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…!!!