FindMBA Article Latests Articles Wed, 15 Aug 2018 22:24:49 +0200 <![CDATA[MBA School Choice: Wharton Vs. Booth]]> Should you choose University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School or University of Chicago Booth School of Business to get your MBA? 

Wharton and Booth are two of the world’s best business schools, on many fronts. Both programs consistently rank in the top seven worldwide, the quality of education and cost of attendance are comparable. Both schools are located in a major city with vast business resources and cultural attractions.  

Historically, the big difference between them has been perception. Admissions consultants say the Wharton brand has more lustre: yield rates, applicant volume, and average starting salary are all relatively higher than they are at Booth. 

“In recent years, the trifecta of HBS, GSB and Wharton (H/S/W) is a very common round one focus for the elite candidates,” says Stacy Blackman of Stacy Blackman Consulting. “A few years ago, the elite candidates were only applying to HBS and GSB. Wharton has found its way into the trifecta.” 

But fit is everything when it comes to choosing a business school and both the culture and career destinations of Wharton and Booth students vary, sometimes widely. 

Wharton vs Booth: MBA admissions requirements, selectivity and class profiles

Both of these highly respected business schools require the same standard application elements: CV, undergraduate transcript, short-answer questions, and a GMAT or GRE score. The more subjective admissions requirements vary, however. 

Booth’s application gives candidates more freedom to be themselves, whereas Wharton takes a more structured approach. For example, Booth offers more freedom of expression in its two required essays, with no maximum wordcount and one question asking about personal interests and passions. 

Wharton invites candidates to take part in group discussions, instead of the more traditional one-on-one interviews at Booth. 

Chicago Booth is located in Chicago's Hyde Park NeighborhoodBooth takes a personal approach to its application process, to ensure its candidates are committed. “Show up [be committed and engage with the school], make yourself known. Showing up means a lot to Booth, and they track the frequency in their system,” says a former Booth admissions officer at Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Wharton is more selective than Booth, despite having a much larger applicant pool (6,692 vs. 4,674 this year) and class size (863 vs. 562). Wharton’s acceptance rate is 19.2 percent, compared with Booth’s 20.8 percent. An offer from Wharton appears to be more compelling to admits, with a yield of 67.2 percent whereas Chicago’s is 60 percent.

Tellingly, almost every applicant who is accepted to both will accept Wharton, according to the data provided by Stacy Blackman Consulting. 

Admits at both schools are impressive and similar. They each have an average 3.6 GPA and an average 730 GMAT. However, the minimum GMAT score is lower at Wharton (530) than at Booth (620).

The upside of the relative admit flexibility by Booth (compared to Wharton) is that the program tends to attract a more collaborative student class.

“If quality is defined as a collaborative culture, Booth likely wins. If quality is defined as prestige of a student’s past work experience, Wharton likely wins,” says Esther Magna, principal at Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Wharton tends to attract a more competitive applicant pool, admissions consultants say, so the MBA experience will reflect this intensity. 

“Wharton is a hyper-social environment. From day one, there is constant activity and a never-ending social calendar that extroverts will love, introverts with strong social skills will navigate successfully, and introverts without social graces would find stifling,” says a former Wharton admissions officer. “The group interview is definitely a primer for the energy prospective students will step into on campus from day one.” 

Wharton vs. Booth: MBA program comparison

Both schools have rigorous curriculums that are known to be quant-heavy, but there is plenty of latitude in learning choices. At Wharton, MBA students take six required courses in subjects such as leadership and statistics. They choose from one of 19 majors, ranging from business analytics to multinational management. 

At Booth, MBA students have even greater flexibility in choosing their curriculum. There is only one required course, on leadership. The rest of the program consists of foundation courses and electives. 

Some 82 percent of students and alumni surveyed by GMAT Club, the largest portion, said Booth’s curriculum and professors were its core strengths. In comparison, Wharton’s top strength was its brand, as cited by 93 percent of students who were surveyed.  

Wharton vs. Booth: MBA career outcomes

Both schools offer excellent career outcomes — an identical 97.1 percent of the MBA cohorts report job offers shortly after graduation, according to each school’s most recent MBA career report. Wharton grads receive somewhat higher starting annual salaries ($130,000) than their counterparts from Booth ($125,000). 

The Wharton School is right in the heart of the University of Pennsylvania, in PhiladelphiaThere is a perception that the pair are “finance schools”. That impression is supported by the US News 2019 rankings by specialty, as well as the schools’ placements: MBAs from both Wharton and Booth have landed jobs in firms like Citigroup, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase, among other financial services firms. 

But both schools have diversified away from the sector in recent years.

They are big hubs for the Big Three management consulting firms, for example, and many students also go to technology companies like Amazon and Google.

Both schools are aiming to capture an identity that supports innovation and entrepreneurship. For Wharton, this is reflected in the offer of a full semester in San Francisco, a startup hotspot. 

“Wharton’s dean, Geoffrey Garrett is really big on the idea of innovation and thinks that Wharton will have to adapt to the disappearance of many current industries and ideas. That idea aligns with sending more and more students through the management consulting funnel, where they can gain broad expertise in several fields without having their skill-sets become irrelevant,” says a former Wharton admissions team member. 

Booth has the New Venture Challenge, a year-long program that carries MBA students through every step of creating a successful startup. Success stories like Grubhub and Braintree have come out of that program.

For applicants considering these schools, another significant point of difference is the size and distribution of alumni from each school. 

“Wharton offers its graduates a network consisting of 98,000 graduates based in 153 countries, whereas Chicago Booth has 52,000 alumni in 120 countries,” says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions firm. “Alumni interest and support can be a significant benefit for current students and recent grads when seeking to advance their careers.”

The bottom line: in comparing these two revered business schools, most MBA applicants simply cannot make a bad choice, Min says.  

Image credits:

  • Chicago Booth: Karla Kaulfuss / CC BY 2.0
  • Wharton School: WestCoastivieS  / Public Domain 
]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Should you get an Online or On-Campus MBA?]]> An Online MBA program is now a more viable alternative to an on-campus course. Improvements in learning technology, greater access to career services and alumni networks have made the digital degree more appealing. In some ways, the online format could be better than the campus course, as students enjoy more flexibility in when, where and how they learn. 

But there are pros and cons to each type of program, which suit different kinds of applicants. How do you choose which format is right for you? 

Online MBA vs. On-Campus MBA: Flexibility

One big advantage for Online MBAs is that students can earn a highly revered degree from virtually anywhere in the world. “The program is identical to our campus program, so students can experience the same rigor and faculty as a campus student without having to live in Pittsburgh,” for example, says Cindy McCauley, executive director of the Online Hybrid MBA at the Tepper School of Business in the US. 

Classes include a weekly cohort meeting via video conferencing software that can be accessed globally. Participants also come together online twice per week in the evening for 75 minutes. And offline components (video lectures and assignments) can be completed whenever they fit into a student’s busy schedule.

“We have had students relocate abroad during the program and they could continue taking classes just as they had before — making it a great option for students who need a great deal of flexibility,” McCauley says. 

Many Online MBA programs also now offer the same level of career support as their campus counterparts. At Tepper, this includes on-campus recruiting and job postings from top employers, support from the same experienced team of career coaches, as well as access to workshops and other preparation needed for a successful career search.

Technology closing the gap between Online MBAs and their in-class counterparts

What’s more, the technology that enables participants to learn from peers and professors has become much more interactive — one of the biggest initial concerns about Online MBA programs. IE Business School in Madrid, for example, uses artificial intelligence, simulations in real time, big data analysis, interactive robots, emotion recognition systems, and the presence of experts using holograms to teach MBA students from a distance. 

[Related Article: Inside Online MBA Programs]

Yet Phillip Kim, faculty director of the Blended Learning MBA at the US’s Babson College, says that given current technologies, it is difficult to expect that an online class experience will match a face-to-face one. “The online delivery method is a unique form of student experience,” he says. “It is more suitable for students who desire flexibility, whereas the in-person experience is best suited for students who prefer this kind of learning style. 

“The quality of the interaction depends on the quality and versatility of the instructional technology.” 

Online MBA vs. On-Campus MBA: Social aspects, networking opportunities

Could Online MBAs lack some of the social aspects of campus courses, and the networking opportunities that are vital to the MBA experience?

The Blended Learning MBA includes online and face-to-face elements, Kim says, so “students develop meaningful relationships with their cohort in ways that are different than the full-time student experience”. 

He adds: “Despite spending most of their time online and at a distance, our students form tight-knit relationships because they move together in a lock-step cohort through the program. 

“They complete their work in learning groups and learn to build relationships, even if they originally come from different backgrounds. They look forward to seeing each when they come to campus and continue these relationships after they graduate.”

Many business schools are moving in this direction, offering opportunities for online students to come to campus to bond with their classmates. 

At the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, also in the US, Online MBA students typically enrol in two three-credit courses per term. Each week usually includes 10-12 hours of investment in each course, with students participating in a 60-90 minute synchronous live class session led by a faculty member. But they are also required to complete two weeklong in-residence sessions in Bloomington, Indiana, giving students networking and social opportunities, as well as comfort with peers and faculty members. 

[See all AACAB-accredited Online MBA programs]

Plus, students can participate in optional consulting immersion courses that take place throughout the US, or week-long experiential learning courses around the world — including in India, Thailand, Greece and Cuba.

“Online courses offer students substantial interaction opportunities, from participating in case discussions during live sessions, to completing integrative group assignments for classes, and connecting with highly-available faculty members through Zoom or Skype,” says Adam Herman, a director of admissions and student services at Kelley. 

Ultimately, the online format is better for those who need more flexibility in their studies — providing the added benefit of not sacrificing a salary to get a campus MBA. But increasingly, the distinction between online and offline learning is being blurred.

]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Data Science in MBA Programs: Rosy Job Prospects]]> Data science has gone from the preserve of geeky engineers to one of the most preeminent and sought-after proficiencies in a business manager’s toolbox. One recent study from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the GMAT, said that demand for business school graduates in data analytics roles had outstripped demand for them to work in consulting and investment banking functions — their traditional forte. 

Clever data analysis promises to fundamentally change the way companies make decisions. The ever-growing amount of data means there is a rising need for managers who can pull good information out of the mess, and turn insight into action. 

Examples include marketeers or salespeople combing through customer data to create more targeted ads and pitches, but beyond that, data science is transforming the work of businesses in all industries, from finance and banking to retail and transportation. 

Data science MBAs on the rise

As a result of the widespread embrace of data science, business analytics courses are cropping up on MBA programs at a rapid rate, and schools are launching standalone master’s programs too. Of 209 business schools surveyed recently by Kaplan Test Prep, an education services company, 72 percent said they offered courses in the subject. 

INSEAD Business School of France and Singapore last year overhauled its MBA syllabus to include focuses on data science and fintech, for example. 

And already this year, a number of US-based business schools — including the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, the University of San Diego and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business — have launched MBA concentrations in Business Analytics or specialized degrees in the field.

MBA students will need a thorough education in the art of data science, given the growing prevalence and importance of it in the corporate world. This includes the economics of analytics, its strategic ramifications and the more technical content, such as how to use algorithms, says Cornell Johnson assistant professor Shawn Mankad. 

He teaches two courses for MBAs that are data-science focused: one on databases and SQL systems; the other on machine learning — a form of artificial intelligence in which computer systems are trained to “learn” by spotting patterns in massive data sets. 

“There is a strong need in business for leaders who understand all dimensions of analytics in an enterprise environment,” Mankad says. 

Learning to work with data scientists

In addition to lectures and classroom discussions, Cornell MBA students analyze several datasets on their own throughout a semester to gain hands-on experience of the full analytics process: from querying, cleaning, exploring and visualizing data, to exploring several machine learning algorithms and selecting the best one to predict a business outcome. 

“These exercises reveal insights about how to work with statisticians and data scientists,” says Mankad, which is now essential for effective management.  

At UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, finance and strategy lecturer Gregory La Blanc says he does not expect most MBAs to become true data scientists. “But we do expect them to know enough to be able to build and manage teams of data scientists, to design business strategies around data, and design organizations that make all of their decisions using data and experimentation,” he says. 

He adds: “The ideal MBA serves as the interface between the technical and the non-technical members of the team.”

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Haas students can take a Business Analytics MBA concentration and choose from five advanced analytics courses — including one focused on using big data to make better decisions, and another on descriptive and predictive data mining. 

Demand appears to be high on the student side, with the MBAs “realizing the importance of working with data”, La Blanc says: “Their demand has helped faculty to make the case for more analytics education.” 

Career prospects for MBAs with data science skills

Data suggest career prospects are rosy for those with data analytics skills. The consultancy firm McKinsey & Company forecasted that by this year, the US alone would face a shortfall of 1.5 million managers with the know-how to use data analysis to make effective decisions. 

Additional research by the jobs website found that job posts for data science roles surged by 65 per cent over the past three years or so. Salaries are high, too, with typical jobs paying about $119,000, according to the recruitment firm Robert Half Technology. 

Industries that are data-rich, such as technology, definitely seem to value any skill that enhances the ability to work fluently with data, says Cornell’s Mankad. 

“Anecdotally, I know several of my students have gone on to internships and/or full-time PM [product management] positions that are data-science-oriented,” he says, adding: “Even if they are not going to use data science in their current or next position, most would predict that they will have to grapple with this content at some point in their careers.” 

La Blanc goes as far as to say that some companies won’t even talk to MBAs who don’t know the basics of data science: 

“These skills are undoubtedly an advantage on the job market.” 

]]> Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Career Opportunities for Luxury Management MBAs]]> The rise in demand for luxury goods, from wines and spirits to watches and jewelry, has boosted demand for MBA talent and spurred business schools to create management programs focused on luxury markets.   

Specialist MBA and master’s degrees focused on fashion and luxury are proliferating. Last year, NYU Stern School of Business launched a Fashion & Luxury MBA, while other highly-ranked schools offering similar courses include HEC Paris and EMLYON of France and London Business School in the UK. 

Kim Corfman, academic director of Stern’s program, says the timing was right. “The global market for luxury is large and growing again, so the business opportunities are significant,” she says. 

“Companies in the luxury sector increasingly appreciate the competitive advantage of adding business-educated talent to their ranks. This means there is more of a market for MBA graduates.” 

In the first semester, students master the business basics — analytics, finance, accounting, strategy and more. Later, NYU’s specialist MBA students take sector-specific courses, such as retail operations, supply chain management, or consumer behavior. 

Students then take electives and apply what they have learned via consulting projects with luxury companies. These projects are often arranged by members of Stern’s Fashion & Luxury Council, which includes past and present executives at Yoox Net a Porter, Tommy Hilfiger and Tiffany. 

The importance of work experience in the luxury business

More schools offer consulting projects and internships that can be crucial for getting hired by luxury brands. For example, in SDA Bocconi’s Luxury Business Management MBA concentration, which is offered in partnership with Gucci, LVMH, and Valentino, students complete an immersion project with a luxury brand. 

While increasing numbers of these brands understand the value of MBAs, the biggest and ongoing challenge — at least for the new NYU Stern degree — is to convince more companies of the benefits of hiring MBA students in a sector that has traditionally preferred industry experience to degrees.

“Consulting projects are extremely important for students’ careers as they allow them to experience different company cultures, but more importantly they allow them to have luxury work experience on their CV,” adds Sonja Prokopec, marketing professor and coordinator for the luxury MBA track at ESSEC Business School in France. “Many students are switching from another sector, and the consulting projects constitute the first work experience in the luxury industry.” 

Nearly half of ESSEC’s luxury management MBAs changed sector and 55 percent obtained a salary increase. Most frequently, the MBAs take positions such as brand or retail manager, at big and small firms, including LVMH, Richemont, Kering, Chanel and Ermenegildo Zegna. 

But the luxury industry, including fashion, does not visit business school campuses to recruit large numbers of students like traditional MBA employers, such as banks and consultancy firms. “Management has become an important part of the global luxury industry, but it is not something that is mainstream among MBAs,” says Prokopec. 

The proportion of an MBA cohort who are hired by luxury brands is typically low. At Stern, only three percent of the Class of 2017 were hired by luxury retail companies, for example. 

An MBA can be an advantage in the luxury field

M. Alison Melville, however, views the fact that MBAs are not in vogue in luxury as an advantage. She has spent her entire career in the retail industry and noticed that few peers had MBAs. “I identified this as a way I could differentiate myself within the industry, while honing my business acumen to boot,” she says.  

Melville graduated in 2013 from the general (not luxury) MBA program at Stern in New York City, a fashion hub that is home to top brands including Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. The two-year degree, priced today at $113,166 each year, has paid dividends, as Melville has secured a string of management positions since graduation. 

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She currently works as general manager for footwear and accessories at online retailer Everlane in San Francisco’s Bay Area. 

She says: “My MBA prepared me for the next chapter of my career in two major ways. First, by providing me the opportunity to meaningfully expand my professional network. Being at Stern, in the heart of NYC’s fashion industry, enabled me to meet and develop relationships that would not have been possible otherwise.  

“Second, my MBA education was an exercise in trying on a lot of different ‘hats’, shifting quickly from working on marketing to finance to operations. The ability to draw adeptly from all of these lenses in rapid-fire sequence deeply enriches your work in the retail industry, which can be quite fast-paced and favors flexible thinkers.” 

Arguably the biggest challenge for luxury MBA programs is the continual evolution of the sector. “The content must be reviewed almost constantly, with changes being made every few months,” says Alessandro Brun, director of a luxury boot camp for MBAs introduced at MIP Politecnico di Milano in Italy a few years ago.  

One example is the growing awareness of sustainability in the luxury industry, with companies now investing large sums of money to ensure their brands and suppliers are compliant. 

Another topic that will gain an increasing focus on luxury MBAs is technology. “Technology is allowing the luxury sector to tackle some of its biggest problems, such as long lead times between development and bringing a product to market,” says Brun.

“We present our students with case studies, testimonials and examples of technologies to ensure that they are always up to date with advances in this area,” he adds. 

Brun goes on to say that luxury management will continue to rise at business schools, despite their challenges, as luxury strategies are applied to companies launching non-luxury goods, such as Apple or Nespresso. 

“The luxury sector is home to passion for beauty, detail, superior service, creativity, even genius, and these courses really instill into participants the ability to make a business excellent.” 

See all MBA programs in Luxury Brand Management



  • Rolex / hypo.physe (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Louis Vuitton storefront / David Adam Kess (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • Gucci, Roma / Achim Hepp (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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<![CDATA[Post-MBA Career Opportunities in Australia]]> Australia’s mixture of relaxed visa laws, strong job prospects and links to the fast-growing ASEAN economies is making it a hit with international MBA students. The sun-soaked country is perceived to be the fourth most welcoming for foreign business students behind the US, Canada and UK, according to a study by researchers CarringtonCrisp. 

The study’s author Andrew Crisp noted that many factors influence students’ decisions of where to study — “including cost, ease of access to study visas, the sense of adventure, and an attractive lifestyle”. The latter is, of course, one of Australia’s fortes. Melbourne, for instance, has consistently been rated as one of the world’s most liveable cities. 

The University of Sydney Business School recently launched a full-time MBA program that is open to internationals, just as foreign students begin to warm to the country known for its relaxed visa regime. “There are no barriers to studying here on a full-time basis as far as we are aware,” says the school’s MBA director, professor Guy Ford.

Most internationals are eligible for a student visa in Australia, provided they have sufficient funds to cover their tuition, travel and living costs, and are proficient in the English language. On graduation, they can apply for a 485 visa, which enables them to stay in Australia for 18 months to gain work experience. 

However, for international MBA applicants note that in order to be eligible for the 485 visa — also known as the “Temporary Graduate Visa — they must have studied in Australia for at least 16 months. So that means for international applicants hoping to secure one of these visas, doing a quick, one-year MBA will not be enough.

Alternatively‚ if they find an employer to sponsor them, MBA grads also can apply for a 442 visa, which enables them to work for up to two years, and which provides a pathway to apply for permanent residency.  

Australia: ‘a strong job market’ for international MBAs

“Australia has a strong job market for skilled professionals and we are well hooked into that through our industry connections, supported by our internship programs and placement capability,” says Ford. “The latest figures we have on international students wanting placements in their country of study sits at around 50 percent.

“Sydney itself is the site of the local operations of many multinational firms and we find that students who have worked in these firms in their home countries prior to their studies often spend time post-graduation in these local entities.” 

The latest data from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the business school entrance test the GMAT, show that demand for MBA talent is strongest in Asia Pacific, where 90 percent of employers plan to make MBA hires in 2018, more than the 81 percent of employers globally who will hire MBAs this year. 

MBA internships also are most prevalent in Asia Pacific, where 65 percent of employers plan to offer them in 2018. In addition, 36 percent offer signing bonuses — an average of $3,500. 

Many students flock to Australian business schools as a springboard to careers in the dynamic and fast-growing Asian economies, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Australia’s close time zone to these fast-growing nations is also attractive. of time zones as well as land is attractive. 

Romana Garma, director of learning and teaching at Victoria University in Melbourne, says: “Most students come to Australia to study. Some students gain employment and others stay because they become attached to the Australian lifestyle. There are other students who are appreciative of their education, return home and want to share what they have learnt and contribute to their own society. As our MBA is also offered in Malaysia, we also have a large cohort of alumni who are working in Southeast Asia.” 

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Australia, a resource-rich nation, is perhaps best known for its mining and metals industries, but Garma says: “There is strong growth in professional services. Health and education are also important. With more and more startups, graduates of MBAs are creating their own futures and using their new-found expertise and networks to do that.” 

John Shields, deputy dean and head of school at the University of Sydney Business School, says the sectors employing the most of his students are hospitality, real estate, engineering, IT, infrastructure development, logistics, agribusiness and financial services. Approximately 30 percent of the international master’s graduates at the school remain in Australia to work. 

“Sydney and Melbourne are sophisticated, post-industrial cities,” he adds. “Australia’s Eastern capitals have strong service sector economies, with solid underlying demand for university-educated knowledge-workers and globally-experienced managers.”

Indeed, since the country is so large and diverse, opportunities can be found in many different parts of the economy. According to data from the Financial Times’ Global MBA ranking, for example, a strong contingent of MBAs from AGSM’s UNSW Business School is currently working in management consultancies, with others in the IT / telecoms industry as well as in media / marketing roles. Likewise, a good chunk of MBA graduates from Melbourne Business School go into consultancy roles. 

The diversity of placements aside, Shields says that unlike the US, the Australian master’s (including MBA) market is not oversupplied. “Here, the MBA is seen as a premium qualification, not a ‘volume’ early career credential. Opportunities for both MBAs and specialist post-experience master’s graduates are solid. Australian-based employers are becoming more attuned to the value of hiring them, too.”

So there are plenty of reasons to pursue a post-MBA career in Australia. 

]]> Wed, 25 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Landing a Job in the UK as an International MBA Candidate]]> Visa curbs have made it more of a pain for international students to get hired in the UK after graduation, but with proactive planning MBAs can set themselves above the pack. 

The UK was second only to the US as the most popular study destination among 1,211 business school students from 74 countries surveyed this year by education research group Carrington Crisp. More than half saw the UK as a potential study destination, up from 44 percent last year — often because of the chance to work there. 

But visa restrictions on foreign students who want to work in the UK on graduation have damaged the country’s reputation. The government revoked the post-study work visa in 2012, ending the practice of non-EU students spending two years in the UK to find work at the end of their studies. 

Also, uncertainties about how Brexit will affect the post-MBA visa and job situation remain, making students and hiring companies a bit more cautious. 

All that has made it harder to hire foreign graduates, with employers having to spend thousands of pounds on visas, the supply of which is capped. A recent survey by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance (MBACSEA), an association of more than 200 mostly US business schools, found that two-thirds of them said they saw fewer employment opportunities for their foreign graduates. 

But UK business schools say that plenty of British blue chip firms remain open to hiring foreign MBA students; they just need to work a little harder to secure jobs. 

Take for instance Alison Lane, who works at HSBC in London as an analyst and earned an MBA at Imperial College Business School in 2017.

The American considered applying to other MBA programs in Europe but decided that London would put her in a better position to network and secure job interviews. “I feel very at home in the UK because I love the culture and the buzz of the city,” she says. “I find London to be very sophisticated, international and open. The UK is economically strong and easy to navigate as an English-speaking country, and the travel opportunities are incredible.” 

There were challenges to getting hired, however, and she had to do extra leg work to secure employer visa sponsorship. “I interviewed with five investment banks and it took me 10 months to secure sponsored employment, from the time of my first interview to my start date at HSBC,” says Lane. 

“Some of the opportunities in the market were contract roles and therefore didn’t offer visa sponsorship, so I had to dig deep into my network and work with head-hunters to find the right role.”

The careers coaching on offer at Imperial was invaluable in her job hunt. “The careers team arranged events that led directly to a long interview process at a global investment bank,” she says. A guest speaker at Imperial connected Lane with a recruiter at a firm she later interviewed at. “I never would have gotten this opportunity without the careers team,” she says. 

Using an MBA to go from L’Oréal to McKinsey

Sakina Mehenni left her job as a marketing manager at L'Oréal in Montreal to begin an MBA at University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in 2017. She wanted to add more international experience to her CV and gain access to world-renowned universities in the UK. Now she has secured a position at the consultancy firm McKinsey & Company in London as an associate, which she will begin in September.

“The UK is very diverse and therefore globally relevant,” she says. “I also felt that all nationalities were ‘at home’ here, reducing the cultural shell-shock of studying internationally, but ultimately providing a global perspective from one location.” 

Visas are less of an issue for her because, as a Canadian and thus part of the UK’s Commonwealth, she can secure an under 30s work visa for two years. In addition, Oxford is among a group of UK universities taking part in a pilot government scheme enabling students to extend their visa by six months to get a job. 

“Most companies see that while your schooling is in the UK, your experience is in your home country — and therefore international companies often see you as an excellent asset for their office in your home country,” Mehenni says. 

Her advice for making a career switch of any kind is to network. “Make sure to get to know the recruiters and people working in the office you want to transition to,” she says, adding that it’s important to know why you want to live and work in a different country. 

Lane advises prospective business school students to “never give up”. “If you want to move to the UK for business school, make sure you hit the ground running in your career search,” she adds. “I started networking and exploring the job market as soon as I arrived, and it was worth it, given how long the process took.” 

]]> Thu, 19 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: NYU Vs. Columbia]]> New York City is a commercial dynamo, one of the major centers of the global economy and historically a leader in media, finance and fashion. Such advantages are not lost on NYU Stern and Columbia Business School, the two top MBA providers in the Big Apple. 

“NYC’s urban business setting is definitely an advantage for many career paths, including finance,” says Stacy Blackman, an admissions consultant in Los Angeles. “At Columbia and NYU, accessibility to recruiters and world-class industry experts and professors is unparalleled.” 

The Financial Times Global MBA ranking 2018 put Columbia at number seven in the world, with NYU in 23rd place. Bloomberg’s Businessweek list placed Columbia in ninth place in the US, and NYU at number 18. Applicants almost always prioritize reputation in selecting between Columbia and NYU, according to admissions consultants, and brand is often signalled by relative ranking across the major media publications.

Aside from rankings, MBA applicants should turn to other criteria to make their choice, such as: student culture, admissions processes offers and career outcomes. 

NYU vs. Columbia: MBA program comparison

Both NYU and Columbia run high-quality MBA courses. 

Columbia offers greater flexibility of study, with full-time students joining in either August (a 20-month program) or January (a breezier 16 month curriculum). NYU Stern students start in the fall and study for two years. “The option to start in January instead of August can be a major attraction to students who are coming from family businesses or are sponsored by their firms and don’t have a need to complete a summer internship,” says Chioma Isiadinso, an admissions consultant in New York City. 

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Another differentiating factor is class size. Columbia’s MBA is considerably larger at 753 total students, compared with NYU’s 399-strong cohort. Both schools divide students up into clusters. “Given Columbia’s large entering class size, it offers a broader network compared to smaller programs like NYU,” says Isiadinso. Columbia boasts a global network of 39,000 full-time MBA alumni alone. 

Columbia Business SchoolBoth schools rely on case studies to teach their MBA courses, along with guest speakers — a benefit of their New York City base. Columbia commonly hosts C-Suite speakers comparable to Harvard Business School, admissions consultants say, including the CEO of Anheuser Busch International and representatives from McKinsey & Company. 

A student’s choice between NYU and Columbia also can be driven by their fit with particular programs. NYU’s new one-year Tech MBA and Fashion & Luxury MBA programs are drawing interest from specialized candidates. Media, tech and retail are seen to be stronger at NYU than Columbia, say admissions consultants. 

[Related Article: An MBA in New York City: If You Can Make It There, You Can Make it Anywhere]

NYU’s full-time MBA offers a whopping 20 specializations—such as Banking, FinTech, and Product Management—from which students can select up to three. On the other hand, while Columbia’s MBA doesn’t have any official specializations, it does offer a range of electives.

NYU vs. Columbia: admissions process comparison

For the schools’ full-time MBA programs, the 2018 admission rate to NYU is 21 percent, while Columbia’s is 16 percent, so getting into either of these two schools is very competitive. 

Columbia is on a rolling admissions basis, except for its Early Decision option where applicants have to apply by a certain date to be considered for admission to the MBA. NYU has four deadlines (on the 15th of October, November, January and March). 

Both schools rely on essays, resumes and reference letters in evaluating prospective students. In addition to the essay requirement at NYU, the school asks applicants to pick six images that best describe who they are. Applicants at NYU also have the option to choose a personal reference in addition to a professional reference and the school describes this as “EQ recommendations”.

Interviews at both schools are on an invitation-only basis. The interviews are held both on campus or in the country where the applicant resides. The main difference is that Columbia relies on alumni to interview their applicants and the interviews are blind — the interviewer only has the applicant’s resume and not the application. NYU is different in that interviewers are admissions staff and they have read the entire application. 

According to Blackman, NYU typically shows more flexibility in admitting candidates. The school is more willing than Columbia to accept a candidate whose employer is not well-known or whose GMAT score is not high, the consultant says. One potential upside of this relative flexibility by NYU is that the program tends to “attract a down-to-earth, humble student class”. 

“Any sign of competitiveness or arrogance was a turn off,” says a former NYU admissions officer who works at Stacy Blackman Consulting. “We also were sensitive to those ‘leaders’ that were pushy or always needing to lead.”

NYU Stern MBA student Vikram Gulati says: “I really identify with the student population, and I am proud to say that we are probably the most collaborative among the top MBA programs”

Gulati adds that, “from what I hear from my friends in other schools, Stern is way above and beyond everyone else in terms of sheer niceness of students — everyone is super helpful and willing to put in tons of time, often with absolutely no reciprocity or even the expectation of anything”. 

Columbia did not put forward a spokesperson for this article. 

NYU vs. Columbia: MBA career outcomes comparison 

Both NYU and Columbia have been trying to move away from being perceived as “finance schools”, consultants claim. 

NYU can be an attractive choice for students with varied interests that go beyond finance. According to NYU’s 2016 employment report, the school’s top three recruiters were Deloitte Consulting (22), Citi (14) and Amazon (13). The school also had plenty of opportunities in luxury and consumer goods, “so students with a broader career interest base would find a great home at Stern”, says Isiadinso. 

NYU - SternColumbia has slightly higher placement into consulting and finance than NYU, but candidates also enter the media and technology industries in large numbers, and manufacturing, to a lesser extent. In fact, according to the school’s Employment Report, the three top employers of 2017 graduates were consulting firms (McKinsey — 55, the Boston Consulting Group — 36, and Bain & Company — 27). 

The bottom line: both NYU and Columbia are top schools whose students enjoy unparalleled advantage, being based in the Big Apple. 


  • Columbia Business School by Michael Filtz
  • NYU-Stern by Memorial Student Center Texas A&M University / CC BY 2.0
]]> Mon, 16 Jul 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[5 Questions for Gabriela Rodrigues, MBA Student from ESMT Berlin]]> Can you tell me a little about your background?

I’m from São Paolo, Brazil, and worked five years in a management consultancy company; it was my first and only professional experience. I worked in very different segments there, from health to security to education. My bachelor degree was in public policy management, which was quite different. And then I decided to come to Berlin to pursue my MBA basically because I felt my learning curve was going down in consultancy; at some point, I know I’d seen a lot, and wanted to get to the next point of my career. And one way to do it was an MBA. It was always one of my biggest personal dreams, to study abroad, so I decided to go for it. ESMT Berlin was a good choice for me, especially for in terms of money for value. 

How did you get around to the idea of paying your MBA tuition with bitcoin? 

When I got accepted, I had to pay the first installment to confirm my enrollment. And so I started to look for my options: first I went to my bank in Brazil and asked them to provide me with a total for how much it would cost me to make the transfer. That would’ve been really too expensive because of the taxes, interest rates, and the fees. The real and euro were also so different, so I had to be really clever about how would I proceed with this. My second choice was using Transferwise, but I couldn’t manage that because there’s a limit to how much you can transfer per month, and I wouldn’t be able to make it in two payments. 

Then I remembered a friend of mine who really knew about bitcoin. I was checking the website of ESMT, and saw there that they accepted bitcoin, and I thought, ‘oh that might be something.’ The friend helped me out with making the calculation, to see if it’d be expensive, how much it would cost, and it turned out cheaper with bitcoin. I saved about seven percent to eight percent—the fee was really low, it was just the fee to buy bitcoin. So I bought the bitcoins, and sent ESMT the payment the same day—it was super fast. I’d never used bitcoin before, and the experience was really interesting for me. Actually there was a little remaining value there—I bought a little more than I had to—and now it’s increased since I bought. So I got to make some profit as well. 

How did you consider risk when paying with bitcoin?

When I bought it, the value was increasing a lot. I was a little afraid of losing timing, but the whole process was so fast that it prevented me from really incurring any risk in value fluctuation. It was a little scary in that sense, but I figured if I could do it all in the same day, it wouldn’t be a crazy change in value. Honestly I did it because I had a friend who really knew bitcoin well; if I was by myself I probably would’ve given up and paid the bank in the end.

I think a few other classmates paid with bitcoin as well, but it’s not that common. Some other students they were like, ‘oh that’s super interesting,’ while I think others saw it but thought it would be too hard to open account and navigate the system. I think that’s the main deterrent—that it’s too complicated, and maybe too risky.

How did you finance your MBA?

I’m using a Prodigy loan to pay most of the tuition. But I also had a scholarship from ESMT that covers almost 30 percent of tuition—and for my personal expenses and first installment, around 4,000 euros, I used my own savings. I was saving specifically for this adventure.

I went with Prodigy because they had a good rate; my bank wasn’t be able to get me a favorable one. Another thing concerning me was exchange rates—I was worried that it would increase, and that would kill me. So I decided to take the Prodigy loan in euros, thinking I’d be here after graduation. If I took a loan in Brazil, I’d have to pay there, and it would be a lot messier. 

What would your financial planning advice be for MBA students? 

Don’t take all of your costs in a loan, because you have to pay it after all. I don’t think I’m going to find a magical job right after graduation—maybe that’s the misperception, that you graduate, you automatically have a job that pays you a lot of money, so you don’t have to worry about it. That’s something you have to be financially prepared for. Have a plan B, because it’s not as magical as it sounds. In my case I also have some savings in Brazil that I didn’t use, for emergencies. That’s important as well. Try to make a good mix of your savings and loans, and be prepared with a plan B. You might not find your dream job right away. 

In regards to bitcoin, I think the landscape has changed; I wouldn’t recommend today, because it’s going through a bad patch right now, the value is decreasing, so maybe the risk today is higher. I’d say if you don’t have bitcoins today, don’t do it. Or just try to learn more about it. Don’t go ahead like I did, because I did—I think people should read more about it before buying it. That would be my advice with bitcoins. 

Photo: CC0/Money Decentralized Digital Anonymous Bitcoin

]]> Tue, 19 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA School Choice: INSEAD vs. LBS]]> When it comes to choosing the very best business school in Europe, the choice may boil down to London Business School or INSEAD. Although there are plenty of prestigious MBA programs on the continent, the pairs are among the most revered. The Financial Times Global MBA Rankings 2018 placed INSEAD second in the world behind Stanford, with LBS in fourth. 

In the 2017 Bloomberg Businessweek International MBA Ranking, INSEAD leads the pack, with LBS just behind.

While LBS and INSEAD share similarities – not least superb teaching faculty, excellent career outcomes and facilities – there are key differences between them that prospective students must consider in order to make an informed choice. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA program comparison

Both MBA programs are known for their quality and rigor. 

LBS offers greater flexibility, with exit points at 15, 18 and 21 months. This enables students to complete summer internships, which some employers say are vital to being hired full-time, particularly investment banks. Students also have the option to complete an international exchange, take part in a consultancy project or join the entrepreneurship summer school. 

London Business SchoolSerhat Pakyuz is an LBS alumnus from the MBA 2017 class who works at Amazon. He says: “The 21-month timeline offered so much that I didn’t think twice about staying for the long haul. 

“I sampled three career options throughout my MBA – taking on internships at a strategy consulting firm and a fintech startup, before taking on a full-time role [at Amazon].

“I also visited over 20 countries with my classmates throughout the course of the MBA.” 

All LBS students are required to take core modules covering the basics of business – such as finance, marketing and strategy – and then specialize by taking up to 12 electives from a choice of 70. They include social enterprise, negotiation and data mining. 

LBS features a combination of case discussions, lectures and group work, whereas INSEAD is renowned for its case studies –considered as second to only Harvard Business School.

At INSEAD, students also take core courses and can specialize from a choice of 75 different electives in subjects such as technology and operations management, political science and organizational behavior. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA program cost

The advantage for INSEAD students is the shorter program length – a breezy but intense 10 months. INSEAD also gives MBAs the option to do a two-month internship if they choose a January start. 

“You’re paying tuition for a shorter time at INSEAD, so the cost is less,” says Caroline Diarte Edwards, director of Fortuna Admissions and former INSEAD director of MBA admissions and financial aid. 

“You’re also incurring living costs and foregoing your salary for less time,” she says. 

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As of 2018, LBS quotes a fee of £78,500 (equivalent to €89,856) for tuition and materials, while INSEAD charges €84,000. 

Prospective MBAs should consider currency fluctuations, too. According to Emma Bond, former senior manager of MBA admissions at LBS, one of the reasons LBS saw an increase in applications was because the pound dropped after the Brexit referendum, and therefore the relative cost to going to LBS dropped for people coming from the EU or earning US dollars. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA admissions requirements and class profiles

Both schools are exceedingly difficult to get into, with a rigorous and competitive selection process. 

The big difference is in class size. INSEAD has a significantly larger class – 1039 MBA students to LBS’s 431. “If an applicant’s priority is building the largest possible network, then INSEAD could be the choice,” says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions consultancy firm. “Or if the student prefers a more intimate group of peers, then LBS might be the way to go.”

Both cohorts have an average age of 29, suggesting that they are mid-career professionals who have amassed significant experience that contributes to peer learning. Average work experience for both classes is about five years. 

Average GMAT scores are high – 709 at INSEAD and 708 at LBS, suggesting a high-quality group of students. 

The two cohorts are also very diverse, with 94 nationalities represented at INSEAD and 63 at LBS. The programs are male-dominated, with 33 percent women at INSEAD; 39 percent at LBS. 

INSEAD vs. LBS: Location and internationality 

INSEAD’s larger and more internationally-diverse student body may be attractive for students who want international mobility. The school was founded in 1957 in Fontainebleau, a beautiful and small town outside of Paris that fosters a close-knit community. However, INSEAD’s global footprint is large. 

It has a Singapore campus in one of the hubs for business in Southeast Asia—where it offers a full-time MBA as well—so it’s ideal for learning more about working and doing business in Asia and building a network. There’s an Abu Dhabi campus as well. 

Laura Subias is an INSEAD MBA candidate from the class of 2018. She says she chose the school for “the opportunity to learn in a completely diverse background, which I was sure would enrich even more the academic experience”. 

INSEAD has approximately 55,000 alumni in 170 countries whereas LBS has about 40,000 alumni in 150 countries. INSEAD has 48 alumni chapters in 50 countries while LBS has 114 clubs in 55 countries. 

LBS is based in the heart of London, one of the world’s top and most bustling cities. The school is known for its close connections to the City and its financial services firms. 

Pakyuz says: “The London location was key. Being 15 minutes from the largest organizations in the world was especially appealing during recruiting. Coffee chats, office visits, and presentations from senior executives were all made easier as a result of the amazing location.” 

LBS also has a Dubai campus, where it runs an Executive MBA program.

INSEAD vs. LBS: MBA career outcomes 

Both schools offer excellent employment outcomes for MBA graduates. According to  2017 employment data, 93 percent of LBS students receive full-time job offers within three months of graduating, compared to 90 percent at INSEAD.

For mean annual salaries, the two schools are nearly identical: $104,800 at INSEAD and $105,600 at LBS.

The same four companies were the top employers at both schools: McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group and Amazon. 

The most popular industries for MBA grads hire extensively at both schools. For the class of 2017, consulting firms claimed 41 percent of LBS students and 33 percent of INSEAD students. Technology firms recruit 20 percent of LBS students and 19 percent of INSEAD students. 

The biggest discrepancy was with financial companies, which hired 26 percent of LBS students and 10 percent of INSEAD students. “Finance-oriented applicants might find LBS to be a better choice in terms of future employment in that industry,” says Min at the MBA Exchange. 

Another relatively significant difference is in the geographic spread of new grads. At LBS, 50 percent remain in the UK; 16 percent go elsewhere in Europe; 10 percent go to Asia; 9 percent to US/Canada; 7 percent to Latin America; and 4 percent to Africa/Middle East. 

By comparison, INSEAD grads have a broader footprint: 38 percent remain in Western Europe; 26 percent choose Asia/Pacific; 12 percent opt for Northern, Central, Eastern or Southern Europe; 10 percent choose Africa/Middle East; 9 percent North America; and 7 percent Latin America. 

“This wider distribution relates in part to INSEAD having campuses in three different regions of the world and requirement that its MBA admits speak a second language,” Min says. 

The bottom line is that both schools offer outstanding employment outcomes, despite key differences in program structure, cost and study body. 

]]> Mon, 18 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Programs in Spain: Study in a Sun-Soaked Entrepreneur’s Paradise]]> Spain was hit hard by the global financial crisis of 2008, but the country’s business schools are on a roll, with applications holding steady, job prospects buoyant and an entrepreneurial scene that is thriving. IESE Business School in sun-drenched Barcelona says there has been an increase in quality applications over the past several years — the school added two new sections to its MBA cohort, in 2012 and 2016. 

The big change for Spanish schools has been the type of MBA candidate flocking to the country since the economic downturn. “It is undeniable that the proportion of students entering financial services has dropped from pre-crisis levels,” says IESE MBA admissions director Pascal Michels.

“In [recent] years, a little more than a quarter of our graduates have entered consulting post-graduation, followed by roughly 20 percent going into finance and another 20 percent into technology,” he says. “The importance of the MBA as a springboard for a career change remains strong too, with more than 80 percent of our graduates changing either sector, function or geography each year.” 

MadridA strong jobs market 

Despite Spain’s high unemployment rate of 16 percent as of February 2018, IESE has a 92 percent employment rate for its full-time MBA candidates. Each year roughly a quarter of graduates pursue employment in Spain on graduation. 

Michels says: “The MBA niche within the job-market is very small and obeys its own rules and market forces. The relatively high percentage of graduates who choose to pursue options in Spain, is an illustration of how MBAs can continue to thrive in high unemployment environments.” 

He adds however, that high levels of unemployment put pressure on wages and that overall MBA pay tends to be higher in full-employment economies like Germany. The median base salary for IESE’s MBAs who worked in Spain was $65,000 in 2017, the latest year for which data are available, lower than the $79,000 salary for graduates globally overall.  

A prosperous entrepreneurial scene

But one upside has been the growth of Spain’s entrepreneurial scene, arguably the most influential and prosperous employment alternative in the nation. After the economic crisis, the Spanish government has been dedicated to helping the entrepreneurial ecosystem flourish more rapidly. Laws such as the Entrepreneurs Act were passed, which opened up a wide range of visas for highly-qualified foreign entrepreneurs, investors and other professionals. 

“For the last few years, Spain’s startup ecosystem has been growing fast and many business incubators and accelerators have emerged,” says Tino Elgner, senior associate director of admissions at IE Business School in Madrid. 

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Founded by entrepreneurs in 1973, at IE 1500 students are trained in entrepreneurial management every year. MBAs are given the chance to flesh out their startup ideas through mandatory core courses such as “Entrepreneurial Mindset” and “Entrepreneurial Venturing”. 

BarcelonaBut most of the magic happens in Area 31: IE’s hub for entrepreneurial activity. It offers students resources, materials and training that can help them become successful business founders. In fact, 25 percent of alumni go on to create their own company over the course of their professional career. 

But, according to Elgner, the greater shift is the motivation of entrepreneurs; they want to have a positive impact on society or the environment. “This notion might have a lot do with why more and more young professionals are fascinated by the idea of starting up their own business or bringing change to existing companies through the entrepreneurial mindset,” Elgner says. 

Learning the local lingo

In addition to Spain’s startup credentials, prospective business school students find the opportunity to learn the local lingo alluring. Knowing Spanish is essential for getting a job in the country and, with 400 million native speakers, it is the second most-used language globally behind Chinese, according to the British Council. So it will serve an MBA candidate well in many different nations, particularly emerging markets such as Latin America.  

Back in Barcelona, those studying for the full-time MBA at ESADE Business School learn entirely in English, but those without a basic command of the language are required to take a Spanish course. “It gives them the opportunity to learn basic Spanish, providing them with the tools to communicate in everyday life situations,” says Luis Vives, associate dean of the ESADE Full-Time MBA. 

“For those students who would like to improve or brush up on their language skills, we offer the opportunity to take advanced and voluntary Spanish courses.

“Last but not least, those students with an advanced or native level of Spanish, or those who would like to learn more languages, have the opportunity to take French or German language courses.” 

Despite a flourishing jobs market and entrepreneurial ecosystem, one question for Spain is whether a disruptive political climate will impact business education in the country. Business schools previously feared that the Catalan independence vote could have led to a fall in applications, with some prospective MBA students concerned about tensions on the streets in Barcelona. It is too early to tell what the impact will be, if any, but many candidates may decide Spain’s merits far outweigh its drawbacks. 

]]> Mon, 11 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Experiential Learning: Better than the MBA Case Study?]]> Alleviating the woes of ill children, sufferers of brain cancer and dodgy hips is not traditionally the preserve of MBA students. But for IMD Business School’s cohort in Lausanne, this is a staple of their program. 

They participated in the pan-school Debiopharm-Inartis challenge in April, to improve the lives of healthcare patients in Switzerland. The winners each year receive more than $25,000 to turn their novel idea into a startup. But for the IMD students, it was part of the curriculum. “You can’t learn innovation in a classroom,” says IMD professor Cyril Bouquet. 

During an “innovation week”, the MBAs took part in a dizzying mix of lectures and visits to healthcare facilities, to create a product concept, business plan and prototype it. Sandeep Sharma, an MBA candidate at IMD, who is Indian, developed with his team a prototype to address the mental agony children face being vaccinated. 

He says: “Stress caused by injections (needles) is common among toddlers and young teens. We used technology to gamify the experience by developing an augmented reality app to make the visit to the doctor more engaging and less stressful.” 

The experience helped him comprehend the potential of applying “design thinking” — an approach to solving problems that focuses on patients’ needs — to business. “I realized how many ideas we can generate by simply collaborating with each other,” says Sharma. “And, how these ideas can be developed into powerful solutions that can make a big impact on lives.” 

IMD MBA student Veronika Raszler, whose team developed a hip protection solution for the elderly, adds that the exercise strengthened her entrepreneurial muscles. “Being surrounded by brilliant startups, gathering feedback about our idea from industry experts, and seeing how tangibly it shaped the final outcome taught me life-long lessons on how diverse approaches can elevate an idea,” she says. 

The benefits of ‘learning-by-doing’ versus case studies

Business education has traditionally been imparted through case studies, in which students solve a challenge a company has faced, but theoretically in a classroom. The concept was pioneered by Harvard Business School about a century ago. Now, MBA students are increasingly working with organizations to help solve real problems, as they occur. 

At MIT’s Sloan School of Management in the US, for example, students take part in “Action Learning”, where the classroom is extended to the real world. Through 15 “Action Learning Labs”, students undertake a semester-long project in a business setting wherein theories are applied to hands-on practice. 

Working in teams, they assess a business problem, sometimes visiting the organization overseas, and come up with a structured approach to solving it. In one Lab, MIT Sloan MBAs worked with students from five top business schools in China, while students have also gone to India and Israel in other Labs, and have worked with companies including LinkedIn, eBay and Amazon. 

“The real world is not sanitized and structured into a neat case format,” says Urmi Samadar, director of the Action Learning Program at MIT Sloan.

“The purpose of management education is to prepare students for leadership roles that span team, disciplines, industries and regions; Action Learning is a very effective medium to do that,” she says. 

Like traditional MBA internships, the projects are a good way for students to test career options and make valuable professional connections — sometimes leading to full-time job offers from companies students have consulted. “Many students express that they had chosen to take a particular Action Learning Lab because of a career pivot they were considering or to have their first experience in an international business setting,” says Samadar. 

She adds: “Sometimes students are newly awakened to a career path in a different industry or setting that they hadn’t previously considered.” 

The difference between experiential learning and internships is that learning-by-doing sees students, usually, consult, rather than work for, companies. 

A taste of the real world

As the experiences are often cross-disciplinary, learning-by-doing is effective because it replicates better the workplace, with managers increasingly working across teams and geographies, according to Sadia Cuthbert, head of business development and projects at the UK’s Cambridge Judge Business School. 

The school runs a range of such learning experiences, including the part-time, six-week long Cambridge Venture Project (CVP), with students working as a team of consultants in a local business. The four-week Global Consulting Project (GCP) sees the MBAs solve strategy problems facing organizations, which they also consult. 

For these projects, the teams “are deliberately cross-disciplinary, with students from differing backgrounds all collaborating on projects which are often in a sector they haven’t worked in before,” says Cuthbert. 

“Many GCPs require students to work with offices around the world, and students gain experience working across geographies, just as they would when in full-time, permanent roles.” 

Business schools do not see experiential learning replacing case studies. Rather, they see it becoming an increasingly important addition to a business education. MBAs, then, should expect to pioneer more innovative healthcare solutions and solve the strategic problems faced by global corporations as part of their course. 

]]> Wed, 06 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Programs in the Entertainment Field: Lights! Camera! Netflix?]]> In a February 2016 editorial for Financial Times, Jonathan Moules noted that the rapidly changing face of the post-recession business world had blurred the differences between the technology and entertainment industries to the point that distinctions seemed more or less irrelevant. The primary beneficiary of this change, Moules contended, would be the graduates of MBA programs who would be increasingly relied upon to help these companies manage their explosive growth.

Indeed, in recent years, MBAs have been snapped up, both by emerging entertainment companies focusing on streaming services such as Hulu, as well as traditional media firms like CBS, Warner Bros., and NBCUniversal. These MBAs need to grapple with an industry in the midst of a sea change, with rapid developments taking place in nearly all aspects of the sector.

Digital firms like Netflix are increasingly hiring MBAsThe changes are taking place almost daily, says Sam Craig, Director of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at New York University's Stern School of Business.

“Even if it’s the same title, something we offered in 2000 is totally and completely different [now],” Craig says. “In terms of the program itself, we started off focusing on the entertainment industry, and in the late 90s, the entertainment industry was pretty much siloed. Movie studios were movie studios, and TV networks were TV networks. But that has changed considerably, so there’s this huge move toward convergence, and what television is today is really quite different from what it was in the year 2000.”

“It’s not broadcast. It’s not cable. It’s streaming, it’s Netflix, it’s broadcast, it’s cable: it’s all of these things rolled into one.”

A variety of options

For those looking for a MBA program with an entertainment specialization, there are a number of options. Beyond the Stern program, there’s also UCLA Anderson’s MBA specialization in Entertainment and Media, with courses in Entertainment Law, Negotiation Analysis, and Advertising and Marketing Communications, among others.

Taking an even tighter focus, Berklee College of Music and South New Hampshire University offer a joint MBA in the Music Business, a program that focuses exclusively on finance and marketing within a constantly evolving music industry. Similarly, Henley Business School features an MBA for Music and Creative Industries program, with courses focusing on innovation, design, and intellectual property.

For Barry van Zyl, a graduate of the Henley program and musician who has spent 18 years as the drummer for legendary South African singer-songwriter Johnny Clegg, the experience has transformed the way he thinks about the music industry.

“I have experienced a ‘rewiring’ in terms of expertise, capabilities and most importantly self-knowledge or personal development,” van Zyl explains. “On starting the program I was focused only on a toolkit to exploit opportunities in the music sector. The critical transition I have experienced is that I am no longer tied to the music business through the comfort of networks but am excited to explore creative entrepreneurship in any industry.”

A foot in the door

For Evelyn Zhang, a West Point graduate who spent five years as a technology officer in the United States Army, the transition to the world of entertainment media wasn’t clear. “I went into Stern, and I was like, ‘I want to be in media,’ and after Stern I thought, ‘Okay, now I know how media is organized and how films and TV studios – how those business relationships look,’” Zhang explains.

Zhang says that the MBA gave her a foundation for understanding the media industry, which allowed her to jump right into the field.

After internships at ABC and Showtime, Zhang started a two-year rotational program at Viacom following the MBA. Having already spent six months in product management, followed by six months in data analytics, Zhang is currently working in content distribution. With opportunities to network with and learn from industry veterans, Zhang says she is positioned to put into practice the skills and knowledge she acquired at Stern.

It’s who you know

Many of the MBA programs in entertainment put a focus on making contacts within the industry.

That’s particularly true of the MBA Program in Arts, Media and Entertainment Management at the Schulich School of Business at Toronto’s York University.

“[Graduates] usually get jobs in the entertainment industry directly, and they move [within the industry], says Joyce Zemans, the program’s director. “Some of it is upward and some of it is lateral, but most of our students end up working in the entertainment industry.”

Zemans says that, in several of the MBA courses, students are teamed up with senior executives in the industry. Through these relationships, students can explore how their classroom learning plays out in the real world.

That direct contact remains an essential component of Stern’s program, as well. The challenge for MBA programs, Craig says, is maintaining a balance between focusing on the time-honored fundamentals while staying flexible enough to address trends as they emerge. The Stern program accomplishes this partly through their use of adjunct professors who are also industry tastemakers, such as Buzzfeed president Greg Coleman.

The entertainment industry is changing, and the future is going to come through a new generation of MBAs who both understand the pace of change and can anticipate the direction.

“If you look at a lot of the legacy businesses, they are run by senior executives who grew up in a different environment, and they are aware that it’s changing, but they don’t always get it,” Craig explains.

“So that’s one of the reasons they hire bright, young MBAs who are more digital savvy, and they expect them to be able to drive the business forward.”

Image of Netflix's headquarters: Coolcaesar / CC BY-SA 3.0 

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<![CDATA[Business School Accreditation: A Differentiating Factor for MBA Applicants?]]> If you plan to spend big on an MBA at a top school, an accreditation can be a good way to judge the quality of the course. But with so many accreditation bodies, how can you tell which school is best for you? 

The three best-known business school accreditors are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); the Association of MBAs (AMBA); and the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). 

Of these organizations, EQUIS and AACSB apply to business schools as a whole, while AMBA is a programmatic accreditation—it accredits individual programs.

Although these accreditors began in different areas—AACSB was launched from the US, AMBA from the UK, and EQUIS from Europe—they all work with schools all over the world. For instance, there are EQUIS-accredited business schools in over 40 countries, including Australia, China, and Costa Rica, among others. Likewise, AMBA works with schools in over 70 countries and more than 800 business schools in over 50 countries hold AACSB accreditation. 

MBA accreditation: how does it work?

For a business school, it is a considerably long and costly process to secure accreditation from each of the three main organizations. 

Many of the world’s most revered business schools, including Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, have only one accreditation (AACSB). So why would a school seek all three, and should prospective MBAs factor that into their decision of where to apply? 

Professor John Board, dean of the UK’s Henley Business School, says that securing the so-called “triple crown” of AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS accreditations is worthwhile. “The three bodies assess and approve slightly different things,” he says. 

“For example, AACSB has a great focus on participants and the learning process, AMBA focuses more on the MBA as a program, while EQUIS has a broader interest on the business school as a whole,” he says. “This means that having triple accreditation is quite different from having the same accreditation from three bodies.” 

Some schools are seeing a decline in applications to their full-time MBA programs, particularly in the US, so securing accreditation is also a way for schools to differentiate themselves and secure the best candidates. 

Board says that students base their choice on a wide variety of factors — one is the quality of the school and “accreditation is a key indicator of quality”. 

Beyond that, working towards accreditation can help business schools actually refine their MBA offerings.

“Accreditation,” says Board, “provides us with an opportunity to re-evaluate and continue to enhance our offering; we are a better business school because of this,” he says.

It will come as little surprise, then, that plenty of top business schools are striving to achieve maximum accreditation. Eighteen business schools have achieved AACSB accreditation for their programs so far this year, according to Stephanie Bryant, chief accreditation officer at the organization.

[Related: MBA Accreditation: Why is it Important?]

This is not an easy nor short process, with schools achieving AACSB accreditation in four to five years, on average. AACSB assesses, among other things, a school’s mission, operations, faculty qualifications, contributions and programs.

It is not cheap to achieve accreditation, either. A five-year process might cost a typical business school $46,250 USD in dues and fees, according to Bryant. In addition, a school might spend $28,000 on a review and mentoring process to ensure quality standards are maintained, she says. 

Despite the costs involved, Bryant maintains that AACSB has a positive relationship with its rival accreditation bodies. “We view other accrediting bodies as also contributing to the betterment of business education,” she says. 

The value of business school accreditation

IESE Business School in Spain has achieved all three accreditations. The value of seeking additional accreditations is that it can help a business school gain a foothold in overseas markets, says IESE’s MBA admissions director, Pascal Michels. 

“One of the three main accrediting bodies, EQUIS, is European, so it is normal that most triple accredited schools would also be European,” he says. “Depending on their target market, it is also natural that top European programs would seek accreditation from US-based accrediting bodies to gain additional credibility outside of their home market.”

He adds that “AMBA is more focused on MBA processes, while EQUIS and AACSB are focused on different strategy aspects”. 

Michels says that a quality stamp is reassuring for applicants, particularly those outside of a candidate’s home country. “With the number of MBA programs around the world now in the thousands, accreditations are a useful mechanism to provide assurance of a program’s quality,” he says. “In the absence of a global regulating body for MBA programs, accreditations, along with rankings, help people to identify the highest quality programs globally.”

Competition for students may have driven the trend of business schools seeking multiple accreditations, but Michels adds that students should not use an accreditation as the only factor when choosing a program or school. 

There are currently roughly a thousand schools with either one of the three main accreditations (AACSB, EQUIS, AMBA) and more than 80 schools with the triple accreditation. MBA candidates generally apply to between two to five MBA programs – so a huge amount of research is needed to narrow down choices, even after going for multiple accredited schools.

“Depending on a candidate’s profile and need, there will be a mix of brand, geography, career outcomes and financial considerations that will come into play when deciding on a school,” says Michels. 

“Ultimately, the final choice of which school is best will very much be driven by cultural fit.” 

]]> Wed, 23 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Application: What is a Good GMAT Score?]]> For those who wish to attend one of the very best business schools, a high GMAT score can be the difference between admission or rejection. The problem for prospective students, however, is that business schools have different score requirements — and they don’t always reveal them. How do you judge which GMAT score you need to secure a place? 

The Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, for example, requires that candidates submit a GMAT score as part of their MBA application. However, there isn’t an automatic accept or reject solely based on a score and the school says it takes a holistic view of each candidacy. 

For MBA applicants, the GMAT requires significant effort and sometimes expense. Some of the world’s top business schools have admitted candidates without super-high GMAT scores, those who are exceptional in every other aspect of their candidacy. So why do schools place such importance on the GMAT? 

“The GMAT is one of the few ways we can evaluate the entire pool of candidates with the same measuring stick, as we deal with people from all around the world,” says Brandon Kirby, director of MBA admissions at the Rotterdam school. He adds that if a candidate has a strong profile, a high GMAT score can make a decision even easier for the school’s admissions committee, but the opposite is also true. 

GMAT scores are skyrocketing 

Candidates know that the GMAT often plays an outsized role in the MBA admissions process, so scores are skyrocketing as prospective students complete for a place. The top schools already admit just a fraction of those who apply to their programs so aiming for a school’s average is a good benchmark. 

Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800 and the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the test, says that two-thirds of test-takers score somewhere between 400 and 600. To get into the most prestigious schools, however, you’ll probably need to do much better. 

Stanford Graduate School of Business in California, for example, achieved a fresh high for its MBAs last year, a 740 average GMAT score. That’s up by three points from the year before and 11 points higher than five years ago. 

Dennis Yim, director of academics at Kaplan Test Prep and a long-time GMAT instructor, says that each applicant has different goals. But there are general guidelines that aspiring business school students can follow to get the score needed for their dream school.

He says: “Our biggest piece of advice is do your research. What is the average GMAT score of accepted students at the schools you’re interested in? What do the admissions departments have to say about required minimum scores? Once you’ve done your research, use these numbers in your goal-setting process.”

Beyond the minimum score required and the average score of admitted candidates, some business schools will also publish the GMAT scores for the middle 80 percent of admitted candidates, which can give applicants a good sense of the range of scores a school might consider as competitive.

On the GMAT, you will actually receive five scores:

A total score, ranging from 200-800
A math sub-score, ranging from 0-60
A verbal sub-score, ranging from 0-60
A score for your AWA, ranging from 0-6
An Integrated Reasoning sub-score, ranging from 1-8

These scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers:

Total score: 710 – 800
Quantitative sub-score: 51+
Verbal sub-score: 40+
Integrated reasoning: 8
Essay: 6

These scores will put you in a highly competitive place in admissions (top 25% of all test takers):

Total score: 650 – 700
Quantitative sub-score:  48-50
Verbal sub-score: 35-39

Integrated reasoning: 7
Essay: 5.5

Schools check individual sections of GMAT scores as they make their admissions decisions. So it’s important to take them into account as you prepare for the exam. “It’s not uncommon for attention to be placed on the quant side of things, but we are also really concerned with the verbal score as well,” says Rotterdam’s Kirby. 

“Because our cohorts are 97 percent international, it is vital for a student to have a good command of English. First, to be successful in the program, but especially for job placement opportunities afterwards. 

“Also, if a score isn’t as high as we’d like it to be, we tend to look really closely at each section. There have been times when we have rejected candidates because of scores in the individual sections – even if the overall score is in line with our acceptance criteria.” 

Retaking the GMAT

Candidates who do not get a satisfactory score can cancel it and take the test again. Kaplan’s Denis says: “If a test taker believes he or she can make up significant ground by retaking…then yes, by all means, retest. 

“Everyone can have an ‘off day’ and if something popped up to throw you off your game and you don’t think the score truly represents your ability, go for it.” 

Ultimately, although GMAT scores are important, they are not the sole factor admissions committees use to decide whether you are admitted or rejected from their MBA course. 

Russ Morgan, senior associate dean for full-time programs at Duke Fuqua, advises: “Be yourself in the rest of the application. Be genuine and authentic. Help us understand why you want this degree and what you hope to do with it. Help us understand why you believe Duke is the right fit.

“You can improve a test score – but you can’t fake your way through being a fit – and usually we can spot that pretty quickly in the application.” 

]]> Mon, 14 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Scholarships for International Students in the US]]> With an MBA degree now equivalent to a six-figure sum at top US schools, it is easy to see how the price can dismay international students, who also often have to fork out on travel and living expenses. 

Yet there is a ray of hope on the horizon, as there is a wealth of scholarships available for international students who want to get an MBA in the US. Many US schools have strived to make their classrooms more representative of the world: diversity is a priority, and they are prepared to pay for it.  

Eliminating financial barriers is most definitely a focus for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, says Shari Hubert, associate dean for admissions. “Our international students bring a uniqueness to our culture and community that is invaluable to the student experience, especially given the global and geopolitical context we live in today,” she says. 

When Fuqua analyzed data from the last three years, it found scholarships offered to international students had gone up almost 60 percent. Fuqua offers scholarships awarded based on merit, for which all applicants are considered. 

A bevy of other top schools offer scholarships, either based on merit or on need. “Today’s MBA applicant appears to be quite price sensitive and very concerned with the return on their investment. Lowering the cost of an MBA through a merit-based financial aid award does make the MBA degree more accessible,” says Jim Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid at the Kelley School of Business in Indiana. 

And with so many business schools competing for the same pool of applicants, there’s never been a better time for MBA students to request and negotiate for maximum merit-based aid. “Factors commonly cited in allocating merit-based aid include attracting students from traditionally underrepresented groups,” says Alex Min, CEO of admissions consultancy The MBA Exchange. 

“Students who are successful in getting additional merit-based aid are those who manage their post-admissions communications thoughtfully, carefully, and respectfully,” he adds. 

“They convey genuine enthusiasm around the offer of admission, and gratitude for additional time and consideration invested by the school in considering a revised aid offer.” 

MBA scholarships for international students offered by US business schools

See a list of all MBA scholarships in FIND MBA's Scholarship Directory.

Kelley Merit Fellowships — The fellowships are available to students who show strong academic and leadership skills and range from $10,000 to $25,000 for each academic year. Awards given to first-year students can be renewed in the second year. 

Joel Dean Scholarship — First year students at Virginia’s Darden School of Business from an unrepresented minority group with financial need, can apply for funding. 

The Wallman Fellowship — At University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, MBAs who show outstanding potential can apply for the cash, with underrepresented minority groups and women preferred. 

The Forward Focus MBA Scholarship — Arizona’s W.P. Carey School of Business offers the award only to full-time MBAs including internationals. It’s funded by university donors and covers 100% of their tuition fees — currently $98,800 for international students. 

Global Fellowships — The $25,000 awards are offered to students in Kelley’s full-time MBA program. Priority is given to students from Latin America or those with work experience at companies in the region. 

Private scholarships for international MBA students

Forte Fellows — The program was created to boost the number of women in business schools. Students of all nationalities are eligible to apply. To date, schools including top US ones such as Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, Dartmouth College and Georgetown McDonough, have dished out $142 million to more than 6,300 Forte Fellows. 

Consortium for Graduate Study in Management — the organization offers fellowships for MBAs with strong academic credentials and a proven record for promoting inclusion in their school, job or personal life. It’s designed to boost the representation of minorities in US business schools. 

American Association of University Women (AAUW) — the association offers awards to female students at top US schools such as Wharton who are domestic or international. International fellowships provide between $18,000-$30,000 and overall AAUW has provided $3.7 million in funding over the past year. 

Government/institutional funded scholarships for international MBA students

While much financial assistance is specific to business schools, there are general sources of funding aspiring MBAs can apply for. 

Fullbright Foreign Student Program — among the most well-known US government-funded scholarships, Fulbright is available to graduate students including those at business schools who study for a minimum of one year. It provides cash to 155 countries worldwide, with approximately 4,000 foreign students receiving the scholarships each year. 

OFID Scholarship Award — The OPEC Fund for International Development provides scholarships to those studying master’s degrees at accredited universities around the world, including America. The awards are worth up to $50,000, covering tuition fees and a monthly allowance for living, accommodation, travel and other expenses. 

Loan assistance programs

Read: MBA Loans and Other Alternatives: How to Finance Your MBA

Fuqua Loan Assistance Program — Fuqua has a generous loan assistance program for internationals, which makes it easier for them to invest in their education. International students using a no-cosigner loan option may borrow up to 90 percent of their cost of attendance — estimated by Fuqua to be $186,630 in total for the two-year MBA. 

Columbia Business School Loan Assistance Program — Columbia in New York City offers loan assistance to encourage MBAs to take management positions in the public and non-profit sectors, which typically pay less. International MBAs are eligible to apply and applicants earning $80,000 or less are given priority for the scheme. Loan assistance ranges from $2,000 to $10,000. 

NYU Stern Loan Assistance Program — the program provides finance for those who wish to pursue career paths in social enterprise, which tend to have smaller compensation packages than traditional MBA careers. MBA graduates can apply within the first 10 years of graduation to help them pay off their student debt.

]]> Mon, 07 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Loans and Other Alternatives: How to Finance Your MBA]]> When Gabriela Rodrigues was accepted to the MBA program at ESMT in Berlin, she knew she would have to get a bit creative with funding her education. 

To pay for her first installment confirming her enrollment, Rodrigues, who is from São Paulo, started looking at her options with banks in Brazil. But her choices were far too expensive. 

“I asked my bank in Brazil to provide me a figure for how much it would cost me for doing the transfer, and it turned out to be far too much with all the taxes, rates, and fees, especially given the real to euro exchange,” she said. “So I had to be really clever about how would I proceed with this.” 

Since ESMT accepted bitcoin as a form of payment, Rodrigues ended up contacting a bitcoin-savvy friend to talk about her options. She ended up financing that initial payment with a combination of bitcoin and personal savings—which saved her a significant amount in fees. 

“When I bought it, the value was increasing a lot—I was a little afraid of losing time, but the whole process was so fast,” Rodrigues says, adding that she saved mostly on fees. “That way I could protect myself a little from the risk. But I was really fortunate to have a friend who already knew how to navigate the bitcoin world—otherwise I probably would have given up and gone with the bank.”
MBA costs are on the rise, making financial planning for your degree even more critical. The tuition rates for one-year MBA degrees in the UK regularly exceed £10,000 ,with top programs like London Business School costing up to £78,500 for tuition alone. Top two-year programs in the US can be even higher, some surpassing the $100,000 mark. 

In the US, the student loan industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry, and hyper-competitive; traditionally, banks have provided these loans directly to students. However, there are also federal loans issued by the U.S. Department of Education, including subsidized loans for students with financial need, and unsubsidized loans, which do not require applicants to demonstrate financial need. Federal student loans have flat interest rates set by Congress, while private student loan rates depend on your credit score. However, loans are generally not available to international students, at least without a cosigner who’s a US resident.

The UK government also offers similar schemes; UK or EU students who meet certain criteria are eligible to apply for the Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study from the government, which provides a loan of up to £10,000 per student for postgraduate master’s study. However, for many MBA students, this still isn’t enough to cover most tuition costs. Eligibility for student loans from the UK government can also be tricky; loans are essentially only available to students who have lived in the UK for at least three years before the start of their course.

Emerging MBA loan options

It gets fairly complicated for international students. These cost challenges can be even higher depending on the banking situation in their home country, as well as currency concerns. 

“In developing nations, options are even more limited,” says Ricardo Fernandez, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Prodigy Finance, a provider of student loans to MBA students and other postgrads. “India is the only country that has established a student loan industry over the past 10 years—there are several banks and new financial companies that lend to students studying in-country and outside, but amounts are limited. Other developing countries have very few options for students studying abroad, which is historically why they have focused on savings or scholarships.”

Many international students turn to Prodigy, which originally launched as a peer-to-peer funding program for INSEAD students but now works with a roster of 85 schools. Roughly 83 percent of Prodigy-funded students had no alternative source of educational financing.

For Rodrigues, currency fluctuation was a significant factor in her decision to take a Prodigy loan to finance her MBA. 

“I was really concerned about the exchange rates,” she says. “So I decided to take out a loan on the euro with Prodigy; I figured I’d be here after graduation. In Brazil I’d have to pay there, and that would be much messier. Plus the rates with Prodigy were really good—and I could pay six months after graduation.”

Financial technology companies are also disrupting the industry in recent years, with relative newcomers like SoFi, CommonBond and Earnest also providing MBA loans. 

Then there’s always the self-financing option; Bharti Syal, an MBA student at Lancaster University, says that she was already planning on doing an MBA two years before she applied, so she began saving early. Syal did her undergraduate in Chennai, India, and worked in digital transformation for six years, spending one of those years in London.

“I didn’t want to take a loan; it becomes a headache when you’re trying to focus on your studies,” she says. “My father also helped out, and I was saving most of the money I was earning in India and London as I was already in the mindset of preparing for an MBA. It’s always good to save money where you can.”

Syal also received a scholarship from Lancaster, which provided £9,000 of the £29,000 cost of tuition. She says that anecdotally, roughly a third of her peers took out loans to finance their MBA. Rodrigues notes that most of her classmates finance their MBA with a mix of scholarships, savings, and a loan. 

Some financial planning advice

There are myriad roads to financing an MBA program, and at times it can seem overwhelming, particularly after counting in other ballooning expenses like living costs. But experts say that there are more options than students may think. 

“The biggest misconception we see from students that come from emerging economies is that they don’t think they can get financing,” says Prodigy’s Fernandez. “Their current salary or lack of salary doesn’t justify a loan, and that is why companies like Prodigy Finance were created—to look at the future earnings potential of students.”

Another common misconception is that they can only access small loans for tuition, Fernandez adds—but students can borrow for both tuition and living expenses.

Syal says to do plenty of thorough research—to self-fund when you can, in order to avoid paying fees and interest. But even if that’s not possible, don’t give up. 

“Don’t get disheartened if you’re just thinking about how to finance an MBA,” she says. “Look up all your options; go look on different websites, get people’s opinions, and find out which on is better for you. Only then decide—clear your doubts before taking a loan, but don’t give up because you don’t have money to fund it.”

Rodrigues gives the most business-school appropriate advice when it comes to financial planning: have a plan B. 

“Don’t take all of your cost out on a loan, because you do have to repay it after all,” she says. “But maybe you’ll graduate, and you won’t get that job that was supposed to pay off all those loans. Have a plan B, because it’s not as magical as it sounds. Try to make good mix of your savings and loans, and be prepared with a backup—you might not find your dream job right away.” 

Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 Cropped/Student Loan/Nick Youngson

]]> Mon, 07 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Six Ways to Use the Summer to Prepare for Your MBA]]> Getting into an MBA program is tough, but the work should not stop once you receive your admission offer. A business school curriculum is rigorous, and candidates often find it hard to adjust after several years in the workforce. 

Preparation during the summer months can make the transition back into academic life smoother. There are several things that students can do to prepare for their MBA before they start. 

1. Take online courses 

Some schools require that students take pre-courses before the MBA to prepare themselves academically. At Harvard Business School in Boston, about one-third of incoming MBAs who don’t have extensive business training take online courses called CORe: economics for managers, financial accounting, and business analytics. 

“Faculty have reported that CORe does an exceptional job of getting students up to speed, helping them contribute meaningfully to case discussions in the classroom from day one,” says Patrick Mullane, executive director of HBX, Harvard’s digital learning initiative. 

He adds that, since it focuses on group learning, CORe can help students entering any MBA course: “This sort of peer-help experience is one that is valuable for individuals who are planning on attending any MBA program.”

“It’s rare that programs today won’t require group projects.” 

Other online course providers, such as Coursera and MITx, also offer a range of business courses, so you can get your head into some of the topics you’ll be exploring during your MBA.

2. Connect with your classmates 

Forming bonds with classmates is critical to success in an MBA course. Some students go traveling in the summer before their MBA to do that. At Cambridge Judge Business School in the UK, treks are organized by students but supported by the Careers Office. Last year, incoming MBAs flew to San Francisco to meet alumni and visit companies including Facebook, Google and Accenture. 

Likewise, incoming MBA students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management can choose to embark on a week-long travel trip to various countries, where they network with their new classmates and provide community service.

And the networking often continues online: Cambridge students also join a LinkedIn group, and are generally proactive in forming other groups on channels such as Slack and WeChat, where they organize meet-ups prior to the MBA to form the bonds that are essential to peer learning. 

3. Do an internship or attend a boot camp

The summer months are also a good time to begin thinking about your post-MBA career path. 

Some business schools advise incoming students to attend summer networking sessions and even do an internship, before the MBA even starts. “Several companies are now offering opportunities for students to participate in pre-MBA internships as a way to learn about the organization in advance of starting their MBA,” says Julie Papp, senior associate director of MBA career education and advising at MIT Sloan School of Management. 

She adds: “We typically suggest to students that spending some time during the summer prior to starting their MBA program is an ideal time for both reflection and research.”  

Many business schools typically offer various ways for students to build their careers before even starting an MBA. For instance, incoming MBAs at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business can work in a Booth-led startup for six to seven weeks before starting the actual program.

Students starting the MBA at China’s CEIBS can attend a Pre-MBA Boot Camp, where they can learn about the program curriculum and spend time in Shanghai.

4. Brush up on your language skills

While most MBA students are already highly proficient in English (it’s generally an admissions requirement for English-language MBA programs), those who do not speak the local language fluently are advised to practice, ideally in the country they are studying in, or take a refresher course to re-orientate themselves. 

Boston University of the US, for example, offers a pre-MBA course for incoming students that includes language and communication skills development via oral presentations and case studies. They also learn to explain their points in clear and accurate English, in speech and in writing.

Some schools offering English-language MBA programs in countries where English is not the main language also offer pre-MBA language courses, to help students feel more comfortable in the country where they’ll be studying. For example, Berlin’s ESMT offers students the opportunity to attend a three-month long German language course before the MBA starts.

5. Plan your schedule

Given that full-time MBA programs are highly intense, students should think ahead about how they will manage their time and course materials, says Gale Gold Nichols, director of student services for the full-time MBA in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. 

She says: “Finding a system for keeping track of everything is crucial. 

“It’s helpful for the student to think about the different categories of activities that they will need or want to engage in and devise a plan to allocate time to each one during the week, as well as to keep track of assignments.”

“Feeling that they are on top of things and getting them done can be a big relief!” 

Nichols adds that students should put a support structure in place as they begin the program to strengthen physical and mental health: “This might include regular calls or video chats with loved ones back home, setting time aside for exercise or yoga each week, or planning a weekly date night with your spouse/partner…[which] can make a big difference to the student’s success.” 

6. Get some rest

Amid all the preparation, from online classes and language learning to networking sessions and career treks, business schools say students should not forget the importance of downtime to prepare for an intense academic program. 

“Each student is an individual and will decide how much time they need to prepare for the year ahead,” says Margaret O’Neill, head of admissions and careers for the Cambridge MBA. 

“A number do take some time off to relax and reflect before the programme starts, or come early to settle in their family, but equally many do not. 

“Ideally, students would allow themselves enough time to get settled in their accommodation, get to know the city and sort out all the practicalities — including acquiring that essential mode of Cambridge transport — a bicycle!”

]]> Mon, 30 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Programs for STEM Professionals: On the Rise]]> It is a truth well known that America faces a shortage of workers in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. While the nation has focused on getting more kids into coding, an equal challenge is finding managers who can work with engineers to plan well a project’s strategy and finances. 

Annual demand for those with data science skills, for instance, will reach nearly 700,000 openings by 2020, according to IBM. 

To make matters worse, the unstable political environment is already deterring overseas talent from the US and skilled graduates are often prevented by immigration laws from securing work in the country. 

But the root of the problem is a growing skills gap in education, including university, and inadequate workplace training. 

Business schools have recognized the issue and are offering MBA and other master’s programs specifically for STEM professionals — including the Wisconsin School of Business and University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business — that often include employer training programs. 

Growing employer demand for STEM graduates 

“There is a shortage of skilled workers in many different STEM fields, and there has been a particular explosion in demand in recent years for students with skills in analytics,” says Greg DeCroix, director of the Supply Chain Management specialization in Wisconsin’s MBA course, which is STEM-designated.

“This is why companies may look to STEM-designated programs for hiring — it signals knowledge in these areas.”  

The MBAs and related courses have core management modules such as accounting and sales but add STEM specific skills including data science and advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and deep learning. 

Many of the courses are also officially recognized by the US government’s STEM designation scheme, which has been established to help address a significant dearth of technical talent. 

Wisconsin also received a STEM designation for its Operations and Technology Management MBA specialization, which focuses on technology, entrepreneurship and healthcare, as well as management science.

DeCroix says that international students looking into the program seem to be very interested in the STEM designation, “so it certainly has the potential to increase the applicant pool — which is part of the reason we pursued the designation”. 

Since the business school has only had the designation in place for a short period of time, it is too early to tell whether employer demand will rise. But anecdotally, DeCroix says “there have been companies looking to recruit our students who responded positively when they learned about the STEM designation”. 

Other, more well-established STEM programs have harder evidence of employer demand for their graduates. At the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, 50 percent of the MBA students taking the Technology Leadership Track, which is not STEM-designated, are hired by tech companies including Facebook, PayPal and Microsoft, according to its director Tim Derdenger.  

“Our mission is to educate the next generation of senior executives,” he says. “Because we provide management skills as well as technical training, the shelf-life of our degree is long. Our students get the best of the both worlds. The in-depth general management education will help them move into more senior positions.” 

International STEM students get 36-month US work visa 

A STEM course not only helps students develop the skills employers are crying out for, but can also make it possible for internationals to remain stateside for longer than they could otherwise. Graduates of STEM-designated programs can apply for an additional 24 months stay in the US after graduation—on top of the typical 12 months—and receive training through work experience. 

“The designation opens doors to STEM-specific scholarships, grants, financial assistance, and employment opportunities for students and graduates,” says David Deyak, assistant dean with the Tippie school, which offers three STEM-designated courses: the Master’s in Finance, Master’s in Business Analytics and the full-time MBA, which is being disbanded. 

“We have found that companies are attracted to the idea that a student can work for up to three years after graduation,” he says. “The designation provides increased stability for both these future employees and their companies.” 

Enno Siemsen, Wisconsin professor of operations and information management, adds: “Before the designation, international students could remain in the US for only a year before their visas ran out.

“Adding two more years to that is a real value, taking pressure off MBA students and giving companies with global operations the chance to hire employees who can go abroad but be steeped in the company culture first.”

A path to entrepreneurship 

While many STEM-focused courses are designed to prepare students for corporate careers, MIT Sloan School of Management focuses on technology entrepreneurship. 

With more of its MBA students founding startup companies, MIT introduced a Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, in which participants develop business plans and compete in competitions for seed funding. 

“They also do extracurricular classes, they travel to Silicon Valley to see startups in action,” says Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. 

He says applications to the certificate course have risen by 30% this year compared with the year before, and that around 10% of MITs MBAs go on to found their own fledgling enterprises. “We give students the space, time, and support structure to launch a tech company,” he adds. 

Business schools offering STEM MBAs and other programs:

  • Wisconsin School of Business: Operations and Technology Management MBA specialization
  • Wisconsin School of Business: Supply Chain Management MBA specialization
  • University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business: Full-time MBA program
  • Tippie College of Business: Master’s in Finance, 
  • Tippie College of Business: Master’s in Business Analytics
  • Caroll School of Management, Boston College: Master of Science in Finance 
  • University of Connecticut: MS in Financial Risk Management 
  • University of Connecticut: MS in Business Analytics and Project Management 
  • Whitman School of Management: Masters in Finance
  • SMU Cox: Master of Science in Finance degree 
]]> Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA or Master in Finance: Which to Choose?]]> Those banking on a career in the financial sector have a plethora of choices of qualifications that will help them get one. Conventionally, the MBA has been the degree of choice for anyone wanting to work on Wall Street. The degree covers a broad curriculum of finance, strategy, entrepreneurship and more. 

However, in recent years a more focused option has emerged. The Master in Finance (MiF)—sometimes also known as an MSc in Finance—has become increasingly popular. In general, the MiF teaches a more rigorous set of technical abilities in addition to transferrable skills — such as data analysis, statistics and computing — that are vital to a wide range of jobs, according to Alex Stremme, director of the MSc in Finance course at Warwick Business School in the UK. 

He says that application numbers to the program are up by 12 percent this year compared with three years ago. 

MBA or MiF: what’s the difference? 

There are fundamental differences between the MBA and Masters Programs in Finance. For one, MiF candidates are usually fresh out of their undergraduate school with little or no professional work experience, and are looking to break into the financial sector. In contrast, MBA candidates typically have several years of experience and are often about to enter middle or senior management positions.

At IE Business School in Spain, MiF candidates are aged between 19-25 and 45 percent have no financial work experience. On the school’s MBA, the average student is 30 with six years’ work experience. 

The two degrees also teach a different set of skills, although there is some overlap. An MBA is broader than the MiF and equips graduates with knowledge of the different aspects of business. Meanwhile, an MiF is more specialized and offers students in-depth knowledge of finance, such as investment banking, asset management and corporate finance. 

The MiF is meant for those who are absolutely certain they want to start or continue working in the financial sector. At IE last year, 64 percent of MiF graduates worked at investment banks, says Viet Ha Tran, admissions director for the MiF course.

“It is the applicant’s career goals that should determine which program is best suited for them,” she says. 

What do employers think?

Employers value the deep and specialist financial knowledge of an MiF degree, which can give graduates an edge, says Felix Papier, dean of academic programs at France’s ESSEC Business School. “This is one of the key advantages of the Master’s in Finance and explains the competitive salary of our graduates in the international job market.” 

However, an MBA provides students with more flexibility in their careers than an MiF, whose students may miss out on the broad management knowledge that could propel them into more senior positions. “They say that the knowledge gained in an MBA is more horizontal and the knowledge in a MiF is more vertical,” says Ha Tran at IE, who adds that “an MBA is normally a requirement for many managerial jobs”. 

This means that MBA students typically earn more after graduation than MiF candidates do. “Median starting salaries for early career Master’s in Finance students is $75,000,” says Heidi Pickett, director of the MiF at MIT Sloan School of Management in the US. 

“Comparatively, the median starting base salary for MBAs [is] $125,000,” although “this varies by industry and the number of years work and type of experience prior to returning to business school.” 

She says that a typical MiF graduate will start their career in financial services as an analyst and from there get promoted to associate, associate vice-president, vice-president, senior vice-president, and so on, with increasing levels of responsibility.

“Meanwhile, MBA students take a variety of career paths. In consulting, for example, an MBA will be hired at a senior consultant level; in financial services as an associate; and in tech companies product manager has become a popular post-MBA role,” adds Pickett.  

What about tuition fees? 

While MBAs begin in higher positions than MiFs and are paid more, the degree itself can cost MBAs dearly. “The MBA program has a higher cost than the Master’s in Finance” because the MBA curriculum is broader and offers electives and other extracurricular learning activities, says ESSEC’s Papier.

Tuition fees for an MBA at ESSEC’s France campus is €45,000 for 2018-2019. The MiF costs €22,500.

But Papier adds that price is not a major element of consideration for prospective students. “It is more about the professional [experience] and a student’s profile that influences their decision to choose between the two programs,” he says. 

What’s more, the MBA and MiF are not mutually exclusive. “We sometimes have candidates who have already done a Master’s in Finance and who, after some years of additional work experience, are looking to further progress their careers into top management,” Papier says.

“For those candidates it makes sense to complement their specialist knowledge with a more general management education.” 

In the same vein, MBA candidates can specialize in finance through electives. 

Ultimately, both programs offer the potential for high-paying career opportunities in the financial sector, with good progression. But if you’re looking to branch out, an MBA is your best bet.

]]> Tue, 24 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Three Fantastic MBA Internships]]> Each summer, thousands of MBA candidates decamp from campus to work internships at some of the world’s best-known brands. We spoke to three MBAs who did cool internships to find out what they learned, and how you can follow in their footsteps. 

Gregory KimThe esports pioneer 

Video games have been Gregory Kim’s lifelong passion, so when the opportunity to work at games maker Riot Games emerged, he jumped at it. 

“Esports is a hot topic,”“ says the MIT Sloan MBA candidate, referring to the video game tournaments where players compete for prizes of up to $10 million USD. The industry generated more than six billion total viewing hours in 2016 and is on track for annual revenues of $1.5 billion USD by 2020 — up from $693 million in 2017. 

But with no formal MBA internship path at Riot, like many fledging entertainment companies, he had to rely on his networking abilities to secure a summer internship. 

Kim worked with Riot in Los Angeles between June and August 2017. He graduates from the MBA this year.  

“The chance to work in esports didn’t come up until I had direct conversations with Riot during the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2017,” says Kim, who was the event’s Esports Lead. 

“I met my future manager and did an informational interview at the conference, then went through the full interview process over the phone, followed by a day of interviews on-site,” Kim says. 

What made him stand apart from the pack in the “intensive” process? “It was important to demonstrate familiarity with the industry and the professional competitive League of Legends [a video game] scene as a whole, plus the ability to structure problems, and capacity to think in ambiguity,” he says. 

Leveraging the MBA was vital, too. “Working in a brand-new space meant a lot of adding structure to ambiguity,” Kim adds. 

“Researching the league operation models in America’s most popular traditional sports was straightforward. 

“But thinking about how they could be applied to the characteristics of a nascent esports industry, and aligning league structure and incentives with greater business priorities, were both problems that leveraged what I’ve learned at MIT Sloan.” 

So it is all fun and games in the nascent esports industry. 

Sithuthi JebarajMelding medicine with management 

An internship at Blue Cross Blue Shield, which provides health insurance to nearly one in three Americans, was the perfect way for Sthuthi Jebaraj to combine medicine with management. “As a medical doctor who practiced in India, it was eye-opening to experience it [health insurance] from the inside,” says the Babson College MBA student, who will graduate in 2018. 

“I don’t have a business background and the MBA program gave me credibility as well as the basic skills to understand the different roles and functions in business,” she says. 

Jebaraj also got to exercise her creative side, as she joined Blue Cross’ innovation team, which practices “design thinking,” a human-centered approach to problem solving that places patients’ needs at its core. 

“The interview was based on a design thinking challenge,” says Jebaraj, who worked the internship in Boston from June to August last year.  

“Thanks to my [MBA] entrepreneurship class, I had had a taste of design thinking. I got my classmates to actually do the challenge and then described the process and the outcome during my interview.” 

The key to a successful internship is to demonstrate passion for the job, says Jebaraj. “People can tell if you are really passionate or just faking passion.” 

Ask as many questions as you can to gain expertise, she adds. “Most people will be happy to tell you the truth and since you are on the ‘inside’ you can really get a feel for the [company’s] culture.”

“An internship is an opportunity to learn and practice.” 

Lucas BohidarCombating potential terrorism at the NFL

Lucas Bohidar spent summer 2017 protecting the multi-billion-dollar National Football League (NFL) business from a wide facet of threats — think potential terrorism, player misconduct, gambling, game-fixing and unruly fans. 

“The position within the NFL’s security department piqued my interest because it allows interns to utilize a cross-functional set of skills learned in business school, such as finance, operations and business analytics,” says the Tepper School MBA student, from the Class of 2019. 

“Ensuring the safety of an organization’s consumers and employees is a challenge that every company faces,” adds Bohidar, who has played football and followed the NFL since elementary school. 

“Being able to leverage my MBA education to protect the NFL’s teams and fans is both an exciting challenge and a transferrable learning opportunity.”

A self-styled “analytics fanatic,” Bohidar believes Tepper’s focus on data was an ace up his sleeve during the interview process. “At Tepper, we approach nearly every business problem by looking at the data,” he says. 

“It was evident from the job description and throughout the recruiting process that the NFL was seeking out highly analytical candidates for this role. 

“So I believe pursuing an MBA from CMU directly gave me an advantage in my internship pursuit.” 

Bohidar advises MBA interns to network — one of the most valuable parts of the job. “A summer internship allows candidates to form ties with future colleagues or business partners,” he says. 

“For those hoping to translate their internship into a full-time job offer, their network will also be important advocates on their behalf during the [full-time] hiring process.” 

]]> Wed, 11 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Careers in Finance: Where Are the Opportunities?]]> Finance has lost some luster among business school graduates since the global financial crisis and the savaging of banks’ reputations.

Punishing work hours, onerous regulation and the growing popularity of Big Tech and management consultancies have contributed to a 40 percent fall in interest in a career in banking, according to The Financial Times.

But financial services remains a high-paying and fast-paced career path that continues to attract many an MBA.

There is wide array of work areas, from buy-side firms to wealth managers and fintech challengers, which are all hiring a larger number of MBA students than in the past, business schools say.

“Finance is a vast arena with many different disciplines, roles and affiliated skill-sets,” says John Madgwick, head of finance careers at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

“Over the last three years we have seen a steady increase in absolute hires and a growing percentage of interns being offered full-time roles at the end of the summer.”

The biggest change in the industry since the financial crisis has been the growing role of technology such as blockchain, which enables the fast and frictionless transfer of assets over the internet.

“Fintech is disrupting the traditional financial services sector, especially in asset management, payments and insurance,” says Margaret O’Neill, head of MBA admissions and careers at Cambridge Judge Business School.

“And we are seeing a growing interest in this area from those [MBA students] who may have previously been interested in more traditional finance roles.”

One route into the fintech sector is the Spotcap Fellowship, which provides up to £8,000 towards the cost of an MBA and a path to working at the Berlin-based online lender.

Niels Turfboer, UK managing director of Spotcap and an IE Business School MBA graduate, says he created the scholarship to address a talent shortage. A survey by recruitment website Indeed found that 20 percent of top fintech job vacancies were left unfilled after 60 days.

[See the Top 10 MBA Programs for a Career in Finance]

Turfboer says: “The rising cost of graduate studies, combined with the UK’s impending exit from the European Union, could create real challenges when it comes to ensuring a strong and healthy talent pipeline [in the UK].”

What do financial services firms look for in MBAs?

Some financial services firms prefer prior industry experience, but many remain open to hiring people from diverse backgrounds.

Molly Deale used her MBA from the Darden School at University of Virginia to transition from Broadway to banking. She previously worked as a milliner — someone who makes or sells women’s hats — in New York City. Over the summer of 2017, she interned at Credit Suisse as an investment banking summer associate. She will graduate in 2018.

“It seems like such a crazy switch, but I was always interested in finance and economics,” says Deale. “I would always read the paper and see big deals like Amazon acquiring Whole Foods and think, that’s a great idea, who thought of that deal?”

To make a career transition into finance, it’s important to have a good story that you can relate to the job you are applying for, Deale says. “When I worked in in millinery, it was a small company, but I could see what a little bit of money could do for growth,” she adds.

“In investment banking you do that on a larger scale, you help companies raise debt or IPO or acquire another company to get technology.”

The career opportunities for women in the finance sector have improved dramatically since the downturn, says Paul Reeder, senior director of financial services careers at Darden’s Career Development Center. “Companies (including the investment banks) are very keen on hiring women into their workforce,” he says. “A third of Darden students who are doing investment banking internships in summer 2018 are women.

“Both the student clubs and the companies have done a great job of supporting female candidates, and recruiting women into a finance career path.”

Who’s hiring in the finance industry?

In terms of the kinds of firms that are hiring MBAs, there are some bright spots in some parts of the finance industry. For example, there has been an increase in MBAs going into venture capital firms, compared to a decade ago, says Maeve Richard, assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Meanwhile, the more traditional finance jobs in such areas as investment banking, investment management and hedge funds, saw declines.

[Related Article: After the MBA: How to Break Into Private Equity]

“Overall, the percentage of our graduates going to finance dropped by 11 percent from ten years ago,” Richard says. “This shift is a reflection of the attractiveness of opportunities and growth in the tech sector that, little by little, exerted a stronger pull on graduates.”

Indeed, tech companies such as Amazon have recruited increasingly large numbers of MBAs with the promise of high pay, a good work-life balance and an entrepreneurial culture.

Some financial services firms have upped their game to compete with Big Tech. “There is some evidence to suggest that banks are starting to examine their working practices around work/life balance, access to childcare, paternal and maternal leave,” says Oxford’s Madgwick.

“There is also a noticeable push to attract students with a technology and engineering background.

“This includes better efforts to advertise the fact that if students want a seat in the disruptive world of fintech, then they will also find one inside the banks, probably with a lot less risk than joining a startup.”

Careers in finance don’t have to be hectic

Although many people think of careers in finance as fast-paced and high-intensity, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Jielin Zhang is a current MBA student at Oxford who says a career in finance does not have to be so intense.

She has secured a summer associate intern position with JPMorgan’s private bank in Hong Kong. Previously, Zhang worked in international development and management consulting. “My experience in consulting was hectic,” she says. “I went to five different cities in a week, I was living in a hotel basically.

“I wanted to slow down. I realized after talking with alumni and peers I wouldn’t enjoy the lifestyle of an investment banker. Private banking is a slower pace and more suitable for my current lifestyle.”

Her advice for other MBAs hoping to make the transition into a finance career is to go the extra mile when networking. Alumni of Oxford put her in touch with people in the industry, who provided an overview of a private banker’s job.

“Talk to people, as you never know when someone will open the door for you,” says Zhang.

Image: Carlos Delgado  / CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)

]]> Wed, 28 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Careers: How to Successfully Transition into Consulting]]> Each year, Bain & Company recruits 200 people into its 10-week summer associate (internship) program, the majority of whom will be MBAs. The prestigious consulting firm says prior industry experience is not needed. In fact, Bain & Co values a variety of backgrounds; past interns have been doctors, teachers and even a professional drummer.

“We absolutely hire MBAs with all types of experiences,” Keith Bevans, partner and global head of consultant recruiting at Bain & Co, tells FIND MBA. “Students that are successful have the analytical skills to crack tough problems and the people skills to inspire teams and clients. Those underlying skills can be found in a wide range of careers.”

Zoe McLoughlin, head of consulting at London Business School and former recruiting manager at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), says that most firms share Bain & Co’s view. “The big strategy consulting firms tend to hire candidates post-MBA for their transferrable skills, rather than for specific knowledge or experience,” she says. “For this reason, it is a very popular choice for career switchers and we see a lot of students transition from careers in the military or legal profession, to consulting after their MBA.”

Kelly Wilson, executive director of MBA Admissions at the Tepper School of Business, adds: “Career switchers comprise a large segment of the MBA applicant pool. The MBA is a perfect way to retool and pivot to a different industry or function.”

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And according to Stephane Ponce, global consulting lead at INSEAD, career-switchers do not just get hired by consulting firms, but can enjoy rapid career progression too. “We have seen students who worked as engineers or investment bankers who joined consulting firms who have done really well and moved up the corporate ladder to partner level,” she says.

Consulting is among the most popular MBA career paths. At INSEAD, around half of the MBA cohort will be hired by firms including McKinsey & Company in any given year.

Just why is the field so appealing to MBAs? “It gives them exposure to all types of industries, from tech to consumer goods to private equity,” Ponce says.

It is also challenging, with consultants tasked with solving the most difficult challenges faced by multinationals.

Ponce adds: “The fast career progression, the high level of compensation, the international mobility programs in place in large firms and the excellent career opportunities post-consulting, make the sector particularly attractive.”

How to pull off a career transition into consulting

So how do you use an MBA to get into consulting? The key is to translate your achievements and skills into the language that consulting firms use, says McLoughlin at LBS. You should show how you have solved creative problems and influenced key stakeholders to achieve success — essentially what a management consultant does.

“If, however you identify gaps, like quantitative ability or relationship management, then the MBA gives you a great platform to develop these skills both in the classroom and through extra-curricular activities like internships or involvement with student clubs,” McLoughlin adds.

While it’s important to demonstrate technical ability, soft skills are equally as important to consulting firms, according to INSEAD’s Ponce. “They want to find well-rounded individuals who have strong communication and presentation skills, and who can work very well with senior clients and their teams,” she says.

At Bain & Co, Bevans recalls a standardized test tutor who “blew him away” with their communication skills. “The skills to explain complex problems in a crisp, clear way was a strength,” says Bevans. “That made this person really effective with clients early on in their career, and an awesome coach to team members.”

Utilize your career services team

Do not forget to utilize your career services team. Eunice Bii used an MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business to transition from an analyst role to consultant. Bii works at BCG in New York city and says she used her MBA’s career services to better understand the consulting recruitment process. Consulting firms usually require several rounds of interviews and case studies in which candidates solve business challenges.

“We talked about how to leverage my strengths when networking and at the same time, being honest about the areas I had to work on before interviewing,” she says.

McLoughlin adds: “The case interview is obviously a critical part of the recruitment process. But being fantastic at cases is irrelevant if you don’t also build rapport with your interviewers and have some great stories to tell.

“The fit interview is the chance to really shine a light on your individual strengths and students neglect preparing for this at their peril.”

Bevans says the best interview candidates at Bain & Co ask questions that show they have done their homework in advance. But those whose responses appear too scripted can let their applications down. “It’s fairly obvious when someone is putting on a show, and I’d really encourage interviewees to stay true to themselves during the process,” Bevans says.

That means using your prior industry experience to your advantage, whatever field you come from. Ultimately, consulting firms not only accept people from non-traditional backgrounds, but covet them.

]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA Applications: How Important is the GMAT?]]> A poor GMAT score is decisively the biggest killer of applications to MBA programs. For many aspiring students, getting a score of 700 or more can be the difference between attending a top business school, or not. GMAT scores are also linked to scholarship funding and some employers use them to assess job candidates.

However Dennis Yim, director of academics at Kaplan Test Prep, says that students should not be blinded by GMAT score averages. "By definition, half of students admitted will fall below the median GMAT score for each school," he says.

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business last year received 3,796 applications for its prestigious MBA course. It admitted just 849. Russ Morgan, senior associate dean, says that the GMAT is important but he takes a holistic view of each application. At Fuqua, 'middle 80 percent' GMAT range-that is, the GMAT range for the majority of incoming MBA students-is between 640 and 750. "Test scores like GMAT and GRE are an important metric, but cannot tell the whole story," he says. "They are just one component of the application."

Morgan says that that the GMAT does test academic fit and readiness for a program. "That's critically important in being able to predict success academically." However, what the score can't assess is the cultural fit and a person's leadership potential, which can help them secure a place.

"What we are looking for in the application process is not only a commitment to self-improvement but a desire to also make other people better," Morgan adds. "We are also looking for a genuine belief that business can be a force for good in the world. You can't assess that from a test score, so we place tremendous value on the interview process, as well as our essays."

Ballooning GMAT scores mean increased competition

Most business schools sing a similar tune; claim that they do not require a minimum GMAT score for entry to their MBA courses. But some probably do.

Stacy Blackman is a leading admissions consultant who has helped people gain admission to Harvard Business School, Stanford and Wharton, among other schools. She says that because GMAT scores play a role in MBA rankings and since prospective students often judge a school on how they perform in rankings, "admissions teams place an unnecessarily high value on test scores."

It would seem that prospective business school students are heeding Blackman's advice; data suggest they are getting better at the GMAT. According to The Economist, which collects GMAT data to help create its MBA rankings, the average GMAT score two decades ago was 688. In 2014 it had increased to 722. Stanford reached a new record GMAT average of 740 with this year's incoming MBA class.

Blackman says this reflects increasing competition to secure a place on a top MBA course. The elite business schools typically admit roughly 10 percent of the applicant pool. Candidates are routinely spending 100 hours studying for the GMAT and some even employ tutors to give themselves an edge in the application process. "Competition just keeps raising the bar higher and higher," Blackman says.

There are several other reasons for the rise in GMAT score averages. Candidates can now preview and cancel their GMAT scores, right after taking the test. Also, the GRE has also emerged as a rival to the GMAT for those who struggle with the GMAT. This means the lowest GMAT scores are probably not being sent to schools. "Allowing test takers to cancel low GMAT scores and retake the test after more preparation is having the anticipated impact of raising scores," says Kaplan's Yim. In the 2016 testing year, 27 percent of all GMAT test takers cancelled their scores, up from 19 percent a year earlier, he says.

Students are also cancelling relatively high scores. The Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, says that roughly a third of all candidates with a total score lower than 650 cancelled their exam scores. The trend means that prospective MBAs must study intensively or risk losing out on admission to their dream school.

How to overcome a low GMAT score? Be exceptional.

While some prospective MBAs are indeed admitted with a low score, they are truly exceptional in every other aspect of their candidacy. "We might find an extremely compelling candidate based on everything in their application but might also find they have a GMAT score that departs from our average," says Fuqua's Morgan.

In that instance, the school would instead turn to undergraduate coursework for an indicator of whether a candidate can thrive academically. "If we can find that, we are not only open to admitting that student, but are truly excited about inviting them be a part of Fuqua," Morgan says.

Kaplan's Dennis Yim would agree.

"I have had several students successfully get into elite programs based on other pieces of their application that made them compelling candidates," he says. "This included everything from being a decorated combat vet to starting their own business. Even if you are a bit below the median, go for it."

The bottom line: there are ways to overcome a low GMAT score. But it will make it considerably more difficult for you to get into business school.

]]> Thu, 15 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA Rankings - Canada]]> With its broad range of cities and industries, not to mention liberal visa policies, Canada is a popular destination for international students looking to study for an MBA.

A handful of top schools in the country are currently featured in a few top international MBA rankings. Canada hosts a number of world-class, accredited business schools; here’s an overview of the Canadian business schools offering ranked Full-Time MBA programs, with a focus on the rankings from Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, and the Financial Times.

Western University - Ivey Business School: Overview and rankings

Established in 1950, Ivey Business School is located in London, Ontario, which is about 200 kilometers by car from Toronto, which is Canada’s financial hub. In addition to offering a one-year long Full-Time MBA program that begins in March, the school also offers an Executive MBA program and an Accelerated MBA for graduates of the school’s undergraduate business program. Ivey also runs an EMBA program out of its Hong Kong campus.

As of 2018, Ivey’s Full-Time MBA is currently ranked at position number 11 in Bloomberg Businessweek’s International MBA Ranking, meaning that it’s currently the highest ranked of all Canadian business schools in that publication. In this ranking, it’s fallen rather precipitously since 2015, when it was ranked as the top school in the world outside of the United States.

Ivey is also ranked in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times, with grads reporting the highest salaries of all Canadian MBA programs that are ranked in that publication. Additionally, Ivey is the top-ranked Canadian business school in the current Full-time MBA Ranking from The Economist.

The high salaries—the MBA class of 2017 reported, on average, salaries of over $103,000 CAD—are not surprising, considering the industries that the grads are going into. Of the class of 2017, 31 percent went into the consulting industry—working for firms like KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group—and 28 percent went into financial services. Other major recruiters include Amazon, Deloitte, Johnson & Johnson, BMO Financial Group, and Accenture, among others.

Of the Full-Time MBA class of 2017, the vast majority (95 percent), landed jobs in Canada. 

Ivey’s Executive MBA program is also ranked by the Financial Times.

Queen's - SmithQueen’s University - Smith School of Business: Overview and MBA rankings

Also located in Ontario, Canada, Queen’s University’s business school was founded in 1963. In addition to its Full-Time MBA program, Queen’s offers a range of other master’s-level programs in business.

In terms of rankings, Queen’s is currently ranked 16th—second best among all Canadian business schools—in Bloomberg Businessweek’s International MBA Ranking. It’s also the second-best Canadian business school in the current Full-Time MBA Ranking from The Economist. 

The school was also previously ranked in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times, but it fell out of this ranking in 2018.

According to the school, the average salaries of its 2016 and 2017 MBA grads was just over $109,000 CAD. Of these classes, almost one-third went into the financial services industry, while 24 percent went into consulting. Technology firms like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Uber, were also major recruiters. 

Although the school has published a detailed employment report for its 2016 MBA graduates, it has not done so for its class of 2017.

The school’s EMBA Americas program, which it runs in partnership with Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, is also ranked in the Executive MBA Ranking from the FT.

Toronto - RotmanUniversity of Toronto - Rotman School of Management: Overview and MBA rankings

The University of Toronto’s business school was established in 1950, in downtown Toronto. Beyond its Full-Time MBA, the also offers a range of part-time and Executive MBA options. 

In the FT’s Global MBA Rankings, Rotman’s MBA is currently ranked number 86, which, in that publication, makes it the second-highest ranked of all Canadian business schools (after McGill.) In this ranking, it’s been on a steady decline in recent years; it was ranked 44th in 2012 and 60th in 2016, for example.

In Businessweek’s International MBA Ranking, Rotman is currently ranked 22nd.

The school has long been strong in financial services placements; that’s no surprise, since the school is based in Canada’s financial capital. Over 43 percent of Rotman’s MBA class of 2017 went into this industry, as did 37 percent of the class of 2016. Consulting firms generally snap up around one-fifth of a given MBA class.

The school reports that the average salaries of its 2017 MBAs were over $120,000 CAD per year.

The school’s EMBA program is also ranked by the FT.

McGill - DesautelsMcGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management: Overview and MBA rankings

Founded in 1906—when it was the Department of Commerce—McGill’s business school has been offering MBA programs in Montreal since 1963. It currently offers a Full-Time MBA, as well as an Executive MBA in partnership with HEC Montreal and a range of other master’s programs in business.

Coming in at position number 78, McGill Is currently the top-ranked MBA in Canada in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times. 

In the Bloomberg Businessweek International MBA Ranking, McGill is currently ranked 28. 

In terms of salaries, McGill’s MBA class of 2017 landed jobs with a mean of just over $93,000 CAD, according to the school. The majority of the class (87 percent) found jobs in Canada.

Ryerson - RogersRyerson University - Rogers School of Management: Overview and rankings

Ryerson’s Rogers School of Management is another Toronto-based Canadian business school, which launched its Full-Time MBA programs in 2006. The business school is one of over 20 business schools in Canada that are accredited by AACSB International. 

Newly listed in the most recent International MBA Ranking from Bloomberg Businessweek, Ryerson is currently ranked at position number 24 in that publication. 

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According to the school, its MBAs make just over $109,000 CAD per year, after graduation. One-fifth of the school’s grads tend to go into the consulting sector, 17 percent into technology firms, and 15 percent go into finance. A healthy number of Ryerson MBAs also go into the consumer packaged goods sector and healthcare as well.

HEC MontréalHEC Montréal - Overview and MBA rankings

Although HEC Montréal is a French-language business school, it is also increasingly offering English-language programs. It currently offers its Full-Time MBA—in either French or English—as well as an EMBA in partnership with McGill and another MBA aimed at engineers. The school is one of only two business schools in Canada that are ‘triple-accredited;’ meaning, it has accreditations from AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB.

HEC Montréal is currently ranked at position number 31 in the International MBA Ranking from Bloomberg Businessweek. 

According to the school, its MBA class of 2016 found jobs making over $81,000 CAD, on average. The school has not published its 2017 MBA career salary data. 

York - SchulichYork University - Schulich School of Business - Overview and MBA rankings

This Toronto-based school first launched an MBA in 1965, and has been growing its offerings ever since. It currently offers an MBA, and International MBA, plus several other master’s-level business offerings and an MBA in India.

Schulich is currently ranked 69th in the Full-Time MBA Ranking from The Economist, which makes it the second-highest Canadian business school featured in that ranking. It was also previously ranked in the Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times, but fell out of that ranking in 2015. 

According to the school, the graduates of its most recent MBA class made almost $92,000 CAD per, on average. A good chunk (28 percent) of the school’s MBAs go into the financial services sector.

The Executive MBA that Schulich runs in partnership with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is also currently ranked in the Executive MBA Ranking from the Financial Times.


  • Canadian flag by Christopher Policarpio / CC BY 2.0 (cropped, rotated)
  • Richard Ivey School of Business building on the campus of University of Western Ontario by Balcer / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Photograph of Goodes Hall, the building of the Queen's Business School by Andrew pmk / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • McGill - Desautels by abdallahh / CC BY 2.0 
  • Ted Rogers School Of Management by Hoice / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Photo du HEC by Riba / CC BY-SA 2.5
  • The Seymour Schulich Building, York University by Theonlysilentbob / CC BY-SA 3.0
]]> Mon, 12 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[MBA Full-Tuition Scholarships: Myth or Reality?]]> Getting a scholarship to cover the full tuition cost of an MBA program? Where do I sign up?

Last year, the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business announced that all students admitted to their full-time MBA program who were not receiving other sponsorship would be offered a full-tuition scholarship. Over the past couple years, Arizona State University's Carey School of Business has also been heavily subsidizing its Full-Time MBA program with full-tuition scholarships as well.

As exciting as this prospect may be, it’s a rarity among top business schools. According to business school representatives, full-tuition scholarships do exist, but they are not doled-out indiscriminately. 

“If someone were to apply to the full-time program and be admitted, and they had a very impressive application package, they could be offered a full tuition scholarship,” says Katie Radcliffe, director of admissions at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA“Approximately 80 percent of our full-time MBA students in the most recent class received a merit-based scholarship, of which the average amount was over 60 percent of tuition,” says Radcliffe.

“Amounts range from $10,000 to full tuition. The percentage of students that receive a full-tuition scholarship varies widely each year.”

So, what does a business school look for in an impressive candidate? 

Typically, GMAT or GRE scores and GPAs play a role in selection for all merit-based scholarships, including full-tuition scholarships. “Not because we want our average metrics to be high,” she says, “but because we want to make sure the candidates will be very successful in the classroom. We’re wanting to award merit-based scholarships to those who show high potential for success.”

However, “no scholarships are solely determined based on test scores or GPAs,” says Radcliffe. “We’re also looking at career progression, leadership and initiative in the workplace and outside the workplace, and community service.”

Radcliffe says finding the right fit between student and MBA program is the most important criteria. 

Ruthie Pyles, the Graduate Programs Admissions Director at Washington University at St. Louis’s Olin Business School agrees that finding that “fit” is an important factor.

“Other things [aside from test scores] that we’ll consider include how a student represents themselves in the essays, for example: alignment with the university, alignment with our mission and goals, the types of things that they want to have an impact on while they’re here, and within our community, that all plays a role as well,” says Pyles.

“We want students that are very well qualified, that are academically strong, that have really strong metrics,” she says. “But, at the same time, we are very interested in attracting individuals that come from a variety of different backgrounds but are interested in being a part of this community and making an impact on this community.”

At Rice University, Radcliffe says more full-tuition MBA scholarships are typically offered in first round of admissions, with fewer offered in consecutive rounds, meaning it pays to get your application in as early as possible if you’re eyeing the top awards.

Beyond full-tuition scholarships

For those incoming MBA students who are not selected for a full-tuition scholarship, not all hope is lost.

This is because business schools also offer additional merit-based awards, beyond the rare full-tuition scholarships.

Central library at Vanderbilt UniversityFor example, at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, about 60 percent of MBA students receive at least some scholarship funding, according to Christie St. John, the school’s director of admissions. The average amount is $25,000 and annual tuition currently sits at $53,990 per year.

The top-tier scholarships are awarded to Dean’s Scholars, who are offered full tuition, as well as funding for study-related travel, research or special projects. They also gain access to exclusive networking events and mentoring.

“Dean’s Scholars are the crème de la crème, having excellent undergrad academics, top GMAT scores, outstanding interpersonal skills, and a career record of achievement and impact,” says St. John.

“We have a total class of 170 per year, so the Dean’s Scholars make up about 4 percent of the class. In addition, there are a few other candidates who may receive a full scholarship because of their outstanding academics, but who may not qualify for a Dean’s Scholarship for one reason or another.”

Indeed, to woo the most impressive candidates, some business schools offer scholarships that not only cover the full MBA tuition, but also provide stipends, an allowance for living expenses, and other kind of support. These awards, often called ‘full-ride’ scholarships, are rarer still than the full-tuition scholarships.

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“We have something called the Crownover Scholars Program,” says Radcliffe at Rice - Jones, “which is a full tuition scholarship, plus an annual stipend, and that’s based on the evaluation of a number of things but, in general, leadership.”

For these kinds of awards, business schools will typically be looking for more than just a strong GMAT score and good undergraduate performance. 

“We’re looking for a pattern of leadership in an applicant’s resume, a progression,” says Radcliffe. “We’re looking for initiative, that they’re taking leadership roles outside of the workplace, taking them inside the workplace as well and really making an impact.”

Other scholarships help make MBA programs more affordable

Beyond merit-based scholarships, many business schools will offer MBA scholarships to students from underrepresented minorities and other groups of applicants. Some of these scholarships can cover the full cost of tuition. 

For instance, Vanderbilt – Owen has partnered with the Forté Foundation, which aims to advance women in business. The foundation offers scholarships in partnership with business schools, as well as mentoring and strengthening opportunities for its fellows.

St. John says, “we award about 20-30 Forté fellows every year. That amount can range anywhere from $10,000 to a full scholarship.”

Other full-tuition scholarships might be awarded to veterans.

Similarly, Washington University at St. Louis’s Olin Business School partners with The Consortium, which aims to boost diversity in the US business community by offering scholarships to MBA students who promote inclusion.

Pyles says “the types of opportunities that are part of scholarships with these organizations go beyond the financial aspect.”

“It is about connecting them to career opportunities, guiding them through the process and helping them understand how to present their value proposition.”

“I think the return on investment you get here is far greater than with a stipend,” she says.


  • Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA by Daderot CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Central library of Vanderbilt University by Jbaker08 CC BY 2.0
]]> Thu, 08 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Do Entrepreneurs need MBAs? The Benefits of an MBA in Entrepreneurship]]> If you’ve watched the HBO television series Silicon Valley, then you will have seen just how difficult it can be, even for the most talented entrepreneurs, to succeed without an adequate understanding of business and management.

Indeed, although today’s entrepreneurs need a good level of technical skills—and let’s face it, a healthy dose of luck—business acumen can go a long way towards getting a successful startup off the ground. That’s where an MBA comes in.

An MBA, since it covers all the essential parts of business, from finance to operations management, will give an up-and-coming entrepreneur a good grounding for a successful startup.

But do you need an MBA in order to succeed? What’s to stop somebody with a big idea to skip the MBA and jump right in?

One thing an MBA can do is expose students to the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship, without the risk that normally comes with launching a startup in the real world.

Darden School of Business offers an MBA in EntrepreneurshipAnd, luckily for the would-be entrepreneur, business schools are offering an increasing number of relevant courses. According to Sean Carr, the executive director of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, MBA students at Darden have access to at least 28 entrepreneurship classes. 

“These are highly experiential, hands-on courses across a broad range of entrepreneurial activities. Everything from finance to developing new ideas to marketing to operations and so forth,” says Carr.

Likewise, the MBA at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School offers a number of courses—including a full-on concentration in the field—that are aimed to expose students to the breadth of what’s required as an entrepreneur.  

“One of them is on design thinking and innovation management, another is how to start a tech company, another one is venture capital and entrepreneurship, plus financial management for startups,” says Carla Keen, MBA Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Keen says the core course in entrepreneurship—which every MBA student is required to take—was developed to enable every student on the Cambridge MBA program the opportunity to learn key entrepreneurial skills.

“It’s an introduction to entrepreneurship, it gets students developing their thinking in a more entrepreneurial way,” says Keen.

%link_box_sc_{"text": "See the Top 10 MBA Programs for Entrepreneurs", "link": "/lists/top-business-school-by-speciality/top-business-schools-for-entrepreneurs"}%

“Because we find even if students don’t want to go on and become entrepreneurs and start their own companies, a lot of companies are saying they want graduates to come with an entrepreneurial mindset.”

“They want intra-preneurs, they want people within the company with that thinking.”

Learning to be an entrepreneur, outside of the classroom

Cambridge Judge Business School, where MBAs can study entrepreneurshipBut it’s more than just books and lectures: today’s MBA programs are helping students become entrepreneurs by getting them out of the classroom and, effectively, into startups.

For example, business school-hosted accelerator and incubator programs provide ‘safe spaces’ for new startups, where students can often work with mentors to hone their business plans and turn them into reality.

Cambridge is home to a startup incubator called Cambridge Accelerate, which helps support new ventures; Darden hosts the i.Lab incubator, which provides funding, office space, legal help, and other support for startups.

Other schools offering accelerator or incubator options include Harvard Business School, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, plus Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, among others.

Sometimes, business schools also run startup competitions as well; the MBA-led startup with the best business plan can come away with substantial funding.

For those MBA students who aren’t ready to jump into an accelerator or a startup competition, some business schools also provide internship and consulting project options, where they can get entrepreneurial experience, while working in somebody else’s startup or small business. Students in the Darden MBA program, for example, have two different opportunities to pursue internships in startups.

Likewise, students in the International MBA program at France’s EMLyon Business School can participate in a nine-month long Entrepreneurial Leadership Project, where they can work with startups on new product development and other activities.

Founding a startup during your MBA

But do all of these offerings really help new entrepreneurs? For at least one recent graduate, the answer is yes.

Portia Asli is the CEO of health tech startup Vocalens, which she founded with a classmate during her time on the Cambridge MBA.

Asli, whose background is in civil engineering, says that the resources that the business school provided were indispensable during the startup process.

“One of the things an MBA can do for you, as someone who wants to launch a business, is give you access to resources you would not otherwise have access to,” says Asli. 

Asli lists the access to entrepreneurship competitions – and being able to get in front of companies, investors and potential future customers – as valuable opportunities she could take advantage of during her time at Cambridge.

“The most important thing an entrepreneur can have at the beginning is accessing as many free resources as possible. I could never have been part of the incubator, Accelerate Cambridge, if I wasn’t a student at Cambridge University.”

Asli says the time the MBA gives you to explore potential new ventures is something that can make an MBA worthwhile for hopeful entrepreneurs.

“The fact that you have one year off to work on your business idea is actually quite a blessing. You can dedicate all your study, all your extra-curricular work, to be aligned with whatever you want to launch,” she says.

It’s one of many compelling reasons for budding entrepreneurs to take on an MBA.

Sean Carr at Darden agrees. “If you think that having a great education around entrepreneurial thinking and developing your ideas, if you feel that getting a network of colleagues who can challenge you on your ideas and maybe join you as a teammate, having access to mentors, low-cost incubators, access to the capital, early-stage technology, and the support of an institute like ours, if none of that is important to you, then no, you don’t need an MBA to become an entrepreneur,” he says.

“But that’s an incredibly powerful package that I believe can accelerate your success.”


  • Server room by CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Darden School of Business by tldagny CC BY 2.0
  • Cambridge Judge Business School by CGP Grey
]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[5 Questions for an American MBA Student at HEC Paris—Margaret Hoffecker]]> Can you tell me a bit about the experiences and thought processes that led you to Europe for your MBA? 

I started my undergraduate at UCLA, and transferred a year and a half later to [The College of] William & Mary; I was paying out-of-state tuition at UCLA—97% of the students there are in-state, so I was paying a lot for education. A lot of people don’t know that William & Mary is a state school. 

I majored in international relations with a French minor, and when I graduated, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do—I applied to the Peace Corps, got far along in the process but hadn’t received a proper invite yet. In the meantime I’d applied to a PR agency, got that job, and figured that New York in my 20s only happens once. A month after I moved to the city, I got the invite from the Peace Corp for a position in Morocco, so I had to turn that down. I worked in New York for 7 years, mostly in market research. 

One of my bosses had gone to London Business School, and planted the idea of business school in my head; I didn’t even know what an MBA was at that point—I didn’t have much exposure to it. So I thought about business school for a long time; I had different dreams I wanted to chase, like living overseas. Three years ago I moved to London with another employer, but was getting to the point where I was trying to figure out my next step; I was not feeling like I wanted to go back to US. I felt a bit stagnant in my role, and was determined that I didn’t want to work in PR in an agency anymore. 

After talking to my two bosses who went to LBS, business school seemed like the perfect opportunity to expand my horizons and really have a transformational experience in terms of my career. I wanted to stay in Europe; I actually never considered American business schools—it just wasn’t something I was interested in. LBS and HEC just seemed like the right fits for me. LBS was very finance focused, and INSEAD was similarly great in terms of engaging people—I went to an event of theirs and really liked it—but the school is very consulting focused, and I wanted a little more generalist background with the possibility of getting into marketing. HEC seemed like a really good fit, and it was the only school I applied to. 

How would you say the education systems or traditions differ between European programs and US ones?

Having grown up overseas, I gravitate toward environments with diversity. At HEC, there are roughly 44 different nationalities in our class. I’m surrounded by people who are not like me. In an office, you are often around people like you—you’re striving for same goals, maybe you have different clients, but you're all hiring each other, in a sense. Here, we’ve all been selected by various admissions officers who are themselves from different places and trying to create the most diverse group they can. We all have totally different backgrounds, and I know that’s how business school is, but I don’t think the international aspect comes through as much in the US. 

Our professors are similarly, from all over—Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia. For me that’s the most enriching thing; it’s teaching you to work with people who are just not like you, which is just the reality of the world. I think that for me the biggest advantage of HEC has been the truly diverse nature of it—and since we’re more generalist, not everyone wants to get into consulting or banking, so there doesn’t seem to be that cutthroat nature.

Also, my class is 137 people; all-told, the school is around 400 students—that’s a lot smaller than a single intake at INSEAD, or any US school. This way I’ve gotten to know my classmates more. You get more interaction in the classroom.

Anecdotally, would you say that a lot of peers are following your path? 

From talking to my American friends and even people here, I hear a lot of focus in general on the fact that European programs are much shorter; HEC is only 16 months, and at INSEAD it’s even less, with the 15 to 21-month option. That was a big consideration for me. In the US, you’re out of the workforce for 2 years, and that’s a huge loss of wages. If you really want to get a solid education and get on with your career, a shorter program like the ones in the EU can be a really good option; it allows you that flexibility to explore. For me, value for money was big driver. What I’m paying for my entire program is what US students pay for a year, and it’s 2 years.

In terms of job opportunities, what’s your horizon like—will you stay in Europe, or head back to the States? 
I’d like to stay here; I realized that sponsorship is challenging, especially in the UK; anecdotally, I hear from friends that once you say you need sponsorship, some companies just shut down. But I also know people have been successful with that, so you never know. I figured for me, I’ve gotten jobs in the US in past—I think I’m going to be employable, even if they have no idea what HEC is. But I’d love to stay in France if I can; HEC is extremely well-known here. 

I’d ideally like to look for Paris-based jobs. Honestly when I moved to London from New York, I was totally confronted by the craziness of New York—the rat race is real. In London they leave the office at 6pm and go to the pub; and going from 10 vacation days to 25 is not a bad bonus. I loved the lifestyle in Europe, and also the opportunity to travel.

%link_box_sc_{"text": "Read: Europe: The Next MBA Frontier for Americans?", "link": "/articles/europe-the-next-mba-frontier-for-americans"}%

In terms of career, I’ve had an interview at a consulting firm, and applied for a few internships at companies. I’d love to get into pure marketing; I’m passionate about the consumer, and would like to work somewhere in-house—I don’t want to be the market research girl anymore.

If you could give advice to an MBA applicant looking to non-US alternatives, what would it be? 

Consider where you want to end up! That’s one of the biggest considerations. That said, you can always do exchanges with other US schools, so if you don’t want to end up in the US or rely on the US network, that’s okay too. It’s not for everyone; I think my own background played a big role in my choosing to go abroad; my family moved to Riyadh when I was 7, then India, so we were overseas until 1998. When I moved to States, I thought, ‘I’m not American, I don’t feel American.’ Eventually I got over that, but there was always something in me that was itching to get overseas again.

I would also consider how valuable your time is. Do you want to take two years off from work? Can you afford to do that, or do you want something a little more accelerated? I haven’t been to US business school, but it feels very full-on—activities every day. I would also just advise that you kind of have to be open to learning from people who are not like you, and your opinion is not going to be the dominant one. And you’re going to end up with a global network at the end of your time here—you might butt heads along the way, bt if you’re open to the diversity, then it will be open to you. 

Headshot courtesy of Margaret Hoffecker

]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Europe: The Next MBA Frontier for Americans?]]> After seven years of working in market research between New York and London, Virginia-native Margaret Hoffecker started considering an MBA to expand her career horizons.
An MBA had never really been in her plans, but after talking to a couple of bosses who’d gone to London Business School, the idea starting sinking in. And when she seriously started researching programs, she looked directly to Europe.

“I actually never considered American business schools—it just wasn’t something I was interested in,” Hoffecker says. “Having grown up overseas, I think I gravitate toward environments with more diversity.”

Hoffecker is now at HEC Paris, one of the better-known business schools in Europe that, like many others on the continent, are gaining visibility and appeal to US students looking for something outside of the traditional MBA path. Employers are also increasingly look to hire candidates with a more diverse experience; in a recent study by the Financial Times, employers pointed to the ability to work with a wide variety of people as the most important skill they looked for in management candidates.

Combined with more flexible visa policies and shorter programs, an education abroad could give US programs a run for their money. According to surveys by the Graduate Management Admission Council, more prospective students are interested in studying outside their country of citizenship for their MBA.

“What we see here is an increase in the number and quality of applications, particularly from the US,” says Andrea Masini, dean of HEC’s MBA program. “Over past couple of years, we saw American students who were not only above the bar, but better than predecessors—and I’m sure that some of those candidates who in the past would look primarily at US schools, are now looking beyond the States.”

European MBA appeal

As Hoffecker noted, European MBA programs tend to recruit far more international students than business schools in the US.92 percent of HEC’s MBA class is international, with students from more than 52 nationalities; Harvard Business School, in comparison, admitted just 35 percent international students for its MBA Class of 2019. ESMT, a business school in Berlin, is 95 percent international; only 10 to 15 percent speak German, according to Rick Doyle, head of marketing at ESMT.

“Germany is coming into its own in the MBA market these past years,” Doyle says, noting that while the country had never traditionally been the “go-to” location for MBAs, the launch of ESMT in 2002 kickstarted the competition between private schools and MBA degrees in Germany.

“Before, if you didn’t have a PhD, you couldn’t have a c-title position in Germany,” Doyle says. “German students always wanted to go somewhere else, to have an international experience. But we had a German student who recently said she’d wanted to study in Germany because she wanted to see how international students saw German business; so it was an interesting bit of reverse psychology.”

This element has held a lot of appeal for US students looking to gain a more diverse exposure in their MBA education.

“For me that’s the most enriching thing—it’s teaching you to work with people who are just not like you, which is just the reality of the world,” Hoffecker says. “We all have totally different backgrounds, and I know that’s how business school is, but I don’t think the international aspect comes through as much in the US.”

Cost and duration are also huge factors that differentiate programs; US programs are typically two years, and can easily cost over $150,000 122,610), while top European programs range from a year to 16 months. HEC is 16 months at a cost of €62,000 ($75,850), while INSEAD has a 15-month and 21-month option at a cost of roughly €80,000 ($97,870). An MBA at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, which is taught in English, is around €72,000 ($88,080) for the one-year program.

“For me, value for money was big driver; in the US, you’re out of the workforce for two years, and that’s a huge loss of wages,” Hoffecker points out. “If you really want to get a solid education and get on with your career, a shorter program like the ones in the EU can be a really good option. What I’m paying for my entire program is what US students pay for a year, and it’s two years.”

European MBA students also tend to be older, with more experience. At ESMT, the average age is 30, with six years of work experience, says Doyle. The average age of HEC applicants is 29, and the school typically takes students with between three to six years of work experience, according to Masini.

%link_box_sc_{"text": "Video: The MBA Experience in Europe", "link": "/articles/video-the-mba-experience-in-europe"}%

“This implies that the exchange and dynamics in class are different,” he notes. “You come here to learn from faculty, but also your peers.”

And it’s not just Germany and France; Americans are gravitating to MBA programs all over the continent. Business schools that are popular among Americans include Spain’s IE Business School and Esade Business School, IMD and University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, and Vlerick Business School in Belgium. And of course, the UK, with its English-speaking environment and globally-known business schools, is consistently popular.

Post-MBA employment in Europe

Many students are able to find opportunities in Europe after graduation, with visa regulations in places like Germany being much more flexible than those in the US. Doyle points out that ESMT graduates, for instance, can easily receive an 18-month residence permit after graduation, and a two-year work permit upon signing a contract, without company sponsorship. Past school graduates have gone on to work in startups in Germany—where there’s a burgeoning technology scene—and other positions in the finance, marketing, media, and corporate world, as well as at smaller companies in fields like sustainability. But most alumni tend to stay in Europe, Doyle says.

Likewise, Masini says that roughly half of its graduates end up staying in the European Union for work. HEC’s curriculum takes a more generalist approach than other schools—which often lean toward certain niches like finance or entrepreneurship—so its graduates are placed across a rather broad spectrum of industries and positions. “We don’t like to put all our eggs in one basket,” Masini says.

Non-EU citizens who want to work in Europe after their MBA should note that each country has its own visa policies.    

So what are some things to research and contemplate when deciding where to do an MBA?

“Think about where you want to end up! That’s one of the biggest considerations,” Hoffecker recommends. “I would also consider how valuable your time is. Do you want to take two years off from work? Can you afford to do that, or do you want something a little more accelerated?”

As Doyle says, it always comes down to individual decision. “Maybe there’s a personal relationship to someone from the country, or the student has worked for a company from that particular country,” he says.

“Quite often someone just wants something different; sometimes we get US students who’ve left the States for the first time, and want to explore.”

For Hoffecker, HEC was an obvious choice, and the only school she applied to. She acknowledges it’s not for everyone, but says that her background—a childhood in Riyadh and India—played a large role in her decision to go abroad. If Europe does end up being your choice, she says, be prepared to go a bit out of your comfort zone.

“I’d advise that you kind of have to be open to learning from people who are not like you, and your opinion is not going to be the dominant one,” she says. “And you’re going to end up with a global network at the end of your time here—you might butt heads along the way, but if you’re open to the diversity, then it will be open to you.”

]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[5 Questions on the GMAT with Michelle Miller, CEO at Aringo MBA Admissions Consulting]]> Why do you think the GMAT score is such an important part of the MBA application?

Aringo CEO Michelle Miller. Source: Private.

I find that it is important simply because it has only shown to grow in importance to admissions committees year after year.

Every year when the class profiles come out, particularly at the top 10-20 schools, which is where we focus, the importance of the GMAT has continued to climb. 

Usually it's a small climb, but we have examples like last year at Kellogg, Northwestern University's business school, where their average GMAT score climbed – ok this is off the top of my head – but I would say over 10 points in one year. That's a huge jump in the average. 

So it's important because the schools keep showing how important it is. 

And we would really like to take it at face value when we hear that it is just one part of the application, but I believe the admissions trends show that it continues to be a very important piece of the application.

When you meet applicants for the first time have they already sat the GMAT, or are they more likely to be heading towards that?

The candidates come to us at all different stages of the GMAT process. Just yesterday I spoke to a candidate who had only graduated with a bachelor's degree two months ago, so he hasn't even bought a GMAT book yet. 

He just wanted some tips on "how should I be preparing myself over the next few years?”

And then I get candidates who are applying this year so they're studying for the GMAT right now, they have their test dates scheduled. I also have quite a few candidates where it’s already behind them, plus even more candidates who have taken the GMAT but they're preparing for a retake. 

So if we go back to the guy who’s only just graduated with his bachelor's degree, what are of the first things you tell him about the GMAT?

I tell him that it's a bear. Don't take it lightly. I tell him, “this is not a test you should go in and take cold. This is something that takes serious time and preparation.”

I tell him that it's never too early to start. So even though he and I might not speak for another three years, when he's ready to apply, I let him know it's never too early to buy a book to start looking at so you're not [where] unfortunately so many candidates are in right now. They want to get their applications in in less than three months and they're still banging their head against the wall.”

I encourage candidates to talk to an expert, to go to a math tutor. Find a reputable one with proven expertise and make sure that your preparation is evolving. I think that it makes sense that many candidates will start with some degree of self-study, perhaps they might pick up a Manhattan Prep book – sorry, we call it The Bible – to do their initial preparation. But once they can actually practice and they start to get a feel for where they're at with the material, then it's time to determine whether they need to focus on something more specifically. 

Is there a common mistake you see candidates making with the GMAT or their MBA applications more broadly?

Simply underestimating the test itself. I can give you a more specific example of what I mean. I oftentimes will talk to candidates who haven't begun studying yet and they'll tell me, "you know, I haven't actually looked at the GMAT yet, but I'm not worried about it because I aced my SATs, PSATs, etc." They will assume that that the GMAT is just going to be another quote unquote easy standardized test for them to get through.

And if I could add one thing about MBA applications more generally, candidates often undervalue the importance of campus visits.

Because on paper, a school might look like the perfect match for you. But if you go to the campus, you might find a different culture, or that you don’t really enjoy being there – whereas at another school that wasn’t originally top of your list, you could find that the culture fits you better.

This can also help you avoid a ‘deer in the headlights’ situation. Picture yourself in the interview, where it’s all gone so well and then the interviewer casually asks, “have you had a chance to visit the campus?” You really want to be able to say “yes” in that moment!

What MBA application services does Aringo provide?

In addition to offering a lot of complimentary profile evaluations, candidates who work with Aringo receive comprehensive support on their applications. 

Aringo assists applicants in choosing the appropriate program, developing an application strategy, and guiding them through writing a resume (CV), recommendations, and strong essays.

Aringo also offers assistance interview preparation conducted by interviewers who sat on admissions committees at some of the top programs, as well as assistance in applying for financial aid. We specialize in Top 10 MBA admissions for candidates around the world.

We pride ourselves on being able to help our candidates not just craft a strong narrative for their applications but also course-specific narratives.  

For example, Kellogg is world-renowned for their hands-on teamwork-based approach on campus. So we would want to make sure that we help our applicants explore and explain all the ways that they are strong team members and that they're not the type of person who would prefer to work on an island. 

It's our job to help them with the matching process and then in developing these narratives so that they can bring out those parts of their qualifications and explain why they're a strong fit for the schools.


  • Studying by Pexels CC0
  • Michelle Miller. Source: Private.
]]> Fri, 05 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[Should I Use an MBA Admissions Consultant?]]> Having someone guide you through the arduous process of making your MBA applications certainly sounds appealing. But how much difference can the support of a consultant really make?

Representatives from two business schools told they generally have no way of knowing whether an applicant has used an admissions consultant.

Virginie Fougea, director of MBA recruitment and admissions at INSEAD Business School says, “we don’t specifically ask the question” of whether an applicant has used an admissions consultant.

“We know that it’s happening,” she explains, “but we tell our applicants that they can do fine without hiring an admissions consultant.”

Cultural differences

“In some cultural regions of the world it’s something that is just part of the admissions process, part of applying to business school,” says Fougea. “In other countries it’s fine not to have any advice.”

At INSEAD, located just outside Paris, French students make up less than 5 percent of an MBA class. What Fougea is able to say is that “the French are less likely to use an admissions consultant than other nationalities,” although the school has not undertaken specific research on this topic.

Rick Doyle, head of marketing for degree programs at ESMT Berlin says he believes applicants from Asia are more likely to use paid admissions consultants than applicants from other parts of the world, but that trend is changing.

But “quite often we don’t even know” if someone has used a consultant.

“If candidates have had help putting together their application, or answering the essay questions, we wouldn’t necessarily know,” says Doyle. 

Duncan Chapple.

Admissions consultant Duncan Chapple says “the fact that schools aren’t sure which people are using consultants, and which people are not, I think that’s a fantastic testament to the quality of admissions consultants.”

So how many MBA applicants might be using the help of admissions consultants?

“A good rule of thumb is that one candidate in three – at the top schools – is using an admissions consultant,” says Chapple.

Strategically approaching your MBA application

Chapple’s work focuses on helping candidates to be strategic, to identify the schools that best fit their goals and then effectively communicate why they are a great fit in their applications.

“I find that almost every candidate I speak to has the same mistakes and exactly the same biases,” says Chapple. “I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that the unsuccessful candidates have got the same statistics as the successful candidates.”

Chapple says that candidates will often look at students who have been accepted to a certain school, and assume that if they have a similar GMAT score, or a similar level of work experience, then that must make them a competitive candidate. 

What they don’t realize, he says, is that “everyone who applies to Harvard has got a GMAT over 700”. Candidates need to be much clearer about what makes them stand out, and which schools would actively seek out these qualities – because it often won’t be the first school they think of.

“A lot of what I’m doing is helping people to clarify their goals,” explains Chapple.

“A lot of people want an MBA because they want an MBA. And that is not a very compelling reason to go to Yale, rather than going somewhere else. The more you understand yourself, the more convincing you will be when you speak to schools about why their schools is the perfect place for you to attend.”

It’s being able to clarify why you and that school are a perfect match that will convince the school you’re the right choice for them, too.

Like putting a square peg in a round hole

Chapple says that when he meets applicants who have had a bad experience with a previous admissions consultant, it’s often because they haven’t gone in with a clear strategy.

“They’ve come to a consultant and said, ‘I’m a square peg. Help me get into a round hole.’ And the admissions consultant says ‘yes. I’m going to help you pretend to be a round peg.’”

Chapple says this can often result in an applicant being admitted to a school, only to discover on arrival that it’s a terrible fit, they’ve lost their deposit and wasted their time. 

“A good application consultant can put lipstick on a pig,” says Chapple, “but that’s in nobody’s interest.”

What makes an MBA admissions consultant worth it

A lot of people come to me after they’ve failed in applications to schools that they love,” says Chapple.

“Changing industry, changing role and changing country: most of my clients are changing at least two of those, and very often three. That means that the question of fit is really important,” he says.

He says if you consider the expected earnings of a graduate from a good business school versus a great business school, “even the best admissions consultants around are going to cost you a fraction of those additional lifetime earnings”.

Michelle Miller.

Michelle Miller, the CEO of admissions consulting firm Aringo, says there’s a common misconception that only candidates who know they’re lacking something will bother employing a consultant. She says, in reality, that’s not the case.

“We know the schools and what they’re looking for,” she explains. “Candidates often do a good job of describing themselves and what they’re looking for, but they forget to draw that dotted line to why Kellogg should care, why [Harvard Business School] should care, etcetera.”

Miller says her company’s work focuses on helping candidates craft a compelling narrative for why the candidate and a particular school are the right fit for each other.

“You need a Columbia narrative and you need a different narrative for NYU,” she says. “You don’t tell each school the same story.”

As well as overall strategy, Aringo and other MBA consulting services offer support with CV formatting, GMAT preparation and interview practice.

‘Why did I get dinged?’

Like Chapple, Miller says she often hears from MBA candidates who have tried to apply on their own and have been unsuccessful.

Miller says every spring she receives many calls from people hoping to figure out why they got “dinged”.

“I would say about one third to almost half of these callers will say ‘I’m completely at a loss as to why I was dinged, because my profile was awesome,’” she says.

“In talking through their application with them, we often discover that because their GMAT score was so fantastic, or because they had great work experience, or went to a great school, we find the candidates didn’t put much effort into the rest of the application,” explains Miller.

In that sense, MBA candidates would be wise to remember it’s about the whole profile.

“Please don’t think that having one great piece of your profile is going to mean that nothing else matters,” says Miller. “Schools really are considering the whole package.”

“Your 770 GMAT score alone is not enough.”


  • Berlin Museum Island CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Duncan Chapple. Source: Private.
  • Michelle Miller. Source: Private.
]]> Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[5 Questions with MBA Admissions Consultant Angela Guido From mbaMission]]> Why is the GMAT score such an important part of the MBA application?

Angela Guido. Source: Private

Three reasons. First is that it's the closest thing to an objective measure that they can compare all across the country.

Number two: there are years and years of data that have been generated from the GMAT. And then, of course, from students’ performance. So statistically the GMAT is pretty well correlated with performance in business school, even though anyone who takes the GMAT will think, ‘”this is crazy! What does this have to do with what I’m actually going to have to do in business school? Statistically it does seem to correlate.

So it's useful to help schools contextualize the ability of students to thrive in their program. Actually, I’m going to extend this to four reasons! The third reason is because admissions committees have to make very difficult decisions. Ultimately the vast majority of the candidates are great and they can only admit a small percentage of them. So the GMAT gives them a little bit of a lever to make tough calls sometimes. 

And then finally I think, unfortunately, the GMAT has become relatively more important in recent years due to the rankings and schools’ need to preserve and I think advance their reputations via the ranking – one input into the rankings are students' GMAT scores. 

So where schools might prefer to be a little more generous with their judgment, I think some of them probably feel that their hands are tied with respect to the rankings. So, for better or worse, the GMAT matters quite a bit in the process.  

So if someone has decided they want to have a crack at getting into business school. They might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Where do you recommend people start when it comes to the GMAT? Should they go buy a book? Should they talk to people first? What do you advise?

I think the first thing I would suggest anyone does is to take a practice test. Go in cold, take the test and see what happens. In my experience, most people do badly.

I have a lot of experience working with people to improve their test scores both in a class environment and one-on-one. And it's quite common, with the right work, to improve your score from your first cold test to your final test by 100 points or even more.

If you're targeting a school and you know that you need to have an above 700 score to be competitive and your practice test is a 580, then you know you have a lot of work to do and you're probably going to want to invest in a class.

On the other hand, if you're close – let’s say you want to get a 720 and your first test is 670 – well a 50-point jump is not that hard if you're starting cold. Then you might just buy a set of books and study on your own first. That might be your first step.

The benefit to studying on your own is that it's self-paced, which means if you're close to where you want to be and you can work really fast, say if you've got a lot of time in the coming two three weeks, then you can make quite a bit of progress on your own. The downside to studying without a class is that you lack the discipline, you lack the direct teaching, you lack the regular pace. And the GMAT is not everybody's favorite thing, so it can be very good to have the accountability of a course and the dedication of the instructor. I obviously have a preferred program, and that's Manhattan Prep, but I think what’s important if you're looking for a class, is the caliber of the instructors and the caliber of the curriculum. 

So the further you have to go to reach your target score, the more you are going to need to learn and re-learn the content of the test, not just tips and tricks. 

If you're more than a hundred points away from where you want to be, most people haven't done geometry or trigonometry or algebra since they were 18 or 19 and so really refreshing those concepts will be an important part of gaining over 100 points on the test.

When in comes to GMAT preparation, is there a common mistake you see candidates making, or something they regularly overlook?

So back when I was one of the people who would do the exit conversations with people who had gone through our course and taken the exam and not performed up to their standard. I did hundreds of those calls so I got to see people who had spent a lot of hours working on the test and ultimately were not where they wanted to be. The number one mistake I saw was people underestimating the importance of doing real timed practice. 

You also need to practice for the test itself. Questions written by anyone other than GMAC are not the same. Students really need to get the official guide. You can buy the last two or three generations and there's some overlap in questions but there are a lot of differences. Doing actual test problems under timed conditions – and you can do this yourself with a stopwatch – is really important because being able to solve the problem is worthless if you can't do it in roughly two minutes’ time. 

Any other tips?

Another big mistake I saw was people aiming for quantity over quality. So I'm saying you need to do actual official practice problems and that's true, but don't do 100 problems and only do them and never review them thoroughly, because you're ultimately not learning anything. So I would strongly prefer my students do 20 problems and then spend 40 minutes reviewing them really thoroughly and in depth rather than using that same amount of time to solve 60 problems.

Could you give us a brief overview of the consulting services you provide to MBA applicants and your other professional work?

I help aspiring business leaders understand their unique strengths and values and how to communicate them effectively, in order to achieve their goals and build strong professional relationships.

I do this with MBA applicants through mbaMission, where I help guide applicants through a complete process of self-discovery and professional storytelling so that they can gain admission to top MBA schools. And I do the same with young careerists through Career Protocol, helping people advance their careers within their organizations or through job transitions so they can achieve more purpose and joy in their work.


  • Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan by Jmabel CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Angela Guido. Source: Private.
]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[8 Reasons To Get An MBA]]> An MBA is a significant investment, in terms of both time and money. But the rewards for MBA graduates can make for compelling reasons for undertaking an MBA program.

And the rewards can be more substantial than just a salary bump. An MBA can obviously help you advance in your career, but it can also help you develop an international network, get leadership skills, and even make a difference in the world.  

Here are some of the most common reasons why people do an MBA.

1. To launch an international career

Perhaps the most common reason that people pursue MBA programs is that they can allow for substantial career shift. 

“Typically changing sector, function and location are the three main changes MBA students are looking to make during or after the program,” says Rick Doyle, head of marketing for degree programs at ESMT Berlin.

Specifically, many use an MBA as a global springboard, to get some hands-on experience in a new country and then even stay in that country to work after graduation.

Indeed, doing an MBA in a new country means that students can be directly in touch with local firms, so that it’s easier to network, and, hopefully, land some job interviews. Doing an MBA in the place where you want to work also has the added benefits of helping you learn about a country’s culture and work customs as well.

Some locations that are popular among MBA applicants are the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, among others.

If you’re intending to work in the country where you study after graduation, make sure you brush up on the applicable visa rules.

2. To shift sectors or functional areas

Likewise, some students might use an MBA to transition into a new sector— whether it be financial services, consulting, or something else—or delve into a new functional area like operations management or business analytics.

Indeed, in a 2016 survey by GMAC, some 71 percent of prospective MBA students said they were interested in transitioning to a new industry after finishing their degree.

In this case, an MBA can allow students to build on their previous experience, and customize their learning, often through specializations or concentrations

ESMT’s Rick Doyle says that an MBA can help students “explore new areas of business, develop new competencies and a new career plan, while working in an international environment, during their MBA”.

“By the end of the program, students develop managerial and cross-functional skills needed to branch out in new directions and to succeed professionally,” says Doyle.

Graduates of the MBA program at ESMT Berlin have included a Brazilian student who formerly worked in digital marketing in Germany, who went on to work at the consulting firm BCG in Brazil following graduation, and someone with US military experience who went on to work for Amazon in the UK. 

3. To gain international exposure

With students and faculty from all over the world, an MBA program can be a great environment for gaining exposure to other cultures and perspectives within the classroom. Virginie Fougea, director of MBA recruitment and admissions at INSEAD Business School, says that this is a major draw for students who apply to her school’s MBA.

“We see that people looking for an MBA at INSEAD are looking for international exposure or looking to add an international component to their thinking processes and their career in general,” she says.

“By this I mean that they are looking to have in-the-classroom experience, case studies that apply everywhere in the world, or featuring companies from different countries with different thinking patterns.”

Fougea says the international experience of faculty and teaching staff is also something applicants are looking for.

Some business schools may also offer students the opportunity to get international experience through an internship or consulting project.

4. To gain new skills and knowledge

In the 2016 GMAC survey, the number one reason why prospective students wanted to pursue an MBA was that they felt they lacked the skills they needed to get the jobs they wanted. 

Indeed, a recent survey of incoming MBA students at McGill found that some 57 percent were looking to gain new business skills or academic knowledge. “Often we’ll hear from people who say they have really strong technical skills, like an engineer, and what they’re looking to do is gain some business skills,” says Marie-Eve Roy, director of recruitment and marketing at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management.

“An MBA is the perfect platform to gain these skills.”

5. To be the boss

Another reason why people pursue MBAs is to climb the career ladder. Maybe you’ve reached a plateau at your current job, and it would take new skills or knowledge to get to the next level.

And, in the case of strong MBA programs, this seems to be an effective use of the degree. In the most recent Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times, for example, over 80 percent of surveyed graduates from the London Business School reported that their current job titles were at the senior management level or above.

6. To grow your network

Doing a world-class MBA program will also put you in touch with a wide range of people, all over the world. From your cohort to your professors and even local businesses, in an MBA you’ll be connected with a huge, international community.

And this can be a primary driver for people looking to get an MBA. In the 2016 GMAC survey, for instance, “one of the main goals of people pursuing a full-time MBA program was to network.

Rick Doyle at ESMT agrees that students are interested in what kind of network they will be able to build from an MBA program and its business school.

“If they want to network in a certain business, in a certain industry, or if the university has connections to particular industry, they want to be able to network within that industry,” he says.

7. To get a pay raise

“And, of course, the salary increase is important,” says Doyle.

As well as offering significant opportunities for professional and personal growth, MBA programs offer a good chance for a raise post-graduation.

For those who have attended world-class MBA programs, pay bumps are verifiable, and substantial.  

In the most recent Financial Times Global MBA ranking, for instance, MBA graduates from Rutgers Business School reported that three years after graduation, they had increased their salaries by 130 percent, on average. At some schools, the salary increase was even higher. Three years after completing their program, MBA grads from Mexico’s Ipade Business School increased their salary by 180 percent, on average, according to the Financial Times data.

8. To make a difference

Although landing leadership roles and getting better salaries are perennial reasons for getting an MBA, an increasing number of people are looking to leverage the degree towards making a difference in the world.

This is especially true among baby boomers. The 2016 GMAC survey found that almost one-third of baby boomers who were applying for MBA programs were doing so to transition into nonprofits or the government sector. 

To meet this growing demand, some business schools are customizing their curriculum to include more classes in nonprofit management and even corporate social responsibility (CSR). 


  • Berlin Museum Island with TV Tower by Thomas Wolf CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)
  • Skyline - Paris, France at night by Jim Trodel CC BY 2.0
  • McGill Desautels by abdallah CC BY 2.0
]]> Mon, 27 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[5 Questions for an MBA Working in Tech—Dan Keyserling]]> Can you tell me a bit about your education and career path so far? 

For my undergraduate degree I studied political and social thought at the University of Virginia, which is basically a degree that combines political theory with history and literature. While I was at UVA, I worked for the school newspaper, the Cavalier Daily, for most of my time there. Then I worked in communications for Hillary Clinton’s first campaign, and briefly at the New York Times in New York City. Then I went to Google, in 2009, and I’ve been working there ever since. 

I got my MBA at NYU at night—I attended part-time, and graduated in 2015. I specialized in macroeconomics and management, and I did that over two and a half years; it’s a full MBA, but you just take your classes at night or on weekends. You can do as quickly or slowly as want, up to five to six years, I believe. I wanted to do mine pretty quickly, which meant I had to do a lot of classwork and weekend classes and more or less not take breaks throughout the year.

How and when did you get interested in working in technology?

I never imagined myself working at a tech company when I was in college. I definitely thought I was going to be working in either politics or journalism. The real story of why I moved to New York was that my then-girlfriend got into law school at Columbia, said ‘I’m moving to New York,’ and I said ‘Okay, that sounds good.’ I was actually unemployed for a couple of months during that transition phase. When I got the New York Times gig, it seemed more like what I was expecting to do. But a friend was working for Google at the time, and said ‘you should come here.’ At that point I really admired the company, although it was hard to imagine what I would do there. But I got my first job there as an assistant for a couple of engineering directors. And then once I was inside Google I looked for teams who were working with subjects that I cared a lot about—international security, working with vulnerable populations, defending human rights. And there wasn’t really a team at Google that combined all those things in one place that I could easily find. 

Nine months after I started working there, Eric Schmidt hired Jared Cohen to create a team called Google Ideas, which eventually became Jigsaw; I was 4th hire on that team. Getting there wasn’t so straightforward; as soon as I found out that Eric had hired Jared, I figured out where he was sitting, marched over, and introduced myself. He said, ‘well I don’t have any budget or headcount, I can’t hire you, but if you want to volunteer, you can do that.’ Google has a tradition of allowing you to volunteer part of your time to projects you care about. And because at the time I worked for two engineering directors who had offices on two separate floors, no one knew where I really was, so I just sort of moved my office into Jared’s office. I kind of benefitted from corporate squatter’s rights.

Do you think you needed an MBA for your job? How does your MBA supplement what you’re doing now? 

I don’t think I needed one; no one says, “you need to get an MBA.” I got one because I wanted to go to graduate school—I wanted to learn in a formal environment, and have a kind of structure around getting smarter. I was also a small business owner at the time—my college buds and I started a small coffee shop, and I wanted to learn how to do that better, be a better entrepreneur, business owner, and I wanted to put that process in context of a formal MBA curriculum. I thought I’d learned a lot just by starting the business, but it was really helpful to put a lot of those lessons in context of other lessons people learned creating and running businesses. The MBA also made me better understand what things were going on around me while working at a big company like Google—gave me context, better resources of the decisions that were being made, and allowed me to study rigorously things like macro-economic trends, financial crises, and how markets operate, how organizations like Google participates in all that. I’m really glad I got my MBA while working at Google; it gave me such an incredible place to not just apply what I was learning, but also to steer that knowledge into what I was doing in the future. 

Do you feel there’s a lot of focus on technology in MBA programs? Were a lot of your classmates angling towards a career in technology? 

Every business school kind of has its own angle and reputation, and NYU is known for being a finance-heavy school because of its location and faculty. I was a bit of a rarity there working in technology. I’d say that many were getting MBA for a really specific purpose—needing it within their organization, to get out of their current field, or pivot somewhere else. I’d say that most of my classmates still worked in finance in one way or other. 

Do you have any advice for MBA students looking to get into the industry? 

I would say that even if you’re not considering getting into tech as an MBA, spend some time getting to understand the industry—the life cycle of a tech product, how it gets made, the relationship between software engineering and product management—because I think that even if you’re not interested in delving into the industry per se, that whole sector is going to be increasingly relevant to all other sectors. People with some fluency in how it works are going to be better equipped to work in other industries. 

Also, for people who are interested in getting a job in big tech company, don’t let the perfect role be the enemy of a good role. I talk to a lot of people who say ‘oh there’s only one job I’d consider at X company,’ with an overwrought idea of what they’re going to do there. That wasn’t really my approach. I said ‘let me just get in the door of the coolest place in the world and see how I can be useful there.’ They’re really dynamic. Once you get inside, you have a much better sense of what’s going on. You’re better equipped to make informed decisions about your career. 

Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0/Gerd Leonhard/Cropped

]]> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[5 Questions for an Online MBA Graduate—Claire Osborn]]> If you could give me some idea of why you decided to go for an Online MBA instead of a full or even part time on-campus program: what were your priorities, what were the top pros and cons you weighed?

I actually didn't have a choice in the type of MBA program, it had to be an online program due to work commitments and financial reasons. At the age of forty and a with career that I’d never really chosen myself, I decided that I needed to make a change, and it was now or never. Some people thought I was crazy wanting to go back to school, but when you think about it, forty is only halfway through your working career, and I wanted to be on a different path than the one I was walking.

[Before business school,] I’d decided to start a small business making flower arrangements and doing party planning; in time the business grew and evolved from a floral business into wedding flowers, and then into the bridal wear market. After almost 10 successful years in business, the industry was disrupted with the introduction of the internet and I struggled with no real business background to adapt. I felt defeated, and like a failure.

The next 12 years of my working life were spent as a retail manager. Although I’ve enjoyed my career, I’ve always had regrets and lived with the feeling of not fulfilling my potential, so I decided it was time to face things. I looked into many online programs, but Durham stood out for me as it’s triple-accredited, has a fabulous reputation, offered the flexibility I needed to fit around working full-time, and also gave the opportunity to attend modules on campus at summer school. I was nervous—the doubts started creeping back in: was I capable, what if they asked about my educational level, what if I didn’t fit in. However, the faculty staff were fantastic; they treated people as individuals and each on their own merits, background and experience.

Could you give me a brief idea of what the modules are like from a technical standpoint? 

The online modules varied depending on the module topic, which was great as no two modules were the same. I was worried about program becoming repetitive or ‘same process, different subject.’ But each lecturer/module leader had a different way of engaging—some very vocal, with lots of webinars and podcasts, others through discussion boards or group exercises.

The online program based around Blackboard has pros and cons. The pros were that it is self-managing; you can log on and learn at your own convenience and around work and family commitments. The course was broken down into weekly segments; recommended readings, podcasts, recorded webinars and discussion boards. This worked really well for me, as I could watch a webinar during my lunch break, or whilst traveling for work. I also printed the case studies and read them as I got chance during the week when having a coffee. This allowed me to be more productive in the time I put aside to study and join discussions and interact with the other students or module leaders. However, of course with online technology comes technical issues, although these were minimal.

What did you appreciate most about the program, and what were your bigger disappointments, or things you feel really lacking and could be improved?

The best part of the program were the people. I have made friends for life all over the world. The diversity of the students on the course enabled learning and understanding of international business through real life experience. I also thoroughly enjoyed summer school and the meeting the people I had spent many months chatting with—it really helped build stronger bonds with other students and motivated us all to keep on going. At no point during my experience, although it was online, did I ever feel alone. 

The most disappointing part of the online experience was that not all students were keen to engage; this was particularly disappointing when doing group work and one or two individuals out of a group of five or six wouldn’t participate in discussions or add value to a joint assignment until the last minute, but were willing to still take credit for the work.

[Read related article: Inside Online MBA Programs]

Can you tell me a bit about what you do now, and how the MBA has advanced your career? 

I changed career paths and now work as an analyst for Baker Hughes GE in the Oil and Gas subsea sector. It’s a totally different industry from retail and one I never imagined I would enter, but it fits me perfectly—it’s volatile and undergoing a huge transformation as an industry. I now have a new challenge that allows my previous experience to merge with my new knowledge base, and hopefully help change and shape a new era of industry.

I started the MBA with the intention on starting a business again, but this time better prepared for the potential pitfalls. I also wanted to prove I was able to achieve the education I never had, which I did with distinction. I’m more analytical and decisive, I have a better and more rounded understanding built on the foundation of others’ experience as well as my own, and I can appreciate other points of view and rationalize options by drawing on many discussions with fellow colleagues. However, not everything went to plan, as I’ve now got the research bug and want to pursue a PhD. 

Any advice you'd give prospective MBA student trying to decide on an Online MBA?

Stop thinking about it, and do it. If you’re considering it an MBA, I believe it’s because you want to either progress in your chosen career, or make a dramatic change. Either way, an MBA will help build your skill set and enhance your overall understanding of business. I’ve never felt so empowered and in control of my career as I do now.

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<![CDATA[Inside Online MBA Programs]]> Glen Menezes had been thinking about an MBA for about five years before he actually decided to pursue one—but there was always too much going on at work. 

“I was working 60, 70-hour weeks as a director at a digital advertising agency, so taking time out to do an MBA was never really a viable option,” he says.

He’d considered an Online MBA several times, but “realistically, it didn’t have the same clout,” he recalls. “It just didn’t seem to have the same standing as a traditional MBA.”

And he thought that until he began looking into the Online MBA at Imperial College London just over two years ago. He did a lot of research, compared programs, and was finally convinced by the format of the course, its professors, as well as the location. “I came to realize that really, this was the only way forward for me.” 

Burgeoning roster of online MBA programs

Unwilling to give up their work-life balance, many young professionals like Menezes have opted for Online MBA programs.

Indeed, in the past few years, Online MBA programs have become more prevalent, and accepted. In 2014, the Financial Times published its first ranking of Online MBA programs, signaling that there were enough good programs out there to warrant an actual ranking. And in 2017, the Princeton Review for the first time ever ranked Online MBAs—a clear indication of the growth in viable and respected programs. 

In the US, the top three rated programs in that Princeton Review ranking are The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Indiana University’s Bloomington Kelley School of Business, and Temple University’s Fox School of Business Management.

In Europe, IE Business School, Warwick Business School, Durham University Business School and Imperial College are also top-ranked programs that have garnered some accolades for their Online MBAs. These programs are also are ranked in the Financial Times’ current Online MBA Ranking.

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“We’ve definitely seen an increase in enrollment, and this year in particular,” says Julie Hodges, associate dean for MBA Programs at Durham. She says that the typical profile of an Online MBA student is someone currently working full time, usually at the middle to senior management level. Durham’s program also allows a blended approach, where students can attend classes on campus; roughly 20 percent choose to do it entirely online, Hodges notes.

Imperial College also launched its online course in January 2015 after a long road of research and consideration about how to enter the online market. It had offered a distance learning program in the past, but decided to own its own technology going forward, instead of using third-party software suppliers. 

“For us, the technology was a big game-changer,” says Paolo Taticchi, director of the Weekend MBA and Global Online MBA at Imperial. “Virtual learning environments are typically used to support face-to-face on-campus programs; they were not really designed for the delivery of online modules. So the classic problem you have is the aesthetics of that learning experience—the engagement is very low. So we put a lot of resources into developing the expertise and capacity in house, just devoted to the business school.”

How Online MBAs work

Different Online MBA programs provide a spectrum of interfaces and learning options. At Imperial, the course offers options like video learning, live lectures, quizzes, and case study analysis activities. The approach is that every module is a combination of ten stages, with each stage comprising eight to ten different activities. Modules are tailored to the topic matter, Taticchi notes; certain courses might have more online simulation or case studies, while others will offer more traditional lectures and quizzes. 

“We also work with a teaching assistant to review the material, or speak with professors themselves during live lectures, face-to-face,” Menezes adds. “That’s always really nice.”

The interface at Imperial’s Online MBA program is designed to mimic current-day social media networks like Facebook; for instance, students who sign in to modules can see what other classmates are online, and are able to start chats or video calls. Live feedback tools have also upped engagement; students can vote on certain case analysis questions in class, for instance, and instantly see live infographics about which way the class voted on that particular issue. And the school’s technology also processes a massive amount of data about student usage behavior during modules, allowing the tech team to further tailor the program as it develops. 

Durham relies mostly on Blackboard, one of the most prominent educational software platforms. There are live classes, webinars, group online activities, forums, and case study analyses. Assignments can also vary—from individual written analyses to reflective journals and group presentations. One of the key things Durham has tried to advance is student engagement online, which can always be challenging in distance-learning programs. One tactic to improve engagement, for example, has been to make lecture videos shorter.

“We’ve learned that students don’t want to sit down and watch 30- to 40-minute videos; they like shorter input,” Hodges says. “That way they’re really focused on the learning. We’ve learned from that. It’s all about how we can better facilitate student engagement.”

The value of Online MBAs

There’s traditionally been a stigma associated with online degrees, particularly in the business school space, where, especially for MBAs, branding and pedigree are often prized as the ultimate value. But those in the space—and students alike—are saying that views are changing. 

“I’m not 100 percent convinced the stigma is gone, but I think once people understand the work that’s involved, the technology that’s available, and the learning process that students go through, they could realize that there’s actually a lot of benefits to an online degree that aren’t there in a full-time MBA,” says Menezes, who is currently working at a financial asset firm called Caridon that works with private equity to provide social housing in London.

Taticchi says that the value of an MBA has changed radically in last 15 years; today, it’s more about the learning experience rather than a stamp on a CV that could allow you to net a promotion, he says. 

“If you think about it, a good Online MBA program simulates the way we work today—globalized teamwork, where you can be working on some marketing project with someone based in New York and Dubai,” he adds. “Managing all the challenges of that group work, simply from a time distance perspective—that is something that mirrors today’s job market, and can better prep you than an on campus program ever could.”

Figuring out time management is the top piece of advice Menezes says he’d give prospective online MBA students. “What students really need to think about is their time management—what you’ll need to shift around to get your 20 to 25 hours per week,” he says. “Because you really need to be dedicated to it.”


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<![CDATA[MBA Careers in Technology: Landing a Job in Big Tech]]> When Dan Keyserling graduated from the University of Virginia with an undergraduate degree in political and social thought, he never thought he’d be working in the technology industry. 

“I definitely thought I was going to be working in either politics or journalism,” says Keyserling. “I worked for the [UVA] school newspaper, the Cavalier Daily, for most of my time there; then I worked in communications for Hillary Clinton’s first campaign, and briefly at the New York Times.”

Today, Keyserling is at Google, where he has been since 2009, doing foreign policy consultancy for a product called Jigsaw. After college, a friend working at Google had encouraged him to come to the company, and he landed an initial job as an assistant to a few engineering directors at what was then called Google Ideas. It wasn’t until 2015—when he was also running a small coffee shop business with a couple of college friends—that he finished his MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business, as a part-time student. 

“I don’t think I needed [an MBA]; I got one because I wanted to go to graduate school—I wanted to learn in a formal environment, and have a kind of structure around getting smarter,” he says. 

Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple all scooping up MBAs

With ‘big tech’ firms like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple snapping up more and more MBAs, interest in the technology sector is high among would-be graduate students.

And MBAs naturally gravitate to the hubs, where these firms are located.

Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, still stands out as one of the most renowned program that feeds graduates into the sector. But other schools are also increasingly funneling graduates into Apple, Google, and other big tech firms. Of the full-time MBA class of 2016 at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, for instance, almost 39 percent of graduates went into the technology and telecom sectors. And it’s not just schools in California’s Bay Area: of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business’ class of 2016, Amazon picked up a whopping 34 MBAs. Likewise, of Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management’s class of 2016, Amazon snapped up 23 MBAs and Google grabbed 12.

Outside of the US, there is Berlin’s ESMT European School of Management and Technology, Imperial College Business School in London, China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, and ISB Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India, among others. 


And as the interest in tech burgeons, business schools are adding tech-specific curriculum to their curriculums. 

Dan Poston, assistant dean of master’s programs at the Seattle-based Univeristy of Washington Foster School of Business, says that last year the full-time MBA placed upwards of 50 percent of their graduates in the technology sector—with this year’s figure likely being higher. 

“Up until about four years ago, we were still sending full-time students to eleven, twelve industries; recently, that has bent more and more toward tech,” says Poston. “The sector is hiring like crazy and they’re paying more money than other sectors, so we see people who come back for an MBA—not intending to go into an MBA—changing their minds after they see those incentives.”

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In response to the demand, Foster has added more classes to its curriculum over the years—for example service marketing, delivering software services, cloud, and data analytics—an increasingly popular class, Poston says. Foster also offers a Technology Management MBA designed for those who already have six to eight years of working experience in the sector. 

“The most popular thing people come back to do an MBA for is to be a product manager,” Poston says. “That’s probably the most popular single job.”

Likewise, Berlin’s ESMT has significantly upped its number of classes on innovation, and reshaped the entrepreneurship classes in the last two to three years, according to Linus Dahlander, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship. The courses now allow students to work on projects for longer periods of time, and integrate professionals from outside the university to engage with students and speak about how the concepts taught in class actually play out in practice.

“That’s been a really good experience,” Dahlander says. “Of course we teach the theory, but you also need the practical side—to get your hands dirty and do the work.”

MBA jobs in the tech sector

For those looking to break into a large technology company, plenty are hiring. Poston says  Foster graduates, being in Seattle, often place into regional giants like Microsoft and Amazon, which was the top recruiter of Foster graduates last year. Non-tech companies needing professionals for the technology side of their enterprises—insurance companies, for instance—are also hiring, as well as consulting firms.

“In our region, most are hiring like crazy,” says Poston. “As one of our recruiters said, tech is part of every enterprise now.” 

ESMT, being more focused on entrepreneurship, sees many of its graduates going into the startup side of the industry, taking positions at early-stage growth companies or going on to launch their own. 

Any advice for MBA grads looking to go into the sector? 

Dahlander says that it pays to closely consider location. “Honestly the place matters a lot; if people are interested in this kind of area, it makes sense to go to one of the hubs. There is something to be said for being exposed to that kind of environment—you get a lot out of the class education, but if I were someone interested in the sector, I’d go to a city that’s known for its entrepreneurship.”

For Poston, it’s: do your research. “I think a lot of people say they want to work in tech, but don’t know what that means. Be informed—go talk to people working in the positions you’re interested in, ask them questions. ‘What do you do all day? Are you happy doing that? Do you like coding?’ Tech companies are moving at lightning speed; they’re not going to hold your hand through the learning process. They’re going to want you to be ready from day one.”

As for Keyserling, he never anticipated working at the most renowned tech giant in the world—which he says was perhaps all a part of how he ended up in his current role. 

“Don’t let the perfect role be the enemy of a good role,” he says. “I said, ‘let me just get in the door of the coolest place in the world and see how I can be useful there.’ Once you get inside, you have a much better sense of what’s going on. You’re better equipped to make informed decisions about your career.”

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<![CDATA[5 Questions for a FinTech MBA—Ashley Lannquist]]> How did the idea to start a FinTech club at Berkeley germinate? 

I got into FinTech while living in New York; I was talking to the co-founder of MIT FinTech at a rooftop party in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was graduating from Sloan in 2015. He told me about the industry, and at the time I was working in investment management, advising institutional investors on their portfolios. It really piqued my interest, and I started to research the topic on my own. By spring 2016, I started writing FinTech reports for BNY Mellon, where I was working. In the meantime, I had applied and gotten into business school, and right after that, received a fellowship. I won it for FinTech—I was passionate about it, and my essay was how I about I wanted to develop a FinTech club at Haas. 

Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting the club, and how it’s gone since launch?

Over the summer of 2016 we worked on early documents on how it would form, and then launched the club in August. We grew quickly because it’s such a strong area of interest for students, and we had some very successful early events. One big event was a panel called “The Future of Investing,” and it was on robo-advisors and digital investment advisory. Then the club picked up; we had basically 150 members by year-end, with half from the full-time program and half from the part-time MBA program. 

We’ll have treks to big companies this fall—last year they were SoFi, PayPal, and Visa. We’ll also be focusing on getting things like sponsorships from companies to grow our budget, and get the incoming class excited about the club. While we’re just as active as the largest three U.S. MBA FinTech Clubs—Wharton, MIT, and Columbia, which have been around for a few years—there’s always the risk that our club won’t endure because we don’t have continuity, the next generation. So we have to work to get students excited about the club, identify future club leaders, and engage them.

MIT was the first to start a FinTech club, starting specifically with a conference, then Wharton. I’d applied to Wharton as well, but I thought it was more attractive to start one myself and do it in Silicon Valley, in the Bay Area. I felt that there was a really big opportunity there. 

What’s the conversation like amongst your peers about FinTech? Are most still going down traditional MBA paths? 

I would say that there’s a lot of broad interest in FinTech at Haas. But we’re also in Silicon Valley; we’re the school with the highest percentage of students interested in technology, usually around 40 or 45 percent per year. We’ve got a lot more people than average that are interested in FinTech over traditional finance. They see it as more exciting, fast-moving, and an opportunity to really make an impact in the financial sector. It’s also usually more socially beneficial because you’re building products that can deliver financial services more cheaply, transparently, and directly to the broad population or even the under- or unbanked. It’s also useful in a lot of emerging market countries, and that interests a lot of Haas students. But many people are still interested in consulting, venture capital, impact investing, and “big tech.” 

Do you see FinTech as an essential part of an MBA curriculum?

I think Haas feels that it should be—maybe not a core class but that there should definitely be FinTech offerings, because it’s really the future of finance. And they’re developing more of a FinTech curriculum; the MBA program now has a dedicated FinTech elective that they launched around two years ago. We might have more courses or even a fintech concentration with electives from different university departments in the future. Academia can always lag, but the professors recognize this. 

What are your plans after graduation?

I’ve become really passionate about blockchain, so I’m looking at blockchain companies—startups or innovation centers at large companies, or even institutions. I can see myself going to three places: startups, company innovation centers, or institutions like the World Bank who have blockchain labs where they're developing blockchain use cases. I have a background at the Council on Foreign Relations and interned at the State Department, so the international and institutional worlds are familiar to me. And when I spent time in Berlin this summer, I met a few very exciting blockchain startups, so I could also see myself going to Berlin and working for some of them. I’m currently consulting for one or two big companies outsourcing some blockchain research and development. Berkeley has the largest blockchain community of any university in the world through its organization called Blockchain at Berkeley, and it has several clients who want R&D in the area. 

Photo: CC BY 2.0/Cropped Fintech Blue/Monito. Headshot by Jim Block, courtesy of Ashley Lannquist.

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<![CDATA[How FinTech is Making Its Way Into MBA Programs]]> With the $4.5 billion fundraising round for Ant Financial in April 2016, financial technology—or “FinTech”—took center stage. The investment was the world’s largest private fundraising round to date, and valued the Alibaba affiliate at a whopping $60 billion.

Global venture investment in FinTech grew by 11 percent to $17.4 billion in 2016, according to data from PitchBook. And, not surprisingly, business schools have tuned in to the trend, launching either classes or even specializations in FinTech as part of their MBA curriculum. 

“The first important FinTech innovations drew attention as early as 2007 to 2008, but the financial crisis and the changing regulatory landscape created more urgency for change,” says Antoinette Schoar, professor of entrepreneurship and finance at MIT Sloan School of Management. 

FinTech covers technology-related innovations in the financial sector; these innovations have the ability to disrupt long-standing financial structures and change the way we use financial instruments. (Some examples include blockchain—an open, distributed ledger system that records transactions—and cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and mobile payment systems.) But they also raise significant concerns around privacy and regulation. 

To help MBA students understand this space, New York University’s Stern School of Business launched a FinTech specialization in Fall 2016, while University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business started a FinTech course in early 2016. UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and MIT Sloan have been offering FinTech classes as part of their MBA programs since 2015.

Meanwhile, a handful of schools have launched their own student FinTech groups, all of which offer guest speakers, community events, and innovation opportunities. Wharton, MIT, Georgetown, Stanford, and Columbia are some of the universities with established student-led FinTech organizations. 

“We’ve got a lot more people than average that are interested in FinTech over traditional finance; they see it as more exciting, fast-moving, and an opportunity to really make an impact in the financial sector,” says Ashley Lannquist, co-founder of Berkeley Haas’ FinTech club.

“It’s also usually more socially beneficial because you’re building products that can deliver financial services more cheaply, transparently, and directly to the broad population or even the under- or unbanked. It’s also useful in a lot of emerging market countries, and that interests a lot of Haas students.”

MBA classes in FinTech 

MIT Sloan already had a FinTech club and conference more than six years ago, but the school launched its actual Fintech Ventures class three years ago; one year later it initiated a class on big data for finance, and it now also has a class on consumer finance. Enrolled students can develop business plans for their own FinTech ideas that are eligible to compete in the new MIT FinTech Competition. 

“The real push came from our students and alumni,” says Schoar. “I had started teaching classes on FinTech in my entrepreneurial finance class for many years. But several of our students were starting very interesting ventures, and they were eager to have a class to help them deepen their knowledge. We literally created the class over one summer with the help of our alumni and students.”

At NYU Stern, students doing an MBA in general management can select up to three specializations—or choose not to specialize at all. As of fall 2016, Stern’s full-time and part-time MBA students can also choose FinTech as a specialization, a first among top business schools, and take electives from eight new courses.

“We have twice the enrollment expected in our inaugural Foundations of FinTech course, being taught for the first time this fall to undergraduates and in the spring to MBAs,” says Kathleen DeRose, FinTech Executive-in-Residence at NYU Stern. “We're even expanding beyond the MBA program in our course offerings as the popularity of the newly created foundational course has been way above expectations.”

Challenges of teaching FinTech

But with such rapid changes in technology, how does one even go about teaching a course in the sector?     

DeRose says that one of the biggest challenges is to integrate previously independent disciplines in a way that actually translates into leadership. 

“We overcome this challenge by having both data science and finance faculty teach our FinTech courses, and by providing students with both a grounding in the data, tools, and methods using in FinTech but also with up-to-the-minute case studies of FinTech businesses to provide real-world experience,” says DeRose. 

For Schoar, the material does change rapidly, but the fundamentals of financial models and risk management hold, no matter what platform is used. 
“It’s fun to make students see that the underlying financial concepts apply the same way, even if the physical form of the services change—e.g. instead of dollar bills we use our phone or bitcoins, or instead of going to a bank we get a loan through an online platform,” she says. 

Post-MBA jobs in FinTech

There are myriad paths for FinTech-focused graduates. Schoar notes that many of MIT’s graduates go on to start their own ventures, or join start up firms. 

“But at the same time we’ve seen that established firms and financial institutions are extremely interested in hiring people with FinTech and data analytics skills—so there’s a wide array of firms and positions that our graduate take up.”

For Ashley Lannquist, who already works as a FinTech consultant, there are a few paths she considers taking when she graduates in 2018.

“I can see myself going to three places: startups, company innovation centers, or institutions like the World Bank who have blockchain labs where they're developing blockchain use cases,” she says. “And when I spent time in Berlin this summer, I met a few very exciting blockchain startups, so I could also see myself going to Berlin and working for some of them.”

With the pace of growth in the space, there will undoubtedly be employment opportunities for FinTech-focused MBAs. As Kathleen DeRose says, “FinTech is not going away.”

Photo: CC BY 2.0/Cropped/Andre Gunawan, Tech in Asia

]]> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[5 Questions about the GMAT with MBA Admissions Consultant Duncan Chapple]]> Why is the GMAT school such an important part of an MBA application?

The GMAT score is the most important part of most top MBA applications. Of course, not every MBA program uses the GMAT but almost all of the best ones do. 

There's something like three layers of MBAs. At the top level you have schools that require the GMAT. In the middle you've got schools that only favor the GMAT. There are schools that prefer the GMAT but they might have their own test. And that can be useful because there are a lot of applicants who either can't get the money together for the GMAT quickly, or they can't get an appointment, or they're a little bit intimidated about taking the GMAT.

The GMAT shows whether you've got quantitative skills and verbal reasoning skills – those are very desirable for employers. If you limit yourself to schools that don't require the GMAT then you are going to be harming yourself. You’re not looking at putting yourself in the most competitive situation.

What does the GMAT score tell schools about an applicant?

The main reason why the GMAT is so important is because it is the best predictor of whether or not people can be successful in the MBA program.

I think most people who are consumers of the GMAT – mostly admissions experts – understand that there are people with certain backgrounds that might have a little bit of an advantage. And there are others, for example people who don't have American English as their as their first language, or people who don't have any kind of international English as their first language: admissions professionals are aware that different people are coming from different baselines. I think, generally, GMAT scores them pretty fairly. 

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There are very few MBA programs that require only verbal skills, where you can talk your way through to an MBA by being a quantitative person. But then the other thing is true as well. You can't simply calculate your way to an MBA. Managers have to be able to lead and challenge and debate and think critically, and to be able to engage in a mature and thoughtful way with the data.

Why do people get so nervous about the GMAT? Is it really as scary as people make it out to be?

I think a lot of MBA applicants get put off the GMAT quite unreasonably. There's a lot of hype and almost a certain degree of hysteria about the GMAT. And I think that that is particularly concentrated among students who are coming from highly competitive career pools.

There are lots of applicants who want to go to amazing schools like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford, where they look for very high GMAT scores, and well-balanced GMAT scores.

Many candidates come from highly competitive groups, where there are some applicants who look a lot like other applicants. Those people often have to score above average in order to stand out in some way. But the reality is that quite a lot of MBA applicants don't have to be that good. A lot of the hype that is stressing people so much about the MBA is really exclusively valid for people who think that they have to get 760 or 780. 

At London Business School where I've studied, for example, if you've got above 700 then that would be good enough for the full-time MBA and if you scored above 600 then that's going to be good enough for the Executive MBA. 

Once you get out of the Top 20 in the Financial Times ranking there are some schools that are going to be quite flexible.

The reality is that although people talk about how difficult the GMAT is, for most people the Maths and English in the GMAT are at the level that you were at when you were 16 or 17, when you were at school. It's a question of getting back to that level and I don't think that is so hard. 

A lot of people with minimal preparation are able to get a score that's good enough for a lot of schools, many of the schools in the top 100. Admittedly, if you are aiming at Harvard, or Stanford or Wharton then you need to work really hard to achieve that. But it's a pity that the whole dialogue about the GMAT has become fetishized about what you need to get into these schools. 

If you had to suggest one aspect of the GMAT to focus on, what would it be?

If I had to pick one aspect of GMAT then I would really stress getting a balanced score rather than a high score. One of the things that schools are worried about is the idea of imbalance, that study groups may be imbalanced or individuals may be imbalanced and it might decelerate the rate of progress.

It's lovely to have a high GMAT score. But, actually, most schools would rather have somebody with a good score on both parts of the GMAT than somebody who had an absolutely excellent high score on one side and then a poor score on the other. 

Traditional test taking would suggest that you should focus where you're strong, but I don't think that works with the best schools.

When you are in your discussions with schools, if you get the feeling that what they really want is a high score rather a balanced score, you need to be a little careful there.

There are some schools that are engaging in a kind of GMAT subterfuge, that they are really aiming for candidates with extremely high GMAT scores in order to raise up their average. So, for example, you might see schools that are offering very advantageous scholarships to students with extremely high GMAT scores.

It’s worth remembering that if you're being used to raise up their average, then the other people in the class might not be as good as you. So be a little bit careful about schools that are pushing you for maximum scores rather than the balance.

Tell us about the work you do.

I focus on helping international MBA applicants to identify the best path to change country, and especially outside the USA. Many MBA admissions consultants benefit from applicants applying to as many MBA programs as possible. My colleagues and I at Human Equity take the opposite approach, and encourage professionals to target the best schools for their career goals. More broadly, I am UCLA’s international alumni careers counsellor and am a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

More on the GMAT:


  • Duncan Chapple by private source.
  • Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania WestCoastivieS by Mike Morris CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
]]> Wed, 06 Sep 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBA Salaries: Show Me the Money]]> Choosing to study for an MBA often means making a large financial investment in your future.

Arming yourself with as much knowledge as much as possible about your potential post-graduation salary and how your investment will pay off with can help you weigh up the big decision.

Here we explore MBA graduate salaries at different schools, in various countries and regions of the world, as well as in different sectors, to find out who’s earning the most and where you can find the best value.

Some MBA grads in the US can expect to earn six-figure salaries 

In terms of MBA graduates in the US, especially those who studied at top-tier schools, salaries have been going up.

A recent report from GMAC found that average salaries of recent MBA graduates in the US are set to top $110,000, an increase of $5,000 over 2015.

And, unsurprisingly, graduates from the top-ranked programs generally have the highest salaries.

According to a recent MBA salary report from US News & World Report, 90 percent of grads who were seeking work found jobs within three months of graduating – although it’s worth noting that of the 131 US schools surveyed in US News’ annual MBA report, 88 percent of MBA graduates found work within three months, so going to a top-tier school doesn’t make so much difference when finding work.

But where it does make a difference is in salary. Graduates from the rankings’ top schools earned an average of at least $100,000 per annum as their base salary.

The school with the highest-earning graduates was Stanford University, with an average starting salary of just over $140,000. Harvard University MBA graduates earned, on average, $134,071.

Even the school with the sixth-highest paid graduates, New York University Stern School of Business, saw them earning, on average, a little more than $120,000 per year before bonuses.

Compare that to schools lower in the rankings: according to the most recent MBA ranking from US News, for instance, MBAs from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business bring in around a still-respectable $91,000 per year; graduates from William and Mary’s Mason School of Business make just over $87,000, on average.

US MBA grads have the highest salaries – but grads in Asia and Europe aren’t far behind

Looking globally, salaries of MBAs at the top US schools tend to be the highest. According to data from the most recent Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking, US-based schools dominated the top 10 positions for salary.

The ranking, which uses salary data from graduates three years after finishing their MBAs, found that alumni of the top 100 MBA courses from the Class of 2013 were paid, on average, $142,000 per year.

In terms of overall salaries, Stanford University was the top school, with graduates earning, on average, $195,322 per year.

The index was adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), a controversial way of comparing the earning power of people in different countries by comparing a “basket” of common goods.

As a result of this adjustment, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) was ranked second for average earnings, with its graduates earning, on average, $181,863 when adjusted for PPP.  

Of course salaries in India are much lower than in the US, and the difference between the earnings of someone with an MBA qualification and the wages of an average worker in India is incredibly vast.

The use of PPP gives MBA programs in low-earning countries an ever better chance of placing highly in the earnings rankings, which can be viewed as a distortion: because, of course, in real terms, most IIM-A grads make nowhere near $180,000 USD. For example, 2016 IIM-A PGP-X grads who landed jobs in India after graduation made, on average, around $36,000 after converting from the Indian ruble. Grads working international made around $110,000, on average.

Across the US MBA programs ranked in the Financial Times’ top 100, average salaries three years after graduation ranged from just under $200,000 per year for Stanford University grads down to $98,464 for graduates of Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

In the UK, the University of Strathclyde Business School’s graduates were earning, on average, $98,105 per year, but the top-earners, from University of Cambridge Judge Business School were earning, on average, $164,462.

In France, the four schools ranked in the top 100 earned, on average, somewhere between $101,596 at Grenoble Ecole de Management and $167,657 at INSEAD (based in France and Singapore).

In Germany, the two ranked schools—ESMT Berlin and Mannheim Business School—had a much more modest range with average salaries of $108,360 and $113,829 respectively.

Salaries for Australian MBA graduates were also more modest, ranging between $100,319 and $131,488 for graduates from the three Australian schools listed in the top 100.

In Asia, Chinese schools’ graduates earned, on average, somewhere between $121,193 and $159,870 when weighted for PPP. Graduates from Nanyang Business School earned, on average, $126,218 per year three years after graduation, while graduates from the National University of Singapore Business School earned a little more at $131,760, on average – still considerably lower than the graduates from INSEAD.

Of course, the range of MBA grads’ salaries in any of these countries is much broader once you move outside the top 100. If you have a certain school in mind for your MBA studies, it’s always worth researching their specific salary figures. Because often, the salary you’re offered following graduation has a lot to do with the name of the school where you studied.

Which industries are paying the most?

The Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking 2017 found that MBA grads’ salaries in all sectors except education had increased from last year, and that these increases were by the largest amount in a decade.

MBA graduates working in financial services were the best paid, with graduates in that field earning $159,000 on average. MBA grads in ecommerce were the second-highest earnings, with an average salary of $154,000.

Data from the US News’ 2016 survey shows a similar pattern, however they put consultants’ earnings slightly ahead of those working in financial services.

Those working in technology, the energy sector and healthcare (including products and services) were the next-highest earners, respectively.

Those MBA graduates with positions in retail rounded out those sectors with MBA grads earning six-figures, on average.

MBA graduates working in media, manufacturing and real estate earned a little under $100,000 on average per year, and those in the non-profit sector earned considerably less, with average earnings of just $81,776.

It’s important to know as much as possible about your potential earnings before investing in your studies, to make sure your MBA has the desired result on your earnings.

But quality of life in different cities and countries, job satisfaction and future career opportunities are also factors worth weighing up when considering your potential salary post-graduation.

Image: Many dollar banknotes by Jericho CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

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<![CDATA[How to Prepare For the GMAT]]> Books, classes, one-on-one tutors, or putting your head in the sand: all approaches to the GMAT thoroughly tried and tested by the MBA applicants who came before you.

So what works best? Probably not pretending the GMAT doesn’t exist. 

The GMAT measures both your quantitative and verbal skills – both essential to good management. But the test is tough and winging it on the day is unlikely to get you into the best school for your needs.

Some applicants require a personal tutor to help bring them up to speed, while for others, some independent study might be enough to get them the results they’re hoping for. MBA application consultants can also help you find the right path for you.

Here we speak to five MBA application consultants about how to best prepare for the GMAT.

Why is the GMAT so important?

MBA application consultant Duncan Chapple says “the main reason why the GMAT is so important is because it is the best predictor of whether or not people can be successful in the MBA program”.

“There are very few MBA programs that require only verbal skills, where you can talk your way through to an MBA by being a quantitative person. But then the other thing is true as well. You can't simply calculate your way to an MBA,” he explains.

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“Managers have to be able to lead and challenge and debate and think critically. And to be able to engage in a mature and thoughtful way with the data.”

In this way, the GMAT measures the skills that will be come very important in your future career.

What’s more, an even slightly better GMAT score that your next competitor could make the difference between you getting the last spot in your first choice school or not. 

“Admissions committees have to make very difficult decisions,” says Angela Guido, consultant at mbaMission. “Ultimately the vast majority of their candidates are great and they can only admit a small percentage of them. So that gives them a little bit of a lever to make tough calls sometimes.”

Guido says that GMAT scores also make a difference to schools’ rankings, which is their bread and butter.

“I think, unfortunately, the GMAT has become relatively more important in recent years due to the rankings and schools’ need to preserve and I think advance their reputations. One thing which is put into the rankings are students' GMAT scores.”


“Where schools might prefer to be a little more generous with their judgment,” explains Guido, “I think some of them probably feel that their hands are tied, with respect to the rankings, and so for better or worse the GMAT matters quite a bit in the process.”

All the more reason for you to make the GMAT a priority as soon as you know you’d like to apply for an MBA.

Where to start?

Michelle Miller is CEO for the Americas at MBA Admissions Consulting firm Aringo, where they focus on the process of matching up candidates with the right schools for their future careers, and working on their application narratives to show how they would be a good fit for the school.

When it comes to GMAT, Miller says candidates come to her at all stages of the GMAT process.

“Yesterday I spoke to a candidate who just graduated with a bachelor's degree two months ago, so he hasn't even bought a GMAT book yet,” she says.

“He just wants some tips for ‘how should I be preparing myself over the next few years?’" 

The first thing she tells him? 

“I tell him that it's a bear. Don't take it lightly.”

Miller also tells him “that it's never too early to start. So even though he and I might not speak for another three years, when he's ready to apply, I let him know it's never too early to buy a book to start looking at so you're not in the case that unfortunately so many candidates are in right now. They want to get their applications in in less than three months and they're still banging their head against the wall.”

Angela Guido at mbaMission says if she catches applicants before they’ve even started studying for the GMAT, she recommends doing a practice test cold, without any preparation, to get a clear idea of where they need to improve.

“If you're targeting a school and you know that you need to have an above 700 score to be competitive and your practice test is a 580, then you know you have a lot of work to do and you're probably going to want to invest in a class,” she explains.

“On the other hand, if you're close – let’s say you want to get a 720 and your first test is 670 – well a 50-point jump is not that hard if you're starting cold. Then you might buy a set of books and study on your own first.”

A GMAT textbook.

It’s also about finding out where your weaknesses are and honing in on those.

“Most people haven't done geometry for trigonometry or complex algebra since they were 18 or 19,” says Guido, “and so really refreshing those concepts will be an important part of gaining over 100 points on the test.”

Pitfalls to be avoided

With so many aspects of the MBA application to consider, it can be hard to keep on top of everything.

We asked MBA application consultants to each share a share common mistake or two they have seen applicants make – and how to make sure you don’t repeat them.

Angela Guido, mbaMission: Practice your test under the right conditions

“The number one mistake I saw was people underestimating the importance of doing real times in practice. You really need to practice for the test itself,” says Guido.

“Practice the problem under tight conditions – you can do this yourself with a stopwatch. It’s really important because being able to solve the problem is worthless if you can't do it in roughly two minutes time.” 

Duncan Chapple, MBA application consultant: Not requiring a GMAT doesn’t make it a good school 

Chapple says the hype and stress around the GMAT can put applicants off applying to schools that require it. Don’t fall into this trap, he says.

“The GMAT shows whether you've got quantitative skills and verbal reasoning skills – those are very desirable for employers. If you limit yourself to schools that don't require the GMAT that then you are going to be harming yourself. You’re not looking at putting yourself in the most competitive situation.”

A balanced score is better than the highest score

“If I had to pick one aspect of GMAT then I would really stress getting a balanced score rather than a high score,” says Chapple.

“One of the things that schools are worried about is the idea of imbalance.”

A balanced score shows your have both the quantitative and verbal skills required to make a good manager.

There are some schools that are engaging in a kind of GMAT subterfuge, that they are really aiming for candidates with extremely high GMAT scores in order to raise up their average,” explains Chapple. “So, for example, you might see schools that are offering very advantageous scholarships to students with extremely high GMAT scores.”

This is more about them climbing the school rankings than it is about you getting the most out of your MBA studies.

“So be a little bit careful about schools that are pushing you for maximum scores rather than the balance.”

Stacy Blackman, MBA application consultant: Find alternative ways to solve the same problem

Independent MBA consultant Stacy Blackman says reviewing practice problems again to seek out new solutions is better than rapidly trying to get through as many problems as possible.

“People tend to forget to review previous examples and to think of alternative ways to solve each problem,” says Blackman.

“They cycle through difficult problems, believing that if they know one way of solving the problem, they'll be okay for the test. Unfortunately, on test day, you will not see the exact same problem, so your score really depends on how well you can liken a completely new problem to a problem you have solved in the past.”

“Without consistently reviewing different methods to solve familiar problems and interpret certain fact patterns, it's harder for you mind to draw the connections you need on test day.”

Seth Gilmore, Managing Consultant at The MBA Exchange: Find a tutor or study plan that’s tailored to your needs

“Don’t choose a test tutor based solely on low price or aggressive marketing,” advises Seth Gilmore, Managing Consultant at The MBA Exchange.

“The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach promoted by most of the large prep firms usually falls short, leaving applicants frustrated and discouraged. Rather, applicants should choose a prep resource that provides and supports a customized study plan tailored to their individual needs.”


  • GRE and GMAT textbooks by United States Marine Corps CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • GMAT Study by Ian Lamont CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
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<![CDATA[MBA Scholarships For International Students in the UK]]> Study fees tend to be higher for international students, but don’t let this put you off. There is a wide range of scholarships that cater to international MBA students in the UK, both from within universities and business schools and from external sources.

Most UK business schools have a set of internal scholarships that they award annually and these are generally based on merit and need.

The good news for international students is that these tend not to be earmarked for domestic students only, but rather take an overview of all candidates when assessing the scholarship contenders.

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London Business School MBA Admissions Director David Simpson says the school awards a scholarship to around 20 percent of MBA students.

“They vary in amounts right up to full fees, but most are smaller than that,” says Simpson.

“The vast majority of [our scholarships] are merit based and so our scholarships committee awards these to the strongest candidates. There are also some needs-based scholarships.”

Simpson says many of the scholarships on offer for MBA students at London Business School are grouped into various categories of groups that are underrepresented on the MBA program.

For example, they have scholarships specifically for women, as well as for students who hail from specific regions around the world.

“We have a diverse range from Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, one for candidates from Egypt, a vast variety of different nationality scholarships,” says Simpson.

Additionally, according to Simpson, LBS offers scholarships for people who have served in the military, as well as those who come from specific career backgrounds.

Karen Barker, Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the University of Warwick Business School, says her school’s pool of scholarships aims to “promote gender, geographic and sector diversity, alongside recognition for academic and professional excellence”.

“We partner with The 30% Club, which is a body looking to boost the number of women on company boards” she explains, “and award two 50% scholarships for outstanding female candidates applying to our Executive MBA programs.”

“This year we have also introduced a new Healthcare Scholarship for those candidates opting to complete our new Healthcare specialism and progress their careers within healthcare leadership.”  

Warwick Business School additionally offers a scholarship aimed at candidates looking to move into a new profession.

The University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School MBA Recruitment Manager Aidan O'Halloran says that “the most common scholarships international students receive for the Oxford MBA are in fact offered directly by the Saïd Business School”, via the Saïd Business School Foundation.

And there are attractive donor-funded scholarships on offer, too.

[See FIND MBA's Scholarship search tool to find MBA scholarships at business schools everywhere]

The Pershing Square Foundation offers up to five two-year full-fee scholarships, including living expenses, for top students admitted to the Oxford 1+1 program, where students combine a specialist MSc with the Saïd Business School MBA.

“This scholarship not only fully funds two years of study at Oxford,” says O’Halloran, “but also provides scholars with the opportunity to receive mentoring from world-leaders in social impact, as well as a funded trek to New York City to meet with a range of socially-minded business leaders.”

O’Halloran’s advice for accessing the full range of available scholarships is to “apply early, as the majority of schools offer scholarships in the earlier application stages”.

Scholarships awarded by the school tend to be merit-based. In that case “professional achievements, GMAT scores and performance in the MBA interview are among the factors that are used to decide the allocation,” he explains.

O’Halloran suggests applicants focus on their GMAT scores, because “the GMAT is a core component of the decision making process. The more time spent on practice, the better the score applicants are likely to achieve”.

Researching external MBA scholarships

Many UK business schools list some external scholarships on their websites, but it’s hard for schools to keep track of all the possibilities available to a diverse pool of applicants coming from around the world.

The University of Oxford has an online scholarship search tool that helps applicants to locate potential funding sources based on their profiles.

David Simpson at the London Business School says that applicants need to spend time researching scholarships in their countries and regions.

“I’d advise everybody to do local research,” he says “and, perhaps most importantly, speak to students and alumni from your region and ask how they funded their MBA and whether they know of any channels.”

Simpson says making the most of yours and the school’s network is key.

“Use the research that other people have done as well as looking at websites to see what’s out there.”

Chevening Scholarships and Fellowships

The UK government runs an awards scheme for international students that could be a good fit for some MBA applicants.

“I would encourage international MBA applicants to consider applying to Chevening, which is the UK government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders,” says Karen Barker at the University of Warwick Business School.

Chevening Scholarships and Fellowships are awarded every year to students personally selected by British Embassies and High Commissions around the world. Applications dates and processes depend on which embassy or high commission you apply to, so remember to check out the details with your nearest British diplomatic office online.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If the beginning of your MBA studies is approaching and you’re struggling to piece together funding, most university business schools have a financial aid office where staff can help you explore options you might not have though of.

Aidan O'Halloran at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School says that being honest in your communication with your business school will help get you the support you need.

“The [Oxford Saïd Business] School has teams of people who are available to help guide students in their search for funding, including the option to apply for small financial need bursaries that can help students make ends meet.”

“It is also wise to communicate with previous MBA alumni,” he says, “as they can provide guidance on how they were able to pull together funding in order to join the MBA.”

Image: Approaching London by Trey Ratcliff CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

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<![CDATA[MBA Programs in Australia: Diversity and Great Job Opportunities Down Under]]> If you think all Australia has to offer is koala bears, surfing and the outback, think again.

With plentiful sunshine, outdoor opportunities and cities open to new arrivals from different cultures, Australian MBA programs are attracting students wanting to develop careers in finance, consulting and, increasingly, entrepreneurship.

The Director of MBA programs at Monash University Patrick Butler says, “Australia really is an open, modern, diverse, multicultural country.”

“People coming to Australia from around the world will find themselves in a really mixed environment.”

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne.

And Professor Butler knows what making that move is like. He came to Australia from Ireland more than ten years ago for two years and ended up staying.

“I was based at Trinity College Dublin and I thought I had the best job in Europe. We just came for a two-year period, our children were very young, and we never went home.”

He says this was partly because things worked out well professionally, but also because his family settled in so easily. “Within a year it was clear that this felt more like home than home.”

In the current MBA class there are 50 students and about one third are international students.

“But if you looked at the class, you couldn’t tell who was international and who was a local,” says Professor Butler.

“The business school programs are populated both on the supply and demand side by an international cohort of people, so we have international faculty and staff and we attract international students.”

Beyond Monash, a number of business schools offer internationally-accredited MBA programs. In Sydney there’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) and UNSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM); Melbourne Business School offers MBA programs in Melbourne. On the country’s west coast, Curtin Graduate School of Business offers an AACSB-accredited MBA program in Perth.

Other notable business schools offering MBA programs in Australia include University of South Australia, the University of Queensland, and the University of Western Australia (UWA), among others.

Cultural diversity makes settling in easy

Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge

The diversity of the country’s cities means that many MBA students feel right at home, according to Jayne Gao, admissions manager at AGSM.

“Sydney is one of the places you can see different nationalities everywhere,” says Gao. “And it’s really multicultural. Even in one organization.”

“Last night I was speaking to a Russian alumnus and he works at American Express. He said that at his company 70 percent are international.”

“So it’s really easy for students to settle in,” she says. “It’s also very easy for people from outside of Australia later on to find a job in a local company or organization because everyone is so open-minded and they’re very open to immigrants and people coming from different cultures.”

Indeed, a 2011 census found that almost one-quarter of Australians were born outside of the country, and over 40 percent of people surveyed had at least one parent born overseas.

Australia offers plentiful post-MBA job prospects

[See also: Post-MBA Career Opportunities in Australia]

Beyond multiculturalism, Australia also offers many job prospects for MBA graduates who want to settle there.

“Australia is quite fascinating,” says Professor Butler at Monash University. “We haven’t had a major recession for about a quarter of a century. But we’re an economy that is in transition.”

Melbourne is home to a series of laneways covered in colorful street art.

“We’re moving from a huge resources boom over the last decade to becoming a more knowledge-based economy,” he explains. “We are shifting our dependency on the primary extraction of resources to high-end technology and manufacturing, high-end science-related services.”

“Those kinds of positions are very attractive for people with MBAs, and that’s where the economy is going.”

Jayne Gao at AGSM agrees that Australia offers compelling work opportunities for MBA graduates.

In fact the AGSM MBA has been designed with international graduates in mind, helping them to obtain work visas and employment following graduation.

Gao explains that as Sydney is Australia’s financial hub, many AGSM graduates who stay in Sydney end up in consulting, banking and finance.

“All the big consulting firms, and the boutique consulting firms, they recruit from AGSM every year at our careers month in August and September.”

But the sheer size of the country means that post-MBA job opportunities can vary widely. Australia is home to a large manufacturing industry, for instance; jobs can be found there as well as in other sectors like energy, mining, and media.

Gao says she is also seeing more and more international MBA graduates staying in Australia to start to their own businesses, making use of the both country’s flexibility towards entrepreneurship and their existing connections from back home to develop international businesses.

In Australia if you have studied a two-year master’s degree in Australia then you are eligible for a two-year work visa. From there, permanent residency will be one step closer.

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While AGSM’s standard MBA can be completed in just 16 months, students have the opportunity to do the MBA Extension program, which tops them up to reach the two-year threshold.

“On top of the 16 months students will do another half-year internship or research project,” says Gao.

And students do seem to be taking the opportunity. Gao says that about 70 percent of AGSM’s students tend to come from outside Australia for the MBA and 70 percent of the total cohort remains in Australia after graduation.

Good opportunities to do business with Asian firms

Map of Australia

Australia’s proximity to Asia makes it an attractive place to study and do business.

And some business schools are leveraging the proximity in their MBA programs. For instance, the University of Queensland’s MBA program is designed to make use of this connection with its Global Consulting Practicum, a three-way partnership with MBA programs at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Fudan University.

Students from each institution form a group to create solutions for real businesses that want to enter one of the three markets, Australia, the US or China.

MBA admissions team manager Caron Crossan says the experience has students making “marketing plans, strategic plans, entry modeling, doing research in a particular field” and learning about competition.

Right now the cohort on the University of Queensland’s MBA program includes just two percent international students.

But Caron says the admissions team would be happy to welcome more.

What might be holding people back, she explains, is the expectation that all MBA students on the school’s program have solid leadership experience.

This expectation is also what makes the program so attractive. As Caron explains, “we’ve got an outstanding leadership focus on our program and the network that people can tap into is fantastic.”

“It’s really the people you meet in the classroom that sets us apart.”

The program is taught in Brisbane, a city known for its year-round sunshine and mild (to non-existent) winters.

“Brisbane’s a great city,” says Caron. “I think it’s the weather, we’re on a river, there are lots of green spaces, there’s lots to do. The people are always outside, cycling, swimming, running, having picnics. It’s a really fun city.”


  • Brisbane CBD by Andrea Ferrera CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
  • Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Australia by Bernard Spragg NZ CC BY 2.0
  • Sydney Opera House at Dusk by Trey Ratcliff CC BY 2.0
  • Hosier Lane Melbourne by Bernard Spragg NZ CC BY 2.0
  • Australia map by World Factbook CC0
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<![CDATA[5 Questions for an MBA Student—Manasy Vidyasagar]]> Manasy Vidyasagar is a Manager at PwC Consulting practice in Hong Kong. She specializes in project management across turn-around programs, change management and transformational projects for investment banks as well as wealth management firms.

Prior to consulting, Manasy spent six years with Goldman Sachs in India and the UK. She was born in India and raised in Muscat, Oman. She moved to Hong Kong to pursue her MBA in 2014.

When Manasy was studying for her MBA at The University of Hong Kong, she pursued the program's London track and spent a semester at London Business School. Manasy also holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and is passionate about traveling, reading books, and swimming. 

Manasy holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA degree from The University of Hong Kong with a specialization in Strategy. Outside of work, Manasy is passionate about travelling, reading books and swimming.

Note: the bulk of this interview was done in May 2015 when Manasy was an MBA student at HKU; a follow-up interview was done in May, 2017.

What was your career and education path before doing a China-Western MBA?

I was born in Chennai, India, and did my schooling in the Middle East in Muscat, Oman. But I moved back to India, to finish my undergraduate degree. Post my undergrad, I moved to Bangalore to work in Goldman Sachs. I worked with Goldman Sachs for six years before getting into The University of Hong Kong’s full-time MBA in partnership with London Business School.

What led you to choose a China-Western MBA program?

I was looking for a master’s degree that was in one of the financial centers. In Asia, it’s Hong Kong and Tokyo. With Tokyo, I needed to know Japanese and Hong Kong was an easy choice to make. Hong Kong is a fascinating financial hub along with the rich cultural influence it has which makes it an interesting place to live as well.

I also knew I wanted a fast track one-year MBA. HKU also gives a choice to do a semester at a partner school such as Columbia Business School or London Business School. Since I had worked in London before and was familiar with the city, I chose to go to London Business School. Our program starts with a one-month induction course in Beijing, to learn about Chinese culture and try our hand at Mandarin; then we spend the next eight months in Hong Kong and to close the program we get to do the final leg in London Business School. As a bonus I gained exposure to two major financial hubs in the world.

Why do you want to study and work in Asia?

Asia is in the growth phase; everything is moving towards Asia. It’s definitely a growing local market, and Hong Kong is the gateway to China—it is and has been the connecting link for centuries, right from when UK was trading with China. Secondly, it was closer to home (India) for me.

The program is really for students like me who have had a fair amount of international exposure, and came to study in Asia. There is a good international representation of students from all over Asia as well as Europe and [the] Americas. The medium of communication is English, professors are all fairly global, mostly Western-educated. We also have exchange professors who come in for a semester from other renowned b-schools across the world.

At the end of the day, China’s growing; even if you study in the US, the headwinds are all this way. If you look at Europe, you’ve got the eurozone crisis; the US is unstable, and the UK has the Brexit.

What are your career aspirations?

I’m looking to join in strategy and business development roles for financial institutions, ideally in Hong Kong, London or Singapore. I recently attended a conference, and the speaker was in Singapore just last week—it was an interesting opportunity where I could talk to other job seekers to see where they were also headed.

If you’re going to open up a school in China, or Asia, Asian students still prefer to go to the main campuses in [the] US. It’s a very different market space to design a program that would fit in perspective with the US and China. A lot of colleges are trying it but aren’t able to profit. HKU’s program has been around for more than eleven years now, along with their partnerships, so their resources and access to career development just has much more foundation. I would think it’s difficult for new players to enter this market.

Follow-up after graduation: Where are you now?

Post-MBA, I secured a job at PwC Consulting, where I am a manager. Most of Asia’s banking is in private wealth management, thus as a consultant my first consulting project is on a digital wealth platform transformation with UBS. This has given me insight to a different banking atmosphere from an investment bank. Along with my day job, I am also a co-chair with Woman in Finance Asia (WiFA) in their networking pillar.

Also as a consultant I am able to apply many things from the business school program and understand the Asian business dynamics better. The MBA program did prep me for this job by doing real life case studies and thinking like a consultant. I would also say that it might have been difficult to land this job without the MBA.

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<![CDATA[5 Questions for a Business School Dean: Heather McGregor]]> Having undertaken her own MBA at London Business School while working and raising a family, Heather McGregor had become a champion of women in business, penning a career advice book for women, making television appearances and writing the Mrs Moneypenny column for the Financial Times, where she documented her life as a businesswoman over 17 years.

She was a founding member of the 30% Club, which aims to increase the number of women on the boards of FTSE-100 companies, and she is still a member of its steering committee.

In 2015 Professor McGregor received a CBE, or Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for her services to diversity, specifically women, in business.

Last year Professor McGregor gave up her executive recruiting business when she was invited to become Executive Dean of Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University.

Here she tells Find MBA about why she swapped out business for academia, and her long-time service to women in business.

How did you come to do an MBA?

I did my undergraduate degree at Newcastle University in the north of England.

I then spent my twenties working in PR and communications, and particularly in financial communications.

Then I did my own MBA, because I was very interested in business and management. So I did an MBA at the London Business School. I did it part time while working and having a family, which I have to say is the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. I’m amazed that my marriage survived – and I’m still married, same man. But I tell you what, those first years, when I was studying for my MBA, and having my first baby, and working, I do encourage people now not to try and do all of those things at the same time if they can avoid it.

What did your MBA enable you to do next?

Then I went to have a 10-year career in investment banking which was made possible by that MBA. And towards the end of my time in investment banking I worked for a Dutch bank called ABN Amro and I worked all around the world: in Hong Kong, in Singapore, in Tokyo for two years, and I was moving constantly with my husband and my children.

Towards the end of that time at the bank I decided to do a PhD at the University of Hong Kong. I was really struggling to finish it and [I was] doing this part time, also, while raising a family and working and so I took the decision in 2000 that I would stop working as a banker and that I would join a business that I could buy.

I’d always had my eye on this headhunting business, an executive search business, that specialized in finding people in communications.

When I joined this company it was a nine-person company, in a tiny little office. I built it up so that today, 16 or 17 years later, there are now 60 people, and they are in seven offices on four continents.

We fill the top communications jobs for the top companies all around the world from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation all the way through to Vodafone or the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

So what made you want to give that up for the academic world?

I’d been minding my own business running the company when I got the call last year asking, would I like to go to Edinburgh? First of all my reaction was, ‘you must be joking, how could I possibly leave my business?’ But then, I did think to myself, ‘if I go and do this job, it’s a really special business school because it’s effectively a distance learning business school’, so I got the opportunity to work really globally with people. And also, I’d be in a position of influence with the opportunity to get more women to do an MBA.

The good thing about owning your own company is that you don’t have any shareholders to explain your decision to. I only had to explain to my husband.

And so I moved to Edinburgh to take on this leadership role.

How does your role at Edinburgh Business School fit in with your support of women in business?

One of the reasons I took this position, and gave up a very successful business and took a big decrease in compensation, is that our MBA is quite different to other MBAs. You take it unit by unit, and there’s no time limit.

So if you’ve done three of your nine units and then you have a baby, and you can’t keep going, you can stop for a bit and then come back. That, to me, is so helpful for women.

My vision is to enable more women to try it out, because I think it’s a model that will work, especially for women who are working and have families and so on.

What does your work life look like today?

The business school is my full-time job, but I also sit as a board director of a public company in the UK and a public company in the US.

I have a CBE for services to diversity, which is a UK government honor. And this year, 2017, the government has asked me to join the very small group of people who recommend to the Queen and the Prime Minister who in the business community in the UK should be honored. So I now sit on what they call the honors committee: economy, which means that I recommend which businesspeople are given public honors.

The business school, by two company directorships and the committee keep me very busy, as do my three children.

Image: Professor Heather McGregor by Neil Hanna for Heriot-Watt University

Header image: Edinburgh street by Tatters CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

]]> Wed, 03 May 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[MBAs in New Zealand: Native English, Internationally Recognized Education & Jobs Aplenty]]> For MBA applicants looking to study in a native English setting, it’s definitely worth looking outside the most common options like the US, Canada and UK.

On closer inspection, a not-so-obvious choice like New Zealand has a lot to offer the international students who choose to make its shores home while they study.

“New Zealand is a stunningly beautiful country with low population and renowned for its clean green image,” says Ken Lee, MBA director at Auckland University of Technology. “In addition to high quality education opportunities it provides a wide range of outdoor pursuits and activities, and its growing economy provides employment opportunities for good quality graduates.”

This combination of internationally recognized education, Lord of the Rings scenery and mountains and beaches all within easy reach of the cities is enough to compel tens of thousands of international students to set off for New Zealand every year.

Otago University is found in Dunedin, a quaint city with Scottish history set in the nation’s far south.

Dunedin railway station

Director of Executive Programs at Otago University’s Business School Ian Lafferty says Dunedin is “a real university city – well, maybe more of a ‘town’ for some international students – but it’s certainly got a real university feel”.

It’s this community feel, along with Dunedin’s scenic coastline and proximity to mountains for skiing and snowboarding that have helped bring foreign students to the small city in the south.

“We do attract a lot of international students to Otago,” says Lafferty, “but specifically to the MBA. The majority of our students are international students so diversity is one of the biggest aspects of our program, in terms of the student body and also the teaching body.”

This year Otago University’s full-time MBA is a class of 24 students from 12 different countries including Canada, Denmark, the USA, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Lebanon, New Zealand and even one student who identifies as Kurdish.

Map of New ZealandJob opportunities abound

Lafferty says he has seen more and more international students wanting to stay in New Zealand after they finish their MBA.

“Previously it was that they would come to study and then go home. But now the vast majority of our international students want to stay in New Zealand.”

Thankfully, the opportunity to stay and find work is something the New Zealand immigration authorities support.

“The government here has introduced a one-year job search visa so anybody who completes an MBA gets to stay for an extra year after they graduate to look for a job,” says Lafferty.

“I think New Zealand is quite attractive to international students in that regard.”

And MBA students at Otago are certainly taking up the opportunity.

“I’d say in general 90 percent of our international students want to stay. In fact, in last two or three years, they have all stayed and they have all got jobs, which is good news.”

Lafferty says a few Otago MBA graduates have stayed in Dunedin, working at local firms like Fisher & Paykel, a New Zealand appliances manufacturer.

But most end up in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city where there are more work opportunities.

View across Auckland Harbor to the city.

Auckland is the world’s largest Polynesian city, and is home to a diverse range of cultures, particularly from Asia: soon people with an Asian background will make up 25 percent of Auckland’s population.

It’s the city with the most businesses and jobs and it’s also a comfortable, friendly place for newcomers.

Auckland University of Technology’s AUT Business School is located in the heart of downtown Auckland, offering close proximity to the central business district and job and networking opportunities.

AUT Business School

Ken Lee at AUT says the staff on its MBA program are focused on helping students find local jobs.

“International students have a lot of support in the university to enhance their employability and prepare for when they graduate,” says Lee.

“The university recommends students to network, work part time, volunteer and be active in extracurricular activities during their studies, all of which will make the students’ profile more attractive and stand out when they are looking for work opportunities.”

Director of Executive Development Programs at the University of Canterbury’s College of Business and Law David Shearer says that understanding the job opportunities available at graduation is also a focus for students on Canterbury University’s MBA programs.

There, about 40 percent of students on the MBA program are from outside New Zealand.

Earthquake rebuild creates ongoing opportunities

Christchurch’s 2011 earthquake left destruction, but also created plenty of jobs. Today, six years on, the Canterbury region—which is situated on the east coast of the country’s South Island—still has a growth rate of 6.8 percent.

“We’ve got all the professional jobs available and we need more people for them,” says Shearer.

“The recovery, whilst initially was all about engineering and construction, has now filtered down into the other growth sectors and the likes of high-tech manufacturing. So we’re not talking large steel mills here, we’re talking large manufacturers who’ve got 450 staff.”

Many graduates already have technology industry experience, and there are opportunities in the Canterbury region for them to move back into those sectors but in management positions, armed with their new skills.

There are also jobs in professional services consulting companies, including finance, accounting, software and strategy.

Students on both the MBA and EMBA programs undertake business projects, which is an important way for international students to connect with employers.

It’s also a way to encourage more employment of foreign graduates.

“Having [businesses] work with international students is a great way to help change their thinking about where they’re going to source staff,” says Shearer.


  • Moeraki Boulders, Otago by Max Pixel CC0 (cropped)
  • Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, New Zealand by Antilived CC BY 2.0
  • New Zealand map by World Factbook CC0
  • Bayswater Marina, Auckland, New Zealand by Bayswater marina CC0
  • WF (School of Business) Building at Auckland University of Technology city campus in Auckland, New Zealand by PlanningAUT CC0
]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Post-MBA: The Work Visa Rundown]]> In an increasingly globalized world, students from all corners of the world are migrating to other countries to do pursue their MBAs. And for myriad reasons, many will choose to stay in their study abroad locale after graduating. But work visas can be legally vexing for many students, depending on their country of citizenship and the laws of the country in which they wish to remain.

Here’s a rundown of the requirements for work visas in countries popular among MBA students:

USA: The OPT visa and other options

For a foreign student who’s completed his MBA in the US, there are a few options. The first is a legal period of 12 months after graduation, called the Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows the graduate to work, intern or freelance in his/her field of study.

One of the most common ways for a graduate to stay in the US is to be sponsored by an employer for an H-1B visa. It is used by the vast majority of international MBA graduates from US schools, and provides work authorization for up to three years. Since the government has tightened its visa policies and reduced the annual quota for the number of H-1B visas available, it requires stringent planning from you and your employer: the application is due on April 1, and even if it is approved, the status is not valid until October of that year. The H1B is also awarded through a lottery process, meaning many foreign MBA graduates still fail to obtain the visa and are forced to either return home or seek other countries of residency.

“There is greater demand each year for H1B numbers, so it has become more difficult for employers to secure work visas for international students,” says Kurt Piemonte, a career and immigration advisor at Harvard Business School. International students comprise around 33-35% of Harvard’s MBA class, and about 55% of HBS’ graduating international students remain in the United States to work after graduation.

A lesser-known alternative to the H-1B is the O-1 visa, which is for individuals with extraordinary ability in their field. Obtaining this status may require an employer sponsor, although it’s also possible to do it on your own. The standard to establish exceptional ability is extremely high; he/she will need to have sustained national or international acclaim and coming temporarily to the US to continue work in their specific area.

Lastly, there is a class of E-visas for foreign nationals interested in starting their own business. (If a foreign national starts a business in the US and makes a substantial financial investment into that business, the person may be able to obtain immigration status with an E visa in order to operate the business. Depending upon the graduate’s country of citizenship, he or she might be eligible for an investor or E visa which does not require a specific amount of investment.)

Canada: Three-year post-MBA work visa

Canada automatically offers all students who complete a two-year master's degree the right to stay and work in the country for three years (one-year MBA programs offer a one-year work permit.) Graduates don’t need an employer sponsor, and are not restricted to working in a particular field. After that allotted time, it’s possible to be eligible to stay in Canada permanently under one of the immigration programs managed through the Express Entry system. Canada has increasingly become a popular place for prospective MBA students because of their favorable visa policies in comparison to other competitive MBA locations.

UK: Changing post-MBA visa rules

Up until 2012, students could work in the UK for two years after graduation. But new regulations require students to secure a job offer from a licensed employer as part of the Tier 2 visa scheme, forcing graduates to line up a job before they receive their diploma. The Tier 1 graduate entrepreneur visa also allows students with a credible business plan to stay in the UK for up to one year. Applicants for this visa must be endorsed by a UK government office or by an authorized UK institution of higher education.

Australia: Post-study work stream visa

The Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) allows graduates to work in Australia temporarily after they finish their studies. “The Post-Study Work stream” of visas grants a visa for two, three or four years, depending on the graduate’s educational qualification. However, this is only given to those who have “undertaken this study in no less than 16 calendar months,” meaning that those who pursue 12-month MBA programs are not eligible.

New Zealand: Two post-MBA visa tracks

New Zealand offers two visa tracks for MBA graduates who want to stay in the country: the open post-study work visa, which grants you up to 12 months to get a job in your field; in the interim you can work at a job in any field to support yourself. Then there’s the employer-assisted post-study work visa, which relates to a specific job with a specific employer, and allows you to stay in the country to work for another two years or three years.

Europe: Each country has its own post-MBA work visa rules

It’s highly possible to pursue a career in Europe after your MBA for non-European Union nationals, but there are a few factors to take into consideration when deciding which country in which to work, as certain countries are more open to foreigners than others. Language is also a consideration, as not knowing the local language could limit job opportunities in certain places. All European countries have different post-MBA visa rules, below are a few examples.

France: Graduates can apply for a temporary residence authorization (Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour), which allows the graduate to work and remain in France on a student status for up to one year while applying for jobs. After the 12 months—or when he/she has found a job—the graduate will have to apply for a status change with proof of employment.

Germany: Foreign graduates of German MBA programs can apply to extend their existing student residence permits for up to 18 months and work unrestricted, as long as they have evidence of their degree, health insurance and enough financial support. After finding employment, graduates can apply for a residence permit, which come in many varieties depending on the kind of work that is found.

Ireland: Graduates can apply for a non-renewable extension to their student status for a twelve month period to seek full time employment. After this period, graduates can apply for a work permit, initially issued for a period of up to two years and renewable after that. This generally applies to jobs with an annual salary of €30,000 or more.

Singapore: New visa rules

Singapore has long been an international business hub, so its policies are relatively straightforward. MBA graduates can be sponsored by an employer for an Employment Pass, which grants first-time candidates up to two years of residency, with the ability to renew for up to three years. New rules established the beginning of 2017, however, require applicants to earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $3,600. Alternatively, the EntrePass also offers eligible foreign entrepreneurs up to one year in the country to start a business.

Hong Kong: 12-month post-MBA visa

Like Singapore, Hong Kong has long been a business hub and popular locale for international business students, so its visa policies are also favorable for those looking to remain after their MBA. The government’s Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates (IANG) allow you to stay for 12 months after graduation to seek jobs, with the ability to renew for another 2 to 3 years. If you graduated less than 6 months before your application for the IANG, you do not need an employment offer for your application.

Image: Beatrice Murch/Residency Paperwork for Argentina (CC BY 2.0)

]]> Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Gender Equality in MBAs]]> In 2010 Harvard Business School made an unprecedented decision, led by the university’s first woman president: the school was going to get a gender makeover.

The class of 2013 became guinea pigs in a two-year study and experiment to improve the quality of student life and career outcomes for the women graduating from the business school.

What the study found was not totally surprising: women students said they found the business school to be a hostile environment where they were judged by their looks and pigeonholed into being either “hot” or “smart”, never both.

Women students – some of the smartest in the country who had fought hard for competitive study placements – were silencing themselves in a bid to be liked. And they lacked role models, with female academics making up only 20 percent of the tenured faculty.

In response, the business school undertook an experiment to improve the learning environment for women students and offer them more women role models, with researchers and counsellors partaking in classes and running discussion groups to guide students, staff and faculty through the experiment.

By graduation, female teachers and students had increased performance levels, class participation, and were winning more awards. However, many male students reported feeling resentful of this attention on female success.

In 2017 business schools still face an uphill battle for gender equality: to create it for their women and sell it to men.

For MBA programs, gender equality means better representation of women students on MBA programs. It also means more support for job placements and the skills women need to succeed in male-dominated industries where they face the glass ceiling and the gender pay gap.

One school working hard to change the proportion of women studying on its MBA programs is the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith (RHS) School of Business, which has set the goal of 50/50 representation of women by 2020.

Sharon Strange Lewis is the schools’ senior director of Women and Diversity Initiatives. Strange Lewis was a student on Maryland’s MBA herself, graduating in 2005. She says she remembers there being 23-25 people in her class, but only four were women. She was the only African-American woman in her cohort.

Today women make up 36 percent of the Executive MBA class at the University of Maryland, 35 percent of the full-time MBA, 34 percent of the part-time MBA and 30 percent of the online MBA.

“So we still have – definitely – room to grow,” says Strange Lewis. “That’s why we’re trying to make a serious effort to really amp up our pipeline.”

At her school the pipeline approach means exposing young women and girls to business education early-on and supporting them through business school, into employment and beyond.

That view to post-graduation employment has proven fruitful, with Maryland bucking the job placement trend: “our women graduates have a higher rate of job placement than our men,” she says.

The pipeline approach

One organization that also recognizes the need for a pipeline of women in business is the 30% Club, launched in 2010 with the aim of getting at least 30 percent female representation on the boards of FTSE-100 companies in the UK. Thirty percent is said to be the critical point at which a group stops being a minority and becomes a mainstream voice.

Today women have 27 percent representation on FTSE-100 boards, up from 12.5 percent when the program launched.

According to Francoise Higson, Business Manager at ANZ Bank in London and 30% Club steering committee member, “It was apparent from the get-go that it’s no use us getting to the minimum 30 percent we’re aiming for on FTSE-100 companies if we haven’t got a sustainable pipeline of senior women coming up beneath that in order to feed into it and make it sustainable.”

As a result, the 30% Club began to work on what it calls a ‘schoolroom to board room continuum’. The organization now partners with a number of top business schools—such as London Business School and the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School—providing scholarships to women applicants to incentivize more women to undertake an MBA.

Higson says offering scholarships is an important way to support women in business because “financial barriers seem to be more of a problem for female applicants than it is for males”.

As women generally go on to earn less than men, it takes them longer to pay off study loans, making post-graduate study less attractive for women.

Edinburgh Business School offers two 30% Club scholarships: one for the one-year MBA on-campus in Scotland, available to applicants from around the world. The other is for the part-time MBA in Malaysia, which allows a woman to continue her work while earning an MBA.


The Dean of Edinburgh Business School Heather McGregor says she designed the new one-year MBA on the Edinburgh campus with the needs of entrepreneurs – and female businesswomen – in mind.

McGregor—who wrote the Mrs Moneypenny column in the Financial Times­—notes that globally, there seems to be little variation in gender equality among MBA programs.

“I just came back from a weekend teaching in Myanmar,” she says, “and even there, about one third of the class were female.”

“It’s about 35 percent everywhere [we teach]. The question for me now is why is it not 50 percent?”

Berkeley throws down the gauntlet for other top business schools

Top-tier business schools are often accused of dragging the chain when it comes to gender equality on their MBA programs.

With higher salaries on average, men are better able to afford the most expensive programs, they have higher rates of job placement and their incomes continue to increase post-MBA at a rate much higher than women.

But one top school standing out from the pack is the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. There, they currently have 40 percent women students overall, across all their MBA programs.

The school’s Gender Equity Initiative, launched by the MBA class of 2015 after realizing that only 29 percent of their classmates were women—worked closely with the Haas admissions office to ensure things would change.

And it worked: As a result of their efforts, the class of 2016 had 43 percent female representation.

Peter Johnson, the Assistant Dean for the full-time MBA and admissions says what made the difference wasn’t the minor uptick in the number of women applying, but rather an increase in the number of women who, after being offered places on the program, decided to accept them.

He credits the Gender Equity Initiative with the jump in female students, as they were able to mobilize classmates to talk with prospective students about what it’s like to study at Berkeley-Haas as a woman.

“I think one of the challenges that all business schools face is that some women, perhaps in the past, have self-selected out of applying to business schools or have not opted to accept an offer of admissions because they’re unsure how the program will fit with their career goals,” says Johnson.

“They might have the impression that business schools are not friendly for women in the same way that, I think, a lot of areas of business have long been considered to be predominantly led by men.”

Three years ago, another initiative targeting gender discrimination was launched at the school: the Manbassadors Program.

Johnson explains, “they’re men that are basically helping educate their peers about how women are not always viewed equally in the workplace and how men, working together with women, can change that environment.”

“I think all these things have helped to make strong female MBA candidates feel that this is a place where they can thrive and move forward and, in other words, to create the environment which is a welcoming place for MBA students of all genders.”

Image credits:

  • Women’s Leadership Symposium (U.S. Marine Photo by Cpl. Natalie M. Rostran/Released)
  • Good Morning Edinburgh by Dave Sutherland (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Common MBA Admissions Interview Questions]]> You could spend hours Googling the perfect answers to those tricky MBA interview questions.

But you might be better off sticking with your own, more genuine answer.

Here we cover some of the most common MBA admissions interview questions, with admissions interviewers offering their advice on how best to answer them and get the most out of your interview.

Tell me a bit about yourself

You’ve only just sat down in the interview room, and they hit you with this incredibly broad, devastatingly all-encompassing request.

It’s the stuff of MBA applicant nightmares. But do interviewers even use this question?

“We don’t usually use such an open-ended question,” says Erin Town, MBA Admissions Director at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

“But we might ask something along the lines of, ‘tell me a little bit about how you got to where you are today, in terms of your work experience’, or ‘walk me through your résumé.’”

“I think in most cases interviewers – and this is the case for us – are looking for a quick summary.

Town continues: some “candidates fall into the trap of walking through every single detail of their résumé and how they got to where they are now, and we’re looking a bit more for the big picture of it.”

Town says interviewers tend to have the résumé already in front of them. “So it’s more about how they tell their story, not so much about the little details.”

Marcel Kalis, who serves as a member of the admissions committee at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin as Head of Career Services, agrees.

“I had an interview this morning and I asked this as the first question, but it’s more about the structure of how people respond.”

Kalis says that ESMT’s relatively small cohort sizes – typically 60-70 students – mean that everyone is expected to contribute, “so we want to see that their communication skills are good enough to participate in this activity”.

Nicole Tee, Director of Graduate Studies at Nanyang Business School in Singapore says that their admissions interviewers are unlikely to use such a broad question, but that “every candidate will get a different set of questions depending on what area of their profile we want to go into”.

Still, she says it’s all about assessing how an applicant communicates.

“We’re looking at their communication skills, whether they’re able to communicate with passion and conviction, whether they’re able to express their ideas clearly, whether they’re focused and really know why they want to do an MBA at this point in their lives.”

She says, “by hearing their responses, you hear whether this person has clarity of thought in terms of their goals”.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Erin Town at Foster School of Business says that their admissions team uses anecdotal questions to gauge applicants’ ability to face challenges.

“We’re really assessing candidates’ abilities to accept and learn from feedback, to seek other opportunities to prove themselves, their self-awareness, their ability to work with others and thrive in that environment.”

“Those questions are a lot of the types of ‘tell me about a time when…’ questions, so ‘tell me about a time when you had to ask for help’, or ‘tell me about a time when a project you were working on wasn’t going in the right direction and you had to start over’.”

Town says they may also ask about a compliment or criticism the applicant has received.

“I find that candidates have a much easier time coming up with a criticism that they’ve received, and then the compliment is harder,” she says. “We want candidates to be really self-reflective and self-aware and humble, but at the same time we want to see that they’re proud of their achievements and that they’re aware of their strengths too.”

Marcel Kalis at ESMT says that he might ask, ‘what do you think will be your greatest challenge?’

But, he says he’s not so in favour of these questions because applicants can prepare by looking up strategic answers online, rather than giving their own, more genuine answers.

He and Nanyang’s Nicole Tee both say they sometimes use questions about strengths and weaknesses when they want to assess a personality trait, such as dominance, cultural awareness or tenacity, and how that might impact on an applicant’s ability to interact with their classmates.

Why an MBA, and why now?

Foster School of Business’s Erin Town says, “we tend to ask what they want to do next in their career. And we assume that we’ll obviously get to, ‘why do you need an MBA to do that?’”

But what we’re wanting to see is that they’ve thought about their short and long-term goals, and that the MBA is not the goal itself.”

“We don’t expect our candidates to know exactly what they want to do when they graduate, but we want to see that they’ve put some thought into it and they’ve done some research. So we tend to ask them a lot of questions actually about their plans.”

Why are you interested in this school or program specifically?

This question is an opportunity for you to show how well you have prepared, according to Kalis at ESMT.

“We would like to encourage people to prepare in a way so that they’ve talked with current students, that they’ve talked with alumni, that they’ve absorbed the information we publish on our website.”

Town at the Foster School of Business says, “I might ask them, ‘what were the top three qualities you were seeking in an MBA program?’ to try and understand how we ended up at the top of their list. I think people who’ve done their research have no problem thinking about ‘well this is what I’m looking for in an MBA, and this is what I see in your school’.”

She says applicants show they’re willing to go the extra mile if they can be specific about how they plan to spend their time on the program. “Maybe there are specific companies they want to connect with, or there are projects or opportunities that we offer.”

While an interviewer might not ask about your expectations of the program directly, admissions teams are looking to ensure that what you expect to get out of a school and MBA program matches up with what they have to offer.

Town says, “we try to understand what gaps they’re seeing in their own experience or abilities that’s preventing them from [achieving their goals] now, and then we eventually get to ‘how is the MBA going to help you fill in those gaps?’.”

Kalis at ESMT says he’s also interested to know what an applicant expects to do after their MBA. He says that understanding what a student expects to get out of their program is important. “They invest a lot of time and money in their MBA, can we deliver what they expect?”

Think about what you have to offer

The need to meet expectations runs both ways. Schools also want to know how you can add value to their program.

“I think one of the things we ask that sometimes surprises people is, ‘what are your interests, what are your hobbies, what do you do outside of work?’,” says Tee at Nanyang Business School

“I think this sometimes takes people by surprise and they might wonder, ‘why does that matter?’ But we’re looking for well-rounded people who are not only focused on work or studies. We want interesting people with interesting backgrounds and experiences which they can bring in to enrich the experiences of their fellow MBA classmates.”

Showing a willingness to give of yourself can be key.

“I think it’s nice when applicants prepare something on how they can contribute to the school and what other people can learn from them,” says Kalis at ESMT. “What are they bringing that other people can profit from?”

And he says that doesn’t end once you’ve got your certificate in hand. ESMT is looking to turn out alumni who can serve as ambassadors for the school.

“That’s another factor: are students willing to give back after their MBA?”

Finally, do you have any questions?

Kalis says he always asks this question at the end, and that interviewees tend to use the time to ask for more specific details about the academic program, or about support they may require, such as with housing or scholarships.

This is the time to make sure that any questions or doubts you might have about undertaking the program have been covered.

But it’s also a delicate dance between making sure you know everything you need to, showing a genuine interest in the program, and being prepared enough so that you won’t ask anything embarrassing that might reveal a lack of research.

Kalis’s advice is to, “try to avoid the common questions. If it starts with, ‘oh, is your program one year long?’ Then I would think that the person is not suitable to come to us.”

Town advises that applicants “remember [the interviewers] are probably pretty busy, so maybe keep it to 2-3 questions and check in with the interviewer that there’s enough time for your questions”.

“My advice is to ask questions that you’re legitimately interested in. I think sometimes people go online and find ‘what’s the question I should ask at the end of an MBA interview’.”

In the end, this is an opportunity to show a deeper interest.

“From the questions that they ask, you can tell how much they know about the program,” says Tee at Nanyang Business School.

“Most of them, by the time they get to the interview, they will know all the things they need to know about the program, because they will have spoken to the admissions team, they will have gone through the website and the brochures and some of them will already have visited,” she says.

“So you can tell if they’ve already done their research or if they only know the program very superficially.”

Image: Interviews auf dem Campus der Universität St.Gallen by HSGTalents CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

]]> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0100
<![CDATA[After the MBA: How to Break Into Private Equity]]> When Abel Osorio graduated from Wharton Business School in 2012, he’d already had a few years of private equity experience under his belt.

As an associate at H.I.G. Capital, a large-cap buyout firm based in Miami, he’d worked on their lower middle market buyout fund for a couple of years, doing mostly modeling and analytics. That experience was indispensible in landing a position as vice president at Battery Ventures shortly after graduating from Wharton.

“For post-MBA, it’s incredibly difficult to break in if you don’t have prior private equity experience,” says Osorio, who went on to found his own firm Monserrat Capital after his time at Battery, and is now a principal at New York-based Turnspire Capital.

Osorio’s path is actually the most archetypal for those seeking to enter the sector: after graduating from college, he worked for two years at Thomas Weisel Partners, an investment bank, before joining H.I.G.

Rob Morris, founder of Olympus Partners, confirms that this is the easiest way to break into the industry: two years of investment banking, two years as an associate at a private equity firm, then an MBA.

“Firms look first and foremost for students with prior PE experience, creating a bit of a chicken and egg problem,” says Steve Kaplan, a professor of entrepreneurship and finance at Chicago Booth School of Business. “If you do not have PE experience before b-school, it is very hard to get in right away.”

Private equity hiring practices: Pre-MBA vs. post-MBA

Private equity hiring practices differ fairly drastically for pre-MBA versus post-MBA. For pre-MBA, a highly structured recruitment process begins quite soon after the candidate has entered the banking job. While the process is more standardized, since it’s generally run by headhunting firms, there’s also a greater availability of positions at this stage than post-MBA.

“It’s a simple pyramid, really—PE firms need a lot of associates to do the grunt work, but you don’t need as many VPs,” Osorio says. “That’s why when you’re in banking, you don’t need to network much; you get calls from headhunters, you’re in demand. But when you’re in b-school, you have to do a lot of networking to find the right fit, which requires meeting a lot of firms and people.”

Since there are simply fewer positions for post-MBA candidates, those who have prior experience are clearly given priority—although Osorio notes that even then, it can be tough to land a job.

Although an MBA from a second- or third-tier business school certainly doesn’t disqualify you from a position at a private equity firm, the top-tier names do hold sway. If the candidate doesn’t have an MBA from Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, or Stanford, it could be difficult to break in since competition is so fierce. Large-cap firms—The Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, TPG Capital—will likely have more stringent requirements, while mid- and lower-cap firms could look beyond the top-tier business schools when scouting for candidates.

[See the Top 10 business schools for a career in private equity]

Most business schools don’t prepare you for a career in private equity—there are few, if any MBA specializations specifically in private equity—although some have begun initiatives; Chicago Booth, for instance, started a PE lab in which roughly 100 students do internships for course credit with a private equity or venture capital firm. Kaplan notes that some students have turned these internships into full-time jobs.

The program also holds investment challenges that push students to put together investment theses that could be worked on with local private equity firms. Booth holds close relationships with investors like Hyde Park Angels; every year, several students work as associates at the firm.

Private equity hiring trends

Kaplan says that the one change he does see in private equity hiring practices is that more firms are willing to look at students who bring consulting or operating skills that could be used to add value to portfolio companies. Candidates with said experience could be better off targeting firms known for hiring consultants—Golden Gate Capital, for instance, which often hires from Bain. KKR has also done so, and is closely linked to the consulting industry with its own consulting arm called Capstone.

Morris backs this view: “Other ways include work your way up in opportunities in industries on which PE focuses, as PE is often looking for operating folks on team.”

For those on an MBA path, some introspection always helps. Osorio says he knew he didn’t want to be a banker forever; it was just a matter of deciding whether to go into the public markets, or private, since they typically recruit for a particular asset class.

“You weigh in what you like, what your personality is, where you excel,” he says. “And I knew I wanted to move to the buy side; PE was ultimately better suited for me.”

And as with most things in the private equity world, the job market also depends a lot on fundraising cycles. A good pace of fundraising, or a freshly closed fund will likely call for more personnel hires ready to work on the new batch of deals.

“PE firms have been successful in fundraising in the last two years,” says Kaplan. “Accordingly, the job market is relatively good (albeit still very hard) for PE."

Private equity glossary

Cap: short for ‘capitalization.’ Refers to a company’s size. For instance:

  • Small Cap Buyout: the purchase of a company that is valued at less than $350 million
  • Mid Cap Buyout: the purchase of a company that is valued between $350 million to $1 billion
  • Large Cap Buyout: the purchase of a company that is valued between between $1 billion to $3.5 billion

Leveraged Buyout: the purchase of a company or a business unit of a company

by an private equity investor using mostly borrowed capital

Limited partner (LP): an investor in a limited partnership that funds a private equity firm’s business deals.

Middle market firm: a company whose annual revenues fall between those of small and large companies. Upper and lower ranges for this category of firm can range, but are generally considered to be between $10 million and $1 billion.

Image: Maik M./CC BY-SA 2.0

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