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Niklas Vater

Niklas Vater had embraced studying and working across a number of different industries, cultures and countries before coming to London Business School. With a strong passion for driving positive impact in diversity and inclusion, Niklas has brought his experience of launching ESCaPe Berlin, a campus movement founded in Paris to increase awareness and visibility of the LGBT+ community and provide support, to the Out In Business Club, and hopes to continue pushing the movement forward in future.

I was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany for the first 17 years of my life. For my undergraduate degree, I studied Management and Business Administration at ESCP Business School. This allowed me to study in three different countries over three years; I started by moving to London in 2017, followed by Paris and then Berlin.

A lot of my personal background lies in diversity and inclusion, and I’m really passionate about driving positive impact in every setting and community that I find myself in. I joined ESCP’s ESCaPe club in Paris during my second year of studying, and really enjoyed my time there. I thought it was a shame that I hadn’t heard of the club during my first year in London, and I wanted it to be a part of my third year in Berlin. There were no resources for the club on the Berlin campus, so I thought, why not try to bring the club here? We decided on three pillars which created the identity of the club: the first to build a community and network , creating a safe space where people could come and connect with like-minded people; the second related to the German job market and career opportunities, where we are right now and what you can do as a queer individual in your daily job; the final pillar was related to social and individual justice, and we employed therapists that people could anonymously contact for help.

For me, diversity and inclusion is a very important topic. It’s one of my top priorities; diversity and inclusion is important at every rung of the ladder, and I think we should use our privilege to help make the changes needed to get visibility and acceptance at every rung. I think it’s a great time to make change and give justice to the underrepresented communities that have been discriminated against for so long.

It’s great to see so many universities making changes, and I think London Business School is at the forefront of that. It’s a movement that’s growing and becoming a lot more visible. I can see a lot of change that has happened between when I started my undergrad and right now, in terms of acceptance, visibility and open conversations. I’m really excited to see where it goes; the important thing is to keep it as a priority, not just for the LGBTQ+ community, but by making it visible for the general public. I think London Business School is doing a stellar job of that because the Out in Business club is so visible through events, and so many people are aware of it; I don’t think you’d find a single person at LBS who hasn’t heard of it. The next step will be to change how people are thinking and behaving, and we can continue from there on.

During my undergraduate degree, as well as launching ESCaPe Berlin, I completed a number of internships. I started by exploring the luxury industry at Gucci in Italy, before interning at a Parisian startup. I then took a gap year to fuel my professional profile a bit more and discover what I might be interested in. I completed a marketing internship at the L’Oreal group in Paris, before doing a consulting internship at Bain & Company in Milan.

Because I’d had so many different experiences, I was looking for a masters programme that would have an equal breadth of subjects. I’m interested in a lot of things; my main interest is learning, and that’s not limited to any specific area. As a bit of a generalist, and having had so many snapshots of different industries and different companies, I thought it would be valuable to do a programme that offered me a range of general expertise.

One of the things I therefore liked about the Masters in Management (MiM) at London Business School was that it offered a lot of finance modules, as well as marketing and data modules, so there wasn’t a clear niche. That really spoke to me. I liked the combination of having the chance to define what I really liked during the core models, before either continuing to be very general or pursuing a key interest during the electives.

There were two further reasons that I wanted to come to London Business School. First, I’d seen the importance of community, clubs and connectivity at the School on the website; I could see that it was a priority. For me, it wasn’t just important to be at a prestigious school, but to have a strong network and a lot of focus on community and activities. The amount of opportunities you get, from both a social and community aspect, is really incredible. The second reason was that there were so many subjects in the core modules that I hadn’t seen in my undergraduate degree, such as data and business analytics and strategy, so it felt more relevant and innovative to me. When I did my research, I felt the School was really on top of their game.

I wanted to be in London because the city has a very special place in my heart. Moving here at the age of 17 was probably one of the most important experiences of my life so far. Being able to move to such a vibrant city, where my horizon was widened so much, so quickly, where I came to terms with my identity and sexuality and being, and where I was greeted by people that were like me or accepted me, was so unique. Plus, when you’re doing a masters at a very critical time in your life, usually in your early twenties, I think the best thing you can do is dive into a big city and get to know yourself. Being in the city pushes you to constantly evolve, to see different things through different perspectives, and to embrace diversity.

It was great to find out I was going to receive the Out in Business Early Careers Scholarship. I’d felt a bit uncomfortable applying for it because I’m a white, cis-gendered male, and I know there are a lot of people less privileged than I am. I mentioned that in the application; I said I would be very honoured to receive it as I felt I had the drive and relevant experience, and I’d love to represent my community, but please prioritise anyone who needs this more than me. So I was really happy to receive it as I felt I hadn’t taken anyone else’s place, and being recognised for the passion I have and everything I want to contribute felt really good. The School has sent out a good and necessary message by launching the scholarship, and I think it’s a great opportunity and initiative.

The scholarship has already impacted me as it gave me even more motivation to join the Out in Business Club. I’m currently in the marketing team, mostly taking care of social media. Receiving the scholarship made me feel more secure in raising my voice in the club; as a MiM student you’re engaging with a lot of senior people, and it could feel that your voice doesn’t matter as much. So the scholarship gave me the strength to contribute more. It helped me spread the word to other people; when I tell people about my scholarship from the club, they say, ‘that’s so great, I didn’t even know they had one, tell me more about it’. It’s really boosted awareness, and it feels good to get the conversation going.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed all the core modules on data, as that’s a topic I haven’t studied before. It’s always scary to do something new, but I developed a big passion for it because it felt so relevant and exciting, and now I’ve chosen to do data electives. I’ve just started one in data mining and I can tell it’s going to be a great course. My favourite interaction so far was during the Brand Management course with Professor Simona Botti, who was brilliant. The class engagement was absolutely incredible and the community was very nice, so it was a stellar course. We’ve just started LondonLAB and I’m really excited about that. I’m also the VP for treks in the Retail and Luxury Club and we organised a five-day trip to Paris to get to know the retail and luxury companies that operate in the city. It was stressful and really fun to organise, and probably one of my favourite experiences so far.

I like that we have a very diverse cohort at the School. There’s always room for improvement, and I think we can all improve together; the student body and the academic team. I’ve noticed that the administration really value the student’s opinions; whenever you raise an issue or have an idea, the administration will spend time thinking about it and implementing it.

Next up, I’m really looking forward to spending a week travelling in Austin. I’m also really excited for Tattoo, which is a party attended by most of the clubs, all representing what they stand for. It’s a celebration of diversity and I think that’s really relevant for what the School stands for.

For the next step in my career, my plan A is to go into the luxury industry, and hopefully do the graduate programme at LVMH. My plan B is to go into general consulting. When people think about London Business School, they mostly think about consulting and finance, but there’s support available for the luxury and retail sectors, too. For example, I’m currently doing the Walpole programme for future luxury leaders. It involves six masterclasses with CEOs from luxury brands, so you get great insights and connections, which is really valuable. You also get a mentor over the course of three months, to help you gain knowledge and expertise about how to break into the industry and develop within it.

After I’ve completed the MiM, I’m excited to continue to share what I’ve learned here in my next experience. I’m looking forward to taking the more mature and developed person that I become, thanks to the MiM programme and London Business School and all of the amazing people behind it, and sharing that with the next people I meet. I’m looking forward to embracing the London Business School brand and spreading the word.