Friday, April 30, 2010

What I don’t like about Cambridge – Part I

It’s easy to praise the Cambridge MBA and to share great memories. After all it was a remarkable year spent with amazing people. However, I’m sure it’s equally useful for prospective students to hear about the things I didn’t like about it or those things that could be improved. That’s what I’ll try to do during the next few posts.

My first note regards my current status as an alumnus. While a student, I had access to many resources, many interesting people and many facilities. As an alumnus, a get close to zero from Cambridge. As I mentioned in a previous post, we don’t even get an email account that clearly identifies us as Cambridge alumni. Unlike most top B-Schools we don’t get an email account like or something equivalent. Instead we get a very basic and poor account with the domain, which let’s be honest, few people know what it stands for. This is a very simple thing that has not been solved yet.

More importantly, there is no connection amongst the alumni community. Most top B-Schools have bill boards or some kind of forum where alumni can share thoughts with other alumni, share employment opportunities and simply find business partners. Cambridge does not have any of that, which I find almost shocking. A great deal of going through business school has to do with the powerful network you’ll belong to once you’re done with your MBA. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in Cambridge. All there is at the moment is a newsletter, a few pub nights available for the London alumni and a few series of speakers, usually also in London.

Even job opportunities are rarely shared with alumni, except for the odd job that the careers team decided to send out, which happens once or twice a year.
I guess this reflects the young age of the Cambridge MBA. However, ii believe the creation of a strong and well connected network is paramount for any MBA.

Instead, what we have seen so far in the past few years is an increase in numbers of each yearly intake of students and not so much emphasis on the alumni network.


Jenny Dean said...

Hello stranger! I would like to provide a follow up to your alumni comments, as a fellow MBA 2007/08 and as an active member on the alumni network council. Your observation was right in that with the business school is only 20 years old and with the class sizes being a lot smaller compared to other business schools (a particular selling point for our class from what I remember everyone saying), by definition the alumni network will be small in comparison. Add to this the fact that the amazing international diversity of the MBA students means that this low number is scattered around the world, it is harder to get significant alumni activity everywhere. It therefore tends to occur more in places like London where there are more alumni to turn up to events and to volunteer as ambassadors to encourage alumni to take part in their busy lives.

Having said that, your network is much wider than MBAs alone. One of the particular selling points is that the business school is in fact a great business school in the heart of Cambridge University, which itself has a massive global and incredibly influential alumni network to which MBA alumni also belong by default. This has over 175 international groups including one in your city. (

There is great news on the database front as well. Although the current alumni website, does in fact include a searchable database of all CJBS alumni, it is not very well used, with most people not updating their contact information. However, in order to address this and increase the visibility and value to the network, we are on the verge of launching a new web platform called the Common Room (, which will include all alumni members, as well as current students and staff. This has a great deal more functionality including all those on your blog’s wish list: There is a searchable database; you can see who is on line; contact people; join special interest and regional networking groups; post discussions and blogs including advertise jobs and events on the notice board and calendar and much much more.

Finally, the activity of the alumni network is also heavily reliant on the alumni themselves initiating and driving forward activity, and we are increasing the amount of support to enable willing groups of people to set up more regional alumni groups and special interest groups. We would more than welcome you as a volunteer to be a regional ambassador for your city where I know there are at least a handful of alumni. I’m more than happy to help with advice in that respect, being involved in setting up a regional and special interest group myself.

So, keep your eyes open for the communication about the web launch in the next few weeks and we look forward to connecting with you on the new site!

Cambridge MBA Blogger said...

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for your comments. It's good to know the "Common Room" is about to be launched and I truly hope it brings more dynamism to the alumni community. JBS can look at many nice examples from other schools to leverage on its alumni basis. I hope there's an email account coming along soon too!

MBA Blogger