London: the EU's biggest metropolis; the world's most-visited tourist destination and home to the busiest international airport system. You may feel overwhelmed by the tube and the traffic, but no one can deny there's a positive buzz to the city, particularly in the wake of the recent Olympics.
It's mid-winter, unusually snowy and many London city workers are attempting 'dry-January', a post-festive month of alcohol abstinence. Overcoming these minor obstacles (and armed with a glass of white wine) I make my way into a plush conference room buried in the depths of Goldman Sachs' Fleet Street offices to meet young female MBA aspirants and business schools from across the US and Europe.
Organised by the Forté Foundation, an American non-profit promoting women at business school, this was a Monday evening gathering of serious alpha ladies, looking to push their career up a gear in 2013.
Some of the attendees included a JP Morgan analyst and forensic fraud specialist - read more about these MBA applicants and the impressive speaker panel here.
More than twenty business schools were present, including Duke's Fuqua School of Business, The University of Chicago Booth and HEC Paris. We spoke to some of the school representatives - a mixture of Admissions managers and London-based alumni - to find out why they are targeting females in London. These were some of the responses:
Sabrina Washington, a Risk Management VP at Citigroup and alumnus of UNC's Kenan Flagler MBA, thinks London has a "wonderful aggregation of people from all over the world" and that it's important to remember the "US is not the center of the universe!"
Yale SOM's Admissions Director Michelle Beck is always keen to see more European MBA applicants, it's important for the "diversity of the classroom" and the "global focus of the school".
Diversity was also highlighted by Stephanie Brookes, Regional Programme Manager at Duke's Fuqua School of Business and by Prathima Baron, MBA alumnus of Darden - both feel that London is home to high caliber females with an "international outlook".
Teresa Pires flying the only Canadian flag, for the Queen's School of Business, felt that London provided a slightly higher standard of female applicant. This resonates with data from the Graduate Management Admission Council: the average GMAT score for UK female test takers in 2012 was 565 - the highest for females in Europe and well above the average global female score of 536.
Last year, 36% of the UK's 4,237 GMAT test takers were women.
Girl-power aside, what else did the b-schools like about London? Tepper MBAs Jackie Colorado and Wendy Chan have both been in London for a couple of years after stints in New York. They love London for it's proximity to other European countries and the multi-cultural work environments. They also think London is slightly "slower pace than NYC".
Kate Mescal, a Ross MBA and another ex-New Yorker, thinks London is "clean and easy-to-navigate" compared to the Big Apple.
Elisa Nieto, representing Chicago Booth's Executive MBA loves the 'energy of London' and Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet (a token man in the room!) from Babson's MBA is a fan of the "British sense of humour and ale".
You can read more information about the Forté Foundation and their MBA events here.
Other related articles on BusinessBecause include: MBA Scholarships for Women, UCLA's Women in Business Club and London's Dominance Of The UK Economy.
Female MBA hopefuls gather at the business school stands to ask questions