Monday 10 December 2012

GMAT Scheduling in Bangalore - June, 2013


As I start preparing for GMAT, I think the best way to keep myself motivated enough to study on a regular basis is to schedule a GMAT Appointment. I have come to understand that it takes typically 4-5 months of preparation for the GMAT and hence I wanted to schedule my GMAT in June, 2013.
However, there are some issues with GMAT scheduling presently in Bangalore. I checked the mba.com website and it shows that no dates are available in June, 2013. The dates for GMAT open for scheduling 6 months in advance and I tried for booking on 1st December when the bookings for June, 2013 should open. There are two centers for taking GMAT in Bangalore but No dates are available on either of the centers. I talked to both the centers over phone and they informed that the dates for Bangalore have not yet been updated as they are yet to receive any confirmation from " their Management". I seriously don't know what that is supposed to mean.
Anyways, for people in Bangalore who are in similar position as me, don't worry much. The guy over phone asked me to wait for a couple of weeks. I will update once I've successfully scheduled my GMAT. Wish me Luck and Stay Connected...!!!

Monday 3 December 2012

QS World MBA Tour - Bangalore



Hi All, I am back again with one more experience sharing post from the QS World MBA Tour in Bangalore that I attended this last Saturday. The event was scheduled on 1st December at the Taj Vivanta Hotel on M.G Road here is Bangalore. The event started at 1.00 PM on schedule. To give you an idea of the scale of the event, 64 business schools participated in this event. I had attended “The MBA Tour” in Bangalore some 1 month back and that was more focused on US B-Schools. Here the representation was much wider with many schools from Canada, UK, Australia and Europe presenting at the fair. One thing that I didn’t like was that we were asked to PAY Rs 100 as participation fee. Although they gave a complementary bag and an issue of QS Top MBA Career Guide for early comers but it still didn’t make any sense to me. I shall post the Review of QS Top MBA Career Guide later on in some other post very soon. This post shall concentrate on the events during the MBA fair. A word of sorry here, although I wanted to visit all the schools but given the available time and my own focus on some particular schools I could not visit the whole lot of business schools who were visiting and so this post has limited information about the schools that I could visit.
Falmouth School of Business: This was the first seminar as part of the MBA fair. The main theme of the talk was that the business school puts a lot of emphasis on Creativity and embeds it in the curriculum. They offer a Full-time (1 year) MBA in UK and an Executive MBA program here in India wherein their faculties fly to India regularly to teach and help students. One special feature is that they have these Banks concept of talent management like Consultancy Bank. The participants interested in Consulting have to submit their CVs and then these CVs are mapped to companies. The mentor then helps the candidate in designing the curriculum so that the gaps can be filled between what is available and what is desired.
School of Inspired Leadership: The Falmouth presentation was followed by the SOIL presentation where the Alumni and a visiting faculty talked about the focus on Leadership given by the school.
The above two seminars were followed by a panel discussion on Studying in the UK. The panel discussion was focused on the competitiveness of UK business education vis-à-vis US business education. The representatives from the UK business schools iterated that UK was still a great destination to pursue business education and the situation was not as bad as being portrayed by media. Several concerns were raised by prospective applicants about the post-study work visa issues in UK but nobody gave a definite answer to it. Some students even shared stories of people not able to secure work visa after graduating from London Business School. So the picture of UK does not appear very bright as of now and with the condition in Europe, it does not seem to get better anytime soon. My personal opinion is thus to avoid UK for the time being.
MBA Fair
Talking of the post-study work visas, here is a great piece of news that I came to learn in the fair, although I had a rough idea about the same but it got clearer. If you do a 2 years (mind 2 years and NOT 18 months) MBA in Australia, you get an automatic post-study work visa for 2 years. Moreover, for a permanent residency in Australia, one needs to stay for 5 years. Thus, 4 years gets covered if you do an MBA and then only 1 year is the sponsorship required by an Australian company. Is that not great?
Similar is the news from Canada, if you do a 2 year MBA in Canada, one automatically gets a 3 year post-study work visa. This was the most important information that I could gather after talking to the representatives from the Sydney Business School and Rotman (University of Toronto). I then moved to the table of Goizueta Business School, Emory University.
Goizueta Business School, Emory University: Visiting this school was my most significant outcome from the MBA fair. After finishing the above seminars, I spent my almost entire time of 1.5 hrs at this business school. An alumnus of the Class of 2007 was present at the table and was sharing his take about various aspects of the Goizueta business school. The very energy with which he was talking about the business school was amazing. I could understand how great a time he had spent at the business school. He talked of the amazing alumni support. The alumnus was in the finance consulting domain. He shared his experiences of how the entire MBA thing was so much different in the US than in India. He could feel the difference and much better confidence than his Indian counterparts who had graduated from some top Indian b-schools. Goizueta is a great destination for people looking for Investment Banking and Marketing. Goizueta’s Leadership Development programs are great things and the alumnus kept on talking about it. He also talked of the alumni mentor program and how supportive the mentors are. One could contact the mentors at any given day at any given time and they were always available for him. Talking of Atlanta (where Emory is located), he said that Atlanta is like the New York of South and Emory is the best business school in the region which gives Emory a huge advantage in terms of local recruiting. My discussion with him then turned to Consulting and his experience of it. I came to learn much more about consulting but all that will come in a separate post on Consulting as a career.
So that is all from the MBA fair. On personal side, I am planning to schedule my GMAT and will let you know when I do. I have to kick-off my GMAT preparation too. Finally, it now seems that I am done with attending MBA admission seminars and have drafted a plan of action for me. I will post that and many other things very soon. Stay Connected..

Wednesday 7 November 2012

A Day in Life of an MBA Applicant


Well, I don’t think many people will be interested in the topic but off late, I’ve reading a lot of posts on “Day in the Life of an XYZ MBA Student” so I thought to write a post on ‘Day in the Life of an MBA Applicant”. Although this post may not be useful to applicants but I want to write it as a memoir of my days of Business School Applications. So here is how my day looks like:

6.00 AM – Wake Up
6.30 AM – Finish Shower
7.00 AM – Have Breakfast and Leave for Office
8.00 AM – Reach Office and The Looonngggg Day Begins!
5.00 PM – Leave office (if nothing warrants to stay late..)
6.00 PM – Reach home
7.00 PM – Work-out and Snacks time
7.00 PM – 9.30 PM – Work on Coursera courses, Reading, Economics, and Newspaper
10.00 PM – Finish Dinner
10.00 PM – 11.00 PM – Business school research, Forum visits, Office stuff, Internet
11.00 PM – Sleep
I know that sounds a bit boring but that is how it is. Hope to have a better and much fun filled ‘Day in Life’ post from my business school. Stay tuned..!!!

Saturday 27 October 2012

Indian School of Business (ISB Hyderabad) - Bangalore Information Session



I attended the ISB Info session here in Bangalore. The session was scheduled to start on 14th October, 3.00 PM at The Lalit Ashok Hotel. I’ve been attending quite a few information sessions for some while now and by far this was the most interactive session. Here are my experiences of the info session.
As I said above, the info session was very interactive and that too by design. The session started with a 5 minute video on Why MBA, Why ISB kind of thing which they called as Curtain Raiser. It was followed by a sectional Q&A session i.e. a 20-minute slot was given for Q&A on the following topics – Academics, Careers, Life @ ISB and Admissions. Each section started with a brief overview of 2 minutes from the admissions officer and followed with Q&A with the prospective applicants. The great thing was that almost all the questions were fielded by the 9 alumni present there.
ISB is in the process of revising their curriculum (which they do every 5 years) and the suggestions will be implemented for the Class of 2015. As well known, ISB has now 2 campuses, Hyderabad and Mohali, and it was emphasized that both the campuses essentially the same opportunities in terms of academics and career opportunities. The two campuses offer the following specializations – Marketing, Finance, Strategy & Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Apart from this, the Hyderabad campus offers IT Management and Operations whereas the Mohali campus additionally offers Manufacturing and Healthcare management. For experimental learning opportunities, students at ISB work on real business problems from industry. The great thing about these projects is that ISB charges the companies for these projects and hence they are taken very seriously. The curriculum is well designed in collaboration with the associate schools of ISB like Wharton, MIT Sloan, Kellogg and London Business School.
On the careers side, ISB offers a very diverse set of opportunities. Now-a-days, Leadership Development Programs are quite popular which was very interesting for me, given my interests in General Management career. The alumni present were very enthusiastic about recruiting. Some concerns were raised by some applicants on having larger number of work experience. ISB has a SEC club which specifically works with such candidates to help them through the recruiting process. The Career Advancement Center at ISB helps in one-on-one mentoring by some very senior people in the industry who even help in selecting elective courses based on one’s career goals.
Life at ISB is great. The club activities, socials and the infrastructure are simply magnificent. The round of application doesn’t really matter from the applicant’s point of view. It was stressed quite a bit and I believe it. There were some questions on gap in employment and the admissions officer told that as long as there is a justifiable explanation for gap in employment, it is perfectly fine.
The formal session ended with this and we got in informal small groups with alumni and had some specific questions. Overall, the program is amazing and ISB is a great brand in the region. I’m definitely applying to ISB in the next year’s admission cycle.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Michigan Ross School of Business– Bangalore Information Session


Dear Readers and My fellow applicants, I am back with one more (and probably the last one this season) details of my experiences of business school information session. This last Wednesday (17th October, 2012) I attended the Bangalore Information Session of Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. The session was scheduled at 7.30 PM in the Taj Vivanta Hotel, M.G Road and started right on schedule. The session was hosted by Diana Economy, Associate Director of Admissions at the business school. 6 alumni were also present at the venue making it the largest number of alumni present at any business school info session in Bangalore that I’ve attended.
Even before the session formally started, I got to talk to alum who he shared his story of the Ross admission. The formal session started with a presentation about various aspects about the business school. Most of the information in the presentation is available on website and hence I’ll only write about some Key takeaways from the info session.
Since the info session was being organized after the Round 1 application deadline was over, Diana apologized for not being able to come to Bangalore before the Round 1 deadline. However, she emphasized that there was absolutely no difference in admissions decisions in Round 1 and Round 2. She told that even the scholarship decisions are evenly distributed across Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines, so it does not necessarily makes any difference if someone applies in Round 1 or Round 2. On the same note, she informed that all the scholarships are Merit based and there are NO Need based scholarships.
Speaking of the infrastructure, the newest Stephen M Ross School of Business building is a state of the art facility and is a LEED certified building.
Academics: The core-curriculum focuses mostly on team based learning primarily through case studies and lectures at times. 2nd year is entirely electives with some options of electives in the 1st year too. As popular, Ross follows the philosophy of Learning by Doing i.e. Action based Learning. The most important part of this philosophy is the MAP which happens over the last 7 weeks of the 1st year. It is a part of the core curriculum and hence everyone has to participate in this. These are small consulting projects sponsored by industry and about 50% of the MAP projects are from outside the US which gives good opportunities for an international exposure. Some alumni highlighted the importance of MAP projects for Career switchers when students can do MAP projects in their desired field. There are several other opportunities for Action Learning through the various Institutes (like Tauber, WDI) at the University of Michigan. The Operations program through the Tauber institute, in fact, offers special Operations focused internships for people interested in pursuing career in operations.
One other great program about the Ross Learning by Doing philosophy which I found very interesting is the Leadership Crisis Challenge. As part of this, Ross talks to very senior business leaders (read CXOs) about a crisis challenge that they have handled. Now a group of students are given the same challenge and data relevant to that. The students then address a real live press conference where journalists ask questions and the students have to respond. I mean, can you really have a better experience than this.
Careers: Every year, some 50 2nd year MBA students are trained by career services and they act as mentors to the first years. They are people who have done the same internship that you want to do, are in the same industry that you want to focus on and hence this provides a great learning experience. For applicants interested in Consulting post-MBA, here is a great news. Apparently, the writer of the famous case preparation book Case-in-Point, has told that the Ross Consulting Club is the best consulting club.
Daina was very kind to let us know some folloing key information about the recruitment for International students at Ross. The top firms hiring international students last year were Citi, Delloite, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and PwC. The top functions were Strategy Consulting, Marketing & Brand Management, IT consulting and Finance. About 50% of the class went to New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Life @ Ross: Ross boasts of its Community. The community building starts right from MTreks which are adventure trips and they happen even before the school starts. Ann Arbor is a great city and has many things to do from Golf to Biking to Hiking. Most students live within 1-2 miles of the business school and this again forms a great community.
Admissions: Talking of GMAT/GRE, Daina informed that the business school is very quantitative and hence they look at evidences of quantitative skills through GMAT and Academic transcripts. In academic transcripts, they will look at the quantitative courses that we have taken. A member from the audience asked a question about the school’s judgment of quantitative skills for an applicant from the liberal arts background. Daina replied that in case of a liberal arts background, they will focus more on GMAT to see evidence of Quantitative skills. On TOEFL (although this is mandatory only if the language of instruction in undergrad was not English), Ross has a cut-off of a minimum of 100. They are specifically looking at the Speaking and listening scores on TOEFL.
On Essays, Daina advised that the essays must reflect Authencity (Be Yourself), Clear Goals and Reasons for Ross. On the same note, an alumnus advised the following while writing the essays, “Write an essay which can convince the admissions committee on Why MBA, Why Now and Why Ross”. Daina told that essays are also a way to judge our writing skills and they compare the AWA essays (on GMAT) with the application essays to see for signs of essays written by admission consultant.!!! Daina informed that essays essentially gauge two things – Can You Write and What is your story?
On Recommendations, she told that a recommendation from a current supervisor is the most preferable. However, in cases where one can’t approach his/her current supervisor for some reason, he/she must explain the reason for the same in the optional essay. Academic recommendations were not advised. Daina especially stressed on preparing the recommenders for writing one. An applicant asked if it was fine to share essays with the recommenders and to this Daina told that it was fine until they don’t copy the essays in the recommendations. She advised to hand over our Resumes to recommenders and explain them clear reasons for pursuing an MBA. The recommendations must essentially highlight Professional skills of the applicant.
Resume: Daina emphasized that the resume should be tailored to suit a business school application and not for a job application. In essence, it should talk of career progression, impact on the organization, quantified results, a brief about ECs and academic highlights. She advised not to put internship experience in the resume. Importantly, resume should be 1 page only.
The interviewer will only have our resume and it could be alum or a current student via Skype. Interviews are mostly used to gauge Communication Skills and the right ‘FIT’ with the school.
Diana advised us to closely follow the Blog of the admissions director as many important information will be directly published there.
The formal session ended with this and we proceeded for informal chats with the alumni. Alumni advised on writing consistent application and being human. We must highlight our stories sharing insights on the challenges we faced and the learning from such challenges. During the informal sessions, some applicants asked about career support for international students at the business school. To this, the alum replied that the career service at the business school is phenomenal. One alumnus pointed out 1 very great advantage of being an international student and that is that as international students the entire US is all the same for us. We don’t have any regional preferences whereas Americans might have very rigid preferences. So this flexibility of location works very well when it comes to recruiting. There were some discussions about the specifics of MAP process – Students have to give a preference for 15 projects out of the 100s and usually people get some project within their top 5 choices. There may be some company imposed restrictions on the profile of students but the business school works hard to ensure that such restrictions are few. For example, for a finance heavy MAP project companies might insist that at least one person on the team should have a finance background and similarly a company offering MAP project in India might insist on having at least one Hindi speaking person on the team. Essentially, the MAP projects are not too much functionally deep and hence everyone can almost work on every project. During the informal discussions, Diana highlighted that Ross is looking to Create Public Leaders.
There was a discussion on the need of work experience for MBA. Alumni pointed out that most of the discussion in the class is within the students and the Professor is only facilitating the discussion. Hence, work experience brings perspectives to the class during discussions and hence it is very important for going to a business school and making the most out of it.
I left the session at around 10.30 PM leaving with a firm belief that Ross is the business school where I want to go for my MBA. To learn more about my MBA Journey, Stay Connected…!!!

Sunday 14 October 2012

MBA Applicant Interview with Accepted.com - My MBA Journey

I recently interviewed with Sarah Pritzker from Accepted.com
The interview has been published in Accepted.com's series of MBA Applicant Interviews. The link to the published interview is here. The interview goes from questions on a brief introduction about me, my application plan, why I chose to blog my application journey and many more. Enjoy reading..

http://blog.accepted.com/2012/10/12/mba-applicant-blogger-interview-amits-journey/

Thank You! Sarah.

Saturday 13 October 2012

The World MBA Tour – Bangalore 2012



Hey Friends, I recently attended the World MBA Tour in Bangalore. The tour was on 29th September 2012 (Saturday) at the Taj Vivanta Hotel, M.G. Road. The event started at 8.00 AM with pre-registrations and ended with an MBA fair. So here are my experiences from the same. By the way, a lot of the discussions that happened during the sessions are readily available over the school websites and so I am writing here only key takeaways from the tour.
The tour featured 26 business schools from across the globe, the most prominent among those were Harvard, MIT, UCLA Anderson, IE Business School, Indiana Kelley, Rice Jones, Maryland Smith, USC Marshall and many others from Japan, China and Portland. The program started with a 1 and a half hour Masters fair where business schools showcased their targeted MS programs like the MS Finance, MS SCM (both from Maryland Smith). We could discuss the insights from these specific programs with the school admissions representatives.
After the Masters Fair, the formal MBA tour started with a presentation by GMAC on ‘Demystifying the GMAT’. This event talked about various aspects of the GMAT like how to prepare and some key statistics about the GMAT. It was a pleasant surprise to know that India ranks 4th in terms of the largest number of scores being sent to a country (a summation of all the scores sent to Indian Business Schools).
The session by GMAC was followed by Panel Discussion on ‘How Admission Decisions are made’. In my presentation hall, we had representatives from Indiana Kelley, USC Marshall and Georgetown McDonough take this session and talk about what do they look for in application while selecting a candidate. The advices were same as we hear over and over again – No magic GMAT number, No magic GPA, Applications are read holistically, No significant difference between Round 1 and Round 2, No significant bar on age and so on. A couple of significant takeaways from this session were in the Resume and Essays sections – Admissions representatives told that the admissions staff are non-technical people and hence applicants should not put too much of technical stuff in their resumes, Resumes should be of 1 page ONLY, rather than responsibilities we must put the Impact of our actions and Quantification of our achievements. On the essays side, they advised us to ‘Write the WHY of our decisions rather than concentrating on the WHAT of the decisions that we have made in our career’. They advised the CAR approach to writing essays – Context, Approach and Reflection (concentrating in the increasing order from C to A and then to R). A great advice that I got from them was to write essays and ask someone to just read our essays and guess the question. If the person can guess the question correctly, the essays are nice.
Individual school presentations started thereafter with 3 parallel sessions and this was a bit unfortunate for me because I missed a couple of school presentation that I wanted to attend but had to choose one of the schools due to parallel session thing. The fourth presentation was again a parallel session of MIT and Harvard and unfortunately again I had to choose one, I choose MIT. The presentations of all the schools were about some key features of the schools, admissions process and ended with 5 minutes of Q&A session from participants which mainly saw questions regarding application criteria and other general question. I was sorry to see that most participants were asking very basic and general questions, the kinds of which are readily available on school websites. So here I am going to write only key takeaways from each school session I attended (in that order).
UCLA Anderson School of Management: As you might be aware of the Academic Tracks at UCLA, these track choice is taken by the school even before a student comes to the campus. It is also perfectly okay to not choose a Track in which case it is called Custom track and a student himself designs his curriculum. The tracks can be topped with Specializations. The school takes In-person alumni interviews for the admissions process. On the financial aid side, once accepted, a student can apply for need based financial aid. However, merit based financial aid does not need any separate application and are part of the admissions process. There are loan options also available without a US Co-signor. For those interested, TA/GA options are also available. During the MBA fair, which followed the school presentations, we were talking to a current student at the business school. He had come to IIM-Bangalore on an exchange program and was at the MBA tour taking question from students. He told that McKinsey does not come to the campus for recruitment but posts various job postings.
Georgetown McDonough Business School: School is in Washington D.C which works as a great advantage in terms of the Public Policy and Business mix of the culture. The admissions representative talked a lot about how much they value the community spirit. D.C is close to major finance centers and hence great for finance careers. The business school has a small class size of 240 and the curriculum is more General Management focused. There are no specializations. As the admissions office explained, Specializations lead to like-minded people being together whereas business education should be about diversity and working in different teams. Teaching method at the school typically comprises of 60% case based and 40% lecture based curriculum. On the careers part, every student is assigned a career service coach who is an expert in the industry (in which the student is interested) and a 2nd year student for guidance. They have recently revised the curriculum. It is now a semester based integrated curriculum. By integrated, it means that professors co-ordinate their classes so that students get a holistic 360 degrees view of any business challenge. There is a Global Study Opportunity in the 2nd semester of the 2nd year. The admissions officer especially stressed on visiting the school because, in her words, it is less expensive to fly to US and visit a school than paying the full tuition and feeling miserable for the rest of 2 years. This made me apprehensive about admissions prospects because she stressed on visiting the school at two separate occasions. I know of several schools which say that visiting school is a great thing but they understand that it could be an expensive affair for international students and hence visiting a school does not affect the admissions decision in any way. Now I only wonder what the inside story is? One important note here – The business school DOES NOT have a loan program for international students. Some students expressed their concerns about the school being in Washington D.C where most the federal consulting jobs are not open to international students. The admissions officer admitted that such jobs are indeed not open to internationals, however, the offices of KPMG, Ernst & Young and many more consultancies are located very close to the business school and thus opportunities are not really limited for international students.
Rice University Jones School of Business: The school has a 100% case based teaching approach. It has a small class size and is a private university. Climate-wise, Houston is HOT. The school is entirely separated from the Rice University as the entire Jones schools works out of one state-of-the art facility. The business school has a great healthcare connection. Houston is the energy capital of the world and hence was insulated from the effects of global recession. Almost 30% of the class goes to Energy related industry. Some 39 of the Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Houston so industry connection is great at the business school. Houston and Texas, in general, have a huge Indian community too. The student culture is very tightly knit and there is a party every Thursday where staff and students meet each other. Free alcohol is served in such parties and many a times, Industry executives also sponsor such parties where senior executives meet students. The small class size of 100-125 ensures that everyone knows everyone else. On a lighter note, a alumnus present said that the people is career services know more about students that students want them to know. For Indians attending the business school, it does have a cricket team and there are some fine Indian restaurants too in the area. The alumnus told us that there is a restaurant by the name of Himalaya which serves great Biryani, the best the alumnus had ever had. The campus has 2 bars which apparently sell the cheapest beer in the area. The curriculum offers 10 concentrations and one can choose to do no concentration at all or can choose to take a maximum of 2 concentrations. The school is very generous in giving scholarships and almost 91% of the class received some form of scholarship. The School, however, DOES NOT have a loan program without co-signor. During my interactions with the alumnus in the MBA fair, I talked to him about the energy industry not being receptive to international students. To this, he said that partially it is true that not all companies in the energy industry are open to international students but at the same time many are open and this does not limit the opportunities available to international students.
MIT Sloan School of Management:  The MIT discussions were all the general stuff about the curriculum and the admissions process. I had looked at the website of MIT Sloan in-depth before going to the session and hence there were only few takeaways from the session. I however got to interact with an alumnus which was great. Some of the highlights were that MIT conducts in-person interviews across the world (yes! The admissions staff travels across the world to do interviews). There is a Bangalore MIT Alumni Club which is not necessarily MIT Sloan but MIT as a whole. On the community involvement at Sloan, apart from the Sloan clubs students can also get involved in the MIT wide clubs and other activities. MIT has a career tracks option (presently 3) which is not necessary to follow. Post-admissions, MIT asks for desired track where a student has to write an essay on why he wants to pursue a particular track. Good news is that there is no limit on the number of students that can enroll in a particular track so it is not competitive to pursue a track. The alum present said that although there is relatively greater focus in MIT on academics, it does not limit the student life outside the classroom. Career services at the school are great and career activities start from the 3-4th week itself of joining MIT Sloan.
So that was all about the MBA tour. It was a great experience, meeting so many business schools in one day. The information in-flow was too much for a day but it’s a great experience. I just wished that I could attend a couple of more sessions if parallel sessions were not there. My business school list is now showing up stable. Let us see where it goes. For more, Stay Connected..!!!

Saturday 6 October 2012

Yale School of Management (Yale SOM) - Bangalore Information Session


I recently attended the Bangalore Information Session of the Yale School of Management. The info session was on 20th September 2012 at Hotel Taj Westend, Bangalore. The session was hosted by George Joseph (In-charge of Yale International Relations-Asia, In-charge of Leadership Development Program at Yale School of Management). Along with George, there was a Class of 2008 alumnus present too.
The session started with a formal presentation by George and was followed by Q&A session both with George and the alumnus. I would say that the presentation started in style for what Yale SOM is known for – Impact on Society. The first few slides highlighted the various problems the world is facing today like food security, energy security, corruption, business environment etc and ending up the problems sequence with “Educating Leaders for Business and Society”. The idea conveyed was that the world is such a complex place and hence it needs well aware managers who can lead the business and society to have a real impact on it which they call “Leaders for Society”. I personally was flattened by such a start of the session. George informed us that Yale SOM is a relatively new school and the school believes in training managers. Apparently, this is the underlying philosophy why they don’t call themselves Yale School of Business and call themselves Yale School of Management. Apart from the general stuff about the school (which is readily available on website) there was some interesting information that was shared too. Replying to a question on how admissions committee decides upon an applicant, George said that they are not looking to match a pre-designed template for applicants. Instead, admissions office looks at the application holistically and then decided on each applicant. They try to create a class that is as diverse as possible. Talking of candidates from India, Indian students constitute the largest group of international students at Yale SOM. As an example, George told that there were approx. 40 Indian students in the present class at Yale SOM.
Yale SOM has started a unique initiative called Global Network for Advanced Management where 24 business schools from around the world are part of the network where students and faculty interact with one another. From India, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-Bangalore) is part of this network. Talking of curriculum, Yale believes in a holistic 3600 view of management where there are no concentrations. At Yale, one does not get an MBA in Marketing, Operation or something like this, we get just an MBA. The curriculum focuses on each aspect of business equally. The Core curriculum starts with Orientation in Management which aims at bringing all students at one level to start business education. George informed that this has been done keeping in view that fact that all students come from different backgrounds and hence it is necessary to bring everyone to par to start a formal business education as a class. I found this particularly great as not many business schools follow such a practice. The next quarters are what they call Organizational Perspectives. This essentially highlights the Holistic 3600 view curriculum that I just mentioned a couple of lines before. At Yale SOM, in the core curriculum, there are no classes by the name of Marketing or Accounting or the likes. Instead, they teach business from different perspective like Competitor, Customer, Investor, Sourcing & Managing Funds, State & Society, Employee, Innovation, Operations and Global Macro-economy. The idea is to learn about business from these different perspectives and the stakes that they hold in the entire scheme of things. Along with this core curriculum there is this Leadership Development exercise that continues through the whole of 1st year. There is also a mandatory 2 weeks International experience trip as part of the 1st year curriculum which happens around March. Each visit has a theme and students get to meet alumni, government officials, Senior Executives in the companies where the team is visiting. As an example, the team visiting India got to meet the Prime Minister during their International trip. One very special highlight at the Yale SOM that I personally feel is simply great is the concept of what is called “Raw Cases”.
Talking of class size, we were informed that presently the intake is around 250 but this year onward  they are planning to increase the intake up to approx. 350. Around 27% of the class is international. There is a new Yale SOM facility coming up which they are expecting to start by next fall. On the careers side, around 40% of the class goes to Finance sector followed by 23% in Consulting. On the admission front, George told that approximately 20% of the class is selected in the Round 1 and around 10% or less of the class is selected from Round 3.That leaves with most of the class being decided through Round 2. The formal presentation closed with this and Q&A session started which saw some specific question being asked by the participants like focus on Entrepreneurship, Social enterprise. The alumnus shared his experiences at Yale and vouched that Yale SOM provides outstanding facilities for everything. The very amount of stuff that is available there will leave us overwhelmed.
That is all from Yale SOM info session. For more, Stay Connected…!!!

Saturday 29 September 2012

Book Review: Clear Admit School Guide – Haas School of Business


I just finished the Clear Admit School Guide on Haas School of Business. I would like to thank Melanie from Clear Admit for giving me a complimentary copy of the guide and it has been a great experience reading this book especially given that I am running short on time for researching b-schools.
The guide covered almost everything that I would have wanted to know about Haas from an applicant’s perspective. The guide begins with program highlights which describes the most distinct features of the MBA program at Haas. I mean to say, as an applicant myself, whenever I consider a school I ask the question, “What are the most special things about the program”? The Clear Admit guide starts right with that note so that one can further do deeper research and ask more insightful and meaningful questions to current students/alumni while researching the school.
One notable feature of the guide is its comparison of key statistics (like Class Size, regional and industry-wise employment, class composition) with other comparable schools which in my opinion offers a sneak peek in to the other comparable programs too, if you have not thought of them previously (so much for the value added service here). The student demographic section discusses everything, from GPA, GMAT, Undergrad majors to Minority representation, International composition, and average work experience.
The section on Academics is simply great. It even tells the durations during which the school is closed i.e. no classes. Curriculum details are highlighted in their very minutest details with content descriptions about Pre-Term, Orientation, and Core Curriculum, Class structure, Electives and related guidelines. The curriculum comparison offers great insights into comparable MBA programs in terms of flexibility of the curriculum at Haas. Haas’s emphasis on Entrepreneurship and Innovation provides enormous opportunities for students interested in this area and details of all such resources are given in a special section dedicated to this topic.
For an international applicant like me for whom visiting the campus does not seem a feasible option, the section on Life at Haas offers great insights into the Infrastructure at Haas, City life, Life in San Francisco and Housing options. Personally, I’ve found that getting information on these topics is generally difficult and hence the guide is an excellent resource for this.
Among other things, Clubs and Professional activities section details various interesting conferences and competitions that happen on the campus. The Careers section titled is simply awesome. It has every detail of the entire recruiting process – timelines, school guidelines to companies etc. From an applicant’s perspective, now I know what I have to look forward to if I happen to secure an admit at Haas.
The guide also contains detailed Admissions section covering every detail of the admissions process like application requirements and Financing the MBA. As a final value addition, the guide concludes with essay analysis for the essays for current application cycle and an interview with the Director of Admissions at the Haas School of Business.
Bottom-line: If you have just thought of an MBA and are falling short of time to research schools, just go for this. While most of the information in the guide is available across thousands of forums and blogs over the web, researching through all of this is a very cumbersome process. The guide does an excellent job in consolidating all the info at one place. Now, if you are in the advanced stages of business school research, the guide may still offer some great insights, especially in terms of comparison of key statistics across similar schools. Personally, I also feel that some sections offer very interesting insights into the program and its constituents which may build a base for further deeper research to understand these components. It should make a case for asking more meaningful and insightful questions to alumni/current students/admissions office rather than general questions.
Coming up next are my experiences from the Yale SOM Bangalore Info Session..Stay Connected..!!!

Saturday 22 September 2012

Book Review – MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham & Judy Gruen


I just finished this great MBA Admissions resource – a book by Linda Abraham (founder of accepted.com) called ‘MBA Admission for Smarties’. I was fortunate enough to have been given a complimentary copy of the book by Sarah (from accepted.com). Based on my own personal experience and the experiences about the MBA applications process of a couple of friends of mine, I can vouch that the book describes the MBA admissions process right from to-dos when one first thinks of an MBA to the moment he gets an acceptance letter from an MBA program through some concrete examples at every step.
The book starts with the importance of clear and objective goals when making the decision to do an MBA as the next career move. To quote from the book, “In their quest for an MBA, applicants must ask themselves two fundamental questions: (a) Do my career goals and personal preferences match the school’s curricular, extracurricular, and recruiting strengths? (b) Do my academic and professional qualifications compare favorably to the school’s recent class profiles”? The chapter then discusses similar issues about goals selection at length. This section is followed by discussion on the ‘Researching MBA programs’. What should go in business school research, how to find the right match of the business school and the right MBA program are just to name a few of the highlights from this section. The book simply explains almost everything about MBA admissions that an applicant has to face viz. importance of rankings, when to refer to them and when not to, work experience, how to project a work experience, projecting personal traits, how many programs to apply, when to apply to highly competitive and potentially competitive programs and many more. The best thing about the book is its objective approach to all the sections. There have been tips given on almost all sections in the book and these tips have been shown in action through sample essays, resumes, recommendation and anecdotes.
The second half of the book is dedicated to application process. Again, the book objectively defines the characteristics of great essays illustrated by examples, planning essays. I particularly liked the STAR approach to writing essays and the concept of ‘editing funnel’ to fine tune essays. This essay section also discusses at length, the approach to the common essay questions like Why MBA, Why Now, and Why XYZ School, Short and Long term goals essay, Failure essay, Leadership essay, Teamwork essay and other similar most common essays again through great sample essays. This is also one major take-away from this book because although these essays seem common but they need a very specific and calibrated approach while drafting them. The book has a dedicated section on writing Resumes which most of us applicants tend not to pay enough attention to. More importantly, I realized the difference between a Resume for a job application and a Resume for an MBA application. These two are entirely different pieces of a cake. The book has illustrated a couple of sample resumes which I feel can also be used as a template for writing my own resume for MBA application. Now comes the toughest part of MBA application – gathering great Letters of Recommendations. Based on my own research and knowledge about MBA application, I think this was my most important take-away from the book. First, a couple of sample LoRs have been given which again show how to guide my recommender in writing a great recommendation, especially when my recommender will be doing this for the first time without having an idea of what should go in an LoR and what not. In this section, a compilation of tips for recommenders have also been provided which I feel is of great significance if we hand it over to our recommenders. The section called ‘Preparing to Shine during Interviews’ is another asset in the book with key issues that one should take care during an interview and more importantly, while preparing for an interview. The last section on what to do after submitting an application provides some good tips for specific applicants like Older applicants, re-applicants, waitlisted applicants and so on.
The bottom line is that as an applicant, I knew most of the important issues and how to approach them. However, for gathering this amount of information, I have spent countless hours on my laptop reading through thousand of blog posts, forum posts, chat with current students and alumni to name a few. The best thing in my perspective about the book is its objective approach and the consolidation of everything about MBA applications in one book. Most importantly, the book does not guide you specifically on any one point or the other about the applications process. Instead, it gives a 360 degrees holistic view of the entire admissions process while highlighting the importance of each process and tips on handling each process. Just to illustrate, I think I have spent the past 2 months on researching MBA programs and application process but I still had takeaways from the book. So finally, ‘Recommendation on grabbing a copy’? – Well, I would say if you have just thought of an MBA, go for the book. You will know what it takes to get an Admit confirmation mail from a top MBA program and for that matter how to decided if that top ranked MBA program is a fit for you or not? If, however, you are in advanced stages of the application process, I would say it still deserves a read given the tips of LoR, Interviews and post-submission issues.
My experiences from the Yale School of Management (Yale SOM) - Bangalore Information Session coming up next. Stay Connected...!!!

Sunday 16 September 2012

NYU Stern School of Business - Bangalore Information Session


Hi Readers and my fellow applicants, here are the insights from NYU’s Stern School of Business Information session in Bangalore. The session was hosted at Infosys Technologies Ltd, which fortunately is right next to my company. The session was scheduled at 7 PM on 13-Sept and was hosted by Brian White, Assistant Director-MBA Admissions at the Stern School of Business.
Here's the first surprise from the info session. It has not been done at any of the business school info sessions that I've attended till now. The session started with a mini-Networking activity. Brian gave us 5 minutes and asked to meet 2-3 people and get to know each other. During this get-to-know event, we had to also find out 1 business challenge or scenario that his industry is facing. Trust me; it was truly a great exercise. After the activity ended, 2 of the participants from the gathering were asked to share the most interesting business challenge that they came to know about. It was a great start of the event. I could interact with 3 other participants and got their contacts. Hope this will help me in my applications process. It truly helps when 2 people are in the same boat.
The formal presentation then started with the words “The Power of Possible”. Stern School of Business believes in the power of possible. They challenge students at every stage. Brian told us that the culture of Stern is not to follow status-quo but to challenge every aspect of it. Stern makes this “Power of Possible” happen through its 4 core values.
Academic Excellence: Stern has over 300 renowned faculties some of whom are former business leaders. Some of the faculties are current practitioners too. They bring real business learning to the classroom and that is indeed a great thing to have in classroom, in my opinion. Stern offers more that 20 specializations. Students at Stern can also take up to 25% of their classes at one of the various school of New York University other than the business school. To apply the classroom learning, Stern has this program called Stern Consulting Core where Stern students do consulting projects for small businesses and non-profits in New York. Stern also offers global study opportunities in various forms. There are exchange programs where one can go to a foreign university for a semester. If one semester is too long, there is this DBI (Doing Business In) program wherein a group of students travel to different country for a 1-2 week assignment.
New York City: Now, this is one aspect that really matters big time. They say it as ‘The Energy of a Global Hub’ and I truly believe in this. New York City offers numerous opportunities. To engage the Stern students outside the classroom, there is a dedicated Student Engagement Office. There is also this Boards Fellow Program where a student can become the Board-member of a non-profit and get to understand what it means to be a board-member. The alumni network is over 100,000 strong and spread all over. When Brian was asked about Entrepreneurship at Stern and in New York, Brian told us that Entrepreneurship is coming up fast in New York City.
Collaborative Community: Brian gave us a snap-shot of the collaborative community at the business school. He shared instance like a student coming out of the interview room told others waiting outside the questions that he was asked during the interview.
The presentation finally turned to Admissions. There were general and lengthy discussions about the admissions process and requirements and hence I’m only writing the major takeaways from the discussions. At Stern, he application is seen in the light of IQ + EQ i.e. stellar academics are not enough to secure an admit at Stern. The application is evaluated on three categories without any weight to any category. The categories are Academics, Professional and Personal. Transcripts can be self-reported and the originals are required only at the time of interview. TOEFL is not required of the medium of instruction during the undergrad was English. Stern asks for 2 recommendations (preferably professional). However, more than 2 recommendations can also be submitted, if an applicant wishes so. Brian advised us to talk to our recommenders well in advance since the recommendations given during the last minutes were usually not the best ones in his experience. There were some discussions on the Essays too. Essay 1 in essence asks for short and medium term goals while Essay 2 asks for long term goals. For Essay 2, Brian told us that it was not necessary to say something like ‘this is exactly what I want to do’. One must have a broad idea of what he wants to do post-MBA. Brian told us that everyone is interviewed before being offered an admit and hence interview waivers are out of question. It appeared that Stern interviews are not blind interviews and the interviewer has read all the application before interviewing. The good news is that Stern conducts interviews world-wide and fortunately there is a interview conducted in India too, preferably Mumbai. As far as application deadlines are concerned, the deadlines are there but essentially Stern admissions are a rolling admissions process and deadlines are only to highlight the notification dates. Brian informed that there is a preference for scholarships if one applies by the first deadline. The scholarships can be up to full fee waiver. All the scholarships are merit based and determined on the basis of Academics and Professional achievements. Stern also offers US co-signor free loans. A good news for Indian applicants – Stern has partnered with HSBC to offer loans to Indian applicants.
The formal presentation thus ended and I had to leave the venue due to some other engagement. There was one more surprise in the store for the participants. Brian asked us to write our names on an info card and collected them from all the participants. He then picked 3 names from the pack and offered Applications Fee waiver for the current application season. Now that was really a great gesture from the business school.
So that was all about my Stern experience. I’ve got some contacts of a couple of fellow applicants. Hope you found the above info useful. For more, Stay Connected…!!!

Sunday 9 September 2012

Business School Selection Criteria for International MBA - Part 2/2

As promised in my last post, here are the remaining criteria which I think must go into Business school selection.

4. Teaching Methodologies

Now this is one more important thing that I feel can impact our learning. Although I have come to understand that much of the learning in a business school happens through peers but for whatever part that happens in the classroom, the teaching methodology will definitely play a significant role in grasping the fundamentals of some courses. Most popularly, there are two types of teaching methods viz. Case Based Approach and the Lecture based approach. These days, some business school believe that not one approach is suited for everything and hence depending on the course content, business schools are combining courses with a mix of cases, lectures and group discussions. Let us consider the values of each approach. While the case approach is best suited for learning the real-world applications of the concepts first hand, it might be sometimes not very suitable to courses which a student might not have any background about. In my opinion, case approach is best suited when a student has some background into the course content and then he learns to use those concepts to solve real problems. The theoretical lecture based teaching will help learn the fundamentals but only in a theoretical sense, there will be limited opportunities to see the concepts being applied to real world problems. Thus while selecting a business school, an applicant must gauge his best learning methodology based on past experience and knowledge about business fundamentals.
Information about teaching methods is usually available on the Curriculum section of the business school’s website.
5.  Student Culture – Collaborative vs. Competitive

This is again one of the major factors that must go into the decision making process while selecting a business school. As an alumnus once told me, the business concepts remain the same everywhere, Accounting will be accounting in every b-school but what differs from school to school is the culture of the school. Every business school has its distinct signature of the student culture. One has to find his fit within the student community. This fit is very important as it appears every time during discussions if business school selection. Business schools have either competitive or collaborative student culture. Even within these two broad categories, there is a lot of distinction and focus across schools. Unfortunately, getting to know about the student culture of the business school becomes the toughest job in business school research. A fit into the culture of the school helps to realize the true potential of the MBA program.
The best way to learn about culture of the school is to visit the school. However, this might not be possible for every applicant and hence as applicants, we must talk to current students/alumni at the business school. The online discussion forums are a great tool to connect to current students. A lot of current students from various schools have started discussion threads which are usually like “XYZ business school – Current Students taking question”.

6. Career Center, Recruitment, Work Visa Policies, Desired Companies.

One goes to business school with a desire to finally end up in his desired function/industry/company. Hence, as applicants we must understand the resources provided by the concerned Career Management Center in helping through the recruiting process. I am making it a point specifically for us Indian applicants who are used to the normal college (read guaranteed) placements. The job hunt in US or for that matter anywhere else in the world is entirely different. The student has to do a lot of networking before he gets shortlisted for the interview. Networking drives a lot of recruiting. The thing to look out here is how active and responsive is the career management centre towards the students’ requirements. In my research, unfortunately, I have come to understand that not every Career Management Centre is same and hence a lot of research is necessary in this direction.
Information on this can be availed only by talking to current students at various schools and then one has to make his own conclusions based on the conversation.
Apart from the Career Management Centre consideration, a prospective applicant must also know if his desired dream companies come to the campus for interviews. More so, the number of candidates being hired by one’s dream companies from a particular campus must be seen for. Almost all big firms go to many campuses but recruit in different quantum. One should look out for the business school where the desired dream company recruits big time.
The school employment statistics are a great resource to learn this aspect about the business school.
One other aspect of selecting business school based on this criterion is the Work Visa policies of the respective country. Obviously, this should be a part of the “Location” criteria pointed above but I’ve deliberately put it here as it is more relevant to career/recruiting post-MBA. As pointed above, the location where one wants to work post-MBA is a significant parameter for business school selection as the recruiting process is often more local. In this connection, a prospective applicant must be aware of the ground realities regarding the post-MBA work VISA issues. It is easier to get work VISA in some countries than others. In some countries it is really difficult to get work permits these days. In such situations, one’s dream company might be reluctant to hire international candidates.
Be an informed citizen to learn more about this. Talking to current students also helps in understand the recruiting of international candidates at the business school.

7. Alumni Network

Alumni network will be of special significance considering the fact that a strong alumni network which is tightly associated to business school goes a long way in networking for career and recruiting. A strong alumni presence in a region of industry helps is opening doors that might not be easy to get in otherwise. During my business school research, I’ve come across instances where a strong alumni network has helped new admits secure a pre-MBA internship. Now this is something which can’t be ignored. Moreover, if you are an international student like me and planning to return to your home country in the short to medium term then you must consider this aspect more strongly. Especially, we must look at the alumni presence from the business school in our home country. This will be very important in re-locating back.
When I talk of strong alumni network, it does not necessarily mean a very large alumni base. It essentially means who tightly knit are the alumni to the business school. A very large alumni base without significant engagement with the business school should be less relevant to even a small alumni base but a tightly knit one. I’ve talked to a couple of current students from some top business schools where they expressed that had it not been to the alumni, they would never have got that interview in the first place.
Now, the only way to learn about alumni network is to talk to alumni and preferably current students. Ask them to share their experience where they have contacted an alumnus for something and the response of the alumnus thereafter. Try to learn the activities and efforts the business school makes to engage with the alumni.

8. Co-signor Free Loans

This could be of a real BIG concern to applicants like me who don’t come from a financially good background to bear the almost around $ 200,000 for the international MBA program. If you are wondering if the above amount is true, just check the website of any business school. The total cost of attending the class (i.e. Tuitions and Living Expenses) comes to around $ 80,000 - $ 90,000 per year. Here comes the need for Bank Education Loans. Unfortunately, in India (and I suppose this is true for any other developing country) the maximum amount of education loan that one can borrow is Rs. 20 Lakhs (i.e. $ 40,000). Hence, for applicants like me, we need international student loans from banks in the U.S/Europe or other country where the business school is located. The hard fact about international student loans in the U.S is that they need a U.S Co-signor for giving the loan and the co-signor must have a credit history in the U.S. Now, for an applicant like me who has no connection to the U.S, it will be really difficult to finance the MBA program. Here come the Co-signor Free loans being offered by some business schools. Actually, in this case, the university/business school becomes the co-signor for the loan and hence the student does not have to look for a co-signor. Unfortunately, not every business school offers this but most of the top business schools offer co-signor free student loans.
Information on co-signor free loans is usually available in the Fee and Financial Aid section of the respective business school’s website. However, these policies keep on changing depending on the market scenario. Hence, it is not a bad idea to drop a line to the admissions office to check of the co-signor free loan program is being offered or not!
And last but not the least..!!!

9. Brand Name

Finally, I would say that Brand name does matter a lot. It can open doors which are normally always closed to people from elsewhere. The brand name helps to get connect to people at very senior positions in the industry. Some alumni have shared their experience of how they could connect and get an appointment with CEOs of MNCs by flashing their business school brand name. So it matters and matters a lot. This brand name can be of much more significant value if you are an international applicant and want to come back to your home country post-MBA. Consider the Brand recall of the business school in your home country. This will be very important to get your desired career once you re-locate back.
Talk to your contacts in the industry and get to know the brand reputation of the business school in their industry.
I’ve myself used the above criterion to shortlist an initial list of business schools. I’ve to do further deeper research again based on the above criterion to decide on the final list of business schools where I will apply. Next up is my roadmap to MBA admissions that I’ve prepared for myself. To know more…Stay Connected..!!!