• From LBS to Schlumberger

    James Harding SMF

    I began my MBA experience at London Business School as a Chartered Civil Engineer and graduated as a Management Consultant in the upstream Oil and Gas industry, following two diverse internships and some studying in Hong Kong.

    Prior to submitting my hopeful application to LBS I was living in Malawi, Africa, securing key contracts with major international donors for the construction of industrial warehouses and various smaller housing developments. I managed the full operation of my business and successfully grew the company to over 200 employees. The entrepreneurial skills I obtained during this period were favourably looked upon by LBS and successfully led to me securing a position on its  high ranking MBA programme.

    I entered the programme with both trepidation and excitement. I was instantly surrounded by so many successful and highly qualified individuals; it was quite overwhelming at times. However I immersed myself in the student body and quickly realised I had so much to learn from my peers. I was lucky with my placement in my allocated study group. We were six very diverse individuals who all had so much to offer. We worked well as a team bringing our experience from different sectors and cultures together. That’s not to say we didn’t have our trying times, as we overcame personal challenges and weaknesses within the set tasks, but on the whole we worked together towards success – winning more team events that any other study group. I am proud to now call these people friends, who I wouldn’t hesitate in contacting for advice long after my MBA has come to an end. The MBA has no doubt enabled me to expand my global network on both a personal and professional level, which, thanks to the Sainsbury Management Fellows Award, may not otherwise have been possible.

    When I began the MBA, I was unsure exactly what direction I wanted my career path to take, so I used the programme as an opportunity to experience the various industries that might be open to me. I knew that in particular I needed to develop my finance and strategy knowledge and I set about choosing the relevant courses in order to do this.

    I was fortunate to land two excellent internships in very different industries during the MBA. The first was a very structured banking role at Nomura, followed by a venture capital position at Octopus Investments. The variety in the three months I spent during each internship was extensive; an experience that I would be hard-pushed to obtain otherwise.  Both internships allowed me to gain hands-on experience of what I could expect from a role in each industry and again allowed me to build-up a varied network of prominent contacts.

    In my second year of study I had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong to develop my understanding of the venture capital industry in China. I jumped at the chance and relished the learning opportunities I was offered from attending various presentations of high profile organisations and individuals that were set up for me and fellow MBA students to attend.

    On the successful completion of the MBA I had to make the tough decision of joining GE on its Experienced Commercial Leadership Programme or Schlumberger in the Management Consulting Division operating solely in upstream oil and gas.

    After much deliberation I accepted the latter role and I believe it was the right decision for both my career and my family life. Just a year into my role at Schlumberger, I was offered the role of Head of Production Forecasting and Performance Management for Talisman Sinopec.  I find it a challenging yet rewarding environment where I am continuously having to apply much of my learnings from London Business School on a daily basis.

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