I set out to write this account of my time at LSE after returning home from London. This time not as visitor or alumni volunteer, but in my professional role as Project Manager for E.ON Inhouse Consulting, looking to recruit management students. Whilst observing the students work on a case study we developed for them, it brought back a wealth of memories about my own time at LSE. It also made me realise how well the BSc Management and particularly the MSc International Management programmes at LSE helped equip me for my career.
Looking back, I believe this is due to the following four characteristics:
World class education
Firstly, the academic rigour at LSE is truly world-class. In all the courses I undertook, professors shared their enthusiasm for their subject and motivated students to engage.
Teaching was never about memorising facts and figures, but always about implications and impact, forcing students to think and develop their own opinion. This skill indeed turned out to be highly valuable in my professional life. Especially in my role as an in-house consultant in the utility industry, which is undergoing rapid changes and where established knowledge becomes outdated very quickly, therefore thinking independently about root causes, implications and impact is crucial. No surprise, this is highly valued by clients and companies seeking to recruit LSE graduates.
Rerum Cognoscere Causas – to understand the causes of things
Secondly, all fellow students I met during my four years were prepared to live up to the School’s motto to understand the cause of things. I fondly remember group work sessions ending up in macroeconomic debates at McDonald’s at Trafalgar Square late at night, much to the amazement of customers queueing for a late-night meal on their way home from Covent Garden.
The global exchange offered a new experience
Thirdly, the exchange term at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, which was part of my Masters programme, offered me the opportunity to experience a different culture both in and outside of the classroom. Teaching at Chicago Booth was mostly based on case studies, and simulations in the classroom: For example, in Strategies and Processes of Negotiation, we were negotiating in a different setting every week and tried to get the best result for our party in the simulation. Even though I paid far too much in the first negotiations against experienced MBA classmates, these simulations allowed me to practice several of the concepts, which I had learned at LSE. This combination of the more practice oriented approach at Chicago Booth and academically rigorous teaching at LSE is a great preparation for professional life, where both depth and applicability of knowledge count.
The vibrant international student body
The last unique characteristic of LSE I would like to highlight is the multinational, vibrant student body. Like most students I was overwhelmed during freshers’ fairs (although that feeling somewhat reduced over the years). Nevertheless, I always signed up for (too) many societies and regretted later in term that the day only had 24 hours and some of which needed to be spent in classes. During my first two years as undergraduate student, I was member of the board and Secretary of the German Society. Our flagship event was the annual German Symposium in February, during which renowned politicians, business and society leaders were coming to LSE to give their perspective on a range of topics. Leading the group organising this huge event was a challenge: Different ideas and opinions had to be channelled into an overarching vision, which then had to be executed by all of us. Looking back, this volunteering experience taught me several crucial skills ranging from motivating a team of different personalities to resolving conflicts within a team. Speaking from a professional perspective, such experience is highly valuable and sought after by employers.
LSE has shaped me in several ways and I am very grateful for the four years I spent at the department. Studying and living with so many people from different nationalities made me appreciate many different points of view, ways of working and thinking. Sharing and promoting the LSE experience with incoming students is one of the key reasons I am serving on the board of the German Friends of LSE. It is my way of giving back and hopefully creating a long lasting impact. I am already looking forward to the upcoming worldwide LSE Alumni Leaders Forum, where alumni leaders from around the world will share and discuss ideas on how to connect better and promote studying at LSE – so that many future students will share my own experience at LSE.