In the heart of London’s West End, the hottest ticket in town last night was for the BusinessBecause ‘Wise Young Things’ networking event at Google.
MBA students, graduates and hopefuls mixed with university representatives and Google staff at the company’s state-of-the-art office on St Giles High Street.
There was a buzz even before guests entered the main ‘Town Hall’ presentation room on the ninth floor of the building. In the lift going up, one attendee speculated if he would be dematerialised and beamed up, like a character from Star Trek, to his destination.
First talk: tips for getting a job at Google.
Jane Murphy, Google's MBA & Industry Programmes Specialist, was quick to dispel some of these misconceptions and exaggerations. She spoke first, laying out Google’s hiring process. We all have an idea in our mind of what a typical Google employee looks like. Think again, Jane urged, for the company’s staff in fact reflects the company’s user base. In other words, people who work at Google look just like us. If they were all one type of person, they’d only be able to work one type of way.
For MBAs, having at least a few years of experience was key, Jane said. She stressed the value of transferable skills picked up in the workplace, and cited a civil engineer who had recently been hired by Google – not because she could build bridges, but because she was an excellent project manager.
Jane also said every CV was read by a human being (there are rumours one can get through the first computerised scanning process by using particular key words – it’s all nonsense). And for those who like to wax lyrical even about their achievements in the rowing club at school, just don’t: Google likes CVs to be a maximum of two pages, though Jane said the ideal is one page. Above all, she emphasised that if you want to work at Google, you need a passion for the online industry.
Main speaker: Mike Thompson on ‘Wisdom’.
Professor Mike Thompson is the Director of the Centre for Leadership and Responsibility at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Mike strode on stage, superbly attired in a dinner jacket. With his announcement that he’d jetted in from Shanghai, he would not have been out of place in a James Bond film.
But Mike had a serious message to convey. He first dealt with the complexity of the modern world. Complex decisions in complex environments can often – as we’ve seen with recent financial crises – lead to catastrophe. Mike urged a more holistic basis to decision-making, with rational, deductive, fact-based approaches balanced by something else… called wisdom.
What is wisdom? At this, Mike leapt around the room, asking several attendees their views. One offered that wisdom was the ability to make decisions consistently viewed by others as good. Someone else talked about balance, which he eventually tried to clarify as a sense of happiness. As you might sense, everything was becoming somewhat elusive, until Mike hit on a Greek word he felt encapsulated this idea of a good, intelligent, successful and wise life: eudaimonia. The one hundred-plus guests said the word aloud, and though world peace was not achieved, there was a palpable sense of positivity in the air.
Meeting the senior admissions folk.
Attendees were then introduced to four representatives from business schools, who spoke for a minute each about their MBA programmes and invited people to have a word during the networking session. There was Dr Heather Spiro, Associate Director of MBA Programmes at Manchester Business School; Alexis Mellon, Regional Director for Europe for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business; Oli Ashby, Senior Manager, Recruitment & Admissions at London Business School; and Phil Carter, Head of Marketing and Recruitment at Imperial College Business School.
There were also three representatives from Bright Network, a recruitment firm for the UK's brightest graduates and young professionals.
Kate Jillings from BusinessBecause drew the first part of the evening to a close and invited everyone to follow Jane through some cabin-like doors you would ordinarily find on a ship. Wine, juice, canapes, and extraordinary views of London – the British museum on one side, St Pauls and Canary Wharf on another – awaited the MBA networkers on the other side.
In vino veritas.
For Manjeave Singh from The Small Business Consultancy, the event had cleared up a few confusions. “I’m a recent graduate, and was thinking about doing an MBA, but I was at the cross-roads of either doing a full-time MBA or an executive one.” Meeting current MBA students had helped: “Speaking to a few people here, I have a clearer idea in my mind of which one to do.”
Three University of Manchester MBA students – one of whom was recently offered a summer internship at Google – were wowed by the Google offices. Photos they had seen beforehand seemed so outlandish, they thought they might have been photoshopped. But authenticity had been confirmed. “Incredible,” one said – jealously eyeing the room and his internship-destined friend.
For an MBA student at Imperial, the big draw was also getting a chance to be in the belly of the beast that is Google. “I come from a technology background, so it’s always good to network with MBAs.” Along with studying, he currently works for a Google competitor. “There’s lots of overlap,” the student said, sounding only vaguely like a corporate spy.
Roy Ho, who works for the Sweett Group in London, had come to meet Mike Thompson. Surveying the room, he said he was delighted to meet “all these bright young people.” Roy is from Hong Kong, and is certainly looking East to do his MBA. Shanghai is an option – and one should say that one of Mike’s slides during his presentation made the new CEIBS campus look stunning – and after that, perhaps a job at Google’s office in Hong Kong one day.
One young woman said that seeing the inside of Google was definitely the main reason she came, “but don’t quote me on that,” said Anonymous. She added that this BusinessBecause networking event was a little bit out of the ordinary, “in a good way.”
Ben Soule, a Senior Consultant at Wipro Technologies, said he was interested in finding out more about Google’s thoughts on MBAs. He also loved the outside area, which was finally being used by attendees soaking up some rare mild weather this April in London.
Anil Kumar, a Bradford MBA graduate, when asked if he felt wiser after tonight’s main speech, said yes, “but only by 0.1%.” Better than nothing, one supposes.
An advertising executive for Ogilvy said he had “not hugely looked into doing an MBA before,” but saw the event, was interested in Google, so decided to come and speak to people who have done an MBA. He said he was much more likely to do one now. “I’ll drink to that.” And we did.