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Mariia Kovalenko

  • Programme: MBA
  • Nationality: Ukrainian
  • Job Pre-programme: Senior Consultant, People Advisory Services, EY
“The MBA has given me the confidence to try things that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing otherwise”

Mariia Kovalenko knew from the start of her business school search that she wanted an international MBA programme. Since joining London Business School, she hasn’t looked back. “London Business School’s location and global focus has added immense value to my MBA experience. Companies and recruiters are attracted to the central London campus, and the school’s brand has definitely given me an edge.”

Ukrainian-born Mariia says that prior to her LBS MBA, it was more difficult to justify why UK companies should hire her. “London jobs are competitive. I worked in a functional consulting role focused on HR and at some point I realised I had become too specialised. I wanted to tackle strategic, frontline challenges that had more impact on the business, and the LBS MBA was my chance to make that shift,” says Mariia.

Joining the programme, Mariia was delighted to be awarded the merit-based David and Molly Pyott Scholarship. “The scholarship is a recognition of my potential and has really motivated me,” she says. The award was also important from a financial point of view. “Most of my early career was spent in Ukraine, so I didn’t have the high earning potential of some other candidates. I was also lucky enough to actually meet David Pyott - an MSc13(1980) alumnus - and learn about his career. So this scholarship feels very personal.”

Mariia has seized the chance to work with classmates from different backgrounds, personalities and cultures, and says the MBA has offered up some incredibly exciting learning opportunities. “My team won the LBS round of the A.T. Kearney Case Competition, and we got the chance to go to Paris for the final. It gave me a very personal perspective of the company - and a great trip to Paris!” She also says the opportunity to gain new experiences has been a key factor throughout her LBS MBA. “I participated in the Innovation Olympics as part of a team working with a major pharma company to help them innovate around their user journey. We came second – and the experience was fascinating. My best friends from LBS are people I competed with in teams, doing case competitions and hackathons - things I wouldn’t normally do in my professional life. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to explore new areas.”

Opening more than just one door in the job market, the LBS MBA provided Mariia with enough flexibility to complete two structured internship programmes over the summer. “I worked for Google in Global Products Partnerships and then A.T. Kearney one after the other, which I found extremely valuable. The MBA has allowed me to try new things that aren’t directly relevant to my prior experience. Even though a lot of my skills were applicable, I don’t think they would have been recognised by recruiters, had I not been doing an MBA.” Although she thoroughly enjoyed both her internships, Mariia will be heading to A.T. Kearney post-MBA. “I think a couple of years of strategy consulting will be really beneficial, but I will definitely consider Google again in the future. They’re both great companies.”

And that’s not all that’s on the horizon. “I’m looking at starting a small business project with a classmate. I’m naturally risk-averse, so it’s not something I would have done before my MBA! But being exposed to people who do start-ups and having time to explore opportunities like this is something I really value. The MBA has given me the confidence to try things that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing otherwise.”

February 2018