Scott Addison is an American MBA student at Cass Business School, one of London's top-ranked MBA programs and, according to MBA recruiters, in the European Top 20 business Schools, according to the QS Global Top 200 Business Schools 2009: The Employers Choice. He talks to Ross Geraghty, editor of TopMBA.com, about why London is the place for him.
Pursuing my MBA in London was an ideal way to achieve several of my own personal and professional goals, foremost among them to pursue a more international career trajectory. I just couldn't imagine a better way to do that than immersing myself in one of the prime international cities where each workday overlaps with the vast majority of the world's major business centres.
Second, the approach to business education here - both in terms of structure and content - was much more suited to my interests. The highly intensive and accelerated one-year MBA model that is the standard in Europe seemed a better fit for me, requiring less time out of the workforce while offering the same content experience as those on a two-year program.
Further, I was very much seeking a greater understanding of and facility with how the rest of the world - beyond the U.S. - does business, and that's the perspective with which we are taught here at Cass (and other programs throughout Europe). Perhaps the greatest evidence of this is the sheer diversity of my class, the vast majority of which is students from outside the UK. With few exceptions, that just doesn't happen in the U.S.
I'm very much enjoying the experience of studying and living in London. The city itself offers so much diversity and richness of experience in terms of culture and history, although I don't get quite as much time to enjoy these as I would like, given the intensity of the one-year MBA.
Our location in the heart of The City is ideal for quick connections to many of the world's major businesses. It also makes it easy for business leaders to come by the school and meet with students, and we had two CEOs speak to us in a single day just this past week. The faculty are really top-notch, and I really like the fact that they often bring their own research into the classroom. Finally, my classmates hail from all over the globe, and I'm learning a lot from their experience and backgrounds. They really complete the experience for me.
I'm hoping to work here in the UK after graduation from Cass, and I believe that my experience here in London coupled with a strong desire to internationalise my career will give me the opportunity to do so. Basically, I feel that I can go anywhere in the world from here, and that's just the sort of scenario I was seeking.
Pros and cons
I spent the previous ten years in New York City before coming to Cass, and I've found that many of the best and worst aspects of living and studying here mirror those from New York. It's very easy to find lots of ways to fill your time with personal interests - arts and culture, nightlife, tourist attractions - and there truly is something for everyone. It's relatively easy to get from place to place using the Tube or buses, so mobility is really good. But city life has its drawbacks as well: it's expensive, living space is small, and peace and quiet can be harder to find.
What I wish I'd known before considering London?
I wish that I had been more familiar with the British standards for assessment here, as they are vastly different than the U.S. Getting a mark of 70 on a piece of coursework or an exam is really a sign of excellent work, but such a mark in the U.S. would be rather poor. It took some adjustment to get used to this.
Although I'd been to London many times on holiday prior to moving here, the experience as a tourist often doesn't let you know how truly expensive it is to live in this city. I knew that London was a costly town, but I wish I had somehow had a better sense of just HOW expensive it was! London really is a terrific place to live, study and work, but I'd suggest that those considering it make sure that it makes sense for their life and career path. For those seeking a rich (and very different) cultural experience and an entrée into global business, then London just might be for you.