Category Archives: diversity

If you want to expand your network, don’t stick to people like yourself

So my daughter started school this week and I was amazed at how she, and the other 4 year olds in her class, just seemed to make connections so easily. I hesitate to call these connections friendship since I am not sure 4 year olds understand what friendship means. But put them in a playground and everyone just gets on.

My daughter’s class reflects the incredible diversity in Cambridge. And I have no doubt that if she keeps an open mind, she will learn a lot from the other children in her class.

I was reminded of this when I met some candidates at the MBA2U fair in Munich yesterday. Quite a number of people, after giving a brief introduction of their profile, were very keen to know just how many students in our class had a similar profile and career interest. They felt that if there were more people with similar interests, then that would reinforce their decision to join a particular MBA Programme.

I didn’t make the mental connection at the time but it occurred to me later that, while it is comforting to have classmates with similar backgrounds and interests, the key thing to improving the quality of your network is to talk to people different from yourself. Simply talking to similar people won’t expand your network significantly since you would probably know the same set of people that they know and it wouldn’t increase your own knowledge that much. Whereas making a connection with someone with very different backgrounds to yourself means gaining access to their networks, which would be completely different to your own.

This is also why we try to build a diverse class. Because a diverse class of 160 students can help you build a larger network than if you were with a thousand people all similar to yourself.

My trip to the UAE or how I’d like to meet the Middle East entrepreneurs

I have just returned from a three day trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi where I met prospective MBA candidates and representatives from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). It was my first trip to the Middle East in five years and much has changed since. Dubai’s reputation as a financial centre took a serious… Continue Reading

Germany, T-shaped leadership, and product innovation. All in one evening

About 40 people attended the Cambridge MBA information session in Munich last week. We were very fortunate that Prof Christoph Loch, Director of the Business School, spared some time from his schedule to speak to prospective candidates and we were grateful that four alums (Betrand, Andreas, Bing and Axel) could join us that evening. Best of all,… Continue Reading


This coming week, the director of the MBA programme will visit India and conduct application interviews for about 5 candidates in Mumbai. My colleague James Barker will also host an information session for a small group of pre-screened prospective candidates. It is no secret that after the US, India is one of the two largest… Continue Reading

Islamic Finance

One of the most satisfying things about working with the Cambridge MBA is seeing how an idea takes root in a student and becomes a reality over the course of a year. One of our students, Sharifah Abu Bakar, spoke to me early in the year about her passion and interest in Islamic finance. I… Continue Reading

What is an MBA for?

Someone forwarded me this article from the Straits Times, the most widely-read English daily in Singapore, titled “Does an MBA really help in your career?” Since access to the Straits Times requires a paid subscription, I will summarise the main points. Jim Rogers, who made billions trading commodities, said that ‘much of what you learn… Continue Reading

Can you be too old for an MBA?

“It might be better for you if you did not apply to our MBA.” That’s what representatives from two MBA programs told one prospective candidate. Now, I am a firm believer in being clear about the people you don’t want on your program and, in many cases, communicating that forcefully. However, what shocked me was the reason they… Continue Reading