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IMG_4906For those of you who don’t know yet, I quit banking quite a while back now and have joined the world of ¬†entrepreneurs and freelancers. Of the many reactions I got, this was my favourite note from a fellow freelancer:

“Well done you for leaving banking and going on that one way journey to self-employed status. Once one works for oneself, there really is never any going back!”

I couldn’t agree more! My still employed friends, on the other hand, sometimes ask me funny questions like

– “do you miss banking?” or

– “do you regret quitting your job?”

and it usually makes me burst out with laughter. Seriously? I love the freedom of working for myself, even though it means spending evenings / nights and part of my weekends on work. My work is with me all the time now because it is part of me and part of my life, rather than a separate activity I have to endure to earn money.

I remember when I worked at McKinsey, leaving my home town at 6am on Mondays and then collapsing in bed on Friday evenings, waking around noon when the bakeries were just starting to close, I saw nothing of real life that was going on in my community. On rare occasions, when I took a morning off to renew my passport or attend a dentist appointment, I would see people having coffee somewhere or walking to work around 9am in the morning, and I was wondering who all these people were who didn’t sit in offices and how they were paying their bills?

Now my life is very different. I know the mail woman by name, I know my neighbours, I know the people in the shops, the waiters in the local cafes and restaurants, and many other freelancers and entrepreneurs who are free to meet up and exchange ideas in the middle of the day. I pick my favourite coffee shops and restaurants for meetings, or work quietly on my own sofa when I want to be by myself, and it works perfectly. Sometimes, I meet other entrepreneurs in co-working spaces, such as the lovely Forge & Co in Shoreditch, and I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.

It really is a one way journey! There is no going back. Are you thinking of quitting your job? I highly recommend it!

London Business School MBA

It’s been over five year now that I graduated from the London Business School with an MBA, in my case with specialisation in finance. Not a week goes by in which I don’t interact and meet with former MBA classmates or other LBS alumni in London or from around the world. It’s time to take stock and reflect on what the MBA in London was worth.

  • Networking: London Business School has a very strong and active network. The alumni network is large enough to have people across a variety of industries and jobs from around the world, yet it is also small enough to be friendly and close knit. You can ask for help or advice from anyone and you should usually get a response. I’ve had classmates asking me for advice on how to get a loan for a small family business or on how to get tickets to art fairs, people asking for help with case studies, alumni swapping holiday homes, and especially in recent years, many alumni get together to work on start-up projects or exchange ideas on new ventures. Of course, networking during your MBA is very important, but it doesn’t stop there. Many alumni continue to use the LBS network very actively following their MBA or MiF (Masters in Finance).
  • Friendships: for me, this is personally the most valuable part. Most of my best friends in London are former LBS classmates (and their partners and children, by now!) and my daughter is starting to be friends with my MBA colleagues’ children! I’ve also made LBS friends years after graduating from LBS by attending networking events and meeting MBA alumni and students from different year groups.
  • Career: Many of you who don’t live in the UK (or US) know there is a hiring bias for local students in these countries. Getting a job in London not easy when you sit in Moscow or Tel Aviv or Berlin, no matter how qualified you are. I found it much easier once I was based in London and attended London Business School. I had always dreamed of living and working in London, and I felt I had to be based in London to really have the opportunities I needed to succeed in my job search in London. Towards the end of the MBA, I had three very attractive offers to work in London, and most of my classmates were in the same situation. Subsequent years were hit by the financial crisis and had to work much harder (and some returned to their home countries where they saw better opportunities)

Do I recommend the LBS MBA? Unreservedly – if you can afford it! The school provides a generous amount of scholarships that you should take into account when looking at the cost of the MBA.

A satirical adaptation of famous Bob Marley song “No Woman, No Cry” by Saudi comedian Hisham Fageeh has gone viral on youtube with over 2.5 million views in two days. In his version “No Woman No Drive”, he asks his woman to prepare him dinner instead, “of which I’ll share with you”. Watch for yourself:

If you want to support Saudi women’s rights, you can visit the Saudi Women Driving blog in English.