Despite the gloomy headlines, London is still one of the most desirable places to live and work in the world.
It must be the cramped tubes trains, the million and one Starbucks cafes or the mucky pubs that serve oily fish and chips.
Or maybe it’s the high class restaurants serving up gastronomic wonders; the fantastic salary packages; the high streets; its proximity to Eurasia, Africa and the Americas; and its banging cultural and nightlife offerings. Hipster or posh, eclectic or boring, this city has something to offer practically everyone.
It’s no wonder thousands of people flock to London in search of job opportunities. Even though it looks like the government has slammed the door on non-EEA nationals, it hasn’t deterred ambitious MBA students from wanting to be part of this commercial and cultural mega city.
A few students from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business
recently made a trip to London to see what they city has to offer. The LondonBound trip, is a top-of-the-range networking event that offers MBA students the opportunity to meet with alumni and recruiters from leading European and international companies. Last year's trip took in Bain, Disney, Google, and the Carlyle Group amongst many others!
comprises a series of company visits over three days. Most of the visits are scheduled for the Thursday and Friday.
Students can choose between four streams: Finance (further divided into banking and investment management); Consulting; Sports and Entertainment; and General Management.
During the trip they can talk to alumni and recruiters, apply for summer internshipss, and learn about recruiting processes for full-time employment. They also network with their peers from four other top business schools who join the trip.
We got the low-down on LondonBound from Wes Moore, currently a full-time MBA student at Duke Fuqua. Wes attended law school in Chicago and after that worked in investment banking in structured products and leveraged finance, on the deal side.
After two years, banking deal flow had reduced a lot due to the economic downturn, and Wes left the bank to establish a law practice specialized in restructuring troubled middle-market companies.
He entered the Duke MBA with the intention of marrying his banking and legal backgrounds with the tools gained from the elite programme. His top post-MBA career is in consulting, preferably in London and focused on private equity, international strategy or corporate development in a tech firm or startup.He is also interested in operating private equity acquisitions.
Wes went on the LondonBound trip in pursuit of a childhood dream, and to explore London’s connections to finance in emerging markets. “I have been drawn to London ever since my first visit as a child with my parents. I like to refer to it as the Capital of the Universe although my New York friends tend to take exception with that!
"There are a lot of interesting things happening in Europe right now, particularly for professionals interested in distressed acquisitions and turnarounds, like I am.
"In addition, my impression is that emerging markets access is stronger in London than in New York City, and working in emerging markets is one of my goals.
Wes and the rest of the LondonBounders visited consulting giants Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Parthenon and Alvarez & Marsal, British Telecom, Disney, Google, and the Carlyle Group.
The Duke- Fuqua students also leveraged Duke's alumni network to set up smaller, informal conversations with other companies.
Wes landed an interview with Bain & Co. in London and had the first round interview in Boston last week. He said there would have been little chance of securing the interview without attending LondonBound, as he met the firm's head of recruitment while on the trip. He also became friends with Matt, a second-year Duke-Fuqua MBA who will work for Bain full-time starting this year.
Aside from company visits, the students also indulged in a lot of great food and drink. Wes said, “On the weekdays we were busy visiting companies for the majority of the day. At night we'd typically meet up at a pub, then go out to eat somewhere - we had a particularly fun night at Evans & Peel - and then go out somewhere in Soho or the West End (several of us rented a flat in Soho for the week). Other memorable notes: dinner and beers on Brick Lane, mulled wine in Southwark, cruising around on 'Boris Bikes' all day Saturday, and even a Chelsea match!”
Wes, about to dig into some fish and chips
Wes got some great insight into the work culture at the companies he visited. He discovered that although the professional environment is fast-paced like in New York, London consultants were typically based London during the week which was great for people who didn’t want to spend all their time travelling.
“That said, London consultants do have the opportunity to regularly work on projects in Europe and globally. Living in London and working two weeks each month in Paris or Vienna is alright with me!” said Wes.
Wes is still exploring different places. He recently attended a week long trek to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The first half of the week was focused on big tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Ebay, Groupon and Intel, and the second half was focused on mid-size, growth stage start-ups such as AirBnB, Eventbrite, Nest, and Twilio. IDEO, a design consultancy, was of particular interest to Wes.
Duke-Fuqua offers a number of treks covering industries including finance in New York; consulting, marketing and general management in multiple cities; media and entertainment in Los Angeles; and technology in Seattle.
What's more, thanks to LondonBound Wes is looking forward to spending the summer London on an internship with Bain & Co., the consulting firm he interviewed with last week!