Tech Movers and Shakers: Graeme Burns
The London Entrepreneurship Review in conversation with the personalities of the LBS MBA Class of 2016 technology and entrepreneurship community. A special tribute to the Class of 2017, the incoming Class of 2018 and all future LBS students.
Basic profile - Name, Nationality and Past Professional Background
Graeme Burns, Australian
Past professional life: Senior Associate, Digital Business & Technology Practice, Strategy& Australia.
What is your ‘LBS tech story’? Where do your interests lie?
I’ve been a consultant for over 10-years. I have always enjoyed working with others to solve problems, affect change and create impact. Coming to LBS for me was about expanding horizons as well as consolidating the fundamentals. My passion lies at the intersection of digital, design and technology. To me digital is the megatrend impacting all aspects of society and business. Design is a multifaceted interest – everything from aesthetic and experience, through to the creative process and design-thinking problem solving philosophy. Technology is the enabler of innovation - new business models, products and services, experiences, progress.
"My passion lies at the intersection of digital, design and technology."
I have always considered myself entrepreneurial, which, as a consultant, causes some to raise an eyebrow. To me it’s a mindset made up of equal parts optimism, resilience and tenacity, wrapped up in the trusted-advisor service orientation that comes from being a consultant.
At LBS I have had innumerable opportunities to explore my interests. I was fortunate enough to lead the London Entrepreneurship Review; I was Co-President of the LBS Design & Innovation Club (D/club); I helped organize the inaugural LBS Hackathon with my good friend Sheng Huang and others; I was the Director of Sponsorships for TEDxLBS 2016 and actively involved in various other aspects of LBS life where I could lend a hand.
What did you do for your summer-internship and what are you doing full-time after graduation? How did you secure these jobs?
Throughout my first year, I worked for a startup called Voyage Control - a London-based tech venture focused on the transport, logistics and smart-cities space. I worked a day or two a week throughout Terms 2 & 3, before joining the team full time as their Business Development Executive over summer. It was a great experience, working closely with the CEO/Founder and his team of 6 on everything from business model design, market validation, sales planning, product strategy and investor-pitch materials.
I found the role after I joined the LBS/Seedcamp Startup Mentor programme – something I would encourage anyone coming to LBS with an interest in the startup space to consider.
I deliberately geared my first year at LBS to immersing myself in London’s tech startup scene. That said, I always knew that my immediate path after school would be back into consulting. What I didn’t know was that I would end up switching firms. I came to LBS as a sponsored consultant from Strategy& Australia, but will be starting with BCG's Technology Practice in London after graduation.
What do you consider to be your most significant contribution to London Business School tech-community?
The London Entrepreneurship Review will forever hold a special place in my memories of London Business School. To me, this is the single most important endeavor that I have been involved with because it is a story-sharing platform for all members of the LBS community. We connect alumni, current students and applicants from all LBS degree programmes, to each other, to faculty, mentors, the wider London entrepreneurial ecosystem and beyond. We’ve consistently grown in impact and reach, amplifying our contributor’s stories to a global audience.
Whilst there have been many highlights, I have always cherished the opportunity to work with our contributors (all unpaid volunteers) to help them tell their story and shape significant pieces of thought-leadership. Their stories have inspired me and have fuelled my interest in digital media, content marketing and publishing. It’s been a privilege to serve this community.
What was the highlight of your MBA?
I really enjoyed the Hong Kong Global Business Experience (GBE). The 2nd year of the MBA is so sparse and flexible that it’s easy to lose touch with your friends and classmates. The GBE is a great was to reconnect, reflect and apply what you’ve learned to a new geography. What transpired was an amazing, eye-opening immersion into Hong Kong life, business and government.
What is the one thing you wish you knew before coming to LBS?
It’s a cliché, but in this case I think it’s true – you get out what you put in. Some people think that getting into the MBA is the hard part – once you’re in, no one fails, everyone ‘gets a network’ and 2-years later you 'get' your MBA post-nominals. This couldn’t be more inaccurate. You don't get an MBA by being in the classroom, you earn it by what you do outside the classroom. The MBA is a fantastic transformative experience, if you’re willing to put in the work and energy outside of the classroom.
How has your London Business School experience shaped or influenced your interest in the tech-sector?
This has to be the amazing community and people who I’ve met along the journey. Coming to LBS was a truly humbling experience. The people are seriously impressive – driven, motivated and curious. The conversations I’ve had and the friendships I’ve formed have taught me so much about what I don't know, given me confidence in what I do know and inspired me to remain curious, humble and engaged.
What advice would you give to the incoming class of London Business School?
Don’t wait for leadership to be bestowed upon you. Lead by example, show initiative, think ‘service-first, titles second’ and act as if you ‘owned’ part of London Business School. Check your self-worth at the door and be ready to learn from your peers. Be actively involved in everything you commit to and be sure to share the experience with others.
Have the courage to follow you own path and shun the allure of the crowd. There are so many opportunities for students to have impact at LBS – just remember that you don’t have to, and won’t be able to, do them all. Be disciplined and focus on what matters to you.
Are you staying in London after graduation? How can people get in touch with you?
Yep, I’ll be in London. Always keen to meet up and have a chat, you can find me at:
Click here to return to the full list of stories.