Moving Across the PondNicole Hensel
The year 2010 has been a big one for me. In the past three months, I've quit my job as a senior marketing manager for an online travel startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, married the man of my dreams, and moved out of our beloved loft in the hip Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. Just a few weeks ago, we arrived on British soil, our French Bulldog Napoleon in tow, so I can pursue an MBA at the London Business School (LBS) (London Full-Time MBA Profile).
As an Ivy League graduate, I've spent many months defending my decision to pursue a graduate business degree outside the U.S. I completed my undergraduate studies at Yale in 2004, and many of my peers from university are on their way to attend one of the usual suspects: Harvard, Wharton, Stanford. "The MBA is such an American product," everyone says, "Why would you go abroad when there are such fantastic schools here in the U.S.?"
No doubt there are brilliant schools in my home country, but the decision was simple for me: I wanted a program where I would be exposed to as diverse and multicultural an experience as possible. The world is changing rapidly. Globalization cannot be ignored, and business is inherently becoming more cross-cultural. With students hailing from more than 60 nations, the international experience at LBS is unparalleled. The student body here collectively speaks more than 45 languages. In fact, accomplishing a proficient business level in a second language is a requirement to graduate from the program. And, of course, if you're looking for diversity, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more international and well-connected city than London.
Keen to Explore the Continent
I'm an urban kid at heart, and I plan to take full advantage of the proximity to continental Europe. I've already made plans to help at harvest at a new friend's family winery in the Loire Valley of France. Also on tap: Prague, Istanbul, Munich, Moscow, and Barcelona. It's hard to complain about life when a weekend in one of these vibrant cities is so close (and you have a local tour guide). And I can't forget about exploring my new backyard, the U.K.
What exactly will I do with my MBA? I'm not entirely sure yet. You're not likely to open the school brochure and see a photo of me. My résumé doesn't read like those of many of my peers—no McKinsey, Barclays, or IBM here. Over the past five or six years, I spent nearly two working for a boutique, no-name compensation consulting firm, followed by freelance writing for several websites while traveling and teaching English in Buenos Aires, and then finally segueing into an adjacent world consisting of a smattering of Google keyword search volume, Twitter, consumer insights, Facebook, copywriting, and a whole lot of blogging and editing.
I felt like I found my calling when I landed a job in online marketing. Success depends a lot on creativity, analytical ability, and communication skills—all important functions of roles I've had in the past rolled into one job. Add a dash of emerging media and constantly thinking on your feet, and you've got a recipe for a job with which you'll never get bored. Some day down the road, I'd like to direct the digital marketing strategy for a large, international lifestyle brand. Maybe I'll return to the travel industry (Lonely Planet's founder, Tony Wheeler, is an LBS alum), but I'm also fascinated by the fashion, retail, and luxury goods sectors. No matter the industry, I think an MBA will be an asset in my arsenal of skills.
Over the course of the next two years, I hope to broaden my managerial horizons, learn more about the core elements of running a successful business beyond my fairly narrow experiences, and most importantly, soak up as much as possible from my classmates and professors. I think it's going to be a wild ride.