David Jones – MBA2020
We caught up with MBA2020 David Jones. David has played a key role in the Public Speaking and Debating Club and he has also launched a course, on campus, for students to try out stand-up comedy – leading to a performance at a comedy showcase.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to London Business School?
I grew up on the south coast of England, in the seaside-town of Bournemouth. I always liked being by the sea and won a scholarship to the University of Wales in Aberystwyth.
After university I spent some time working for the Liberal Democrats and then joined KPMG as an auditor. Working as an auditor was incredibly demoralising and I was desperate to escape, so I moved to Deloitte to be a part of their strategy consulting team. I’ve always been quite competitive when it comes to my hobbies and whilst at Deloitte I won the British accountancy award for Young Finance Professional of the Year, and represented the UK in the final of the financial-modelling world championships. My next move was to BT to work in their transformation team.
I wanted a chance to explore my career options, see what I enjoyed working on and where I want to be in five years. When LBS offered me a scholarship, I jumped at the chance.
Outside of LBS I’ve volunteered for several charities, including 180DC and SeeBeyondBorders. This helped me work out that I want to have a career that makes a difference – not just to a company’s bottom line.
What led you to become involved in the School’s Public Speaking and Debating Club?
I first got involved with debating whilst at university, where I won the Welsh National Championships, reached the finals of the British National Championships, attended the World and European championships and represented the UK on their tour of the US. Since then I have been heavily involved with coaching public speaking and debate both through volunteering at some of London’s poorest schools and teaching CEOs how to debate.
Debating has given me a huge leg-up on the corporate ladder, allowing me to get onto and succeed on some of the most competitive graduate programs. Throughout my time at KPMG and Deloitte I don’t think I ever met another person who graduated from the University of Aberystwyth and I’m certain that it was debating that gave me the confidence, the presentation skills and the fast-analytical ability that allowed me to get onto and succeed on their programmes.
When I arrived at LBS, I noticed that the school already had a debating club, but it was not particularly active and I thought this would be a good way to spread my passion for debate to the student body. This year we’ve delivered 250 hours of free tutorials, sent teams to represent LBS at some of the UK’s biggest competitions and held several public debates spoken in by key industry figures. We are now in the process of setting up a debating competition at LBS, which will feature guest speakers, a gala dinner and an opportunity to win £1000 and Hamilton tickets.
Tell us a about your interest and experiences in stand-up comedy.
I’ve always been interested in stand-up. I watched TV specials from a young age and loved going to comedy clubs when I moved to London. I’d always wanted to give it a go, but I was terrified. Even though I’d had a lot of experience speaking in front of crowds, there was something about that expectation to be funny that petrified me. I thought people were innately funny and stand-up was only for people who were already funny. I became one of those annoying people that thought “I could do better than that” but never had the courage to do so.
One Christmas, my wife bought us both tickets to a beginner’s stand-up comedy class and it was amazing. I think she had got a bit tired of my backseat commentary as we watched shows on Netflix and this was the push I needed. We covered performance skills, joke-writing and how to extract humor from experiences in your life. But the real thing it did was give me a community of people who were all about to perform for the first time and encouraged me to give it a go. If I am honest about it, my first time was terrible but I loved it. I’ve never felt a high like it and I wanted to have that rush again.
Tell us about the comedy course you set up for the students.
When I did the comedy course, I learnt that everyone has the ability to be funny, everyone has a unique perspective on life which makes you see things from an angle you’ve never seen them from before and that all it takes is a little push to get you over that edge.
I approached the Student Association with the idea that I wanted to run a course similar to the one I had attended all those years ago, and help other LBS students to experience the same thrill that I got when I stepped offstage for the first time. They loved the idea and the small projects fund provided a grant to get this course off the ground.
I created a course with a good friend and stand-up comedian, Cerys Bradley. Before the first showcase we gave every student a dress rehearsal opportunity. They performed in front of the group and Cerys’ feedback was so insightful.
After the end of the first showcase we took the opportunity to learn from the feedback. This time we have booked a proper comedy club in Bethnal Green, the Backyard Comedy Club (read more about it here). The venue is bigger and better than our previous venue and will be a huge success.
Which comedians have influenced you?
My favourite comics at the moment are Nish Kumar, Daniel Kitson and Katherine Ryan.
Finally, tell us a good joke.
This morning I was staring at my naked body in the mirror and thought "I'm gonna get kicked out of this Ikea pretty soon".