2018 Best EMBAs: Kiran Ganesh, London Business School

Kiran Ganesh

London Business School / Columbia Business School (EMBA Global)

Age: 30

Ambitious and hard-working, intelligent, introspective, thoughtful, adventure traveler, foodie, cinema and theatregoer, pianist.”

Hometown: London, UK

Family Members: The two women of my life: Katie, girlfriend of 4 years, Joy, mother of all 30 years.

Fun fact about yourself: Lehman Brothers collapsed on my first day at work at UBS.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Imperial College London – Mathematics with Statistics for Finance – First class honors

Where are you currently working? UBS Global Wealth Management, Managing Director

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Named Forbes Europe 30 under 30 in Finance for 2017. Institute of International Finance Future Leaders Class of 2018. Grade 8 Tuba. Grade 7 Piano. Tutored A and AS Level Maths students at the Bridge Academy in London during my time on the EMBA program.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? (I was awarded Distinction from both schools, which I was pleased with since I’m always competitive with myself, and particularly so because I took electives which I didn’t have much background experience in or familiarity with in advance.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My recent promotion to Managing Director was certainly a big one; I know it isn’t handed out lightly, particularly at my age, and I feel proud to have been recognized in this way for my near-decade across UBS Investment Bank and UBS Global Wealth Management. I’m also proud to have been honored on a couple of industry-wide lists while I was on the program: Forbes Europe 30 under 30 in Finance for 2017, and the Institute of International Finance Future Leaders Class of 2018.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Costas Markides was a fantastic lecturer of London Business School’s Strategic Innovation class. He did a great job of linking academic concepts, controlled experiments, and real-world cases, all delivered with well-moderated class participation, lots of energy, and a great sense of humor.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Now a few months from completing the program, Napoleon’s Glance at Columbia Business School is one I think about often. It showed the importance of flexibility in strategic thinking, how business (and indeed in life more generally) are not about making plans and executing, but instead about creating options for yourself and then choosing the appealing ones as they present themselves.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The EMBA Global program was appealing as having access to two world-leading schools meant a wider range of courses and a more diverse set of course-mates than in single-location programs. Being an alumnus of both London and Columbia Business Schools is great for opening doors. The program also seemed right for my age and career stage, with most classmates having around 10-15 years’ experience.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? It was refreshing to take a step back and look at business, management, and organizational behavior issues from a more academic perspective and to learn from both cases and examples from other classmates. In the day-to-day, one often doesn’t take enough take the time to consider the problems which arise. Thinking in more academic terms: what is the nature of the problem, what framework can be used to tackle it, what are the options, what should we choose, etc, can be very helpful.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The importance of the ‘soft stuff’ – culture, leadership, motivation, and incentives – in getting things done and making change happen in businesses and organizations. I try now to spend more time thinking about the structure, stakeholders, and playing field for change, rather than purely on the idea or strategy.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Last December saw me race between New York, London, and Zurich with work, then Argentina with school as part of an LBS Global Business Assignment. That was before my girlfriend joined me for a week’s vacation in Chile, and back to the UK in time for Christmas. Good for air miles, less good for sleep!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? There’s the story about business school being ‘all about the network.’ For sure, you build a strong network, but the classes are invaluable too. I think the ‘myth’ comes from some business concepts being somewhat ‘common sense’ or ‘obvious.’ But the good thing about doing an Executive program is that, having experienced the real world, you see that sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious in practice, and thinking through those problems in school with faculty and others facing the same challenges was great.

What was your biggest regret in business school? One of the downsides of an executive program versus a full-time program is that you don’t have as much time to engage in the societies. Otherwise, I also regret booking one of my New York to London flights on a Friday night: I missed a party which Paul McCartney ended up joining!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I think there’s something I could learn from everyone, so I’m not going to pick just one. If I had to pick a few: Ganna Yevtushenko and Sarah Walker’s focus and determination; the composure and acumen of those who’ve already built successful businesses in Guy Livingstone and Bob Gormley; the positive energy and warm hearts of Nate Mayfield, Kumar Jeev, and Steve Iwenjora; and the incredible resilience of the many classmates who had children or looked after young ones (or both!) during the program.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was thinking hard about what the next step for my career would be and realized that management, leadership, and strategy would become more important than the technical skills that had got me to the stage I was at. I thought an MBA would be the right thing to provide me with the necessary grounding in these concepts, and give me fresh ways of thinking about my next set of career challenges.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… probably beating myself about work challenges rather than having a broader perspective. I’d also be less well-rounded from a skills perspective, less widely read, and without the amazing group of friends I’ve made through the program.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? The last few years have seen a lot of “tech businesses” emerge, but I think the next decade will be more about adaptation, as traditional businesses learn to use data, connectivity, and new technologies to improve their businesses and customer experiences. I think I have the skills to be a driving force in that transformation, and would see a long-term goal as leading the successful renewal of a traditional business.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Smart, friendly, humble.

Favorite book: Can I have three? I like to read across a variety of genres. For personal leadership: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey; for history/general interest: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari; for fiction: Exit West by Moshin Hamid.

Favorite movie or television show: The Wire was an incredible series – dark, funny, real –I don’t think anything since has topped it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I love adventure travel so some sort of journey involving Antarctica would be (quite literally) cool. It’d also be great if I could do a TED talk someday.

What made Kiran such an invaluable member of the Class of 2018?

“Kiran Ganesh (EMBAG2018) has previously been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017 and he holds a senior role at UBS and has since played a key role in transforming the investment advice the company offers to its $2 trillion of asset under management. He proved academically very strong when he studied at London Business School.”

Arnold Longboy

Executive Director, Leadership Programmes (Executive MBA, EMBA-Global & Sloan)


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