Manual, a Swiss candidate, has recently graduated with distinction from the MiF program of the prestigious London Business School. He is recently promoted to the CEO of his company.
In a chat with Poonam, Manual shares the following:
- His application journey
- The most challenging part of the application process
- His Dream school LBS
- His two years at the LBS
- Work-Life- School Balance
- His favorite Books & and his upcoming wedding
Poonam: First of all, congratulations on graduating from your dream school LBS. How do you feel?
Manual: First of all, I wish you all the best for 2015! Thanks a lot, Poonam! I feel very good, and I am excited to get married soon in June 2015. So instead of studying for LBS, I am busy with my wedding preparations these days.
Poonam: Heartiest Congratulations, Manual. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What do you do now?
Manual: I am Swiss, and I grew up in Switzerland, where I still live and work. I live in the eastern part of the country, while I work in Zurich and Zug. It takes me around 1-2 hours by train to commute to my offices. I just became the CEO of a company that offers quantitative investment strategies that are mainly executed with ETFs. I also did write my master thesis at LBS about such strategies (i.e. systematic trend following).
At the age of 15, I started working at a bank. I did an apprenticeship at a local bank called Raiffeisen. Later on, I made an education at the Academy of St. Gallen as a banking expert. Afterward, I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on corporate finance and investments at the University of Applied Sciences in St. Gallen. I did all my education while working part-time.; I have never been a full-time student.
Poonam: Congrats on being the CEO of your company. Looking back, when did you start thinking about MiF?
Manual: It was clear to me from the outset that I wanted to attain a Master’s degree. As I was approaching the end of my bachelor studies, I started thinking about enrolling for the MiF program at the LBS. At that point in time, I also bought my first GMAT books. I bought many books from different providers, but I will recommend the Manhattan series for the quantitative part. Furthermore, I really liked e-GMAT for the verbal part. Generally, Beat the GMAT was also very helpful.
Poonam: You applied only to MiF LBS. Why was LBS your dream school? How was it the best school for you?
Manual: That is true. I did only apply to LBS. LBS is one of the best business schools in the world with an excellent reputation. Moreover, LBS offers an amazing range of electives in subjects such as investments and quantitative finance. Fortunately, London is not too far away from Switzerland which gave me the opportunity to study in London while working in Zurich. Additionally, I wanted to improve my English, so I preferred studying in an English speaking environment. Also, needless to say, London is a great city. In short, LBS was a perfect fit for me!
Poonam: I agree. Manual, How challenging it has been for you to manage the school in London with your full-time job in Switzerland these past two years?
Manual: Well, you can imagine that it was not a boring time for me. It was quite intensive to fly to London every other week in the first year and once a week in the second year. Besides traveling, studying, and preparing assignments as well as working constantly were keeping me very busy and challenged.
Poonam: What was your favorite thing about LBS? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?
Manual: I came along with very interesting people, e.g. students and professors. The worldwide network that LBS offers is incredible. I also enjoyed the wide range of electives, although the time slots in which they were offered were not convenient at all for a commuter like me. So if I could change anything, I would change these time slots. That could have made my life much easier.
Poonam: I understand. Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it? How would you advise other applicants who are facing similar challenges?
Manual: Well, I think the most challenging part for me was the GMAT. I was happy to have excellent grades at my bachelor's degree and an interesting CV to offer. And Poonam, you helped me a lot to shape my application essays. So the crucial part for me was the GMAT. I spent a lot of time studying for this exam. I mainly struggled with the vocabulary in the verbal part, as you have many text passages that are related to agriculture, biotechnology, medicine, or natural sciences in general. With my background, I was not familiar with the associated vocabulary at all. This is why I started to read many articles and magazines related to this range of subjects.
Poonam: What is your favorite non-school books? What are your hobbies?
Manual: I love reading finance books. So my favorite books are related to systematic investing and behavioral finance. I like the books from George Soros, Benoit Mandelbrot, Perry Kaufmann, Daniel Kahneman, or Michael Covel, to just name a few. Besides reading, given some free time, I enjoy playing basketball and piano or going for a walk with the German shepherd from my parents.
Poonam: Thank you, Manual, for sharing your story with us. I wish you good luck in your new position as a CEO, and the exciting new phase in your personal life -your upcoming wedding. I am so happy for you.