“Art and business have a lot to offer each other,” says Tara Park. After a masters in contemporary art and a job at Christie’s auction house in London, she realised that “in the art world, there were people who knew a lot about art but not a lot of people who knew about business. And the people who did know about business were often dismissed by the art side.” It was a problem Tara set her mind on to fix. Business school beckoned.
A friend of hers had an MBA from London Business School (LBS) and loved the programme. “He was really grateful for how the qualification had progressed his career,” she says. “And when I worked at Christie’s I realised how much I valued an international community. I couldn’t get that at an American school. LBS was really the only choice.”
With an arts background, Tara knew she would be in a minority at LBS but she soon discovered that her uniqueness was a valuable asset: she won the London Business School Luxury and Retail Scholarship. “It was a validation that I was the right kind of candidate for the programme,” she says. “The scholarship convinced me that taking an MBA wouldn’t be a mistake. The salaries in the art world don’t compare to those of most MBA applicants, so it had a big impact on my peace of mind. The School says it likes diversity on the website but I wondered if it was really true. I want to let everybody know that it is!” In her study group alone there are six nationalities: “A financier from Mexico, a consultant from Spain, an M&A lawyer from Australia, an engineer from South Africa and an accountant from India,” she says. “And me, an art dealer from Canada.”
Discovering and exploring new areas of knowledge in her classes has opened up a new world to Tara. “I’ve always read The Economist,” she says, “but it wasn’t until now that I was able to understand all the articles.” Despite her new-found knowledge, learning isn’t at the top of her list of LBS highlights. Number one? Touch rugby. “We play in Regent’s Park so that’s amazing, and I’ve made friends from all over the world. Every year the team takes part in the MBA touch rugby games in the US, with Stanford, Harvard and other Ivy League schools. When people apply to LBS they don’t realise just how much goes on outside the classroom.”
As president of the Art Connection Club, it’s Tara’s job, she says, to “bring art and finance together in a more explicit way. This year we’re planning exciting events, including a conference focusing on art as an asset class.” She’s also a member of the Luxury and Retail Club. “It’s got to be one of the best clubs on campus in terms of the quality of speakers they attract and the events they put on,” she says.
After she graduates, Tara is destined for consulting, heading for a role at BCG Consulting, the firm she interned at. She credits the Rugby Club and careers team with giving her the skills she needed to make the leap. “Most people don’t know this, but the men and women’s rugby clubs are more than just a sport’s team and put on some of the best career and mentoring events at school. Everyone is super generous with their time, always happy to talk over an application or practice a case. The careers team were also really helpful. They let me know what to expect and ask for when it comes to jobs. They definitely opened doors. LBS has shown me opportunities I didn’t know existed.”
Tara Park was a recipient of the MBA LBS Luxury & Retail Scholarship (LBS Fund)