches the London Business School learning environment and classroom debate. So many different experiences and perspectives are shared. Each student brings a nuanced background with a distinctive approach to problem-solving and strategic decision-making.
In a nutshell, we want individuals who will be able to manage organizations with anyone anywhere in the world.
To admit that rich mixture of aspiration and background, we market to individuals — not corporations — individuals who have a passion for business education, who want to focus on developing their career, sometimes by taking on a director or Board-level role, or simply by accelerating their progress in their organization, or even making a transition across functions or industries.
Because we don’t want to compromise on diversity or limit our students’ post-Sloan career opportunities, we don’t seek or require sponsorship.
You have emphasized the global nature of the London Business School experience, and specifically the Sloan Masters program, but when I look at the stats, the global representation among Sloan Masters students is not as impressive as among London Business School students as a whole, and of course the UK has a large representation.
I suppose there is question of scale here. We only admit up to 50 Sloans a year, whereas we have an annual intake of some 320 full time MBAs! On Sloan, the UK does have a large representation, but those numbers fluctuate from year to year. And again, we do not limit our definition of diversity to nationality. Finally, we are not aiming for a maximum number of nationalities when we make admissions decisions. We are aiming to attract the highest caliber of people.
What makes a candidate “high caliber”?
- Fit. The candidate has to be able to answer these two question, which are asked at all our interviews:
- “What is this program going to do for you at this stage in your career?”
- “What are you going to bring to the learning of the other participants?”
What is the structure of the Sloan Fellows Program at London Business School?
We have an 11- month program spread over 3 terms.
The first term provides much of the core. We fill them with foundational knowledge so they can participate in electives in their latter two terms. They also have core courses in those last two terms to maintain the level of cohort bonding, but the bulk of their coursework then consists of electives.
During the second and third terms, they choose electives from the entire course offerings at London Business School.
At the end of the program they must deliver an individual project, like a thesis of 10-20,000 words. It can be a little more theoretical, or it can be with a company, perhaps even sponsored by an organization. It must be based on original research, library work, and/or surveys.
Students also have an international field study as part of their macro-economics course where they are expected to study a real-world business problem and recommend a solution to it. This year students worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Shanghai and also visited Huangzhou. PwC helped arrange meetings with companies in Shanghai and then here in London judged and awarded a significant financial prize for the best project.
What were some of the different projects?
For example one team looked at the success of the service sector in China, particularly in terms of potential market entry. Another examined intellectual property issues in China.
How would you distinguish the Sloan Fellows Program MSc. from the London EMBA program, or would you?
We differentiate from the full-time MBA by requiring greater seniority and a higher level of experience. So even if you see some overlap between the regular MBA program and the Sloan program in terms of age and number of years of experience, the differentiator is the level of seniority and decision-making responsibility. It’s the quality of experience – not quantity — that we are looking for.
We want people who can contribute their experience as a senior manager to classroom debate and discussion, people who aren’t just concerned with one aspect of a particular project, but an entire project, division, or company. Not just one business function, but the interaction of all the business functions.
The EMBA is somewhere in the middle in terms of the seniority expectations, but it is also self-selecting because EMBA students are working while attending the EMBA program.
What are the differences between London Business School’s Sloan Fellows Program and the MIT and Stanford’s Sloan Fellows Program?
At London Business School, we have never sought corporate sponsorship but have developed the program to benefit the individual.
In addition, the London Business School Sloan program, like the other Sloan programs, reflects the values and strengths of the schools they are a part of.
Is the London Business School Sloan Fellows Program financed-focused?
Corporate finance is in the core, and a significant number of students go onto high-level finance courses. But again, we ar
e seeking diversity in aspiration and background and people who want to work on the senior level of strategic decision making in a corporation.
What are the distinctions between the Sloan Masters and the regular MBA?
We have a more advanced focus on leadership, self-development, and career counseling, regardless of sponsorship. We also have a component called Key Skills geared to executives. It is not just about leadership; it’s also about a variety of skills needed for senior-level business people. For example Executive Coaching is included, so that participants will know how to coach their successor. We have a segment on “Dealing with the Media,” where we bring in BBC journalists who challenge Sloan participants on recent events in their organizations.
As an example of our focus on more senior people at Sloan, we offer the core course “Biography,” which facilitates the process of transition at a senior point in one’s career. It doesn’t mean that everybody at Sloan is seeking a job or career change, but we recognize — sometimes more than our students — that the Sloan program is a point of transition, even if the student is staying at the same company. Biography forces them to consider “What are the choices I have made in the past and want to make for the future? How do I plan the next stage of my career?”
“Biography” is based on Kierkegaard’s concept, which can be paraphrased as “The tragedy of life is that it is lived forwards and understood backwards.” Biography attempts to help the student analyze it looking forward.
It sounds like you offer a full range of career services for Sloan students. Am I correct?
Yes. London Business School offers career services for all our programs, but for the Sloan students, most of the support centers around career coaching and discussion with executive search firms. We provide career support specifically for people at this stage of their career.
Can you describe the classroom atmosphere for me?
Collaborative learning is critical. We want people to think about how jointly they can expand knowledge. I believe knowledge is a social construct. From sharing ideas to articulating different realities – our classroom reflects that philosophy.
Collaboration means sharing experiences and being concerned with learning outcomes for other members of the class.
Our classroom also reflects the seniority or our students. Consequently they bring with them strategic decision-making experience and share that with their cohort. Different conversations go on in the full-time MBA because the students are not all senior-level decision makers.
At the same time, the collaboration doesn’t stifle debate and an exchange of ideas. When people are that engaged and motivated, they passionately exchange ideas and opinions – without taking away from the collaboration.
What do you see for the future of the Sloan program?
I want the Sloan Masters to be the best program in the world for people at the senior manager level. I want it to be the best thing they can do for themselves and their organizations.
To maintain that level of excellence, we have continued to innovate. We educate leaders at a senior level with academic rigor. We focus on leadership and understanding top management. In fact, we innovated by focusing our program on the needs of senior management.
Increasingly people at this advanced point in their careers are questioning their futures and considering change. The dynamism of the job market means that people at higher levels stay mobile and consider career changes throughout their career. We are here to serve that market as it changes.
What do you wish I would have asked?
Hmmm. Let me think…What really matters at the end of Sloan program?
What really matters at the end of the Sloan program?
One of our previous Deans, John Quelch, developed a tagline for London Business School, “Transforming Futures.”
When I first took over the program and spoke to alumni, they said Sloan was “life-changing.” I realized I was assuming an enormous responsibility. Almost all Sloans say that the programme was a life-changing experience, and that the best factor is “each other.”
It really matters that the Sloan Masters program continues to transform futures.