Grace Ortelere

  • Degree Programme: MBA
  • Global Nationality: American

Stepping back to step forwards

I wanted to take a step back from work to take time to explore what I really wanted to do; I was drawn to the two-year MBA programme as it’d give me the time to do exactly that. London Business School has a global reputation as one of the world’s leading business schools and I was really excited about being part of such a diverse cohort, which you just don’t get with American schools. I wanted to broaden my perspective and was also excited to learn about businesses outside of the US, while living in one of the world’s most dynamic cities.

Life since LBS

In the short time since I graduated from London Business School in summer 2019, I’ve joined a global leadership development programme at the insurance company MetLife. The programme has three rotations, giving me the opportunity to work across different markets around the world. Right now, I’m in my first rotation, based in Dubai as Director of EMEA Strategy – a role I believe I wouldn’t be in if it weren’t for LBS.

From learning to real life

Some of the most valuable learnings from the MBA came from working with other people. Group projects and exposure to individuals with a wide range of experiences ultimately teaches you so much more than you can learn purely through education. I learned to look at everything through a broader lens, developing the ability to think from a marketing or finance point of view, which has been instrumental in my current role when working with people in different functions. I’ve since become a much better collaborator. I’m now more effective at persuading others to get buy-in for my projects. The teamwork aspect has also been a big learning curve for me. Earlier in my career, I spent more time on independent work, but the MBA catapults you into roles where you need to work with many different types of people – something the group projects and working with my study group helped me with tremendously.

Diversity makes a difference

In my study group, I was the only American and native English speaker. My fellow students came from all over the world – my study group was made up of classmates from Switzerland, Colombia, Canada, Israel and South Korea. Just learning about their individual backgrounds was amazing. We all had experiences that were unique, so whenever we worked on a group project, we all brought very different ideas to the table, helping us to come up with more creative solutions.

Using every opportunity

The Career Centre was a very important resource to me at LBS. I went to nearly every presentation they organised with so many different companies and I took advantage of “coffee chat” meetings to narrow in on what I wanted to do after the MBA. I also used the different career coaches to help me prepare for interviews. I would go to them with one particular question for an interview I needed to focus on, such as ‘what's the biggest challenge you've had in your career?’, and work with them for 30 minutes on an answer. They also set up peer-to-peer leader sessions, which I used for interview prep – all of which helped me perfect the way I told my story in interviews to make the big career switch I made.

A student-centric experience

The most important part of the LBS experience is the other students. The diversity in terms of background and profession means you’ll find students from every industry and role that you might be interested in. I think the best way to get the most out of it all is to talk to the other students as much as possible. Ask about their experiences, what they did before LBS, what they want to do after and why. Ask for contacts if you need them, ask for advice on assignments and find as many ways as possible to be engaged in the community.