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Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Alex Parker, London Enterprise Faculty

“Engineer by day, entrepreneurial chef by night.”

Hometown: Winchester, UK

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was lucky enough to compete on BBC’s MasterChef in 2017, eventually reaching the quarter finals of the competition. I built on this experience to grow a catering company with my wife, Hatty. We started off as a ‘living room supper club’: twice a month, we’d welcome twelve guests into our home to eat a four-course meal around the same table. As time went on, we started to serve more courses to more guests, until we finally outgrew our living room, and had to move off-site.

Undergraduate School and Major: Naval Architecture at the University of Southampton (Bachelor and Master of Engineering), UK

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Naval Architect at Crondall Energy Consultants, a boutique offshore Oil & Gas consultancy firm.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One of my post-MBA goals is to transition from engineering consulting to broader strategy consulting. LBS’s consulting placement statistics were an obvious draw, along with the school’s extensive on-campus recruiting program. As a career switcher, the flexible nature of the course also interested me, together with the numerous career treks that the school hosts.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Humble, definitely. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other members of my cohort via Zoom over the past few months. When I first started my research into LBS, I painted a somewhat daunting picture in my mind of the archetypal ‘hyper-achieving’ candidate. In truth, this image couldn’t be further from reality. Every person that I’ve spoken to has been modest, humble, and more interested in learning from others than talking about their own accomplishments.

What makes London such a great place to earn an MBA degree? After growing up in London, I grew to take the city for granted. It was so much so that I settled in Winchester, around an hour away. After talking to so many excited international admits though, my enthusiasm for the city has reignited. I’m so excited to move back, and to be surrounded by such a diverse, vibrant environment. There is so much to do and see on the doorstep of LBS, and if you ever get bored, there’s the rest of the UK and Europe to entertain you. This, combined with the close proximity of the school to so many of the world’s biggest and best companies, makes the city an obvious choice for anyone looking for a truly rounded MBA experience.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a Naval Architect, achieving Engineering Chartership in 2016 was a significant milestone. As a part-time chef, taking over a restaurant kitchen during a visit to Mumbai was something that I’ll never forget. It was humbling to lead a team of ten chefs and floor staff whilst they cooked and served an eight-course menu originally devised in my kitchen at home. We cooked for authors, royalty, and Bollywood actors that evening, as well as my lucky wife.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As an engineer, I’ve always been interested in the bigger picture, rather than the nuts and bolts. I’ve known since graduating from my Master’s degree that I’ve wanted to do an MBA, but the question has always been ‘when’. I wanted to feel confident in my own abilities, and also have the confidence to contribute effectively to the cohort. Last year, having worked as an engineer since 2011 (and after running our business for two years), the time felt right to start thinking about applications. I’ve been very lucky to have the support of my company during this process, from revising for the GMAT to taking time off for interviews, which has been greatly appreciated.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Imperial and Oxford Saïd.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Interviews for the LBS MBA are delivered by alumni, which gives each candidate a unique insight into life at LBS. My own alumnus was paired with me based on my aspirations of transitioning into strategy consulting. Although he was given a list of questions by LBS to ask, his most challenging one was actually his own: “You will be transitioning from a part-time entrepreneurial role to going ‘all in’ with consulting. How will you cope with that loss of ownership?”. This really took me by surprise, and showed me that my interviewer had made an effort to understand the nuances of my application.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I think that reading about schools online can only tell you so much – the real insight comes from speaking to the students and alumni. All of the individuals from LBS that I connected with were great advertisements for the school – they were happy to chat, give application tips, and even discuss my plans to transition into consulting. They really did demonstrate the renowned strength of the LBS network, and the value that the school places on culture.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I’ve been part of a group of admits responsible for organizing a number of pre-MBA activities for the incoming cohort, ranging from business talks, group coffee chats, and sporting challenges. A group of us are even hoping to collectively run the distance between LBS’s Dubai and London campuses by the start of term.

I’ve also been kindly asked by a member of this organizing committee to host a ‘British slang’ workshop on Zoom, to help prepare our international colleagues for life in the UK. Apparently other cultures don’t understand the UK’s obsession with the word ‘sorry’!

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school?

Out of all of my experiences, I think that being a business owner has best prepared me for the MBA at LBS. Although there have been too many important moments along the way to choose one defining one, the lessons that I’ve learned during this process have been formative, and surprisingly transferrable to the office environment: client and project management, leading a team, delivering under intense pressure, and marketing, to name a few. I hope to share these experiences with the rest of my cohort when we start in August.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I’ve been really impressed by Ørsted over the past couple of years. Whilst other companies continue to develop oil and gas fields, Ørsted is being touted as the world’s first “green energy supermajor”. Originally hydrocarbon specialists, this Danish energy company has recently sold off the majority of its fossil fuel assets and has invested heavily in wind power. The conversations around climate change and the need for more renewable energy sources are gaining traction, and Ørsted seems to be ahead of the curve, which I think business school students could learn from.

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