ARINGO brings you another interview with a top MBA student, and today – Ofir Dagan, London Business School EMBA:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your pre-MBA background.
I have over 20 years of work experience as an entrepreneur, founder, CEO and management work in a global company.
You have such a successful career. Why pursue an EMBA?
3 years after I had moved to London, I realized I need broad international education which will provide me with advance management tools that will help me move forward in my career at the global company I was working for, and that a degree from a top ranked business school will give me an advantage. With my background and extensive experience, it was made clear to me that I can only go for EMBA, especially when working full time.
Why LBS? What is special about your school? In your eyes, what differentiates your school from others?
I selected LBS because it was ranked 1st in Europe and one of the leading business schools in the world, and because they specialize in training senior managers. Since LBS set the bar very high in terms of admission to the program, I knew that the other students in my class will be professionals with a lot of experience who can contribute to my education. Another consideration in favor of LBS was the structure of the program – every other weekend, classes held on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 AM until 8 PM – which was compatible with my work schedule.
What surprised you about the LBS EMBA course?
The first year was very intensive and took a lot of my time to keep up with all the classes and homework. I actually wondered if they are aware that the students are working in parallel. A good surprise was the added values I was getting beyond the classes – the university has a lot of clubs through which you can learn many other things you are interested in. I attended 3 lectures a week on average beyond the formal classes, usually in the afternoons or evenings.
Another good surprise was career lectures in many subjects. I didn’t expect to be drawn into the studies and how much I was focused in gaining more and more information about things I didn’t know before.
How did you juggle your studies, a busy professional career and your family life?
In order to combine everything, you have to really want to study and work on your degree. Your close family pays the price because you are not available to them and can’t contribute to home life like before. Your family is an important part of the process and it has to be ready to pay the price for your success. I had to sleep less so I have more time for other things. I managed to stay focused on everything I did – school, work, family – and all in all I managed to find the right balance and it worked out fine.
Can you share some details about the atmosphere in the school? between students, between students and faculty? How do you spend your free time?
The atmosphere at schools is very positive and supportive. People come from all over the world to gain good education but also to form a network with people from other countries and industries. I had 75 students in class with me from 40 countries. They came from different backgrounds – doctors, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and more. It creates an amazing melting pot that broadens your knowledge in many subjects that are not part of the formal program, which makes the social process very powerful. The school also made efforts to help us create network during the program, although it was tough during COVID. During the studies we work in students groups of 2-6 students, and the joint work builds connections with people you would never meet otherwise, so that’s wonderful.
Looking back, was the EMBA program structure the right structure for you? Would you have preferred a full-time course vs. the part time EMBA?
Looking back, I would prefer to study for entire week once every few weeks and not study during weekends, because it’s hard to have two weeks break between sessions.
Can you share some details about living and studying in London?
I have been living in London for 5 years now. For me it’s the most amazing city in the world for many reasons, and having the opportunity to also study here was perfect. This city has great energy, it accepts everyone which makes it very pleasant and cosmopolitan. The down side is that London is very expensive, which make living here a financial burden and you have to take it into account if you consider studying here. Some of my classmates didn’t live here during studies but took a flight here every other weekend. This option is also expensive and demands lots of logistics. In conclusion, you have to factor the tuition plus 50% additional expenses.
What was the course you learned from the most?
I had many interesting courses, and I had to give up on other courses due to time limits. The courses I liked the most were about strategy and management. They used models and simulations which gave me deep understanding of how a manager should address problems in a structured manner to conclude the best way to operate, combining all the core subjects of management – finance, accounting, logistics, operations etc.
What did you like about the school/program? Any classes / clubs you would recommend for future students?
I liked the fact that the school is like a bouffe in hotel – you have many options and all of them are good, but you can’t ‘taste’ everything since you have only one plate, so you have to prioritize what to take. At school you have so many courses and clubs, and you have to consider your time limits and choose the content which is the most relevant for your needs.
What kind of candidates is the school looking for? Who will especially enjoy this school? Who will be a good fit to the school and the EMBA class?
The school is looking for candidates who have the ability to do well in the program. It also looks for candidates with an interesting background, interesting life story, rich experience and willingness to share their management experiences with their classmates, preferably people with great communication skills who can build strong networks. In my opinion, everyone who comes to school with that attitude will greatly benefit from the program. It was much more than I expected.
Any tips for someone who is considering applying to your school?
I don’t regret choosing LBS EMBA, it changed my life to the better – from working for a global company, I started two new companies, one of them is a tech startup although I have no experience in this world. My partner was my classmate I and would have never thought about starting a business with him unless we spent many long nights together on school related problems.
The program provided me with tools and insights that will help me succeed in the future. Although it was expensive, it has great ROI and I felt like I got so much back and it was worth the tuition.
Many people who come to this program know they need a change in their lives but don’t know how to do this. The program provides so many options and career choices, and also gives people the courage to make brave decisions. Many of my classmates transformed their career – new job, new industry, even new country!
So, if you are ready, this program can completely change your life for the better. You need to ask yourself – are you ready for this change? Are you ready to find out the truth about yourself?