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Directory of MBA Applicant Blogs

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Intern
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Joined: 29 Aug 2015
Posts: 41
Location: United States (IA)
Concentration: Strategy, Marketing
GMAT 1: 660 Q44 V35
GPA: 3.6
WE: Business Development (Energy and Utilities)
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New post 23 Apr 2018, 16:01
1
FROM slipmeone: Welcome Weekends and Waitlist Woes
Two weekends ago I attended Carnegie Mellon’s Welcome Weekend for admitted students, and wow, was that a good time! Any trepidation I had about the program going into that weekend has been removed. It is definitely a world-class institution with a unique approach to business education and a exceptionally accomplished incoming Class of 2020.

For the uninitiated, Welcome Weekends are where all the admitted students travel out to campus for weekend packed full of activities where the tables are turned and the school rolls out the red carpet for you. While I know that I shouldn’t make decisions based on my experience during this weekend–since it is practically the best of everything the school has to offer condensed into a 2 day period–I couldn’t help but be swayed a little.

Highlights of the weekend included a private dinner with open bar at the executive suite of Heinz field, a tour of Tepper Quad (the new business building slated to be completed this fall), ‘networking’ back to back nights with my future classmates and hearing everyone’s fascinating backstories, and meeting the energy industry students and faculty.

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Advantages of Tepper:
  • Awesome class full of incredibly accomplished students. To name of few of the people I met (Aerospace engineer interested in working for SpaceX, Microsoft software engineer interested in working for Netflix’s original content, multiple solar energy developers, Entrepreneur interested in developing his tech company while in school, Wall Street banker targeting venture capital, etc.)
  • The Tepper Approach = MBA designed for the future. Focus on exceptional problem-solving skills, leveraging data and technology to create value and personalized leadership and analytics.
  • The Carnegie Mellon University brand. Outside of MBA, the university at large is a leading research institution with top robotics, computer science and drama schools, making it a breeding ground for interdisciplinary learning. In other words, there are some damn smart people at this school and Tepper will provide opportunity to interact with them on a daily basis.
  • Pittsburgh has it going on.
However…..
Texas will forever and always remain my top choice. And as long as my name is still on the waitlist, I am going to compete for a seat #nevergiveup #successmindset.

Yesterday I sent the following update letter to the adcom:

Dear McCombs Admissions Committee,

Thank you so much for your continued consideration! With McCombs’ incredibly vibrant and supportive community, leading strength in cleantech, and exciting experiential learning opportunities, your MBA program continues to be far and away my #1 choice. I remain as positive today as I felt when I first stepped on campus last spring that there is no community with which I would rather embark on a lifelong learning journey than McCombs.

Below are a few post-application updates:

  • As part of a 6-member cross-functional team, I recently completed leading the design and implementation of a big data analytics tool that optimizes operational performance across 35 wind farms and an 80-technician workforce. This project furthered my knowledge of power plant operations, which directly contributes to my post-MBA goal of joining the renewable energy project development sector. I will share an updated resume shortly.
  • To prepare for successfully navigating a rigorous MBA curriculum, I’ve enrolled in MBAMath and am on track to complete the course by May 7.
  • Recent conversations with Lewis Bichkoff (MBA ’18), John Greely (MBA ’18) and Christine Nguyen (MBA ’19) introduced me to McCombs’ amazingly flexible curriculum, where students can customize their experiences. This flexibility resonates with my desire to expand my knowledge of cleantech and total business foundation while contributing to McCombs and the world around us through student club involvement, fellowships, micro-consulting projects, and global learning opportunities.
  • I’m finalizing training and preparation to hike 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail this summer—a longtime personal development goal!
  • I am currently studying to retake the GMAT.
 

While McCombs’ world-class renewable energy offerings are what initially drew me to your program, what has really stood out to me throughout the application process has been McCombs’ fantastically active, collaborative, and student-driven culture. Should I have the opportunity to become a Longhorn, I’d love to contribute to the community, including engaging in the following ways:

 

  • Serving as a helpmeet to fellow students in the CleanTech Club through developing industry connections for group career treks, introducing interested classmates to cleantech, applying my experiences in commercial wind power and energy finance to help teammates in case competitions, partnering with local startups through the Austin Technology Incubator, and volunteering for the UT Energy Forum.
  • Supporting admissions by engaging with prospective students via the McCombs Ambassador Committee.
  • Tutoring cohort classmates in Core finance and accounting assignments.
  • Earning a leadership role in the MBA Endurance Club to help classmates have fun and stay fit!
While I am immensely grateful to have received admission to Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, I remain absolutely dedicated to McCombs. Should I be lucky enough to receive an offer to join McCombs, I will immediately pay my deposit and jump on the next plane to Austin and the Forty Acres!

Thank you very much for your continued time and consideration. Please feel free to reach out to me should you require any further information.

 

Respectfully Yours,

Nicholas Alexander

 

Also, today I am officially unemployed, studying full time for the GMAT and preparing to embark on the Appalachian Trail. More updates to come.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
Intern
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Status: Prospective applicant to LBS Sloan MSe
Joined: 25 Mar 2018
Posts: 22
Location: United Kingdom
Concentration: Leadership, Strategy
Schools: LBS
GMAT 1: 710 Q44 V44
WE: Project Management (Aerospace and Defense)
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New post 24 Apr 2018, 20:44
FROM nickrubick: My thoughts #5: My time after Airbus Defense and Space: Aerospace!
Following on from my post earlier in the week, this post covers a brief run down of my thoughts and feelings of my time since I left the Space Industry and joined the world of short term contracting as a project manager within the similar but oh so different Aerospace Industry.

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Although many of the engineering and manufacturing processes within the Space Industry are inherited from their lower flying cousins produced in the Aerospace industry, the business philosophies seem to differ significantly.  The Aerospace industry is in general much faster paced, there is a significantly more cut-throat mentality, and it contains many big egos (which belong to some very successful and effective personnel).

There also seems to be tangibly more chaos and fire fighting on most projects, staff turnover is higher (people float from company to company in search of better wage rates), and I have often witnessed many scenarios similar to children playing a football match – with everyone running around chasing the ball without much consideration for formation, or the ‘bigger plan’.

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I would say personally that I learned a lot of good practices and engineering judgement within the Space Industry. Within the Aerospace Industry I have really learned about people management and the art of ‘getting things done’ amongst and despite the reigning chaos.

So what do I prefer? I will always have a special place in my heart for the Space industry, and unlike many people, the thought of producing aircraft doesn’t excite me that much. However, the buzz of having to work at 100 miles an hour, making sure that everyone is bearing up against the pressure to do what they need to do, healing rifts between egos, spinning plates while maintaining relationships with stakeholders from all angles, really is tough to beat.

As I don’t naturally have a very commanding presence, working with many big egos, and with people who have inherently more experience and knowledge of the products than myself, I have been forced to develop my soft skills in order to manage my teams. I am now more than ever a strong advocate for empowering the people that I work with wherever I can, I take the time to show appreciation (a very rare thing from my own personal experience) and give praise for achievement, and I try wherever possible treat people like people; they (mostly) have an uncanny knack of doing the same in return. If you can let people do what they are good at, and guide them through doing things in a certain order that makes logical sense and minimizes risk of having to scrap their work and start again, most people will be grateful to have trust and confidence invested in them.

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The Aerospace industry certainly can be bad for your health; there are plenty of lost souls who have been completely consumed by their work to the detriment of their life as a whole, due to the demands it brings. But it does take you on one hell of a ride. I am unsure that I would like to commit to such a skewed work life balance for my whole career, but these last 7 years have been an incredible journey and learning curve that will stay with me forever.

It has allowed me to work in cities such as Manila and Madrid, simultaneously manage teams based in Europe, North America, and the Far East. It also gives me several ‘FFS’ moments each and every day I spend within it, often leaving me baffled as to how things so seemingly simple can go so horribly wrong. But this harsh mistress has kept me coming back for more.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
Intern
Intern
avatar
B
Status: Prospective applicant to LBS Sloan MSe
Joined: 25 Mar 2018
Posts: 22
Location: United Kingdom
Concentration: Leadership, Strategy
Schools: LBS
GMAT 1: 710 Q44 V44
WE: Project Management (Aerospace and Defense)
Re: Directory of MBA Applicant Blogs  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Apr 2018, 20:44
1
FROM nickrubick: The LBS Sloan MSc Interview..
That’s right folks, the Sloan admissions interview has been and gone, on a brilliantly sunny day last Friday, I found myself walking through Regent’s Park on route to what could possibly be a life changing moment.

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Quite simply put, leading up to the event I was a bag of nerves. I think this feeling hit a crescendo shortly before I arrived at the LBS campus. Running through my head uncontrollably were hundreds of possible questions that I would be asked, and how I would best answer them. My biggest fear was that I would find myself tongue-tied unable to articulate a decent answer.

In actuality I should have had no fear, as quite contrary to this I found myself if anything speaking too much. In several instances the interviewer was about to move on to the next question, but I had one or two things that I just had to quickly fit in before we changed topic. I only hope what I had to say was reasonable and relevant!

So how did I do, this is a question that I really do not want to answer until I hear back from the school in 10 working days time. However, it does give me an excuse to use my favourite info-graphic…

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I can hand on heart say that I answered all of the questions to the best of my ability, there was good two way discussion about several topics, and also the interviewer was much more complimentary about my application content than I was expecting.

Some instant takeaways from this are:

  • Firstly, it is of the upmost importance that you really put the time and care into your written application. I’m sure this goes for all courses at a leading business school, not just the Sloan LBS. To this end I will do another post covering my  approach to the written application in the near future, as hopefully this will be useful to anyone else going through a similar process.
  • Secondly, the time and effort invested by the Sloan MSc applications team into reading and digesting my application was clearly significant. I can only thank them for that. This is not just the essays that I submitted, but all aspects of the application, from hobbies and interests through to my specific expectations of what I will get from the programme if I am accepted.
The kind and insightful feedback of my written submission certainly helped me to ease my nerves, and in turn helped build my confidence during the interview. It was an intense hour of discussion, but if enjoyable is too strong a word, it was certainly not as difficult as I was fearing. This is where a strong written application will really help you, as I would imagine if there were perceived holes in it then the questions may have been more probing (or at least would have felt more probing to me).

Some key topics of discussion were:Elaborating on my essays, specifically one where I describe my most difficult professional decision made to date. With this I was asked to explain the factors that lead to the decision, and how I persuaded stakeholders that it was the right thing to do.

  • A brief introspect into my life in general, and my approach to solving problems. Specifically I was asked ‘when do I get time to think?’ which was an interesting question; if there is anything I feel I do a lot of, it is stopping and thinking! Perhaps my depicted profile was a bit more action packed than I intended.
  • I was also asked about my experience working with different cultures, specifically with my time in the Philippines, and also working remotely with teams in the U.S.
  • I was then asked about my expectations with regards to the programme. As the course in relative terms is very expensive and time consuming, I think the faculty wanted to ensure I don’t see the MSc as a magic wand that will fix all of my career aspirations in one fell swoop.
  • Finally I was asked what questions I had, of which I had a few, some of which were:
    • Could I join the many clubs and open evenings at LBS once I had been accepted, or would I have to wait until the start of the programme? (Yes access to these will be immediate).
    • Would I have the opportunity to get to know the fellow future students in advance of the course start date? (Yes)
    • What could I study to help me prepare (I was advised to speak with a CFO or equivalent who had completed a similar course – see what they propose as effective study / reading material).
  • At the end of the allotted time, the interviewer explained that I would hear back within 10 days, and even if I wasn’t successful I would receive detailed feedback. Once again this shows how much time LBS are investing in each applicant, even if you will not be joining the programme.
Once complete, I was very grateful to myself for selecting a Friday afternoon time slot, as it meant that I could walk away and have the whole weekend to unwind from the experience before attacking work again on Monday morning. The simply fantastic weather also helped.

My final words on the whole experience are to go back and describe my nerves pre-interview. If I wasn’t nervous, considering it was something I had worked towards for over a year, there would be something wrong.  I resolved to draw on the spirit of David Bowie, which is a playful way to try and settle myself, as touched upon in an earlier post: An ode to David..

What Really steadied myself however was when I remembered  the last time I had felt so nervous; it was just before my GMAT exam, which I had done considerably well in. So If I could harness the nerves and turn them into positive energy as I did back then, hopefully I would be OK.

I discovered a very useful Ted Talk by Lisa Feldman Barrett on this topic earlier this year; in it Lisa explains that your emotions are actually similar habits. Thus if you can train yourself to think in a certain way under certain circumstances, this will eventually gain momentum, and will become easier over time. I would recommend a listen – see link below.

 

Now the dust has settled, my main concerns would be that I may have come across too confident, and talkative, quite the opposite of my initial fears leading up to the interview. In addition perhaps I didn’t show enough high level business experience, although I did try to convey as much as possible what I could offer to the class to make up for this (experience of working in intimate teams, strategy ‘implementation’ experience, and a strong empathy and agreement of many of the philosophies developed by the school).

However, when all is said and done, there is no point worrying too much; the decision is now out of my control. As interviewees, we can second guess but we simply do not know the exact profile of the candidates the interviewers are looking for. This concept is explained very concisely by the amiable Dilbert cartoon below.

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I’ll be sure to post again as soon as I hear any feedback, as well as another post to give any perceived tips on the application process.

Thanks for reading, and once again, wish me luck!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
Intern
Intern
avatar
B
Status: Prospective applicant to LBS Sloan MSe
Joined: 25 Mar 2018
Posts: 22
Location: United Kingdom
Concentration: Leadership, Strategy
Schools: LBS
GMAT 1: 710 Q44 V44
WE: Project Management (Aerospace and Defense)
Re: Directory of MBA Applicant Blogs  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Apr 2018, 04:01
2
FROM nickrubick: The LBS Written Application..
After receiving positive feedback on my on my written application during my interview last week here are some ideas I’d like to share with you. if you’re going through a similar applications process yourself then hopefully you’ll find this useful.

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Referencing back to my experience during my Sloan MSc application interview at the back end of last week, The LBS Sloan MSc Interview.., it was clear that the LBS admissions team invest a lot of time in analysing an applicant’s written submissions. With this in mind, here are a few approaches that I found useful and productive while writing mine.

Prerequisites

Fortunately I had quite a lot of time leading up to my application submission as I had decided to apply almost a year ago. From my experience I would recommend the following:

  • Learn as much about the course and the school as possible:
    • If you live near by; pay the school a visit. LBS has several events throughout the year from open lectures to question and answer sessions with alumni and faculty. These will give you a more personal experience of what the school is about, hopefully they will help you pick out attractive elements that are personal to you. I would also encourage you to reference these experiences in your application as they will likely be discussed during interview. You are also likely to meet fellow applicants, who may have questions or have discovered information that you hadn’t thought of.
    • Use the wonderful world wide web to discover as much about the programme as possible. A very useful website to get you on the road to discovery is the exceptional blog written by one of the Sloan 2014 class: LBS Sloan MSc information resources. This blog is a few years old now, but still very much applicable today. It also contains other posts that give tips on the written application.
    • Contact the school! The applications team are very pro-active and helpful with any questions that you might have. Specifically I would recommend getting a copy of the Sloan MSc brochure, and also a breakdown of the elective (optional) courses that are offered on the programme. If you are making initial contact, use this link: LBS Contact.
  • Familiarise yourself with the essay questions:
    • Although one or two of these may change from year to year, not all of them will change, and they will always be on similar topics even if they do. Knowing what questions you need to answer in advance will give you more time to decide what you want to write about. In at least one essay you will be asked to describe a particular instance in your life, and how it affected you and others. The first hurdle here is to select what event you want to write about, if you are anything like me this was not easy and took quite a lot of deliberating.
  • Carefully choose candidates to proof read your work:
    • You will need people who are not only willing to read your inputs, but also are willing to offer positive criticism and amendments. This is a much bigger commitment than simply quickly browsing through your essays and then giving you a thumbs up. Many people are likely to offer to read your essays as most people will not want to say no. However when you are asking someone to read the fourth iteration of the same essay and you need to submit within the next 12 or 24 hours, you really need to have chosen wisely!
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Planning

As a great woman or man said once (it was more than likely a woman!): Failing to plan is planning to fail. With this in mind, it is very useful to be clear about the submission deadline that you are aiming for, and that you leave yourself enough time to not rush your submissions. Each and every person will have different requirements with regards to timescales needed to complete their application. Personally, I gave myself five weeks, but I was simultaneously working a full time job. I broke down the application into several main elements, these were:

  • One page CV (Converting from my standard two page CV)
  • Organisation Chart
  • Essay #1: What are your immediate and ultimate goals and how will the Sloan help you realise these?
  • Essay #2: What is the most difficult professional decision you have made in your career so far?
  • Essay #3: What are the issues faced by your region and / or sector in the next five years?
  • How do you spend your time outside of work (hobbies and interests etc.)?
  • What impact will your participation on this course have on your family and friends?
  • What do you see as being the key challenges for you on the course?
  • What are / were your roles and responsibilities of you current and previous jobs?
  • Several other smaller entries.
If you have familiarised yourself with the application in good time, hopefully you have an idea of what you would like to write for each of the above. Some will be more straight forward than others, and thus take up less time.

I would put together a loose plan of how many of the above you want to complete over time, and then track yourself against it to ensure you are not getting too far behind. I would also fire off some first drafts of one or two entries to your proof readers as early as possible, this will help you in the following ways:

  • Breaking work into small batches is one of the foundations of productivity advocated by Toyota Production System, which is the bedrock for operational excellence and efficiency across the world today: Wiki: Toyota Production System. Learn about it, live by it.
  • It will mean that they are being read in parallel to you doing other essays – increasing total productivity.
  • Giving work to your helpers in small chunks is less likely to overwhelm them, people are more likely to spend a quick 10 – 15 mins here and there to read your entries than several hours reading every piece of your application in one lump.
  • You will get these ‘chunks’ back with plenty of time to make changes if required.
  • You will get an early idea of how much time each of your helpers needs to review your work, and what feedback they will offer. This will help you plan giving the rest of your work to them, and perhaps more importantly, give you an early indication to whether you have selected appropriate reviewers who will be able to give you what you need. If you need to recruit additional or alternative reviewers, you want to be doing this sooner rather than later.
As with all good projects, it is very likely that you will end up needing more time than you anticipated, so try to leave yourself at least a little buffer of time before the deadline. Additionally, if you can have some contingency plans up you sleeve (taking time off of work etc.), this will reduce the risk of missing your deadline, but also just as importantly will hopefully reduce yours stress levels.

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The content

Finally, perhaps the most important part, what to actually write! Here are my thoughts on the main sections. Please remember that these are my own personal thoughts, there are no right or wrong things to include in your written entries.

  • One page CV: I tackled this first as I thought it was a nice intro, and would remind me of the main elements that I will be using when presenting my profile. I am happy to supply a copy of this to anyone who would like a working example to use as a reference. Basically this activity involved hacking large chunks of information out of my standard CV, hopefully leaving the more important stuff behind. The format I used was a few lines as a profile summary, followed by a short paragraph / bullet points for previous jobs, and then a few lines for my academic and professional qualifications.
  • Organisational chart: I took the official org chart presented by the company I work for and then extended it to include details of my team, and any direct stakeholders (customer / suppliers etc.). If you are using your boss as a reference, I would advise asking him or her to review it before submitting.
  • Essay #1: This is where all of your research on the programme and school will prove to be invaluable. I started by reading through the Sloan brochure, and highlighted any elements within it that I found of particular importance to myself. In this essay I also included particular experiences I have had at open events etc. at the school and the positives I have drawn from them. With regards to how these items apply to your goals – only you can answer this!
  • Essay #2: For me, the most difficult part here is selecting what event to write about. Once you have picked this hopefully the rest comes relatively easyily. I was in two minds as to whether to write about a decision that was difficult personally (eg. a career or geographic change that had an impact on me and others in my personal life), or a to write about a tough technical decision (eg. a difficult or complex technical problem and the processes involved in solving it). Eventually I plumped for a hybrid of the two, citing a job change and the impact I had on my new organisation, including a particularly significant decision that was collaboratively made while I was there.
  • Essay #3: I found this one the most enjoyable to write. I spent a fair amount of time listening to relevant podcasts, and took notes of any interesting points. I also canvassed several people within my industry who’s opinions I value. The end result was a blend of all of these inputs. I have included this essay in a previous post: My thoughts #1: The U.K. Aerospace Industry
  • Impact on those close to you and challenges: I’ll bundle these two into one section as they are kind of linked. This really is personal to you so I can’t advise much. However I think the faculty are looking to see that you have made provisions to be very busy and under duress for the duration of the programme.
  • Hobbies and Interests: This is your chance to show your human side, what makes you tick outside of work mode. Remember that the school is looking for a good fit between fellow students. I got the impression that they take this section fairly seriously and the content was brought up at least a couple of times during my interview.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: For my current job I found it effective to keep a diary for a couple of weeks and then from that describe the key activities that I do. I tend to do a lot of ad-hoc activities that if someone asked me I would not be able to instantly describe, so this diary technique really helped. For previous jobs, I used content from my two page CV and then edited it to read slightly more fluidly.
That covers most items – if there are any specific items that I have missed that you would like any advise on please feel free to contact me.

Finally with regards to technique used writing essays, I would say at first completely ignore the work counts – just brain dump, and then edit. This will ensure that you freely include any points that you can think of, and you can then do a triage to ensure you include the most important items. On one of my essays I started with over 12,00 words and eventually trimmed it down to 300 – so don’t worry about the words!

I’m pretty sure I had another nugget to share with you but I can’t for the life of me remember it now. If it comes to me later I’ll add it in here. If you are reading this however it can’t have been that important as I haven’t been able to recollect it.

That’s all for this post, I hope some of you out there find it helpful, and I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who would also like to share similar experiences.

Well almost; I’d like to thank Miriam Haywood and Daniel Noviello for selflessly helping me with my admissions essays. Without help from you guys it is significantly less likely I would have been accepted for interview. Love you guys! xx

All the best, for now..
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
Intern
Intern
avatar
B
Status: Prospective applicant to LBS Sloan MSe
Joined: 25 Mar 2018
Posts: 22
Location: United Kingdom
Concentration: Leadership, Strategy
Schools: LBS
GMAT 1: 710 Q44 V44
WE: Project Management (Aerospace and Defense)
Re: Directory of MBA Applicant Blogs  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2018, 13:01
FROM nickrubick: Intermission #2: A trip to Goodwood Motor Circuit
Last weekend I joined hundreds of other Mazda MX5 owners, and as is traditional in Britain braved the less than charming spring time weather, in a journey down to the South Coast.

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It was the first proper run out that I have given my recently owned Mk1 MX-5 R-Ltd after several months of refurbishments. The event, run by the MX-5 owners club was a real treat despite the rather harsh weather.

As an aside, how within 7 days we can go from the hottest London Marathon on record to temperatures that seemed so cold that hats, gloves and scarves would not have been frowned upon is beyond me.

I set off fairly early with a friend, taking the various A and B roads recommended by the above MX-5 owners club. The route down really was a joy, lots of twisty roads of various sizes taking us through many classic English country side scenes. My passenger and companion for the day hails from the mean streets of Rio de Janeiro, and I’m fairly confident that the beautiful sites we enjoyed more than outweighed the threat of imminent rain (or snow!?) throughout the day. He was particularly taken by the beauty of Petworth; just north of Chichester. Regrettably I don’t have any pictures of the journey as I was having too much fun driving.

If you ever fancy travelling to the South Coast from London and don’t like the idea of taking the motorways, you could do a lot worse than follow the directions given by the MX-5 Owners Club to Chichester: Routes to Goodwood. I can only imagine that the other routes proposed on the same web-page are equally as enjoyable.

I won’t go into too much detail regarding my car as I will likely cover it with another post when the project is fully completed, but If you haven’t picked up already, I really enjoyed her ride – easily the most fun car I have driven to date, which of course I am very happy about!

I’ll now let the pictures taken by myself and my companion during the day do the talking.

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Above: My beloved R-Ltd parked up on circuit ready for the parade lap. We were one of the last cars to arrive despite the early start, after stopping off for the mandatory several coffees and a full English breakfast on route.

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Above: My friend going through the hysterical stage of hypothermia as we cruise on foot past the hundreds of MX-5s brought to the event.

Below: A few of my favourite MK1s on show on the day. My next modification to my car will likely be the front end / registration plate position. So seeing so many examples was a great help.

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Above: A not too shabby S-Ltd makes the starting grid.

Below. An RS-Ltd attracts plenty of attention as you would expect.

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Above: Nothing screams engine upgrade quite like a V6 Jaguar lump!

Below: Even rare collector’s cars need new tires you know…

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Below: A few of my favourite non Mk1 examples on show.

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Above: Prize awarded for the bravest traveler of the day; with extremely heavy rain forecast for the drive home.

Below: One last photo of myself posing on the start finish straight ahead of the parade lap. Followed by a few taken during the procession.

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Thanks for organising MX5OC! I hope you all got home safely.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 03 May 2018, 16:01
FROM Road To My MBA: A Better Way to Find Your Next Domain Name
One of the very first steps in building a website is picking a domain name — one that’s memorable, and that tells people who you are. It’s the first part of your site that people encounter, so you want one that’s just right.

To make sure you find that just right domain, we’ve renovated WordPress.com’s domain search with:

  • A modern design that makes it easy to see and compare all your options.
  • Intelligent recommendations, drawn from more than 300+ top-level domains like .com and .blog.
  • Important information about availability and value for all your recommended domains, front and center.
Take a look:

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Best of all, this search tool works for both new and existing WordPress.com websites. To explore new domains for your current site, head to My Sites → Domains.

If you notice any anything amiss while looking for your perfect domain, let us know by leaving a comment here. And if you just had a great experience and landed a new domain, we’d love to hear that, too!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 09 May 2018, 09:01
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FROM Road To My MBA: Find the Perfect Image with the Free Photo Library
You’re finishing up a blog post and want to add a photo, but you don’t have the right image. There’s a solution right in your WordPress mobile app: the Free Photo Library.

As part of our never-ending mission to improve Media in the WordPress apps, you now have access to over 40,000 free, high-quality photos (courtesy of Pexels) right from the WordPress mobile app. It’s available to every WordPress.com member.

(Did we mention that they’re free? And so are the WordPress apps, if you still haven’t downloaded one!  They’re available here.)

How does it work?
To get started, make sure you’ve updated the WordPress app on your phone or tablet to the latest version (9.9). Once you’ve updated the app, you can find and add free photos to your library directly from the post and page editor, or from within the Media Library:

Adding from the Editor

Open the Editor by either creating a new post or opening an existing one. Once you’ve opened the Editor, tap the Image
 icon to open the Media Picker. You’ll see a few different options to choose from: device, camera, or WordPress media.

If you’re on Android, tap the Device Media icon ( Image
 ), and select “Choose from Free Photo Library” from the menu.

If you’re on iOS: tap the ••• icon, and select “Free Photo Library” from the options.

Next, search for a photo to add to your post. Select as many images as you’d like and tap the “Add” button on the bottom right of the screen. That’s it! The images are inserted  into your post or page, and they’re also added to your Media Library seamlessly. (Note: these images will count against your site’s media storage limits.)

Adding from the Media Library

To add from your Media Library, navigate to My Sites ( Image
 ) and choose your site. From there, navigate to “Media, tap the Image
 button in the top right corner, and select “Free Photo Library” from the menu.

From here, the process is the same: select as many photos as you want and tap “Add” to put them into your post or page and your Media Library.

Give Feedback and Get Involved
The WordPress mobile apps are free and available on both iOS and Android!

If you have any questions or feedback, reach out to our in-app support team by tapping Me → Help & Support → Contact Us.

If you’re a developer and would like to contribute to the project, learn how you can get involved.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 14 May 2018, 13:01
FROM Road To My MBA: New Privacy Features and Updated Policies
We’re rolling out updates to our privacy features and policies in the coming weeks. You’ll have more control over your personal information and more detail on what information we keep and what we do with it. The updates will also make sure we comply with new privacy laws, and will help you do the same for your own website or store.

Our New Privacy Features

Over the past several months, we’ve upgraded many of the privacy-related features on WordPress.com, Jetpack, WooCommerce, and other Automattic products. We want to give you more visibility into the personal data we use and more control over the data you share with us.

In recent weeks, we’ve added:

  • More detailed information on the data our products collect and use, like the information you’ll find in the new Jetpack Privacy Center, as well in-product notifications for privacy-related information.
  • Opt-outs for data uses, like the ability to turn off Automattic’s first-party analytics system on your Jetpack site.  
  • Additional contracts (Data Processing Agreements) for paid users who require them to comply with data protection and privacy laws. If you need a Data Processing Agreement, let us know by contacting support for your product.
Over the coming weeks we plan to launch:

  • A way for users to request access to their personal data.
  • Account closure for WordPress.com accounts.
  • Opt-outs for Automattic’s first party analytics system for WordPress.com users.
  • An updated cookie policy that explains the cookies we use in our services.
We’re also releasing features to help you and your site meet the requirements of new privacy laws, like Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) that goes into effect on May 25, 2018. You can read the full text of the GDPR, as well as the European Commission’s summary. Our new features include: a new “cookie and consent” notification that WordPress.com and Jetpack site owners can add to their sites, and tools for our WooCommerce.com merchants to manage data access and deletion requests from their customers.

These updates are in addition to the privacy protections we’ve always had in place to help you control your content, keep it secure, or even move your site to another WordPress host.

What’s New in Our Policies?

We also updated our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Service. Here are some of the updates you’ll see:

  • We GDPR-ized our Privacy Policy. You’ll now see sections explaining your data protection and privacy rights, how long we keep information, and how we handle transfers of personal data outside the EU.
  • We included WooCommerce.com and Polldaddy in our Automattic-wide Privacy Policy. No more fragmenting: we’re retiring WooCommerce.com and Polldaddy’s separate privacy policies — our privacy practices should be straightforward and easy to understand, so now you only have to understand one.
  • We included more real-world, concrete examples in our Privacy Policy to give you a clearer picture of how we collect and use personal information. There’s specific information about how we make Reader recommendations, how Gravatar works, and how we use information for our marketing.  
  • We added a new Privacy Notice to explain the data that we collect, on behalf of our users, about visitors to our users’ websites. 
  • We updated our Terms of Service to reflect the importance of data protection and privacy laws. Our Terms of Service (and those for Automattic Ads) require that our users comply with applicable laws and regulations as the site owners, and, for added clarity, we included privacy and data protection laws as one of the specific examples.
Our new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service will take effect on May 25, 2018. We’re releasing them now to give you time to take a look at them. If you continue to use our services on or after May 25, 2018, you acknowledge that your use will be subject to our new Privacy Policy and you agree to be bound by our new Terms.

And there’s more to come! We’ll announce more detailed information about privacy features on privacy.blog — follow us there for the latest.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 22 May 2018, 14:02
FROM nickrubick: LBS Sloan Invitation now received, I’m in!!
It has taken a fair bit of time, and research, and effort, but I am very pleased to announce that my application onto the LBS Sloan MSc has been successful. I’ve been invited to join the class of 2019. 

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I am extremely happy as you can imagine, not least because it means I can continue on my blog journey with you lovely readers. As is often the way in life, my admission onto the course was not straight forward; I was asked to write one additional written passage which was the deciding factor in LBS’ decision to accept me onto the course.

I firmly believe the decision would not have been a positive one unless I had put in the extra time to learn about the school, and the course, to perfect my written application, to prepare what I wanted to say and how to sell myself at the interview, and to spend time adding to my skill set with online learning and research. This however makes the result all the more sweet. You don’t want to earn something that you haven’t worked for now do you?

The close call also reaffirms just how diligent the admissions staff are and how selective they can be. This should mean that my fellow students starting 2019 will have also passed through a similarly vigilant selection process. It also goes someway to show that through hard work and application, and a little bit of luck, you can achieve things beyond your wildest dreams (OK, OK, I know I haven’t actually started the course yet – but it’s a start!).

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So the next step for me is to go all in on the scholarship applications offered with the programme. I will post up anything interesting once I have applied. The first deadline is 30th May, so not long at all, followed by several towards end of July. Competition for these places will be even more fierce than for a place on the course, but I will apply myself in the best way I can, and, who knows?…

Thanks for reading my journey so far, I look forward to sharing my further adventures with you as they unfold in front of me. Following shortly on from this post will be a copy of my final written piece sent into LBS that details why I am so keen to join the Sloan MSc. In the mean time, I will leave you with a short video clip that best summarises my feelings when I received my acceptance notification….

 



 

 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 13 Sep 2018, 16:02
FROM nickrubick: The return of the blog..
With British Summer Time now on the wane (and what a summer it has been), it’s time for me to start my LBS Sloan MSc preparation in earnest..
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I must confess that my blog update hiatus has been rather longer than I expected. As a very pleasant summer draws to a close, my preparation for January 2019 now starts to increase in intensity. I have several plans and intentions for the next few months, and it is these that I will be talking about most over the coming weeks, however I would first like to take a little time to reflect on the summer that has been.

It wouldn’t be British if I didn’t start this recollection by mention the weather! After what can only be described as a rather testing winter and early spring, with snow falling as late as April, finally the U.K was treated to sunshine. Once it arrived, it really made up for lost time, with almost uninterrupted hot sunny days from May through to August. In fact it was so hot and dry that by Mid-July many grass lawns  had become scorched and yellow; something I can not remember happening before in the 39 years I have been on this planet.

Aside from the weather, there are several other items for which I am thankful.

From a professional standpoint, the project that I have been working on for the last three years is finally starting to give reason for optimism. Each day still brings its problems, but there is a now a tangible traction and momentum gained, most days end with the team feeling like we are further forward than we were at the start of the day (rather than further behind!), and after pushing that big stone boulder up the hill for so long, it is finally starting to feel like we are at last starting to roll it down the hill the other side.

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Of course, it helps that I am now counting down the weeks before I leave, but by the time that day comes I think the project and the team will be perfectly functional without me. Over the past few months we have recruited fresh blood well, and this will be well placed to fill any void that I will leave behind. This in turn means that it will not be long before we are finally delivering the first components to our customer for fitment onto their aeroplane.

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As far as outdoor adventuring goes; I once again have much reason to be happy. I have been lucky enough to get out of town and experience some pretty special rock climbing on no less than three occasions. Further to this, I have now introduced outdoor (real) climbing to several friends, many of which now share my climbing bug. This bodes well for the future, and I hope we have many more adventures to come.

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In addition to the outdoor climbing, I have managed to visit several local climbing gyms fairly often for quite a prolonged period of time, while complimenting this with regular yoga classes. The end result is that my body is starting to become more flexible that it has been for many years, and my climbing ability is at a higher level than it has ever been. I now hope that I can keep up this momentum, and further improve my climbing and flexibility.

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Last but not least, I was informed on 31st August that have been granted a scholarship by LBS. I will cover this in more detail in my next post…
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 19 Sep 2018, 13:02
FROM nickrubick: Scholarship awarded!! The final piece in the application jigsaw..
I am very pleased to say that at the end of August I was contacted by LBS to be told that I have been awarded a scholarship which will mean that LBS will contribute towards my fees for their Sloan MSc..

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It could go without saying that I am extremely pleased that I have been granted a scholarship, however I will take some time to give the reasons of why I am so happy, as well as some thoughts on why I think LBS may have picked me, together with any lessons that I feel I may have learned during this part of the application process.

  • Benefit #1: Financial. This is perhaps the most obvious benefit, although on reflection it is also probably the least important for me overall. I will be seeking to fund a part of my fees through a lending agent (I will cover this with a future blog), and thus the fees contributed kindly by LBS’ donors will have a direct impact on the sum that I will now have to borrow. With that said however, when considering the remainder of the course fees plus loss of earnings over during programme participation, this sum is not hugely significant.
  • Benefit #2: Recognition from LBS. I will be the first to admit that there is an element of ego stroking here, but am very very happy that hat LBS have picked me out for one of their prestigious awards. Away from the ego stroking, this is also a huge vote of confidence that they have given me in my approach to my application, especially after requesting an additional essay from me to help them decide if I was a suitable candidate for the programme. I will cover this in a little more detail below, where I will describe my take-homes from the scholarship application experience.
  • Benefit #3: Future prestige and opportunities. For me this has the potential to be the most rewarding benefit of the three. As part of the scholarship award, I will be expected to take part in open events and recruitment activities, as well as potentially being asked to represent the school in media publications and promotions. These activities can only improve my networking opportunities  both internally and externally to LBS, as well as push me outside of my comfort zone a little and thus allow for personal development. What more could a budding Sloan candidate ask for ahead of the start to the programme?
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My thoughts on LBS, scholarship selection process

Now this section must come with a huge caveat, that I don’t speak on behalf of LBS, and of course they have not spoken with me directly regarding any selection criteria. My thoughts below may be wide of the mark in some or all instances.

  • Item #1: ‘Awarded on merit’. For me, when seeking to earn a scholarship, I read the word merit as: ‘The endeavour taken to become an exceptional candidate’. This puts the onus on the effort expended by a candidate to make a positive difference, rather than just latent ability.
  • Item #2: Potential to contribute.  In the scholarship award letter, LBS state: “We also expect that you will contribute a great deal to the wider London Business School community, both during your time here, and as an alumnus/a.”  Here I expect LBS are looking for examples of where you may have been successful  at promoting or representing organisations. However they will also likely be looking at your behaviour during your application process; have you shown an interest in the extra curricular events at LBS? Have you got to know and develop relationships with alumni or faculty ahead of your programme start? As well as perhaps promoting LBS within your current network.
  • Item #3: Previous track record. This is where LBS will consider your previous academic and professional achievements, and extrapolate this into how they feel you will perform during the programme. This may put some candidates seemingly at an advantage to others, but here the onus is really on the candidate to sell their strengths to the school, and how you will  maximise their effectiveness. On the other hand, there is a strong argument here that a key strength could be for a person to be aware of their weaknesses and have a strategy on how to improve  on these.
  • Item #4: Application essays. These really are the medium whereby a candidate sells themselves to the school. I am sure that LBS will consider your entire application plus all of the essays written for your scholarship applications as a whole when considering you for awards. With this in mind, I would encourage all candidates seeking to earn a scholarship to apply for every available award, not just those that they feel they have a more likely chance to be successful . This once again shows endeavour, while also giving you more chance to build up a diverse picture of yourself.
  • Item #5: Need for financial assistance. Once again I am not speaking on behalf of LBS here so may be wide of the mark, but up  to and including the 2018 intake there was at least one scholarship award granted with one consideration being a candidate’s financial position. Considering the cost of programme and the abundance of high achievers that LBS have applying to join all of their programmes, it is reassuring to think that this factor also likely to be a consideration for them when selecting people for financial aid.
I hope that any future LBS Sloan candidates that happen upon this post find it useful. That said I think most if not all of the principles could most likely be applied to any scholarship application onto any programme around the globe. I would be very interested to know what thought you, the reader, has on this subject.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 19 Sep 2018, 14:02
FROM nickrubick: Who am I?.. My scholarship application video entry
A key ingredient to one of the several LBS Sloan scholarship awards was a five minute video titled ‘Who am I’? I would certainly not put TV presentation as one of my strengths, and thus the thought of me trying to hold an audience’s attention while regurgitating my life story really didn’t appeal to me (and neither would it you!). Luckily, I was hit by inspiration, and I did what all great leaders do; I delegated the task!

I hope you enjoy watching as much as I did, and big thanks to all of you who gave in to my incessant requests and sent me your video clips. Without you I would literally in this instance be nothing.



 
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 22 Sep 2018, 03:02
FROM nickrubick: 500 words to save the world..
This post shows my response to one of the LBS Sloan MSc scholarship application essays that I completed. Plus some additional thoughts on the subject topic. The title of the essay given was:

Describe an innovative solution to a worldwide issue of your choice (Max 500 Words).

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My response to this was:

A pressing issue facing the world today is; how does humankind supply power to its planet without making it uninhabitable? Solving this problem is gaining momentum, as demonstrated by the international collaboration that enabled the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

This is reducing the use of fossil-fuel generated power; thus supply of ‘traditional’ electricity sources is falling, while total electricity demand increases due to a reduction in transportation’s dependency on oil.

As a result, global solar energy supply is predicted to double every 18 months, while in the U.K (representative of the global average) wind power increased by 45% from 2016 to 2017.

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Despite these changes, forecasts beyond 2030 show significant power supply deficits without the use of fossil fuels, and this is before considering that transportation embracing electrical propulsion could eventually double demand.

The erratic nature of renewable energy supply is an unquestionable problem. To mitigate supply shortfalls using only ‘clean’ sources would necessitate system capacities to be far in excess of demand. An alternative solution is to have traditional energy supplies used as back up, such as the U.K’s capacity market, but this is inefficient and contravenes climate change policy.

Research has shown that energy systems can be significantly optimised by both reducing supply fluctuations and introducing electricity storage into the distribution network.

To visualise how a system can be optimised, consider energy as inventory. Distribution systems such as those within the supermarket industry have managed to minimise inventory through intelligent location of intermediate storage facilities, together with increasing sources of supply.

Energy supply variations can be reduced by blending sources (solar and wind often have negative correlation) and by varying sources’ geographic locations. In addition, energy storage offers great potential. Storage technologies are in their infancy, as of June 2017 only 1% of U.K electricity demand was met by storage, but predictions estimate this may increase to 20% by 2022.

What is most urgently required now is a universal understanding of the most efficient energy supply system. Currently developments are often being progressed independently of one another, based on what individuals think will offer the industry the most benefit (and thus return on investment).

The World Energy Council predicts that energy system optimisation will enter mainstream thinking within five years. This approach is illogical; successful projects require completion of system design prior to implementation. Why would implementation of unprecedented energy system changes be any different?

This generates two difficult questions: What is the most efficient supply system? How can collaboration be co-ordinated to achieve this model? Difficult yes, but not impossible, and obtaining the answers could be key to turning a clean energy deficit into an exportable surplus.

An innovative way to develop answers could be through a high-profile competition similar to Google’s Lunar X prize. Google’s competition “sparked the conversation and changed expectations”, by encouraging exploration of the boundaries of knowledge, and sharing discoveries.

If incentives and prestige can help with cheaper space travel, couldn’t a similar approach work for energy system optimisation, and therefore climate change?

[Word count: 500]

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Now first of all let me start by saying that I didn’t win an award for this particular essay submission, however it was the one essay that I found the most thought provoking and engaging.

My professional career to date has not given me any exposure to the energy industry, and thus quite a significant amount of research was needed. This in turn has resulted in  this essay being quite an educational piece for me, and has got me to thinking about what the possible answers to the two ‘difficult questions’ could be.

The first question: What is the most efficient energy supply system?

Of course with limited technical knowledge it is not possible for me to answer this with great authority, but I can use what experience I have garnered from other industries to presuppose what might be effective.

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I did briefly brush over this in my essay when referencing supermarkets distribution systems, which in turn are often used as a simplified analogy to describe a Kan Ban / Just In Time or Lean production system.

A supermarket maximises the quantity of products it is able to supply to its customers, while at the same time minimising the inventory of said products that it holds. It has a small amount of storage within each store, on the shelves. These shelves are replenished from stock that is held in larger quantities at the rear of the store, which are in turn replenished from a local distribution warehouse. Each one of these storage areas will be designed so that it can hold the minimum amount of buffer stock to ensure that there is a constant supply to meet consumer demand.

In addition, each supplier will likely also have a buffer stock quantity ‘on the shelf’ at either the production source or at a distribution centre, which will enable them to react to fluctuations in demand and supply supermarkets immediately as required. The supplier will produce to replenish this buffer stock, allowing a stable production output to meet peaks and troughs in demand.

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This is a very simplified view, but also consider that a supermarket distribution system must supply thousands of varying products to thousands of customers with various consumer preferences. With an energy distribution system, every consumer has exactly the same requirements, albeit in different volumes. Surely optimising an energy distribution system must be easy compared to a supermarket equivalent? This leads onto difficult question number 2..

The second question: How can collaboration be co-ordinated to achieve this model?

A significant difference between a supermarket chain’s distribution system, and a national energy supply distribution system, is that the supermarket chain is likely to have one organisation leading and co-ordinating operations. Whereas an energy distribution system will consist of several large energy producers, separate organisations responsible for the energy distribution network, and often separate organisations responsible for supplying said energy to the end user. Each of these ‘players’ within the market will be competing against one another to get a larger foothold in the market. Thus collaboration and joint strategy will not be a natural step.

A similar example is the pharmaceutical industry, where traditionally firms have been very secretive of their development activities, which often means duplication of the same research, and thus inefficiencies across the sector as a whole. Squeezes on firms return on investment margins in recent years has resulted in them starting to collaborate on research activities and data. This is certainly an interesting prospect, and if successful could be emanated by many other industries, not least energy supply.

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A more mature model that could perhaps be successful has been used for several decades within an industry that is very close to my heart; The Space Industry. Within this industry, most developed nations have a central body (US: NASA, Japan: JAXA, Europe: ESA) that analyses the most effective areas for investment, and develops a coordinated strategy for the whole industry based upon the results of this analysis. It then utilises third party organisations to supply much of the ingredients needed to implement this strategy – be it R&D into new materials and technologies, supply of spacecraft equipment, or bespoke software for specific applications.

This model is perhaps a happy compromise between  an out-and-out capitalist model whereby market forces dictate development (meaning individual firms are primarily reactionary and fighting against one another), and a central government owned model which as history has shown, tends to restrict enterprise and dynamism. Reaching a happy balance between both models above is crucial to the success of a sector that relies upon several brilliant individual firms working together for the greater good of the wider industry. The space industry today is thriving and growing across the world perhaps at a faster rate than it ever has. Could the energy supply industry benefit from utilising a similar model? I certainly think so.
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New post 22 Sep 2018, 14:06
nickrubick wrote:
FROM nickrubick: 500 words to save the world..
This post shows my response to one of the LBS Sloan MSc scholarship application essays that I completed. Plus some additional thoughts on the subject topic. The title of the essay given was:

Describe an innovative solution to a worldwide issue of your choice (Max 500 Words).

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My response to this was:

A pressing issue facing the world today is; how does humankind supply power to its planet without making it uninhabitable? Solving this problem is gaining momentum, as demonstrated by the international collaboration that enabled the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

This is reducing the use of fossil-fuel generated power; thus supply of ‘traditional’ electricity sources is falling, while total electricity demand increases due to a reduction in transportation’s dependency on oil.

As a result, global solar energy supply is predicted to double every 18 months, while in the U.K (representative of the global average) wind power increased by 45% from 2016 to 2017.

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Despite these changes, forecasts beyond 2030 show significant power supply deficits without the use of fossil fuels, and this is before considering that transportation embracing electrical propulsion could eventually double demand.

The erratic nature of renewable energy supply is an unquestionable problem. To mitigate supply shortfalls using only ‘clean’ sources would necessitate system capacities to be far in excess of demand. An alternative solution is to have traditional energy supplies used as back up, such as the U.K’s capacity market, but this is inefficient and contravenes climate change policy.

Research has shown that energy systems can be significantly optimised by both reducing supply fluctuations and introducing electricity storage into the distribution network.

To visualise how a system can be optimised, consider energy as inventory. Distribution systems such as those within the supermarket industry have managed to minimise inventory through intelligent location of intermediate storage facilities, together with increasing sources of supply.

Energy supply variations can be reduced by blending sources (solar and wind often have negative correlation) and by varying sources’ geographic locations. In addition, energy storage offers great potential. Storage technologies are in their infancy, as of June 2017 only 1% of U.K electricity demand was met by storage, but predictions estimate this may increase to 20% by 2022.

What is most urgently required now is a universal understanding of the most efficient energy supply system. Currently developments are often being progressed independently of one another, based on what individuals think will offer the industry the most benefit (and thus return on investment).

The World Energy Council predicts that energy system optimisation will enter mainstream thinking within five years. This approach is illogical; successful projects require completion of system design prior to implementation. Why would implementation of unprecedented energy system changes be any different?

This generates two difficult questions: What is the most efficient supply system? How can collaboration be co-ordinated to achieve this model? Difficult yes, but not impossible, and obtaining the answers could be key to turning a clean energy deficit into an exportable surplus.

An innovative way to develop answers could be through a high-profile competition similar to Google’s Lunar X prize. Google’s competition “sparked the conversation and changed expectations”, by encouraging exploration of the boundaries of knowledge, and sharing discoveries.

If incentives and prestige can help with cheaper space travel, couldn’t a similar approach work for energy system optimisation, and therefore climate change?

[Word count: 500]

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Now first of all let me start by saying that I didn’t win an award for this particular essay submission, however it was the one essay that I found the most thought provoking and engaging.

My professional career to date has not given me any exposure to the energy industry, and thus quite a significant amount of research was needed. This in turn has resulted in  this essay being quite an educational piece for me, and has got me to thinking about what the possible answers to the two ‘difficult questions’ could be.

The first question: What is the most efficient energy supply system?

Of course with limited technical knowledge it is not possible for me to answer this with great authority, but I can use what experience I have garnered from other industries to presuppose what might be effective.

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I did briefly brush over this in my essay when referencing supermarkets distribution systems, which in turn are often used as a simplified analogy to describe a Kan Ban / Just In Time or Lean production system.

A supermarket maximises the quantity of products it is able to supply to its customers, while at the same time minimising the inventory of said products that it holds. It has a small amount of storage within each store, on the shelves. These shelves are replenished from stock that is held in larger quantities at the rear of the store, which are in turn replenished from a local distribution warehouse. Each one of these storage areas will be designed so that it can hold the minimum amount of buffer stock to ensure that there is a constant supply to meet consumer demand.

In addition, each supplier will likely also have a buffer stock quantity ‘on the shelf’ at either the production source or at a distribution centre, which will enable them to react to fluctuations in demand and supply supermarkets immediately as required. The supplier will produce to replenish this buffer stock, allowing a stable production output to meet peaks and troughs in demand.

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This is a very simplified view, but also consider that a supermarket distribution system must supply thousands of varying products to thousands of customers with various consumer preferences. With an energy distribution system, every consumer has exactly the same requirements, albeit in different volumes. Surely optimising an energy distribution system must be easy compared to a supermarket equivalent? This leads onto difficult question number 2..

The second question: How can collaboration be co-ordinated to achieve this model?

A significant difference between a supermarket chain’s distribution system, and a national energy supply distribution system, is that the supermarket chain is likely to have one organisation leading and co-ordinating operations. Whereas an energy distribution system will consist of several large energy producers, separate organisations responsible for the energy distribution network, and often separate organisations responsible for supplying said energy to the end user. Each of these ‘players’ within the market will be competing against one another to get a larger foothold in the market. Thus collaboration and joint strategy will not be a natural step.

A similar example is the pharmaceutical industry, where traditionally firms have been very secretive of their development activities, which often means duplication of the same research, and thus inefficiencies across the sector as a whole. Squeezes on firms return on investment margins in recent years has resulted in them starting to collaborate on research activities and data. This is certainly an interesting prospect, and if successful could be emanated by many other industries, not least energy supply.

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A more mature model that could perhaps be successful has been used for several decades within an industry that is very close to my heart; The Space Industry. Within this industry, most developed nations have a central body (US: NASA, Japan: JAXA, Europe: ESA) that analyses the most effective areas for investment, and develops a coordinated strategy for the whole industry based upon the results of this analysis. It then utilises third party organisations to supply much of the ingredients needed to implement this strategy – be it R&D into new materials and technologies, supply of spacecraft equipment, or bespoke software for specific applications.

This model is perhaps a happy compromise between  an out-and-out capitalist model whereby market forces dictate development (meaning individual firms are primarily reactionary and fighting against one another), and a central government owned model which as history has shown, tends to restrict enterprise and dynamism. Reaching a happy balance between both models above is crucial to the success of a sector that relies upon several brilliant individual firms working together for the greater good of the wider industry. The space industry today is thriving and growing across the world perhaps at a faster rate than it ever has. Could the energy supply industry benefit from utilising a similar model? I certainly think so.
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very very interesting article, thank you for sharing
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New post 06 Oct 2018, 07:02
FROM nickrubick: Preparation for Programme Initiation..
This is the first post in a new category that will concentrate upon the activities and actions that I plan to complete leading up to the start of the LBS Sloan MSc in January 2019.

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With the summer now well and truly gone, I am looking at approximately three months until I start my full time studies. Something that has been on the horizon for seemingly so long, is now approaching very quickly. So what do I intend to do in the next three months to best prepare myself?… Below is a brief summary.

Sloan programme ‘next steps’
LBS has laid out several activities to be completed prior to the start of the course, these vary from 360 degree peer assessments to completion of academic study material to ensure all students are up to speed with basic financial accounting  methodology etc. prior to programme start. I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t looked at this in great detail and thus I will cover in a seperate blog entry later.

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Extra curricular academic study
I will be making use of online learning organisations such as Coursera.org, Getsmarter.com and Udemy.com to improve my knowledge in areas that I feel I could be stronger, or areas where I have a particular interest in working post programme completion. Some of these I have discovered myself, and others have been recommended to me by others who have taken a similar journey to me. Once I have completed each of these courses I will give a brief summary of their content, while offering feedback on how I found each of them.

The courses that I intend to complete (or I have already completed) are thus:

Found on Coursera.org:

  • Managing the Company of the Future. Created by LBS.
  • The Maneger’s Toolkit. Created by Birbeck University of London.
  • Global Energy and Climate Policy. Created by SOAS Universtity of London.
  • Our Energy Future. Create by the University of Califirnia San Diego.
Found on Getsmarter.com:

  • MBA Essentials: Created by LSE.
Found on Udemy.com:

  • An enture MBA in 1 Course: Created by Chris Haroun.
 

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Reading literature
I plan to utilise my long commute time (circa 2.5 hours of travelling per day) by reading several books that have have been recommened to me or I have piqued my interest. Once again I intend to give a summary and feedback of these books once I have read them:

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Book 1: The Hard Thing about Hard Things. By Ben Horowitz. This book has been recommended to me by a close friend who is now a VP for finance in a succesful startup company within the Silicon Valley. He has used this book as one of his primary reference guides to help him in his current role. This book is writtened by a seasoned start up guru who has many battle scars from the dot.com bubble aftermath at the turn of the century.

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Book 2: High Output Management. By Andrew Grove. This book was also recommended to my by my close friend as per Book 1 above. This book I am quite excited to read as it has quite a reputation of being a very enjoyable and informative read.

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Book 3: Fast / Forward: Make Your Company Fit for the Future. This book was given to me after attending a open house lecture at LBS earlier in the year. Both the lecture and the book were created by LBS’ deputy Dean; Julian Birkinshaw. The lecture was very fresh and informative, and I am looking forward to finding out what he has to say in this book.

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Book 4: Start With Why. By Simon Sinek. This book is a bit of a widlcard in that I have selected it based on reading many online reviews rather than it be recommened to me by someone I know directly.

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Holiday!
There is an old English proverb that goes something like: ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.

By the time I reach the first week of December, I will have worked right through the calender year of 2018 without a single week of holiday. I have stolen the odd day here and there, but in order to save enough money to enable completion of my fultime studies in 2019 I have been unable to taske any time off from work. This has certainly left me quite emotionally drained at times, and has enforced me to be self aware enough to not behave irrationally when faced with problems in the work place. These same problems when faced by a well rested and non-fatigued Nick Rubick would probably be minor hurdles both physically and emotionally, have sometimes brought about quite an amplified emotional response from me, quite contrary to how I like to project myself.

I have thus been extra frugal this year to afford to send myself away on holiday for a few weeks before the start of my course. I hope that this will help refresh me and put me in top form ahead of my programme start in January. This gives me something to look forward to as a reward for my hard work leading upto this point in time. However it does give me even leass time to complete all of the activities described above…

Wish Me Luck!
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New post 13 Oct 2018, 11:52
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New post 13 Oct 2018, 11:56
FROM Nomadsmba: Written essays…
Essays! The bane of all applicants, maybe except for those who genuinely love writing or are good writers. I am not one of those unfortunately. Below were my key observations from this experience.

Identify who will be your essay review panel and inform them. You will need to ensure they know what will be expected of them and that they have your time. I chose 5 people to be my reviewers. A couple disappointed and were not as helpful as I would have hoped but the others went over and beyond to ensure I was able to deliver my essays on time. You want people who won’t just tell you ‘I don’t like the structure’ or ‘it doesn’t read well’ but who will also tell you why and proffer suggestions i.e. constructive feedback.

You also need to know how to take constructive feedback. Do not argue or dismiss what you are told. You might not agree and it is fine to have a discussion about this but you do not need to be aggressive about it. After all, these people are taking time out to help you.

You however do not need to incorporate all the feedback you are given. It is your essay and it is important you are happy with what you are writing and how you are portraying yourself.

Most of the essays focus on trying to find out who you are, what you will contribute to the program and how you will do so, your fit with the culture and values of the school and fundamentally what sets you apart from the other applicants. It is very very hard to present all this in a coherent manner while answering the question/prompt. This is why you will constantly find yourself making adjustments. I cannot tell you how many edits I made to the structure of my essay! Always make sure you have a notepad on you to jot down ideas as you never know when this will be. I have woken up in the middle of the night to write down ideas!

The first thing I did was to write down all I wanted the business school to know about me.

  • A brief background on who I am (just a brief line or two on where I was born and where I have lived).
  • What led me to this point where I want to do an MBA with a focus on energy and why it is important to me.
  • Why I feel the program at the school I am applying to is best placed to help me achieve this.
  • What I will be bringing to the learning environment
  • Other activities outside the professional environment I am involved in that provide more of an insight into who I am
You also just want to have one or two examples for each of the above. Most of the long MBA essays are between 300-500 words. You will realise when you do your first draft how little 500 words actually is (I am currently on 488 words at this point in the blog!).

Be careful to avoid listing things e.g. “I am good at problem solving,” “I work well under pressure.” Provide an example of where you solved a problem, explain what the problem was, what you did to resolve it and what the impact was of you solving this problem.

 

Short essay questions/prompts

The MBA programs also have short questions or prompts (usually 50-100 words) and they vary. Some of these require you to say your short and long term goals. These literally involve you saying something like “Post MBA, I want to work as a pricing analyst at ConocoPhillips.” You do not have to specify the company but you are encouraged to be as specific as possible.  While some of the prompts, like those from Ross Michigan, specified how you started your response e.g. “I made a difference when I:” Read through all the blogs of the schools you are applying to as they let you know what they expect you to show in your responses. You should also go through their websites to get an idea of what the school is like and what they look for in students so you know how best to present yourself to them.

There are also a lot of platforms that provide advice on how to answer the questions such as GMAT ClubClear AdmitVeritas Prep who have proved very useful to me. I will strongly advise against getting someone to write your essays for you. Not only are they expensive but there is a strong chance it will show in your essay.

I am always happy to steer you to the right forums/sites for any essay questions you might have and also provide you with my insight/advice where possible.
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New post 13 Oct 2018, 11:56
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FROM Nomadsmba: Video essays…
This was the worst! I didn’t realise how hard this will be to do.

Some schools, McCombs and Rice in my case, give you the option to tell them who you are via video. It is only an option and is not compulsory. They tell you your choice of written or video essay will not affect your application. I really hope this is true or I am screwed as I did not opt for the video option. I do know a current McCombs MBA student who did not choose the video option so I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

I had initially insisted on doing a video for the McCombs essay but realised during the week of the deadline that I would not be able to do this. I had decided to do it myself (which is not a good idea in my opinion) and was not happy with the results. I believe you need to get advice from someone who is good at making/producing videos. You are also encouraged to let your character show which is not as easy as you think. A lot of applicants have posted their videos on youtube (I noticed you don’t usually get told if the video applicants were admitted or not though!) and there are also tips on how to produce a good video essay.
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New post 14 Oct 2018, 09:02
FROM Nomadsmba: Application deadlines…
I was relatively fortunate with my application deadline dates as the deadlines for my schools were three consecutive week intervals – Tuck (Sep 24th), Ross (Oct 1st) and McCombs (Oct 9th) which gave me some time between deadlines. Jones deadline is Oct 15th. If you are applying to more than one school it is important to check the deadline dates and plan accordingly.

You also want to ensure you put your best foot forward. If during the application process you do not believe you will be presenting your best self to the admissions board you need to seriously reconsider applying for the next round instead. I do understand that some schools will only consider scholarships for international students in certain rounds so it’s important you look out for information for international applicants when deciding what round to apply for.

My Tuck application was the one where I was pretty apprehensive when it came to clicking the submit button just because it was the first but by the time it came to Ross and McCombs, I was a lot more confident with my application.

One last thing before you hit that submit button is to review your application one last time (I know you have probably gone through a hundred times already at this point!). Once happy then hit that button! The long wait then begins…

 
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New post 14 Oct 2018, 10:01
FROM Nomadsmba: The not so long wait…
As soon as I submitted my Tuck application time suddenly seemed to slow down to an almost complete halt. My heart skipped a beat everytime I received an email (looking back I can see how unsustainable this behaviour is but I couldn’t help it). Various thoughts started running through my head as to why I hadn’t heard anything from them i.e. were they not happy with my application, should I have told a different story in my essay etc. You then find yourself constantly going through your essays and notice ever so slight changes here and there you should have made. The worst thing to do is to go on any of the MBA forums. You will find a plethora of reasons that will encourage or discourage you. All I can suggest is you find ways to distract yourself e.g. immerse yourself at work (I know a lot of you just raised your eyebrows but you will be surprised how much this helps), heck you can start writing a blog like I have done! But it’s important you find ways to keep yourself busy otherwise you will spend way more time than is absolutely necessary stressing!

Anyway these feelings did not last too long as I received an email from Tuck 4 days after the application deadline inviting me to interview!
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