This last Friday, 18th August, I attended the Bangalore Information Session of Stanford Graduate School of Business and let me tell you, I am truly in love with the school. Here are the details and my experiences of the school as I perceived it during the info session. The event was planned at the Zynga Game Network India Pvt. Ltd Auditorium, MG Road, Bangalore at 2.00 PM.
The session started with a presentation by Luke Pena from the Stanford GSB Admissions Office. The presentation revolved truly to the theme that Stanford GSB stands for i.e. Change Lives. Change Organizations. Change the World. Talking of Change, we were taken through a journey to Stanford GSB culture showing the way it will impact our lives. As per the presentation (and by the way I truly believe in what they said…) this change happens through Personal Transformation, Innovative Thinking and Global Understanding. Personal transformation happens by changing the way we think. At GSB you are pushed to ask a lot rather than know a lot. GSB pushes you for Innovative thinking. That is to say, don’t accept status quo, challenge everything. The Personal Leadership Development is very much integrated into the GSB curriculum. There are Leadership Labs in the first quarter of the first year where you are challenged to do various stuff including role plays. Then there is Executive challenge where each student plays a role of a senior executive and interacts with his peers in view of a business challenge. As it may seem, it provides for a huge learning opportunity for managing interpersonal relations in a business environment. Stanford GSB offers numerous opportunities of Global Understanding which I believe is very critical in today’s globalized world. To start with, the huge class diversity of GSB class itself offers great learning opportunities. Then there are case studies on global contexts, Global Study Trips, Global Management immersion and International Student Exchange programs.
Here are a few more of the Stanford GSB’s strengths that were discussed during the formal presentation of the info session and Q&A with alumni. GSB has an intake of roughly 400 students per year. This makes GSB a very tightly knit community. Stanford GSB has a policy of Non-disclosure of grades so there is no sense of competition among students. This also helps us to take challenging classes which we would not take otherwise. Non-disclosure of grades goes a long way in fostering collaborative culture among the student community at GSB. GSB also offers opportunities of Teaching Assistantships. The new Knight Management Center has been completed during March-2011 which is a state-of-the-art facility. During my and other prospective students’ interaction with the alumni, it was evident that Stanford GSB was truly a great place to be. Stanford GSB’s strong strength was also highlighted in the area of Social enterprise. Stanford GSB also offers Social Innovation Fellowship. The facilities, faculty and resources at GSB are too good. There were some nice stories from the alumni about their personal experiences at GSB and believe me, they were really great. According to them, Stanford GS was all about exploring connections, experience and being connected to ground realities. Some prospective students asked about pursuing Entrepreneurship while at GSB. The alumni told that the best thing to do would be to go to GSB with an idea and then pursue it rather that first going there and starting exploring options.
There was some discussion on Admissions criteria too, and I am writing the points that I believe are relatively more relevant. Anyways, much of information on Admissions is already available on GSB’s website but here are a couple of points that may be important. We have to submit Scanned copies of our transcripts during application and the original official is needed after the confirmation of admission. The minimum TOEFL (ibt) score is 100. GSB needs 3 Letters of Recommendations (1 peer and 2 professional). Out of the 2 professional recommendations, it was strongly recommended that 1 should come from our immediate supervisor. The 2nd one should come from a person who can comment on us and has been connected with us in a professional set-up. Recommendations from Professors were strongly discouraged as our relationships with Professors are mostly in an academic context rather than a professional set-up. However, a recommendation from Professor with whom one has done some research was welcomed. One great thing is that the questions that GSB asks our recommenders have been listed on the Stanford GSB website. We can have a look at the questions and then decide the person who is best suited to answer those. Admissions officer Luke Pena gave us a hint of the best LoRs. The best LoRs are those which not only give plain statements about students but back them with stories, descriptions, details of leadership, demonstrated team work. During the Q&A with Luke Pena, an interesting discussion came up. A prospective student asked him the following question,”Stanford GSB receives applications from different parts of the world. Now various regions have typically different average test scores (viz. GMAT, GPA etc.). Does GSB take into account the average regional scores during the evaluation of an applicant’s candidature”? Luke gave a very good answer to it. He told that applicants are much more than mere numbers a statistics. Each applicant has something different to offer and they view the applications in this spirit only. Since each person is different, there can’t be a uniform criterion for evaluation. So there are no regional evaluations of the student’s candidature. There was also a good question regarding the work experience required. A prospective student asked if students with lesser number of work experience were at any disadvantage during the case discussions and other group activities at GSB. To this, alumni said that what matters is the richness of the experience and not the number of work years. One alumni shared his experience where during a class he found that the people who had lesser work experience than him had much more to offer during the discussions than himself who not only did have the greater number of work experience years but had also founded a company during his undergrad. There was also a question on the placements scenario especially with respect to international students. Let me tell you, I’ve attended several admission info sessions and this question is asked almost invariably on every occasion. And to answer this question, generally alumni tend to calm down the apprehensions by citing examples and likes. But it was only at Stanford GSB where I felt that this question was not taken seriously. It was like; this is not even a concern. Alumni told us that just the brand name Stanford GSB is good enough to get the doors opened at almost any organization anywhere in the world. The great part about this is the very very strong alumni network of the GSB. Although small (because the class size is relatively small) alumni are tightly knit into the student life of Stanford GSB. Alumni narrated their stories where they got immediate access and scheduled interviews even in the toughest market situations with the help of GSM alumni which would not have been possible otherwise.
So that was it. After the info session was over, we were taken for a tour to the Zynga office. In summary, I have fallen in love with Stanford GSB. I hope the above information helps someone in their decision. Stay Connected…