Tuesday, June 26, 2007

London Business School HSBC loan

The second most important thing in pre-MBA is finding money to finance the course. When I first met a number of admits couple of years ago they were all saying: “Don’t worry about money, get in first, and finances will be sorted automatically”. Yes, upon acceptance to Stanford you fill a questionnaire and the bank says: “You will need the following amount of money. Here you are”. But things are not like that in Europe. Loans are harder to get and scholarships are scarce (in LBS this year ~25% of the class got a scholarship – “only” or “whole” depends on what side of the fence you are). Thus you should start thinking about money before you secure the place in the next class.

Disclaimer: I will write everything I know about the HSBC loan scheme so it is no use asking me for additional guidance. This information is true to the best of my knowledge and up-to-date in June 2007. If you have any other questions, you’d better contact the program officials.

  • Maximum amount is £50,000;
  • No co-signer or guaranties required;
  • Repayment starts 6 months after the course completion;
  • No penalties for early repayment.

Myth: Insert-your-country-here nationals have particular difficulties in getting the loan and are often refused.
Truth: Only the nationals of Myanmar cannot benefit from this scheme (this has something to do with the list of money-laundering countries). People from all other countries will have no difficulties in receiving the loan once they apply wisely and provide all the necessary documents.

Drawback #1: How much can you apply for?
Take two thirds of your net income (take the past 12 months figures without bonuses* and divide by 12). This is what HSBC will consider the maximum amount you’ll be able to repay after getting a job post-MBA.
*you’d better clarify if bonuses should be included or not, because I am not sure

Based on current interest rate of 7.75% and repayment period of 84 months (7 years) for two-year MBA program HSBC gives the following figures:
Amount £20,000 - monthly repayments: £371
Amount £30,000 - monthly repayments: £557
Amount £40,000 - monthly repayments: £743
Amount £50,000 - monthly repayments: £928
Don’t ask me how they got those figures. I tried to check, but the method I was taught at university is not working here, so I will probably have to get an MBA to understand this.

Drawback #2: You cannot apply for the maximum amount
I know people whose salary allowed applying for £50,000, who applied for it and were rejected.
Actually in borderline cases the bank takes into account multiple things apart from your current salary: likelihood of getting employment in the UK once graduated and other financial commitments.
If you know a safe maximum amount to apply for – you’re welcome to write it in comments.

Drawback #3: You need to show the bank how you will pay for the rest of your course
For example, you apply for £40,000 and after estimating all costs you need another £40,000 for living. You will have to show the bank that you have secured those £40,000.

What documents you’ll need to apply for the loan:
  • A copy of passport main page (this is for identification purposes. I applied for the loan with one passport and exchanged it after that because it expired – this is fine)
  • Copies of all bank statements for the previous 3 months (take care and do not have any overdraft on your accounts)
  • Evidence of earnings for the previous 12 months (salary slips or tax documents or a letter on original letterhead from your employer)
  • Proof of current residential address
  • Proof of permanent residential address for non-UK residents if different from above
  • Other evidence for any funds you have to put towards the cost of the course
  • Filled application
  • The photocopy of everything above (to use by LBS)

Other useful things:
  • All the documents should be issued in English or officially translated.
  • There is a question in the application whether you own a property or assets and the estimated value of those. Your words will be taken for granted if you won’t use this property\assets towards the cost of the course. Otherwise you will have to provide a recent valuation.
  • It is assumed that you will provide the bank statement from which your salary incomings will be clear or explain why you cannot provide this statement.
  • By the way, I found that explanatory letters work very well. Read your complete application out loud and if there are some questions remaining spend one more piece of paper to address them.
  • If the bank decides you asked for too much – they will reject your application.
  • If you secure the loan for tuition fees you will not be able to use it towards any other purposes (e.g. living expenses).
  • LBS takes the administration fee of 1% of the loan. This fee is only charged if you agree to take the loan (because you may apply, secure the loan and then find other sources and decide not to take the loan – in this case administration fee is not charged).

Success story: I initially gathered the documents for about three months – the time was spent on budget calculation, providing evidence of other funds and official translation of the documents.
I sent the pack to school by courier in the end of April. In two days I got an e-mail with confirmation of delivery and additional question from financial aid officer. After we clarified the question she sent my application to the bank – and in less than a week there was a positive answer.
I suppose that if you apply later, say in August, it may take longer to get the answer, but all in all the decision process is rather fast.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

15 advices for public speakers

Check out this Doug Lawrence post on Guy's blog.
  1. Circulate with your audience.
  2. Command attention.
  3. Snarl.
  4. Bite your tongue.
  5. Always perform a sound check before you speak.
  6. Use your eyes all the time.
  7. Move away from center to make your point.
  8. Get quiet.
  9. “Underline” certain words with a pause or repetition.
  10. Take a risk and be vulnerable.
  11. Tee it higher.
  12. Know when it’s time to go.
  13. Use Q and A as an “encore.”
  14. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
  15. Perform for a hero.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Getting Things Done

After Al Martine’s post I’ve decided to finally read Getting Things Done by David Allen. And... thank you, Al, that’s a very useful reading for future MBAs!

What I took from the book:
  • Free you mind for creative thinking by organizing your commitments: write them down and don’t rewind them over in over in your head
  • Create lists of what you should do, whom are you waiting for reply, what you may want to do someday
  • Write actions, e.g. “call to book the table” instead of “birthday dinner”. Always ask “what’s the next action?”
  • Instantly do things that you can accomplish in less than two minutes. If it will take more time, add them to your lists
  • Review the lists regularly
  • And a lot more…
I’ve reorganized my lists in Backpack (see earlier post) and the methodology is now working for me! Two lists are my favorite: what I am waiting from someone and Projects - to get a higher perspective on what’s going on.
If interested then check out this Wikipedia entry for more details and tools to implement this methodology (I’d like to try the Lotus Notes tool next).

UPD: Patxi's impressions of the book.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Booz Allen Hamilton Sponsorship Program for Women in Europe

What a fun it is to write on some topic other than “why the scholarship committee should consider you for ZZZ scholarship?”!

I decided to post eligibility criteria and documents required for the Sponsorship application for future applicants because the only other way you can get this is write to the organizer.

To be eligible you should be female, willing to work in a European office of Booz Allen and be admitted to one of the top MBA programs (Columbia, Harvard, IESE, IMD, INSEAD, Kellogg, LBS, MIT, Stern, Oxford, Stanford, Chicago, Wharton, Tuck).

is 3 months before the start of your program: 1 June for September intake, 1 October for January intake.

Required documents
  • Current CV (1 page);
  • Copy of undergraduate university transcript;
  • The original or a notarized copy of the letter of admission to business school;
  • A letter of motivation explaining your interest in management consulting and Booz Allen Hamilton (1-2 pages);
  • Two letters of reference (1-2 pages each).

I found out that reference is needed in the beginning of May, called one of my recommenders to discover that he was flying away for a three-week holiday. Surprise-surprise :)

Moscow: Women in Leadership forum

The month of May passed by under the title of “Scholarship deadline is coming”. Thus I was writing a lot, but not blogging. Meanwhile a couple of useful posts formed in my mind – so I decided to start with a useless one instead :)

Last Thursday (31st of May) I’ve been at the Women in Leadership forum. Of all the presentations I was able to visit, I liked two most: by BCG and by SAP.
BCG uses a zero-risk approach: the firm collects a bunch of consultants and lets them tell stories. Plus the presentation was focused on the older level of the auditory apart from all other firms that were telling about opportunities for undergraduate students.
SAP guy didn’t tell me anything I hadn’t knew before, but, again, he entertained us with a bunch of vivid stories. For example, this one:

A picture worth a thousand words

I’m not sure that every woman goes like that, but… great difference in the attitude, isn’t it? The man did as he was told, but the woman took creative approach and (there were no constraints, right?) spent as much money as she could :)
Once in my child days mom asked me whom I like to go shopping with more.
“Of course, with you”, I said.
“Because when we go with dad to buy bananas, we buy bananas. And when we go with you, we can buy strawberries, pears, apples, and not even buy bananas in the end. Shopping turns into an adventure and fun”.

I have a rule to take something useful from every book that I read and every event where I go. This time was not an exception. I got this:

Pen&torch from Cisco

Most interesting and innovative thoughts come to you at any place. For instance, in the evening when you’re lying half asleep. You have to get up, turn on the light and write it down. How many thoughts have you lost due to laziness or scribbling in the dark? What a great idea to make such a pen!