Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Ultimate First World Problem - INSEAD vs LBS

Yes I know. I'm in the lucky position of having the option of attending the top two MBA programs in Europe. That does however present the dilemma of where to go, and there isn't much time to decide as the acceptance forms need to be back with London Business School by early January.

So I thought I'd list here what I like and don't about each program, which along with sourcing input from other sources, might help me decide.

I like that....
  • It is definitely by far much cheaper for both tuition, opportunity and living costs. Tuition for 2016 has been set at €71,000. Living costs are an estimated €22,000.
  • It is well known for being a strong consulting school alongside Harvard. Given that I wish to move into consulting post-MBA, the INSEAD brand would be very useful. Some say for consulting in Europe, it must be either Harvard or INSEAD.
  • The firm I'd like to work in post-MBA, Bain, recruits the most number of MBAs from INSEAD.
  • INSEAD attracts many consultants who I would be able to network with and learn from.
  • INSEAD has a strong network in Asia given it has a campus in Singapore. This would be useful because Asia is the next economic centre.
  • INSEAD has produced more Fortune 500 CEOs than LBS, being second after Harvard. I would rate INSEAD's alumni network as being slightly stronger compared to that of LBS.
  • I got along very well with all the INSEAD alumni I've met so far. They feel like my "kind" of people.
  • The electives for INSEAD are really interesting. There are so many I'm keen on taking. By contrast, the LBS electives don't sounds as exciting in the course descriptions so I'm not sure which to go for.
  • INSEAD seems to be stronger in entrepreneurship compared to LBS, which is important to me as I have long term entrepreneurial goals.
  • With family in Singapore, not only would I be able to see them more often while I'm on the Singapore campus, but also I would be able to save plenty on accommodation costs by moving back in with my parents.
I don't like that....
  • The program is only 10 months long which gives you very very little time to absorb all the new knowledge as well as job hunt.
  • At INSEAD I won't have a chance to do an internship so indeed to be very sure I want to become a consultant.
  • I'll need to re-learn French to get it up to the level required by INSEAD for a third language prior to the start of the program, as I won't have time during the program.
  • The Europe campus for INSEAD is located in France, which means I'll need to do extra travel to London where I want to work for interviews. This also means extra travelling costs. Plus, even if it's not located in Paris, France isn't exactly the safest of places to be right now.
  • Given the program length, the cost of attending INSEAD per year actually works out to be more expensive compared to LBS.
London Business School 
I like that....
  • I get to do at least one and possibly two paid internships. According to the current student who called me, if you want to do an internship, you should be able to find one.
  • Using the money earned from the paid internship, I would be able to cover most if not all of my living costs for the second year, as the average internship pay is about £1054 per week.
  • It is located in London, right where I want to work post-MBA. This makes networking and arranging job interviews easier. Plus there will be London based businesses that come to LBS to recruit but don't travel to INSEAD to recruit.
  • Extra opportunity available for networking with London businesses and potential recruiters through the London Business Experience core course.
  • LBS offers specialisations unlike INSEAD so I could major in strategy or entrepreneurship depending on what electives I take.
  • It is a 15, 18 or 21 month program depending on what you want to do. This gives me more time to absorb all the new knowledge and the workload won't be as intense.
  • I can potentially do an exchange to one of the Asian business schools like CEIBS which will provide a direct Chinese network. As many are well aware, the Chinese are all about relationships first.
  • The tuition for LBS covers all expenses for a week long trip to another country for the compulsory Global Business Experience. This means that even if you can't afford to go on job treks, you can still get the global business exposure.
  • LBS actually has a specific Turnaround and Restructuring Management consulting club which is slightly different to consulting, and something I'm really interested in.
  • LBS only requires two languages, which I've got so not extra studying needed and instead I've got more time to spend studying Finance.
  • LBS is probably more well-known in NZ and Australia compared to INSEAD although the alumni chapter in INSEAD seems larger.
  • LBS has a reasonable commitment fee of £2000 and provides sufficient time to make the reservation payment, unlike INSEAD's commitment fee.
I don't like that....
  • The cost of attending LBS is much higher than INSEAD. ROI for LBS is lower than INSEAD.
  • Living in London is frightfully expensive, accomodation costs are more than my current mortgage! There's that tricky matter of needing to demonstrate financial means to obtain a student visa. This does mean you can't just go with half the cash and plan to earn the rest for living on after.
  • LBS is not as strong in Asia as INSEAD which means if I did want a job in Asia it would probably be tougher.
  • LBS isn't as well known for consulting so I'm not sure if that affects chances of landing that job at Bain that I'm aiming for.
In any case, I thought it would be a great idea to find out directly from Bain in London if they had a particular preference. Maybe the people hiring generally find MBA grads of one school or the other better. No harm asking in the name of research right? So I've emailed them and hopefully I'll get a reply this side of Christmas!

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