THE GLOBAL EXPERIENCE AT LBS SLOAN
Of the three programs, London Business School’s program attracts the highest percentage of global candidates. LBS’ 2022 cohort of its Sloan Masters In Leadership & Strategy was 94% international, compared to 70% at MIT Sloan and 68% at Stanford GSB. Its class also has the highest average years of work experience at 18, though it has the least amount of students at 52.
It’s also highly diverse in industry background, notes Charlton. “There is no typical profile that LBS looks for because the school fully embraces diversity. Our 2022 cohort, for example, has an average of 18 years’ leadership experience across a diverse range of industries and represents 22 nationalities. All have a proven and remarkable record of accomplishment in their working lives, and it is the length and breadth of their experience that distinguishes them from MBA or EMBA students who typically have fewer years of experience.”
To illustrate the diversity of thought in the LBS Sloan classroom, Charlton points to the variety of backgrounds in its alumni. That includes Kristen Weldon (Sloan ‘18), global head of sustainable investing at Blackrock Alternative Investments; Richard Hytner (‘03), former worldwide deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, and Jean-Philippe Verdier (‘10), founding partner of Verdier & Co. This fall, the new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed Gillian Keegan, an LBS Sloan Fellow from 2010, as the UK Education Secretary.
The global talent and experience is what attracted Brazilian student Santuza Paolucci Nogueira Bicalho, 49.
“I think in this respect, LBS is very special. When you sit down in the classroom, you hear views from all over the globe – from India, from China, from Europe, from the U,S, from Latin America, from Africa. You feel the impact of a truly global cohort.”
GLOBAL FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGY
LBS’ core Sloan curriculum focuses on leadership and strategy, taught by internationally renowned faculty whose expertise is sought by major corporations, institutions and governments, Charlton says. The students themselves bring their own remarkable experience from around the world, creating a classroom dynamic you won’t find in other management programs.
“The fact that our Sloans combine experience and knowledge with an open mindedness and enthusiasm to grow and develop makes for lively discussions and the sharing of ideas. What is more, it takes sheer courage to take a break from an established life with family, friends or work at such a stage in your career, but many of our Sloans view it as an adventure. They invest much more of themselves as they give up a lot to invest a year of their lives in the program,” Charlton says.
Electives allow the fellows to study alongside early and mid-career students in other LBS programs, adding a dimension of multigenerational learning. For example, fellows have access to a one-week Global Experience elective – an intense immersion into local business ecosystems.They can also tap into this wider network through the numerous clubs that exist at LBS.
NEED FOR A MID-CAREER DEGREE
While masters of management degrees have proliferated across the market, particularly in Europe and Asia, they typically target younger, less-experienced students.
People today tend to get married later than previous generations, start families later, and may transition careers several times. Still, much of management education pushes a lot of people to go back to school younger and younger. What’s unique about the Sloan programs is that it provides the chance for highly accomplished professionals, many of whom have faced huge transitions in their family and work lives, to take a year to really think about the impact they want to have for the rest of their professional life.
“Sloan remains a niche program for people who are serious about lifelong learning. There is a rigorous selection process, and all students learn from and support each other. Everyone has to contribute and that is what makes the program such a valued proposition,” Charlton says.
In its 54 years, LBS’ Sloan program has produced more than 2,000 alumni. While it has continuously evolved over the decades as business and society have changed, there is no sign that interest in an elite, mid-career business management program is waning.
“We're all going to work longer, because we're going to live longer. If you don't give yourself this chance to stop and learn again from the best, you’re never going to get the chance again,” says Bicalho, who just graduated from the LBS Sloan program in December.
“My advice to people when they think about Sloan and taking a year off from their career, you're going to learn from the best and you're going to meet the best. You're going to have the opportunity to learn alongside younger students, an opportunity that you wouldn't if you're the boss. It's your opportunity to be their peer. It’s very valuable.”
AN LBS SLOAN FELLOW EMBRACES THE UNCERTAINTY
Bicalho, herself, is a perfect example of the mid-career professional, who spent much of her career leading successful organizations, who is looking to her next career transition.
She spent 25 years in the travel and service industry. As CEO of her family’s student travel company, she expanded to open 80 offices in Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. She was managing director of CVC Corp, the largest tour operator and travel agency in the Americas, and for the last four years has been managing director of Bonard, a global market intelligence, advisory, and strategic consulting firm working across Europe in education and student mobility.
While she’d often thought about applying to the Sloan program, the pandemic pushed her to pull the lever.
“It changed how the world functions. Regarding human relations, how people work, how you engage teams, how you deploy your strategy, it's a very different world now,” Bicalho tells Poets&Quants. “Sloan was a window of opportunity for me to explore some of those changes and how clients react to them. I thought it was time for me to stop, pause, and reshape my knowledge.”
One of the biggest advantages for her was the diversity of thought she encountered in the classroom, revealing some of her own cultural blinders. For example, there was one class assignment where students were required to write an eulogy about themselves and what they hoped would be said about them after they die. Some students had a real aversion to the assignment, a cultural difference Bicalho wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
Exposure to such a wide range of experience was another advantage of the program, but really professionals of Sloan caliber will encounter experienced people everywhere – including in the executive workshops schools like LBS offer.
“I think what is special about this cohort is that we are all kind of courageous,” Bicalho says. “We all took a leap of faith to be here, especially because we all came through the pandemic and I think we all embraced the uncertainty. We’re not afraid of the uncertainty, and we know that uncertainty now is the rule. We are comfortable with that.”
NEXT PAGE: MIT Sloan, the original Sloan Fellows
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.