2021 MBAs to see: Tabria Lenard, London Business School
“African-American and global leader with roots in culture, community and commerce.”
Hometown: Teaneck, New Jersey
Fun fact about you: My maternal grandparents and mother were each born on a different island in the Caribbean. Outside of eating, carnival is one of my favorite ways to stay close to my culture. I’ve been masquerading at carnival events in Trinidad, Barbados, Miami, Boston and of course London.
Basic studies and degree: Northeastern University, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (focus on Marketing & Finance)
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Bloomingdale’s, Omni Senior Assistant Buyer
Where did you do an internship in summer 2020? Intern, Spring 2021, Farfetch, London, UK
Where will you work after you graduate? I love to go down an unstructured path. As a result, my role after the MBA is still TBD. Employers, if you’re reading this, I’ll be available.
Teamwork and leadership roles in the business school: Co-Founder & Co-President, Black in Business Club; Co-President of the Retail and Luxury Goods Club; Committee on Inclusion and Diversity; Africa Club Mentor; North America Club Mentor
What school or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during your studies? I work with my great colleagues and my team to get Black in Business (BiB), the first club of its kind at a top business school in Europe, up and running. Black in Business has opened doors, recorded conversations and given students and professionals the opportunity to work together on a path to racial equality. The club and legacy we will leave far exceeded any expectations I had of the business school. The impact of BiB has reached the UK, France and Spain through partnerships with organizations such as the BBCG and BYP and similar clubs established in Esade and HEC Paris. Going forward, the club will be a platform for progress, a safe place for black students, and a community for all.
What success in your professional career are you most proud of? It has been working with BRAG (Black Retail Action Group) as a consultant since the summer of 2020 to rename their internship program and interview candidates in US undergraduate programs. With the aim of diversifying the fashion business, it is directly related to my aim to make retail accessible to the next generation of minority leaders and to give them early access and awareness that guided my career path.
Why did you choose this business school? It was undoubtedly because of the LBS’s focus on global diversity. As an American, I never wanted my experience or influence to be limited to the United States. Knowing that I was entering an institution where roughly 80% of the class would come from outside North America was a major selling point that no other leading business school could offer me.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? Stefano Turconi, my professor who has become a friend. Stefano connected early with the students on his Luxury Strategy course and engaged with us on LinkedIn and in person. When we met at an event before his class began, we immediately connected. Over time he was an advisor and confidante. We shared resources and uncovered opportunities for one another. Aside from our interest in luxury, Stefano understood early on the importance of bringing different speakers into his class and even went so far as to get in touch with one of the few black luxury executives before joining his class spoke.
What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Tattoo, our annual event showcasing the talent and cultural diversity within LBS. I choreographed the dance for the Africa Club and we won second place!
Looking back on your MBA experience, what would you do differently and why? I would have gone to our Diwali celebration in my first year. It is my biggest regret of the MBA! I booked a trip to Budapest with a few other classmates without realizing that the dates were on top of each other. My stream performed in the dance competition and won. I hate that I missed an opportunity to be part of such a culturally significant moment.
What’s the biggest myth about your school? The best MBA programs are in the United States. While the US is without a doubt home to some of the best MBA programs in the world, those in the know know that the LBS can compete on a global platform. I am proud of my decision to attend LBS through the top schools in the US and I wish more people would take the opportunity to really get to know the facts about non-US based programs.
What surprised you most about the business school? It was the amount of change that is being driven by the students. Black in Business is a prime example of this. I’ve also seen my colleagues do amazing things like Giri Kesavan (MBA 2021) who worked with staff and faculties to build a tech focus in less than a year. We are truly able and encouraged to make the impact we want to see.
What did you do during the application process that gave you an advantage at the school you chose? I am an MLT MBA Prep alum. Although the organization is primarily focused on US schools, it was important to my process to follow the assignments of the program, do thorough research, speak to students and alumni, and create my story.
Which MBA classmate do you admire most? One of my first friends at LBS is Kemi Badru. Kemi and I are the only two black women on our stream and we happen to be in the same study group! Aside from the support system I have in her, I admire her commitment to her culture and community. As a British Nigerian, Kemi places a high value on education and opportunities for Hackney’s youth. She is passionate about school administration and making sure teachers in Hackney have the resources and motivation to help low-income students excel academically. In addition to her education efforts in Hackney, she is the CFO of Canon Education, a Nigerian social enterprise that provides free STEM education to disadvantaged children in Lagos, Nigeria. From clubs to academics to internship opportunities, I don’t know anyone who has used EVERYTHING that LBS has to offer like Kemi. She is one of the most determined people I have ever met and I know she will make a difference anywhere.
How disruptive was switching to an online or hybrid environment after the COVID outbreak? The shift was disturbing, of course, as we’ve all found new ways to work and connect with each other. However, the LBS did a great job enabling students to attend classes in person or online for as long as possible, as well as investing in the technology and in-class support to make the transition easier. We all lack personal experiences that cannot be virtually replicated, but we are finding new ways to work together and make the most of our time left.
Who most influenced your decision to start a business while studying? My parents both have a commercial background, so I was interested in a career in business from a young age. However, my work at TJX Companies, Inc. as a sophomore in the US and again as a junior in the UK encouraged me to be specifically involved in retailing. I thought it was great that I could combine my creative and analytical skills and influence customers on their buying journey. An MBA felt like a natural next step once I reached a certain point in my career, but my experience with the company gave me the foundation that would lead me here.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? It would be the owner or CEO of a retailer / marketplace or founder of a nonprofit that offers minorities the opportunity to explore creative careers in business through global travel.
What did … do Tabria Lenard such an invaluable addition to the 2021 class?
“As co-founder of the LBS’s new Black in Business Club and a member of the school’s Inclusion and Belonging Committee, Tabria Lenard is a human dynamo! Tabria’s energy, enthusiasm, and determination were instantly and abundantly evident. She showed real courage in her willingness to be vulnerable and to be real what it is like to be a black student at the school. She made no blows and made it clear why we needed a student-run club so badly that would support and highlight the unique experiences, challenges, and opportunities of black students. She is a pleasure to deal with and the club just keeps getting stronger. “
Senior Managing Editor, Think at London Business School
Member of the Inclusion & Diversity Committee of the London Business School
DON’T MISS: THE FULL LIST OF MBAS TO VIEW IN 2021