Meet The Team: David Simpson, London Business School

LBS Admissions Director David Simpson discloses some impressive roles that LBS MBAs have landed!

London Business School MBA admissions director David Simpson has been with LBS for 15 years working in a variety of capacities. Besides the obvious perks of working for such a prestigious program in the global city of London, he said that he has continued his work at LBS for so long because of his genuine love for the school – so who better to tell you everything you need to know about applying!
Tell me a little bit about your own experiences at LBS.
I absolutely love the place; it’s in my blood. And every time I’ve thought about moving on, something new and interesting has kept me here. I started out as an admission officer and I gained a couple of promotions and then I worked in a role that was across all of our degree programs in the pre-admissions space. More recently, I’ve moved back to admissions, which I describe as my true love. Now, I head up admissions for the MBA and the Master’s in Finance programme as well. Since I’ve been here quite a long time, I’ve gotten to do lots of different things like sit in as a representative on the Governor’s Board. There’s never a dull day.
What are some tips you have for impressing the MBA admissions team at LBS?
Honesty, integrity, humility. Tell us your story and don’t try to turn it into something it isn’t. We want you to be the best you can be, but we want you to be honest. You would be surprised about how people can be over-coached or are trying too hard. We want people to be reflective and to have self-awareness, but also understand their limitations. They have to understand this programme is very collaborative and it’s also very global. There are a lot of ‘alphas’ in terms of personalities, but they have to be able to work together. So we want to see examples of that in the application as well – examples where you genuinely worked in a collaborative environment. 
What makes LBS different than other b-schools?
The biggest thing is London and our London location. The most recent programme innovations in both the MBA and the Master’s in Finance are drawing heavily on London. London is a global city, and like the programme, it draws people from all around the world. LBS is just a microcosm of London in that way.
What are the best perks about getting an MBA in London?
We’ve always had very close London ties with guest faculty and speakers coming in. But we wanted to get out more, so we brought a new element into the MBA called London Business Experiences when we take students out into organizations to see how they operate. They’ve gone to banks and industrial companies, but we also wanted to shake it up a bit with football clubs to see how activities work there. We’ve also had London talks where inspirational speakers come in. For example, we had an Olympic rower come in after the first week of orientation to talk about leadership, ambition and drive. That was an inspirational way to start the year. I’m sure we will have exciting speakers for next year as well.
What are some things students must know about LBS before applying?
They must know about the collaborative style and the experience level of the classes. So the fact is that we ask for a lot from our individuals in terms of contribution. Our MBAs aren’t grade-A students who sit back and expect to be educated by others; they have a role to play. We want to see that in the application process and then once you’re in the classroom. That highly collaborative nature means that you have to have the personality and the skillset to make the most of your experiences. The most junior members of the class tend to be the strategy consultants with three years of experience, but other than that our students definitely have more. We ask for that because we want them to have managed either people, processes or products and be able to reflect on that.
We also like students to have researched the programme and we mostly see that in the interview. Our interviews are with alumni and they all take place locally all around the world. So if you’re in Mexico City, so then your interview will be in Mexico City with an alum. We also try to match career path and aspirations, so the alum can think about if you have the potential to go into your chosen career. So prepare for that alumni interview because the person interviewing you is going to assess you for the future. Know your application and know where you want to go: be well-researched on yourself!
Can you give a few examples of types of roles graduates might work in?
Some of them are very typical for business schools, like some of them have been going in as associates for management consulting firms or investment banking or private equity roles. We are very proud of those who go on to be entrepreneurs. There was one MBA who worked for McKinsey Consulting, but then decided he wanted to start his own company, Gelato Mio, which is actually gelato ice cream. He now has several shops around London.
Several other tradtional employers include: Bain, BCG and McKinsey Consulting, or Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank. And a few other roles include: a Global Strategist at Samsung Electronics in South Korea, Senior Product Manager at Amazon, Global Leadership Fellow/Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum, Marketing at Shell, Senior Associate Coller Capital, Senior Strategy Manager at Cancer Research UK, Strategy at Statoil and Finance at Microsoft.
Can you tell me a bit more about the career services department at LBS?
When I was first here, the economy was rosy and career services was a reasonably small department that did well. But over fifteen years, we’ve grown into a much bigger program and also we’ve been through some tough economic times globally. So we’ve built career services into what is now one of the most heavily invested teams in the school. We have staff who represent different sectors and also different academic programs within the school, like specialists in equity and investment banking, etc. There is also a side that does business development and employer engagement, so they will be out there searching for opportunities. And, of course, there is the relationship side of the team, which works with companies that come onto campus. Being in London means that all of these firms are on our doorstep and, even if they aren’t hiring, they still come in to present to students because they know they need to create an impression.
Also, we have coaching sessions with students because demand has changed. It used to be that 70 per cent of students stayed for a career in London. But of last year’s graduating class, 53 per cent went to work in a different country and sector. That’s quite a significant shift with a majority of our students working outside London. That reflects the fact that students come here to get their education because it’s global and it will translate well back into their own country or it will help springboard them to work in a new country. That’s what we pride ourselves on: the fact that we are able to prepare people to do business anywhere in the world.

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