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Real Humans of the London Business School MBA Class of 2024

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london mba class of 2024Kayla Sledge, London Business School’s MBA Class of 2024

Age: 27
Hometown: Yorba Linda, California, USA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Northeastern University, USA – Economics and International Affairs Major
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years – Brand Strategy Consulting + Financial Services

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
To challenge myself. I had incredible senior leaders at my last firm who spoke highly of their own MBA experiences and the growth they achieved through their programs. As I reached a point where I grew comfortable in my role and established my professional foundation, I felt that it was the perfect opportunity to press pause and reevaluate how I wanted to build my career.

Why did you choose London Business School? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The diversity of the student body, as well as the humility of the graduates I spoke to, drew me to LBS. I have always found that the best way to learn and grow is through organic discussions with people of backgrounds different than my own. The average of 66 nationalities in each cohort, to me, signaled the sheer range of perspectives I would be able to learn from. Additionally, I was drawn to the school’s location in London, enabling me to work with firms during the year and thus expand my exposure to potential full-time opportunities. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
What I love about LBS is that everyone comes from such distinct backgrounds, making it difficult to identify what makes you especially different; Your story is your own, just as someone else’s unique story is their own, and neither is more interesting or important than the other. I firmly believe that my responsibility is to be sure that I expand discussions and honestly represent the facets of my identities, be it Black, Japanese, female, Californian, or New Yorker. Exposing my classmates to my story and the perspective it has bred will hopefully expand the thinking of my classmates, just as they consistently do for me.  

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
While attending preschool in Japan, I would wrestle with sumo wrestlers from the neighboring dojo during our annual summer festival. I may have always been smaller than my peers, but I would like to think that I was a formidable opponent. 

Post-MBA career interests:
Portfolio operations for a private equity firm – leading strategic growth initiatives of a private equity firm’s portfolio companies.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Talk to alumni and current students of the programs I applied to. Speaking to those who graduated both recently, as well as those that were many years away from their time with a program gave me a great idea of what the short and long-term impact of the MBA would be. Getting an MBA is a massive investment financially, as well as in time, so knowing what my potential returns would be was invaluable. These casual conversations also gave me great insight into the essence of each school and whether my personality might match that of the school’s greater community. 

What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Start my application earlier. I gave myself just a few months to take the GMAT, select a school, and finish my essays which was far more compressed, and therefore stressful, than it needed to be.

What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT. I’ve always been terrible at standardized testing, so it would have been nice to avoid that entire process. It certainly would been helpful to have started studying earlier so I could have studied in a less pressured manner.

What is your initial impression of the London Business School students/culture/community?
Diverse. As a biracial woman growing up being the most international individual in almost every environment I’ve been in, it has been shocking in the best ways to see how much I fit in here. With everyone being vastly different from one another, it truly is impossible to feel isolated or alone at LBS.

What is one thing you have learned about London Business School that has surprised you?
The warmth of every single person I’ve interacted with. Given that the alumni I spoke to before applying were all lovely, I find myself surprised by how that good-natured behavior permeates throughout the school’s culture. My program is comprised of high-achieving people who have already accomplished so much in their careers, and yet everyone is so genuine, kind and open-minded. I appreciate how the school has beautifully curated a safe environment for thoughts, feelings, and perspectives to be shared openly.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Starting over. Having lived in New York City for the past five years, I had created a life for myself that I deeply loved. The thought of leaving that behind and creating a new network both personally and professionally from scratch has admittedly been daunting. Luckily, nearly every single one of my classmates has shared that they feel similarly, making it an exciting collective experience in rebuilding.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Pressure testing my comfort level. The best thing about being at LBS is the diversity of my cohort and thus the diversity of experiences I can have during my time here. I’m excited to start learning from the world-class faculty and from my classmates to expand my worldview and life opportunities beyond what I have ever imagined for myself.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.