Each class brings together experienced managers, professionals and executives from around the world. They are a diverse and highly engaged group of individuals who are working at the very forefront of the rapidly changing world economy.
Hear what students and alumni have to say about the programme: the challenges, debates and what they learnt from each other.
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- Craig O'Boyle
- Head of Entertainment and Media, Senior Industry Marketing and Client Strategy Director, Google
- EMBA-Global Americas and Europe (2016)
"For me, the EMBA-Global at London Business School and Columbia was a match made in heaven."
When Craig O’Boyle embarked on his EMBA-Global journey, he already had his career path clearly planned out. “I knew where I was heading. I was focused on that all-important path to the C-suite, and on developing my ability to help shape a business. But I was concerned about future-proofing myself, ensuring that I would be a commercially-literate, data-driven CMO – and one that was able to make the move to COO. In a competitive market, EMBA was my way of differentiating myself.”
Looking to combine the best of European and US expertise, Craig says: “I wasn’t willing to negotiate on the programme I wanted, so I only applied to one. For me, the EMBA-Global at London Business School and Columbia was a match made in heaven.” He found the global cohort offered by two top business schools particularly inspiring. “I’ve never been so humbled as the first day of class, listening to the backgrounds of my 68 classmates. There were industry leaders who ran their own multimillion dollar companies and family offices, leading financial executives, entrepreneurs, private equity professionals – every type of successful business leader you can imagine.”
Craig split his study between London and New York, but says that studying in London – his home for many years – took his relationship with the city to a whole new level. “The quality of the faculty, campus and guest speakers meant that our learning curriculum was incredibly varied. Equally importantly, we always had plenty of evening and weekend plans to get to know each other socially as a class. This helped create some of the life-long friendships that I now enjoy.”
These relationships are clearly important to Craig, both at a personal and a professional level. “I met people who now inspire me every day. They’re part of my global network, people who I can count on to be there with me on my career journey. I count some of my best friends amongst the EMBA class group - we are separated by continents and oceans, yet we speak every day.” And the benefits don’t stop there. “I regularly reach out to, and bounce ideas off alumni from both Columbia and LBS. I’ve also retained a great relationship with many of the professors.” Craig cites Richard Jolly, Lynda Gratton and Costas Markides as three of his favourite LBS faculty. “Executive leadership, organisational behaviour, strategic agility – these were great skills brought to life by professors who put practical industry knowledge at the forefront of their teaching.”
Craig says that EMBA-Global helped him decide to transition from a global marketing role at the world’s biggest interactive entertainment company, to lead international client strategy for the Entertainment & Media sector at Google. “The programme armed me with the skills and confidence to make the move and gave me a great grounding in broader areas of finance, economics and business – skills that you need as a leader at a multibillion dollar global business.
“Everyone leaves EMBA-Global knowing more about the world, better able to hear other people’s viewpoints, and with a new mindset. I learnt to question a lot – about the industry I’m in, and how I might succeed in the future - and listen to the answers.” And to make the most of EMBA-Global, some of the best clichés hold true. “Be willing to go with the flow, and invest time in building a network outside of the classroom,” says Craig. “You get out what you put in. It isn’t a programme for the faint hearted and your two years will go by in a blur. But the investment is worth it x10 - what you ultimately get back will pay you dividends for the rest of your life.”
- Philippe Fezans
- COO, A3BC Ltd
- EMBA-Global Americas and Europe (2016)
The joint London Business School/Columbia programme offered the curriculum toolkit Philippe wanted across two top business schools.
Philippe Fezans always wanted a dual education in engineering and business, but he knew right from high school that he’d go into engineering first. He would then gain an MBA to accelerate his career further down the track. “Early on I worked with some great companies – Orange, Renault and GE – before moving back into a project management role at Renault Sport, where I managed some excellent and fast-paced projects. Ultimately though, engineering provides limited career options outside highly specialised roles,” he says.
Philippe decided to do the EMBA-Global Americas & Europe to develop new skills and open up professional opportunities outside his existing scope. To advance his career, he needed wider cross-organisational understanding and a less “France-centric” background. The joint London Business School/Columbia programme offered the curriculum toolkit Philippe wanted across two top business schools; a monthly block week structure that suited his working life; and a deeply collaborative learning environment.
“EMBA is intense – you travel, work and socialise together – and you don’t sleep much! The geographical diversity in my class saw people flying in from locations as far afield as New Zealand, India and South Africa. We’re talking about extraordinary people from different cultures and with a broad range of perspectives,” says Philippe.
Being exposed to a community of highly successful people with a strong appetite for opportunity was inspiring, he adds. “Prior to the programme I was very risk averse – a typical French engineer who liked to be in control – but learning about my classmates’ experiences made me take a long hard look at myself, and at my career. LBS’s Executive Leadership module was also key, providing a useful self-assessment framework, and helping me develop new soft skills and risk management mechanisms.”
By the time Philippe finished the programme he had abandoned his original, more traditional plan to head back to a large organisation. Instead, he took advantage of the US training visa that EMBA Global offers and jumped straight in to developing a car sharing start-up in New York City. It was a steep learning curve for a venture that ultimately failed, thanks to the US election results.
“Almost overnight, our project started to stall as uncertainties around policy and funding prevented the governmental agencies we were working with from taking on new projects,” says Philippe. “But as frustrating as it was to pull the plug, I’m pretty relaxed about the outcome of my first start-up experience. I like to compare entrepreneurship to skiing, my favourite hobby – you need to learn to fall, and what to do to avoid it, before gaining momentum.”
This first experience led to an exciting new opportunity with a fellow MBA in an industry closer to Philippe’s computer science background. He’s now back in France working as chief operating officer for a start-up in biometric identification for transactions. A working prototype has been developed, filed and granted a patent. Says Philippe: “We’ve signed our first B2B customers and are in the process of our second round of fundraising, so if everything goes to plan we should have a pilot location in production in the coming months.”
Philippe says he wouldn’t be helping launch a new venture if it weren’t for LBS. “EMBA-Global generated entrepreneurial opportunities that I could never previously have dreamed of. The skills I learned on the programme are invaluable, but in an increasingly more global and mobile world, my best piece of advice is to network, network, network. It’s the network that provides the opportunities to use your knowledge and really shine.”
- Lisa Shaforostova
- Director, CBRE Group, London
- EMBA-Global A&E (2017)
Lisa’s global exposure was already strong. But, with a promotion to director at CBRE Group, she needed to develop her leadership skills, fast.
With more than 10 years of experience working on strategic consulting projects around the world, Lisa’s global exposure was already strong. But, with a promotion to director at CBRE Group, she needed to develop her leadership skills fast.
Lisa worked in the US, the UK, Germany and Russia on a number of real estate development, investment, portfolio strategy and M&A assignments, so it’s unsurprising that in the long-term she dreams of starting a value-investing real estate fund. But Lisa’s fund has a caveat. “I’d like to set up a fund with a focus on sustainable and quality buildings that will transform the way people work and live,” she says.
Motivation one – leadership
As director, Lisa needed to be able to successfully run a global business function and to build high performing teams. “EMBA-Global gives me exposure to the faculty and learning resources in two world-class business schools,” she says. It provides a rich platform to help meet Lisa’s leadership objectives.
Lisa was inspired after taking a ‘Leadership and Organisational Change’ module. “It helped me evaluate my goals and values,” she says. “We did a number of tests to analyse our networks, motivations and leadership styles. I found it really powerful in helping develop my vision.”
Motivation two – transformation
Lisa aims to take advantage of the expertise from both schools. With the help of London Business School (LBS), Lisa plans to increase her exposure to real estate investment companies through the Real Estate Club and gain insights with the electives. At Columbia Business School (CBS) she will expand her network with the Paul Milstein Real Estate Centre.
“I’d like to run a global business,” she says. And for that, diversity of network and trust are fundamental. “In the business school community, we make friends for life and strive to help each other as much as we can. I already see a number of opportunities that I can explore with my classmates located in different parts of the world to invest in real estate projects, gain insights and develop connections with local businesses.
“The LBS network is truly international with students and alumni from various industries and CBS mirrors that. The conversations both in and out of the classroom have been of tremendous value for me in learning about the industries, varying ways of doing business in different countries and finding new investment opportunities.”
With two strong school networks, Lisa’s well on her way to making an impact on “the way people work and live”.
- Nell Derick Debevoise
- Founder and CEO, Inspiring Capital
- EMBA-Global Americas & Europe (2012)
The programme is about discovering your own professional identity and getting involved in experiences you just won't find anywhere else.
My initial motivation for joining EMBA-Global Americas & Europe was relatively simple. I was keen to get into the field of impact investing, but my undergraduate degree was in psychology and I felt I lacked a number of important business skills. I was originally offered a place on London Business School's full-time MBA programme but around the same time I applied, I also met the founder of Tomorrow's Youth Organisation, Hani Masri. He asked me to spend six months helping establish his organisation and from there, everything moved incredibly quickly. I was living in the West Bank three weeks later, so I turned down the MBA offer.
Two and a half years on we had made enough progress for me to take a step back from the start-up. I loved London Business School the first time around but this time a US connection also appealed, so EMBA-Global Americas & Europe was a perfect logistical match. From the outset the programme gave me a thorough grounding in a range of complementary business skills; crucially, I was able to focus a lot of my learning around entrepreneurship and also learned how capital could be structured to form a business. In essence, though, it wasn't about better balance sheets or a single marketing document but about understanding how to integrate everything we studied, from organisational design, to strategy, to corporate and entrepreneurial finance.
The programme is about discovering your own professional identity and getting involved in experiences you just won't find anywhere else. I attended one particular seminar in Cape Town when I went from very high-level discussions with leading South African retail CEOs about their negotiations with Walmart; to visiting a grass-roots entrepreneur designing t-shirts and learning about his business story; to enjoying wine-tasting with friends. I also had the chance to get involved in a pro-bono project related to impact investing in Uganda, working alongside classmates who included a retail banking executive from Angola and a French product manager based in Hong Kong. Developing, coordinating and researching for the venture was an incredible opportunity, and culminated in a visit to Uganda. I'm still involved with strategy and fundraising for the organisation from the US.
There is no doubt in my mind that the entire EMBA-Global Americas & Europe package affects everything I now do. Since completing the programme, I've stuck with my love of social enterprise. I established Inspiring Capital to use my training and experience in global entrepreneurship to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of great non-profit organisations. The global network I have created across London and New York, play a central role in my day-to-day work as advisors, partners, and colleagues.
Personal and professional impact
The programme has impacted my life at every conceivable level, from professional ambition, goals and capabilities, to personal lifestyle, relationships and travel. There is no doubt that the programme is a challenge, but one of the upsides is that it really forces you to prioritise. You are so pushed and stretched that you have to make choices about what is the most important way to spend each minute of the day. My classmates are incredibly motivated, active, high-energy people who push you to do more than you would have thought you possibly can, professionally, personally, and socially. Thanks to the programme experience, and lasting relationships with classmates, I now have the confidence and drive to make my life happen the way I want, and ambitious, caring friends and potential business partners with whom to enjoy it.
- Arseny Seidov
- Partner, Baker & McKenzie
- EMBA-Global Americas & Europe (2013)
EMBA-Global Americas & Europe gave me access to the superb faculties at both London and Columbia, but also to the most phenomenal student network.
My journey to the EMBA-Global Americas & Europe programme was motivated very much by a desire to see things beyond the typical boundaries of the legal services industry. As a tax specialist my role had previously been limited in terms of functionality and I wanted to be able to participate in a broader spectrum of idea generation and implementation. Even though I was already at partner level, I also wanted an understanding of my own value and the chance to benchmark myself against an intelligent, dynamic and global peer group.
When a large number of people from different industries and cultures come together to share their knowledge and vision, you very quickly realise that your own perception of things is not always the ultimate truth. The programme gave me access to the superb faculties at both London and Columbia Business Schools, but also to the most phenomenal student network. Faculty, courses and peer group all combined to give me a flavour of how the wider business world worked through a corporate and an entrepreneurial lens; it was also a perfect platform from which to learn what corporations and start-ups go through in terms of life-cycles.
Being able to personalise my own experience meant that I was quick to see tangible benefits and my current clients certainly appreciate my more business-oriented perspective. The Dynamic Capabilities elective I took as a block week on exchange at Berkeley was outstanding and a real opportunity to analyse and assess my company's business model. Elsewhere I focused on advanced finance courses to back up my tax and accounting knowledge, but I also took a lot of strategy electives. These courses have been critical in terms of building my broader profile and helping me harmonise tax advice with the individual and organisational strategies my clients are defining for themselves. The programme overall substantially increased my global business knowledge in a way that allowed me to better leverage my firm's global reach.
There is a huge difference between what I was like before the programme and now. My self-monitoring capabilities have increased dramatically and I feel like I can really view things in 4D. I have a completely different mind-set and the ability to look far beyond my original capabilities; moreover, I can step into other people's shoes and talk to any individual, from any country, in any industry. On a personal level, my most crucial takeaway has been the understanding that the world is moving in the direction of deeper specialisation. In order to compete effectively, individuals will need to utilise synergies from multiple specialist skill sets.
Everyone has a goal and everything is doable and it is important to think long term whatever you do. The key is in understanding that in most cases you will need to adjust your goal on the way to reaching it, and in some cases move in a completely different direction to get there. One option for me going forward is to build on my tax expertise by helping the large number of my US and Europe-based clients who are interested in developing business in Russia. The aim is to become one of Russia's leading lawyers with a strong tax planning and structuring background and strategic vision, primarily in the e-commerce, software and information technology industries. The programme has helped me realise that you can achieve anything you want - as long as you are prepared to invest the time and effort.
- Lisa Cleary
- Executive Director, CAAR Energy International
- EMBA-Global Americas & Europe (2015)
I entered the EMBA-Global Americas & Europe programme to broaden my global horizons and determine my next career move.
- Natalia Simonenko
- Co-Founder & Chairman, Movavi
- EMBA-Global Americas & Europe (2015)
The EMBA-Global Americas & Europe programme is a journey. It is an amazing opportunity.
- Angelina Jiang
- Vice President, HSBC Bank
- EMBA-Global Americas & Europe (2014)
One thing that's clear is that everyone on this programme aspires to be the best they can be. We all want to change the world, even if only in a small way.
Reputation was always the single most important driver in my choice of business school. There were other considerations too – programme duration, location, teaching format, class size and calibre – but I knew that the partnership I developed would extend years beyond graduation. I wanted to feel proud of my association and I also wanted a school that would truly represent the value of my own investment in time and energy. Visiting a number of global programmes and speaking with faculty, students and alumni, it was clear from early on that EMBA-Global Americas & Europe was the best fit for me. This was confirmed through discussions with an alumna who used to work in the same company as me in Bermuda; her story offered me a preview and helped validate my choice.
Entrepreneurship is a new territory that I’m exploring and there is excellent support throughout the programme in this area from both London and Columbia Business School faculty. Electives like the Entrepreneurship Summer School and Advanced Entrepreneurship teach you how to take ideas right from concept to launch. Financing the Entrepreneurial Business, Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity electives provide insights into how venture capitalists look at a start-up, so you can learn how investors think before pitching to them. I have a business venture that I’m keen to launch in my second year and there are successful entrepreneurs, PR and fashion professionals in my class that I’ve been bouncing ideas off. I’ve also spoken with alumni and Executives in Residence and Sounding Board members, all of whom are willing to give back to the School community and whose words of wisdom – and caution – may well save me many years of struggle on my own.
Balancing the programme with work is never easy, but because management is an experimental science, the office is the perfect environment to practise theories and add value. My company recently restructured and I was given a lot more responsibilities than before; if I hadn’t covered the theories in class I would have found it enormously difficult to balance everything. Even the smallest changes have proven effective - now I make sure my meetings are a maximum of 30 minutes and we walk in with a concrete agenda and walk out with precise takeaways and action plans. With a limited number of hours and more ground to cover, you just have to be really honest about what you want to achieve.
An inspiring learning environment
Just one year after starting EMBA-Global Americas & Europe one thing that’s clear is that everyone on this programme aspires to be the best they can be. We all want to change the world, even if only in a small way. I’m filling gaps in my professional knowledge by learning about disciplines and industries that I haven’t previously had exposure to and it’s such a privilege to learn from classmates across other sectors and industries. In amongst the hard work, commuting and coursework, this programme is simply an amazing opportunity to get to know brilliant people. Life is no longer the same – you have to adjust and constantly make choices - but the key to survival is to be honest with yourself. Embrace the challenge, learn as much as you can and don’t forget to have some fun and the rewards you reap will be second to none.
- Claude Fidelin
- Director, A.T. Kearney
- EMBA-Global Americas & Europe (2012)
Before the programme my dreams were not as ambitious as they are today; following my time on EMBA-Global I realise that it’s a step towards something bigger.
An accomplished Management Consultant with 13 years’ experience delivering global projects for Fortune 500 companies, Claude is an expert in commercial negotiations and supply management. He started in London as a Manager at A.T. Kearney and after completing the EMBA-Global Americas and Europe programme in 2012, became a Director at A.T. Kearney in New York.
Focusing on priorities
I was not looking to change location when I applied to do the EMBA-Global programme; my chief objective was to become a partner in my firm. I wanted to look at the bigger picture and develop some key financial skills in order to progress. Nowadays, having completed the programme, my dreams are a lot bigger. My focus is not just on a larger pay cheque, but on my personal development and the positive impact I can have on the world. I have the EMBA-Global programme to thank not only for my relocation and promotion in New York but also for my positive change of perspective.
The programme was a major factor in my promotion. On a practical level, being required to take a week out each month to study taught me a lot about time management and how to delegate effectively. With limited time available, I had to find creative ways to make things work, which my employer recognised and appreciated. I was also able to display the benefits of my enhanced analytical and decision-making skills, coming up with new solutions for the firm and our clients. Having gained an insight into what motivates me, my leadership style is now far more congruent with who I am, and a lot more powerful, whether I’m working with my own teams or my clients.
Studying in both London and New York was a powerful combination. Two electives in particular stood out. In the personal leadership class we studied great leaders, from Mandela to Churchill, and considered how they could inspire our own leadership model. Another elective dealt with managing sports and entertainment. Although this subject matter wasn’t an obvious link with my consulting work, it really broadened my thinking on how to create a great customer experience and has been very useful on the projects I’ve worked on since.
The other major highlights were my two international assignments. Meeting chief executives of large companies in Cape Town and government figures in Hong Kong gave me a global, real-life view of how business is conducted in those countries. I was able to use practical examples later on when delivering training about the cultural aspects of negotiations. The experience itself has given me valuable insights when negotiating with Chinese suppliers – understanding that their focus may be shifting from supplying Western companies to creating their own brand for domestic consumption is an important factor to consider when discussing supply management strategy with my clients’ senior stakeholders. This depth of understanding wouldn’t have been possible from conventional classroom learning.
The programme encouraged us to think creatively, which was something our class fully embraced. The weekend before each class block week we organised a trip to a different location, arranging events that fed into our studies. I helped organise the session in Paris, which was hosted by A.T. Kearney and proved a great opportunity to interact with savvy entrepreneurs in a relatively small set up. It gave me the opportunity to develop my “brand” within A.T. Kearney, promoting my company to my classmates and promoting the programme to my company and successful entrepreneurs. There were 23 trips in total and I am tremendously proud that we took the initiative to make that happen.
A smooth relocation
Thanks to the EMBA-Global programme, my relocation to New York was a smooth transition. I had become familiar with the city when studying at Columbia Business School; it also helped that I knew my colleagues at the New York branch of A.T. Kearney, having met up with them when I was in town during the course of the programme. Through the faculty, students and executives I met on the electives, I built a network in New York that I can call upon at any time. It feels good to be here, and I also know that if I were to relocate again I would have the confidence to do so.
- Suzanne Janse
- Vice President Publishing Services, Elsevier
- EMBA-Global Americas & Europe (2012)
The way I approach tasks and analyse business challenges is more complete - the frameworks and knowledge are available to me now.
EMBA-Global Americas & Europe has impacted the way I work. The way I approach tasks and analyse business challenges is more complete, the frameworks and the knowledge are available to me now. I now see what I didn't know before and where the gaps in my knowledge were.
There are roles in the future where perhaps I wouldn't have had the foundation of knowledge to undertake but now I do and the programme has given me the confidence to do so. I have no doubt that the programme and the network I developed will impact my career in the long-term. If I come across business challenges now I definitely feel like I can pick up the phone and can tap into a network of knowledge.
EMBA-Global Americas & Europe has really exceeded my expectations. Firstly the programme helped me understand myself better, then the aspects of doing business more and finally I have learnt where I can grow further and improve.