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Photography, banking, video-streaming, gaming, retail, and entertainment. All of these things have one key thing in common—they have all gone digital over the last few decades or less.

The business landscape is evolving. Consumer needs aren’t the same as they were yesterday. As technology disrupts industries, companies are looking for new ways to grow and stay relevant.

This search leads to digital transformation, a strategy that involves integrating digital technology into all areas of a business.

Digital transformation changes how businesses operate and deliver their services. According to research and advisory company Gartner, one-in-two CEOs worldwide see a revenue increase after introducing digital improvements.

At the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales Business School in Sydney, a suite of digital transformation short courses are being introduced this year to help professionals lead this change.


Why is digital transformation important?

Sanjay Verma is the program director for the digital transformation courses at AGSM. He has over fifteen years of experience in the space, previously helping to lead the collaboration and codesign team at PwC Sydney. He also runs his own boutique consultancy to support companies making digital change.

Sanjay explains that the short courses are intended to equip senior leaders with the practical knowledge they need to successfully lead digital transformation. The portfolio of courses will cover how professionals can manage digital technology, harness digital marketing tools, build and maintain platform business, and navigate future workforces.

“Digital is driven by technology, but it’s not necessarily defined by it,” says Sanjay.

“What is clear is we’re living through a time of great change. We all need to be thinking about, on both an organizational and individual level, how we stay relevant to the market and how we equip ourselves for the future.

“A big part of that is understanding how to add value for customers in new ways in order to continue to be relevant.”


How to overcome digital challenges

Sanjay explains that the first fundamental step in any digital journey is understanding and feeling comfortable in a digital context. This is a basic need when tackling the inevitable challenges that will arise.

Linking a changing market to your business, adding new value to customers, understanding your role in enabling change and collaborating with other people in order to innovate and deliver new models will all be critical.

“Digital plays out in all parts of a business,” Sanjay continues. “Everything from your value proposition, to the way you think about your assets, operations, and how you structure your people and the culture you create”.

Professionals should consider how they will structure their organizations and respond to digital giants and startups entering the market. Following this, understanding how to scale up and embed these new practices will be key.

“You can’t win in today’s market using yesterday’s rules,” explains Sanjay. “You really have to work out what new ways of working exist in the marketplace and this also means understanding how you let go of old models in order to nurture new concepts.”


More than just an academic course

Everyone who completes an AGSM Short Course receives their certification as a digital badge.

For students, the courses offer points towards the AGSM Certificate in Executive Management and Development, which can be attained by gaining 12-unit points over a maximum period of 48 months. Those who complete the certificate, gain credits towards select MBA qualifications.

AGSM’s Short Courses are focused on equipping professionals with the appropriate skills and tools to go out and apply what they have learned to the market.

The digital transformation courses will bring in top-level individuals from the private sector and the government who have had experience leading digital transformation themselves.

One partnership involves data science research organization CSIRO Data61, a company that is currently working on enhancing the role of ethics within artificial intelligence.

“What we’re trying to do with the course is really bring a real-world flavor,” says Sanjay.

“What we’re putting together isn’t so much just an academic course, as a really interesting conversation. It’s the coming together of multiple vantage points to make this really rich.

“We will all discover something new in the process.”

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‘We are facing a man-made disaster on a global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change’—David Attenborough, United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24), 2018.

Time is fast running out to address the serious impacts of climate change on the world around us.

COP24, the global climate agreement, has issued a number of urgent directives to reduce carbon emissions and stop warming of over 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degree Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels.

Politicians are being forced to respond—the UK government recently pledged to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050—while businesses are becoming increasingly oriented around the ‘triple bottom line’, achieving environmental results alongside financial and social ones.

For business schools, the pressure is on to force change in the wider world of business.

“We’re teaching stuff to a students for a world that won’t exist after they graduate,” says Geoff Moore, professor of business ethics at Durham University Business School.


Here’s four steps business schools must take to tackle climate change:


1. Re-evaluate the way capitalism is taught

Modern capitalism, with a focus on profit and shareholder interest, seems to be fundamentally at odds with sustainability. A central focus on profit places sustainability second in priority—a message still perpetuated by many financial institutions and by business schools.

“This is one of the central fallacies in what we are teaching,” underlines Dr Shubhro Sen, director of Shiv Nadar University and co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism Initiative.

A re-evaluation of capitalism, one in which sustainability is at its heart, is necessary to progress business towards a green future.

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This isn’t at odds with growth. “[The misconception] is that we need to ‘de-grow’ to accomplish something. Actually, it involves an acceleration of growth,” stresses Dr Charles Donovan (pictured), director of the Center for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College Business School. 

Does this involve a radical reassessment of economic systems? Actually, no. The economy has shifted drastically overnight before, Charles notes—when we’ve moved from horses to cars, or from steam to electricity. “When that’s happened successfully, things have progressed at a great rate.”


2. Change the rankings system

As it stands, a business school’s reputation is based largely on its performance in the rankings. The metrics used to calculate these rankings, however, have more recently been brought into question.

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“The incentive structures are a little dated,” explains Peter Drobac, director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. “MBA rankings focus on salaries and earnings, rather than the impact they are having.”

Naturally, it becomes more important for schools to focus on producing high performing graduates, rather than those with a social or environmental focus.

The Business School Rankings for the 21st Century, a report based on inputs from business schools and various industry bodies, emphasizes the need to focus on social impact rather than salary as an indicator of success. The Financial Times this year incorporated corporate social responsibility into its Global MBA rankings for the first time.


3. Integrate sustainability into the curriculum

As the ranking measures start to shift, the MBA curriculum needs to shift too. Sustainability is commonplace on MBA curricula—yet it is still often taught as separate, or even contradictory, to other management practices.

Geoff Moore (pictured) explains that Durham University Business School has ethics, responsibility, and sustainability (ERS) as one of its ‘transversal themes’ for its MBA, running through all areas of the curriculum. “We don’t have a core module on ERS—we believe it’s better for it to infuse curriculum of other subjects, otherwise students see it as separate,” he says.

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Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) at the Erasmus University is another trailblazer for putting sustainability at the core of not just its curriculum but also its school philosophy.

The school’s mission statement—'a force for positive change in the world’—derives from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the UN. This guiding principle, director of marketing and admissions Brandon Kirby highlights, is reflected through all stages of the school, starting at student entry level and traveling all the way through its MBA program.

Courses on RSM’s MBA cover the Circular Economy—“the entire value lifecycle of markets and how it relates to sustainability”—and management through the lens of sustainable development, identifying environmental changes that can be made at every stage of business operations.  


4. Address real-world problems

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It’s all well ticking the sustainability box on paper, but what really matters is whether business schools are identifying real problems, and making practical efforts to address the effects of climate change.

“Many of the world’s challenges can be solved through business,” Brandon from RSM mentions.

RSM offers its MBA students nine different study trips based around making real changes. An expedition to Costa Rica, one of the world’s most sustainable economies, exposes students to on-site case studies of sustainable business models; a trip to Iceland, meanwhile, shows students the eco-tourism for which the country is renowned.

Business school research resources, meanwhile, are at the forefront of understanding the innovations and changes that must occur to save the environment.

The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, at Oxford Saïd, runs the Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford (GOTO) program, which frames a year-long research project around one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s theme is ‘the future of energy’, positing students with sustainable energy challenges which can be applied to real world problems. Challenges include improving efficiency and extending access to those who live off the grid.

“We are reimagining what leadership in the 21st century looks like, and giving students a more systemic perspective to act on problems around climate change,” Peter Drobac explains.

There are also grassroots ways that business schools can enact practical changes. The Ethica Club at SDA Bocconi School of Management, in Milan, is leading a project to make the school plastic-free.


Enacting these four steps will help business schools give their students the upper hand when it comes to the sustainable future of business.

As Geoff from Durham concludes: “MBA students are going to be the leaders of the future, and we really want to make sure they’ve got the message.”

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More than 100 billion plastic bottles were produced by the Coca-Cola Company in 2016. There's a warning that by 2050 there'll be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Maximizing profit, it seems, means ruining the environment.  

Business schools are under pressure to change that. Creating the next generation of business leaders means creating a generation of ethically minded, environmentally conscious leaders.

And they have to respond. It shouldn't just be down to 16 year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, and children around the world boycotting school in protest, to force capitalism to change. 

Is sustainability even profitable, though? 

It has to be, according to Michigan Ross School of Business professor, Gautam Kaul. In 20 years, he thinks, if a typical firm is only looking for a financial return, it might as well be fossilized. 


“20 years from now, a typical firm that’s only looking for financial return won’t exist"

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Gautam is a professor of finance at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and the head of the Social Venture Fund at the Zell Lurie Institute, which provides funding to VC startups with impactful missions. He believes that the problem lies in how we currently measure business success.

“From society’s perspective, sustainability has to be addressed. But if you’re talking about whether it’s profitable for a corporation, I don’t think that will ever be the case if profitability is measured in purely financial terms,” he asserts.

Rather, Gautam says that we need to recalibrate the conversation about a company’s “value” away from the purely financial, focusing more on an economy of social and environmental value—minimal cost to the environment, for example, and the creation of jobs.

The other key element is introducing regulation for the biggest companies, penalizing them for the harm they do to the environment in pursuit of growth.

As Gautam points out, if this isn’t done, then the least sustainable companies will always be the most profitable, because they are prioritizing purely financial returns and with the least obstacles in terms of growth.

In such an environment, how could sustainable business not be a sacrifice when it comes to making a financial return?

Systemic change is necessary, then, if we are to reach a sustainable business future—and Gautam believes that it is coming, and it is being pushed forward by the people.

“20 years from now, a typical firm that’s only looking for financial return won’t exist,” he says confidently.

“People’s preferences are changing, and that’s what makes the market—it’s not a magical thing, it exists because people are willing to make exchanges, and people aren’t willing to make exchanges that are just financially motivated anymore.”

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Andreas Rasche, associate dean at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), agrees. 

Much like digitization, he says, sustainability is a “mega-trend” that will affect all industries and job functions in the future, and the MBA at CBS seeks to prepare its students accordingly. As a result, the course has found itself well-ranked in the Corporate Knights Better World MBA ranking for its approach to responsible business.

“The main mindset [we try to teach at CBS] is that this is mainstream business—it is a very modern business education,” says Andreas. “It’s not a tree-hugger business education.”


“In the long run, it’s really about managing risk”

CBS is not the only graduate management education institution to be pushing forward the idea that soon the “triple-bottom line”—a company's positive impact in terms of people, planet, and profit—will be the only bottom line that businesses care about in future.

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At the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University in New York City, dean Donna Rapaccioli puts sustainability at the heart of the school’s mission to inspire positive global change.

Like Andreas, Donna believes that teaching students to implement sustainable business strategy is not a question of immediate returns but rather an investment for the future.

“I think there are people that are concerned about the whole notion of [social impact] and profit coexisting,” she admits. “[But] what we try and do is explain to the students that it’s a journey, and this is a long haul—maybe in the short run you can make the argument that paying attention to people and the environment is costly, but if you look at the long run it’s really managing risk.”

When looked at through the lens of risk management, sustainability training certainly seems like it should be an increasing priority for business educators, and accreditation and rankings organizations are starting to agree.


The problem with finance

The Association of MBAs (AMBA) considers a school’s sustainability and ethical business provisions when awarding accreditations, and this year the Financial Times debuted Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a metric in its Global MBA ranking.

Donna believes that this outside pressure is a positive force in encouraging higher education institutions to use their influence for the public good; however, she is skeptical of the extent to which rankings systems like the Financial Times can actually push a sustainable agenda forward.

As in the business world at large, the problem comes down to finances.

“Almost all of the rankings include salary and salary progression [as metrics],” Donna explains. “But if you’re going to go work at an NGO or a green company, you’re not going to have that high salary [straight away].

“Whether we like it or not, we all pay attention to rankings, so by choosing to enrol students who are predisposed to go into these [sustainability-focused] career paths, you’re hurting yourself [as an institution].”

The question of whether sustainable business is profitable is a thorny one, then, both for businesses and business schools.

By current measures of “profitability”, businesses who want to function sustainably are forfeiting short-term profits for long-term gains—in such a climate, and without government regulations on corporate sustainability, a fully-sustainable company may never rival the likes of Apple and Amazon.

But, if these professors are to be believed, this definition of profit's days are numbered—it's up to MBAs to prepare for what comes next.

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“Indian business is progressing in big leaps,” proclaims David Bardolet, dean of the SDA Bocconi Asia Center.

The Mumbai skyline, filled with skyscrapers and high-rise apartment blocks, is a far cry from the more antiquated, classically Italian cityscape of Milan. Since the 1960s, Mumbai has seen rapid industrial growth and redevelopment.

It is now the biggest city in South Asia, with a population over 20 million, and is commonly viewed as India’s financial and commercial center.

It is this exciting growth, David adds, which drew one of Europe’s best-ranked business schools, SDA Bocconi in Milan, to found SDA Bocconi Asia Center in Mumbai.

From Mumbai , SDA Bocconi offers the International Master in Business (IMB) program, taught by Bocconi professors and comprised of two 11-month modules, including a four-month specialization semester spent at the school’s main campus in Milan.

David says the program offers students the kind of international experience which is rare among domestic business schools in India.

“We do not include an international experience, we are an international experience,” he says.


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For Palak Asnani, this was the main draw to the SDA Bocconi Asia Center. Originally from Delhi, Palak was looking at opportunities to study business abroad.

The IMB provided Palak with the “best of both worlds”, enabling her to stay close to her family while getting a chance to study at a school with international faculty and program focus. “This is not something anywhere else in India offers,” she says.

During her semester in Milan, Palak will get the chance to specialize in fields of her choosing, including retail, marketing, brand management, and luxury and fashion management. “I am keen on specializing in marketing with a brand management role. My internship with Luxottica is a perfect platform to kick start my marketing career ”, she added.

This practical experience is perfectly suited to students like Palak (pictured below), who look at the International Master in Business program as a way of pursuing a different career direction.

Having studied computer science engineering at undergraduate level, the IMB program at SDA Bocconi is equipping her with essential skills which she was lacking before.

Learning, meanwhile, isn’t restricted to the classroom. Part of giving students practical experience is exposing them first-hand to industry in the region.

Students on the International Master in Business (IMB) at the SDA Bocconi Asia Center also undertake a summer internship between their first and second year, where a hands-on involvement in industry gives them the skills and experience of working at global companies based in India.

In the past, IMB students have taken placements at the Indian regional branches of multinationals like Vodafone, Ferrero, and Piaggio.

This is complemented by an emphasis on soft skills, with the school offering modules in written and oral communication.


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Mumbai and Milan, and their respective domestic industries, seem worlds apart. But, David continues, Italy and India do have a significant thing in common.

“Like Italy, India is a country of small and medium enterprises. The business landscape is made up of family-owned businesses—even the large companies are run like family businesses,” he says. In fact, another big part of SDA Bocconi’s offerings in Mumbai relate to executive education, in open-enrolment programs as well as in customised training for companies.

The two countries have similar GDPs, with Italy at just over $2 trillion and India at $2.7 trillion. Yet the rapid growth of India’s population—1.34 billion and fast approaching China as the world’s largest population—signals that its economy and international power is on the rise.

Students on the International Master in Business (IMB) at the SDA Bocconi Asia Center can explore both India and Italy. Understanding the nuanced differences of the Indian economy is crucial to the program. While much of the IMB is taught by SDA Bocconi’s International faculty, the domestic faculty is growing too.

The shifting direction of India’s economy towards high skilled industry, moreover, is demanding a high output of trained business professionals. Booming industries like IT and finance has meant that the services sector now contributes to 57% of India’s GDP—formerly dominated by agriculture and manufacturing.

When asked about the future of the world’s economy, David says he sees India, alongside China, firmly at its center.

“If you are looking at 10 to 15 years from now about where are you going to have your biggest or your fastest-growing business ties,” David explains. “The answer is most likely China and India.”

 

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The Financial Times Global MBA Ranking for 2019 places China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) among the world's top five, and the top MBA in China.

Consolidating itself as the number one MBA in China, and worthy of a place among the world’s elite, is the result of both internal and external factors, explains Steven Ji, the school’s assistant director of MBA admissions.

Of CEIBS’ most recent graduating MBA class, 93% of students were employed within three months of graduating. MBA graduates from CEIBS also receive an average salary increase of 183%, the highest figure among the top 20 schools in the Global MBA Ranking 2019.

“Externally, our achievements are also part of the larger success of the Chinese economy,” Steven says. “This can be seen, for example, in the high demand for our alumni—an indicator of the need for talent that lies at the heart of the country’s development.

“The strength of the CEIBS brand, increasingly known for its rigorous curriculum that prepares our students to excel, has offset recent years’ well-reported slowdown in China’s GDP—a tapering off that’s somewhat inevitable as the country continues to transform from being the factory of the world to leading the way in innovation.”


An anniversary to remember

CEIBS’ rise coincides with the school’s 25th birthday in 2019. They’ll be celebrating the MBA program ranking on par with the EMBA program—which was ranked last year as the fifth best program of its kind in the world by the Financial Times. “The fact that five times five is 25 is a coincidence that has not been lost on the school’s leadership,” smiles Steven (pictured).

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New developments on the MBA this year include a new China module in the ancient village of Yuyuan Taiji, in Jinhua, part of the Zhejiang Province. This will “help guide MBAs on a journey to discover their inner selves,” Steven explains.

Students can expect a morning mindfulness session, before moving onto working with the local community.

Outside of domestic developments, there will also be a new overseas elective coming up in Silicon Valley, in partnership with the University of San Francisco. This will focus on innovation and new technologies.


 


Innovation nation

This new overseas elective is an example of the exponential growth and impact of technology on the business world, and the need for MBA students to keep abreast of all the latest trends.

In 2018, CEIBS saw an increase in graduate placements in the technology sector—MBAs dominated cutting-edge areas like big data, blockchain, and artificial intelligence.

This, incidentally, is the sector Steven sees growing most in 2019. He anticipates that the number of technology placements will increase further this year.

And the tech sector is hot on the heels of finance as the number one industry destination for graduated CEIBS MBAs—25.7% entered finance in 2018, with 24.3% moving into technology.

China has an unavoidable role in the growth of technology—the Made in China 2025 program, for example, is the government’s attempt for China to bolster and dominate hi-tech industries.

Does that mean knowledge of China is unavoidable for the modern MBA?

“It’s an interesting question,” says Steven.

“If you pick up any newspaper, you can’t avoid reading about China’s place in the business world. We believe that knowledge of China is important for anyone pursuing a career with global significance.”

He cites the former WTO director-general, Pascal Lamy, who was recently welcomed to CEIBS as a distinguished professor. “In his words, he joined the school not only to share his experience, but also to learn from and interact with students to understand their views about the world.

“I see this as another strong indicator that, even for a global statesman with years of experience […] understanding today’s China remains a key priority.”


Do all roads lead to Asia?

China is growing on a global scale, and the increased visibility of the country has had a profound impact on the level of competition within graduate management education in the region. At the turn of the century, in 2000, there was only one Chinese school in the Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking—CEIBS is one of six schools ranked this year, with the APAC region as a whole represented by 14 schools.

This comes as a Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) report last year reported declining application numbers to the US, and an increase in the number of students applying to business schools in Asia.

There are also economic opportunities, brought on by the Made in China 2025 program, but also the reinvigoration and expansion of the old Silk Road Trade Route. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an ambitious plan by the government to improve regional cooperation and connectivity across continents.

It is being developed between China and 65 other countries, who altogether make up over 30% of global GDP, 62% of the world’s population, and 75% of the world’s known energy resources.

China’s global development runs in lockstep with a competitive MBA market.

“Asia’s business school market hasn’t reached the level of saturation seen in the US, and I would say that Asian schools are still growing and learning,” says Steven.

As they grow, Steven says they must find the right balance between a rigorous classroom experience and making the most of the “hive of activity” outside the walls of their campuses.

“I believe this is the current trend at business schools but, more importantly, it’s a golden opportunity for MBAs to try, fail, and find out which areas of business they would like to make an impact on after graduating.

“We need to ensure that MBAs are not just learning about a changing China, but also living it!”

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There’s a new global commodity on the block, and it’s here to stay. In the 21st century there’s no escaping it, as every click, search, like, or comment contributes to the daily data drive. Data is the new oil, and any modern-day MBA student worth their weight in gold will sit up and take note.

It’s not just the global behemoths Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Netflix that rely on data to grow and thrive in today’s modern market. Any company today needs employees who understand how sophisticated data and analytics tools are the difference between success and contemplating what could have been.

“It’s difficult to believe that MBA students can get away without having a minimum understanding [of analytics and big data],” says Dolores Romero Morales, who teaches the Analytics & Big Data course on the Copenhagen Business School MBA.


No excuses

She always starts her class on The Copenhagen MBA by telling students it’s not an excuse to say, ‘this isn’t going to be my job’. You may not be developing the actual tools, she explains, but you will need to sit together with peers to discuss how to implement them into your organization to drive growth.

“I think that message has been understood by the MBA population some time ago.”

There is “quite a market” in Denmark for people who want to develop companies who act as data analytics consultants for existing organizations. “There is a need for more SMEs that can help companies better understand their data,” explains Dolores (pictured).

dolores-copenhagen-mba

This taps into one of the latest analytics and big data trends. Although the idea of data tools has been around for a while, there is now a canyon of data from which information can be gleaned. Knowing how to select the important information and discard of the rest is a key skill.

Dolores explains that the complexity of the data we are dealing with is another trend she is looking into on the Analytics & Big Data course—she teaches her students the importance of deciphering the legitimacy of multiple sources of data.

“People talk of interpretability, as well as the comprehensibility of the models that we build to understand more about the data, but also the effort that the field is doing to try and make these models more intuitive.”


Hands on teaching

On the Analytics & Big Data course at Copenhagen Business School students are taught about data science research, data optimization, modelling, risk analysis, and data decision analysis.

“It’s a pretty hands on course,” Dolores asserts. “I let them use the tools and then interpret the outcome. I put a lot of stress on interpretation and creating a language they can use and understand.”

But this is just the beginning of the data revolution. As the tools grow in sophistication and the sets become ever larger, the skills MBAs need to decipher and interpret data will grow in importance.

“I think we are actually at the beginning of a very long path of trying to make our organizations more data driven,” Dolores says.

“Making organizations more data driven, and company decisions more based on data, is where the next big challenge is going to be.”

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Much is made in business these days of the triple-bottom line—the point where social impact meets ecological effect meets profit.

Indeed, Cone Communications, a marketing company specializing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaigns, reported last year that 63% of Americans surveyed said they hoped that businesses would take a lead in driving sustainability forward, and 87% said they would purchase a product because the company had advocated for an issue they believed in.

Evidently, incentives for businesses to commit to CSR initiatives are increasing, and businesses are adapting to the changes.

diana.jpg

Diana Mangalagiu, a professor of strategy and sustainability on the Global Executive MBA at NEOMA Business School, has been working on sustainability and CSR for over two decades, and says that many organizations are now building sustainability into their strategies for growth.


The future of sustainable strategy

“I work a lot with companies and CSR is becoming mainstream,” she confirms. “There is still resistance in some sectors, however more and more businesses are taking it seriously.”

It’s not just a reputational issue anymore, Diana stresses; companies know that their image is intimately tied to their business model, and that if they want their business to have a long life, they have to contribute to the wellness of the planet.

“You can tell that it’s serious because when I talk to companies about this issue, I talk to the VP of strategy, not the VP of PR,” explains Diana.

 “20 years ago, that would have been impossible—now, if leaders don’t understand sustainability, it affects the survivability of the entire business.”

This shift in attitudes around sustainability means that students, particularly at the executive level, need to be taught about CSR—and in fact, Diana notes that many have been specifically asking for it.

“I started teaching business school classes quite long ago and frankly, 20 years ago there was zero appetite in business schools to think and talk about these issues,” she recalls.

“But the 2008 crisis was a triggering point on the ethical side, and now public awareness of climate change has also broken into the business school realm.”


Individual impact

One thing that executive students consistently lack when they arrive at NEOMA Business School is an awareness of their individual impact and their potential for impact, says Diana.

“They’re definitely not aware of how their personal behavior and their professional behavior link to the big picture—and how much or how little they can do about it,” she says.

One exercise that Diana uses to get her students thinking about their impact on the environment is to ask them to home in on one aspect of their daily routine—for example the clothes they are wearing—and ask themselves what effect it is having on the planet and on society. Where are your clothes from? How were they made, and who made them?

“From there, we work with bigger cases—I have a big network of companies who they can either interview or who come and testify,” Diana says.

But the CSR teaching on the Global EMBA at NEOMA Business School doesn’t stop at the on-campus teaching.

This extrapolation of individual impact into broader business cases is backed up by immersive education on the GEMBA’s International Learning Experience (ILE) in Bangalore, India, where students focus on social impact.

charles.jpg

“Our objective is to participate in business there and to discover that the Western way of thinking can be challenged with another paradigm, enriching students’ mindsets,” says Charles Waldman, the director of the Global EMBA at NEOMA.


Business growth for social good

On the ILE, students get to experience how businesses at both the entrepreneurial level and higher contribute to fighting poverty in Bangalore.

“These businesses have been demonstrating that cleverly-built, cost-efficient, societally-sensitive business propositions can do better to fight poverty than traditional public subsidies, and that business and the fight against poverty can mix very nicely,” says Charles.

Though he can’t give too much away because of the professor’s belief in surprising students with the course content, Charles says that the key takeaway for students from the Bangalore ILE is exposure to the “more empathetic management thinking” practised in India.

“You also learn that new business paradigms which are fully adapted to social realities can strongly contribute to societal progress,” says Charles.

As the future of work becomes more and more focused on business as a force for ecological and social good, executives need to adapt their managerial styles in order to survive—and the teaching on the Global EMBA at NEOMA Business School gives students a head start.

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In May, the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business will graduate its final MBA cohort. After 57 years, the school’s flagship business master’s program, which was hemorrhaging cash as student numbers dwindled, is shutting down.

Tippie made its shock announcement in 2017. It caused uproar among students, staff, and alumni, who reckoned their expensive degrees were being devalued.

But Tippie is not alone in ending its MBA. Wake Forest University announced in 2014 that it would drop its full-time MBA program after several years of flagging application numbers. Some new business schools are being established without MBAs, such as King’s Business School in London.

Does Tippie’s move to close a seemingly revered course mark a tipping point for the full-time, two-year MBA?


Are two-year MBAs on their way out?

The prize degree of US business schools has been around for more than a century. But there are signs that its relevance is waning. Applications to US full-time MBAs have sunk for the past four years on the bounce, says the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

Some high-fliers are turned off by the opportunity cost—tuition fees are in the six figures at top schools and, with 24 months out of work, the lost earnings can be just as big as the bill. Many prospective students are turning to shorter and cheaper courses, such online degrees, instead.

Nick Barniville, associate dean for degree programs at ESMT Berlin, believes that MBA demand may have “peaked”. His claim is backed up by news that applications fell globally in 2018 for the first time, if only slightly.

The slide was worst in the US, the ancestral home of the MBA. “The US MBA market is in bad shape, both from the domestic perspective, where some potential applicants are taking shorter courses or moving online, and from international applicants, who are completely turned off by [US president Donald] Trump, his behavior, and his immigration policies,” says Nick.

In 2018, 70% of US schools that have full-time MBAs saw sinking application volumes for their two-year courses, according to GMAC. But the business education market is booming elsewhere: applications to schools grew by 8.9% in Asia Pacific and 7.7% in Canada last year, for instance.


Read: US Business Schools Hit By Falling International Applications

int-applications


USA vs the world

The opportunity for schools outside the US is salient. ESMT, for instance, reported a 50% increase in applications last year versus 2017. “The business school industry is a competition between countries,” says Nick, putting demand down to Germany’s stable economy and progressive work visa rules. “Getting one is as easy as buying a loaf of bread once you have a job offer.”

That is a stark contrast to the US, where visa uncertainty is a main factor behind the waning demand for MBA degrees. The application plunge has been steepest among the international students whom US schools rely upon to enrich their classrooms.

Previously, the declines had not affected the most elite institutions, which could rely on their brand to draw in candidates to their pricey programs from around the world. But in 2018 the top schools have felt the pain too. Applications to Harvard’s MBA fell by 4.5%, while Stanford’s were down 4.6%, for example.

Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, which posted a 6.2% application tumble, says this is not a one-off, but he does not reckon it’s the start of a longer-term trend, either. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the two-year MBA within the US will remain viable for years to come,” he says. 

US schools lay much of the blame at Trump’s door, claiming that his administration’s more stringent visa checks have dampened demand from international students who have for decades come to the US with the expectation of securing a well-paid job at a well-known company: the American dream.

Bill points out that the US visa problems pre-date Trump’s administration however, saying that securing a H-1B work visa is akin to “winning the lottery”.

“We’ve seen increasing numbers of US firms say [they] no longer will explore the student markets unless [students] have US work permission,” he says. “That’s what’s behind this long-term decline in applications.”

Today’s negative immigration rhetoric has intensified this drop-off, he says. More mid-tier US schools could close their two-year MBAs, says Bill. “There is a flight to quality.”


READ: Rejected With A 750 GMAT—Accepted By MIT Sloan, INSEAD & Wharton 5 Years Later

alex-minn


Shift to specialized masters

Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions consultancy (pictured above), is optimistic on the future of the degrees. He points out that many top US schools maintain lofty positions in MBA rankings, such as those produced by the Financial Times.

“Even hinting about [closing an MBA] could immediately alienate applicants, offend alumni, discourage corporate recruiters, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says Alex. The Wisconsin School of Business, for instance, saw a backlash after announcing in 2017 that it was considering closing its MBA, only to backtrack.

Programs run in remote pockets of the US may be more at risk. According to Alex, students at mid-tier schools in small towns face logistical challenges to secure work. And many internationals find the cosmopolitan culture of large cities more appealing.

But he says less prestigious schools with falling application figures could be tempted to differentiate themselves by offering less costly one-year MBAs, and more specialized degrees.

When King’s College London opened a business school in 2017, for example, it did not offer an MBA. Instead, the first crop of 1,233 students studied specialist master’s degrees, in areas like entrepreneurship or finance.

The school’s dean, Stephen Bach, says employers are largely program-agnostic. But he acknowledges that the demands placed on full-time MBA students can be intense. “Two years out of a regular salary forces all kinds of compromises and will often involve moving or leaving behind a young family,” says Stephen.


A tougher sell

It is harder for US schools to tempt prospective students out of the workforce because of the strength of the American economy; they may miss out on higher wages or promotion.

Schools say it’s possible that US applications could rebound when the global economy next takes a downturn. And under a more liberal administration, international applicants may view US schools more favorably.

But MBA application swings tend to move at a glacial space, says Alex. So, any significant increase in international applications may be some way off. 

In the meantime, two-year MBAs could remain a tougher sell.

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It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from Hemal Sanghani on behalf of their daughter, who is currently pursuing a BSc in Finance from NMIMS Mumbai University and will graduate in May 2022. 

Their question is answered by Susan Berishaj, an admissions consultant from New York-based, Sia Admissions.


Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

I want to look at the top universities for an MBA in Finance or MSc in Finance that can offer my daughter a scholarship.

She would like to prepare and apply for a finance degree. Can you please guide on what MBA scholarships are available for finance students and the best university options that are available in the US, UK or Canada?


The Answer:

While each university’s approach to scholarship awards differs, distinguished universities tend to have large endowments that help attract top global talent.

Some universities award scholarships based on need, like Harvard Business School (HBS) and Stanford, while others provide scholarship opportunities based on merit, like Columbia and NYU Stern.

Like the admissions approach, merit-based scholarships are determined based on a holistic review of a candidate’s profile, including personal accomplishments and professional promise. 

Since applicants compete not only for a seat in the class but also for limited scholarship opportunities, a well-developed holistic profile and application are critical to success. 

The two degrees in question—master’s in finance and an MBA—differ in their curriculum offering and the level of experience they require from applicants.

In the experience bucket, the former requires no prior work experience while the latter requires a minimum of two years of post-undergraduate work experience to be eligible to apply.

That said, there are seven top-tier US universities that offer a deferred program allowing applicants to secure a seat at their prestigious and competitive MBA programs immediately after college.

While universities offer scholarships to ensure diversity in the cohort and facilitate financing, full rides are scarce.

A typical student relies on several funding sources to support their educational pursuits and attend these distinguished universities, including scholarships, savings, loans, and various external funding. 


United States

In the United States, there are both MBA and master’s in finance programs that offer scholarship opportunities to both domestic and international students.

MIT Sloan, USC Marshall, Columbia Business School, Yale School of Management (if interested in investment finance), and NYU Stern, all offer merit-based scholarships and fellowships for their master’s in finance programs, but funding is limited and highly competitive.

The MBA programs (focusing on the deferred programs specifically) offer both merit and need-based scholarships.

HBS and Stanford both offer merit-based admission and need-based scholarships.

Stanford also provides fellowships opportunities requiring separate applications, including the Knight-Hennessey, Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship, and Partnership for Diversity (P4D) fellowships. 

Merit-based scholarships are offered to admitted, deferred MBA students by MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, and Yale, some of which require a separate application.

Columbia Business School offers both need and merit-based scholarships and fellowships; while, Darden’s Future Year Scholars automatically receive a $15,000 award per year ($30,000 in total) and are also eligible for additional merit-based scholarships determined at the time of enrollment. 


Canada

In Canada, merit-based scholarships are dominant.

Universities with reputable master’s in finance programs include HEC Montreal, Rotman, DeGroot, and Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.

HEC Montreal distributes $1.6 million (CAD) in scholarships for MSc students, including those enrolled in the financial engineering program.

Although it offers fewer scholarship opportunities, the MSc in Finance at John Molson also offers merit-based scholarships and awards to outstanding students to facilitate their study. 

In Ontario, Rotman's master's in finance students are eligible for scholarships as well as teaching and research assistantship opportunities.

DeGroot School of Business at McMaster offers merit-based scholarships for students in the master's of finance program.

The scholarship ranges between $1,000 (CAD) and $20,000 (CAD) annually.

It’s worth noting that tuition to Canadian universities, even for international students, can be significantly lower than Ivy tuition rates.


Europe

In the United Kingdom, some of the top universities offer merit-based scholarships for master’s in finance programs.

Imperial College offers several merit-based scholarships for a master's in finance students, some of which require separate applications.

While Oxford Saïd provides a £10,000 scholarship for students pursuing a master's in financial economics, London Business School offers several merit-based scholarships for students pursuing a master's in finance degree. 

While not in the UK, I could not leave out the prestigious HEC Paris’ master's in international finance, which is also worth considering.

They offer several merit-based scholarships and 'local' scholarships for successful candidates. 

Overall, to be scholarship competitive, an applicant must demonstrate academic excellence, a strong GMAT/GRE score, and exhibit superior quantitative metrics in their candidature.

Furthermore, successful award recipients are often engaged global citizens who not only bring diversity to the classroom but also lead with a vision for the future.

The opportunities provided by superior education and the increased competition for access to it makes securing a seat at these esteemed institutions the number one priority. 

While universities try to facilitate the cost of attendance, both need- and merit-based scholarships are welcome and important sources of funding for many.   


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! 

Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Greta Maiocchi, head of marketing and recruitment for MIP Politecnico di Milano, anything you want about getting into business school.

Having worked at the business school for almost 14 years, she now manages a large team across the organization to promote masters, open programs and corporate courses worldwide.

Got a question you'd love Greta to answer? Submit your question on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below! 

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It's time for another Applicant Question Of The Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the chance to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One of these questions is selected each week for our chosen expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from an anonymous applicant. 


Applicant Question Of The Week

Dear BusinessBecause,

What is the most important part of the MBA application process, and how can I make my application stand out to an admissions council?


The Answer

The truth is that there really is no single part of the application process that is more important than the others. In many cases, such as at MIT Sloan, the evaluation process includes both a written application as well as a face-to-face interview.

Throughout the process, an applicant is being evaluated on their academic ability, demonstrated impact on a group, organization or individual, and their ability to work well in a collaborative, team environment. We are assessing both capability and fit.

A few basic tips on the written application include:

Follow directions. If an essay has a word limit of 500 words, do not submit a 1,200 word essay.

Review for proper grammar and sentence structure and no typos.  You may want to ask someone who knows you well to review your essays.     

Tell a complete story across all of the components of the written application, including essays, cover letter, and resume. In advance, write down all of the things that are important to you to convey in the application and then map them to the various sections of the application.  

Do not contradict yourself – make sure information on the resume, such as roles and dates, are consistent with information in your essays.

Use the opportunities given to you wisely–do not repeat facts unnecessarily–but support them throughout.

Choose your referees wisely. Ask them early on in the process to give them enough time to write a meaningful recommendation. Select referees who are champions of your aspiration to attend business school, who know you well, and who can speak in detail to the contribution you have made to the organization. Do not choose a referee based on their title alone. If they do not know you well enough to write a meaningful recommendation, don't ask them.

With regard to the interview, which varies quite a bit from school to school, my best advice is to be yourself.

Keep the basics in mind, too. Be on time, dress appropriately, and be respectful to everyone you meet, including the person who checks you in, other interviewees, and students. 

Always be prepared, and understand the interview format in advance. Prior to the interview, review your application, and be armed with a few questions that are meaningful to you. Be careful not to ask questions that are readily answered on the school's website, or in their brochure. 

If you know who your interviewer is in advance, do a little research on their background. You may find a common interest or skillset that you can talk about during the interview. 

Avoid asking how you are doing, or how you did at the end, too.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question


Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Rishabh Gupta, partner and co-founder at GyanOne Universal, an MBA admissions and career consultancy.

Rishabh has over a decade's experience helping applicants secure spots on their ideal programs, and has connections with schools including INSEAD, Yale, McCombs, Johnson Cornell, Duke, IMD, and ISB.

Prior to co-founding GyanOne, Rishabh worked at top consultancy firms including KPMG. 

Got a question you'd love Rishabh to answer?

To be in with a chance of featuring next week, submit your question on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages, or send us an email to info@businessbecause.com!

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It's time for another Applicant Question Of The Week at BusinessBecause!

Each week, we give you the chance to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from Prabhu Nikethan (pictured). 

With over a decade's experience in the Indian tech industry, Prabhu is keen to break through a professional plateau by attending business school.



Applicant Question Of The Week

Dear BusinessBecause,

I have a total of 10 years' experience in various roles in the software industry. I am looking out for an MBA, preferably a one-year program, in the US or Europe.

What are the best options that I have in terms of post-MBA job offers and career transition? Also, which is better for a one-year MBA: Europe or the US?


The Answer

I gather that your educational background is in a technical or a specialized field and you are looking to diversify and expand your business and management skill set. 

With 10 years of professional experience, an MBA is a very smart choice. 

Many students opt for the 12-month format versus 18 or 24-month format to expedite the study process, and take that next big career jump as quickly as possible. 

However, education is not a race; it is an investment with long-lasting value. 

Instead of focusing on program length, look for features in the program that will help you achieve your personal and professional goals. 

For example, an 18-month program may be better suited if it allows for a specialization, or perhaps has a mentoring or internship component that will expand your network.

Program length may be of even more relevance for international students. Longer format programs may allow more time to invest in network-building and securing future employment in the host country. 

By focusing on program quality and features beyond the classroom as a first priority you will equip yourself with the skills and tools you need to capitalize on your educational investment.


Check Out Another Applicant Question:

How Important Is My Recommendation Letter To My MBA Application?



This leads us to the second part of your question: US or Europe? 

There are a range of factors that you may want to consider in your decision process. 

Think about your entire international student journey from applicant, to student, to graduate. Does the socio-political climate of the host country allow accessible visa or residence permits to pursue employment opportunities post-graduation? 

Recently, we have seen major shifts and reforms in postgraduate employment visa policies in the United States, which has negatively affected student mobility. 

So, if employment in the US is your goal, you may want to strongly consider these factors as part of your assessment. 

However, the socio-political climate of countries can change.

Other factors to consider in your evaluation of a business school and its location, are the demographics, percentage of international students on campus, and rankings. 

Often, students want to experience studying abroad as an opportunity to explore new cultures and interact with students from diverse backgrounds to enhance their learning experience. 

International student populations in an institution can also signal the institution’s international reach, and the scope of their international networks. 

This will play a significant role in the institution’s ability to support your post-studies opportunities, including employment. 

Keep an eye out for alumni networks and the institution’s employment records of recent graduates. Make sure you can review data for both domestic and international student employment, as this can significantly vary. 

In addition, consider different rankings and accreditations (i.e. Financial Times and US News & World Report ) that gather and summarize this type of information.  

Language and culture are often overlooked in the decision-making process but should be strongly evaluated. 

The rise of programs taught in English across the world has facilitated increased student mobility. However, studying at an institution in a country where English is not the primary language raises additional considerations. 

Are you comfortable living in a country where you don’t speak the language? What implications does that have in your student journey? And most importantly, will you depend on learning a new language to seek employment opportunities in the host country, whether for part-time jobs or for post-graduation opportunities? 

As with most big decisions we make in life, deciding where to study is a very individual choice. There is no 'one size fits all'. 

So, like in business, apply critical reasoning to your decision making: do your due diligence, seek information from different sources, ask difficult questions and be honest with yourself about your personal and professional goals.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!

Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Dawna Levenson, dean of admissions at the MIT Sloan School of Management, a question about getting into business school.

As the co-lead of the team, she shares responsibility for all recruiting, evaluation, conversion and marketing activities in support of a variety of Sloan programs.

Prior to MIT, Dawna was a partner at Accenture where she spent 18 years. She holds a SB and SM degrees from MIT Sloan.

Got a question you'd love Dawna to answer?

To be in with a chance of featuring next week, submit your question on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages, or send us an email to info@businessbecause.com!

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It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from an anonymous user.

Their question is answered by Stephanie Kluth, Head of Admissions at ESMT Berlin.


Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause,

Does work experience in major firms such as 'The Big Four' help when applying to business school? How important is work experience when applying to business school?


The Answer:

Depending on the school to which you are applying, the work experience requirement may be an important one.

While some schools do not require work experience, most do.

When applying, prospects should understand what kind of work experience is required and the minimum number of required years.

Work experience usually refers to professional experience obtained after graduation while holding a part-time or full-time position.

Some schools also consider pre-graduation experience as well as internships and volunteer work. Family business or entrepreneurial experience are also much welcomed.

I think that having a qualified work experience threshold of a minimum of three years (depending on the nature of your qualifications) is essential. This enables candidates to understand what is taught in the classroom and apply it to her or his background and knowledge. 

Pre-MBA work experience also contributes to your post-MBA career development.

Schools seek to assure that you achieve the transition to which you aspire.

Some candidates invest in an MBA to change their career and find a position matching their personal objectives.

Since recruiters do not only consider the additional skills gained through an MBA degree, but also the experience brought in from before, it is much harder to convince an employer to consider a candidate who has no kind of professional experience.

Background also plays an essential role. MBA programs are not only directed at people who have worked in management or business.

Most programs are committed to preparing professionals for a meaningful contribution in the area of leadership, regardless of their field.

They were designed for candidates who stand on a strong professional leg, be it in engineering, science, business, finance, architecture, law, health care, public service, military, journalism, and the list goes on, and now feel ready to move to broader business-wide leadership responsibility. 

The quality of work experience is key. There is no one-size-fits-all background.

Admissions managers take a closer look at the nature of your work and the evolution of your responsibilities.

Factors like leadership capacity, teamwork, emotional intelligence, and international outlook play a major role in this assessment.

An ‘ideal’ candidate has been in charge of a team, has worked internationally, and has been responsible for processes or budgets.


Read 6 Reasons Why You Need Work Experience Before Your MBA Application


The admissions board also wants to know how past experience has developed your judgment and problem-solving skills.

Work experience in prestigious organizations such as the 'Big Four' can be of advantage in the admissions and job recruitment process if combined with substantial quality of responsibilities.

It is often asked whether investment banks value such work while recruiting from business schools, and the simple answer is yes.

If you have been accepted to such a program in the past, it increases your chances in the future. But there is more to it.

To land a job as an investment banker, your former work experience and positions should clearly show a broad but analytical mindset, managerial skills, outstanding personal skills, and the ability to work under pressure.

Generally, work experience from a particular industry or well-recognized firm is not ‘a sure ticket’ into an MBA program, since schools try to create a diverse learning experience.

Therefore, admissions committees are also open to non-traditional backgrounds (e.g. unique experience in a family business or startup, the military, or public service).

You might have specific experience in running not-for-profit projects or be a passionate artist or athlete.

In conclusion, the quality of work experience is not the sole predictor of an applicant's success.

Strong performance on other criteria might help to overcome a less-than-stellar work history.

You might have exceptional grades or above-average and well-balanced GMAT scores.

You may impress with exceptional quantitative and superb data analysis skills.

We at ESMT Berlin, for example, place great importance in leadership potential and ambition to make a difference.

In your application, you should definitely be clear as to why you chose this particular business school, what are the next steps in your career progression, and show your personal excellence in your interview. 

These also have an impact on the admissions decision.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!  

Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Sam Solaiman, professor of marketing and supply chain management for Nyenrode Business University, anything you want about getting into business school.

Nyenrode Business University has several expertise centers, including marketing and supply chain management.

Sam's expertise lies in business model innovation and business value creation with new emerging technologies.

Got a question you'd love Sam to answer? Submit your question on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below! 


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It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from Leila Hosseini, a 37-year-old Iranian woman who works in the telecoms field.

She wants an international MBA experience that suits both her and her nine-year-old daughter.

Her question is answered by Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com.


Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

I graduated from the University of Wales in 2008 and would like to continue my education with an MBA. As I have a young girl, I need to study in the same place that she lives. Where can I find the best international MBA programs for parents like me?


The Answer:

In my opinion, the best options for someone who wants to advance into general management or senior management roles are the Sloan Fellows programs at MIT Sloan and London Business School, along with their close cousin, the Stanford MSx program, which is for experienced professionals.

These are one-year programs that award either an MBA or an MS in Management.

The students are mid-career professionals, usually in middle management, and have eight-to-10 or more years of work experience.

Because the cohort is older, these programs also have more students with families in their student bodies than traditional MBA programs, where the students tend to be younger and a smaller percentage have children.  

While these three programs have some global opportunities and travel, most of the classes are conducted in their home campuses either in Boston, London, or Palo Alto—all locations known for good educational opportunities. 

If you want a slightly more traditional MBA with a somewhat younger cohort, consider the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne Switzerland or the Indian School of Business (ISB).

At IMD, the average age at entry is 31, so it is a slightly older MBA class than the typical US MBA program and even slightly older than many European and Asian MBA programs. 

Although the average age of ISB students is only 26, it still offers families with children a lot.

It provides play-groups and day-care programs for its students with children.

It has a magnificent campus with its own play area, daycare center, swimming pool, and infirmary, all available to its students with families with children from three months to 12 years old.

If none of my suggestions work for you (or you are a parent and MBA applicant with similar concerns, but somewhat different needs), here are five key factors MBA applicants, who are also parents, should consider when selecting programs to apply to:


1. What percentage of the student body has children? The more the better.

2. What organized activities can spouses and children participate in?

3. What facilities are there for children on campus?

4. If you are not going to live on campus, what neighborhood would you live in close to campus? How are the schools or childcare facilities in that neighborhood? How safe is the neighborhood? Are there parks and playgrounds in the vicinity?

5. Think about and decide if you want a campus in a city with people who you identify with.

6. Or do you want to be forced to mingle and socialize with people of different nationalities, ethnicities, and religions?


Answer the above questions to your satisfaction, and decide what’s best for you and your family.

Then research to ensure that the schools you apply to have what you want, and you will be on your way to an experience that both you and your child will enjoy and benefit from.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! 

Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Stephanie Kluth, head of admissions for ESMT Berlin, anything you want about getting into business school.

Stephanie is the head of the admissions process for all degree programs at ESMT, which includes MBAs, EMBAs and Masters in Management.

Stephanie has been in this role since 2005, boasting over 14 years as head of admissions for ESMT.

Got a question you'd love Stephanie to answer? Submit your question on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below! 


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It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from 23-year-old Raymond A. Ahorgah (pictured below)

He is currently serving his national service, which lasts for one year with Ghana's Securities and Exchange Commission.

He wishes to pursue further education abroad in either Canada, the USA, Hong Kong, or Switzerland.

His question is answered by Susan Berishaj, an admissions consultant from New York-based, Sia Admissions.


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Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

I have just finished my Bachelor of Commerce Degree in finance and want to pursue my MBA in finance with CFA. Where can I do an MBA and a CFA?


You can read on or skip to your location of interest by clicking the links below.

Europe

North America


The Answer:

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is a globally respected and recognized investment credential.

Having both an MBA and CFA provides added competitiveness in highly selective sectors.

Globally, the CFA Partner Program has about 580-member institutions (undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs) whose curriculum embeds a significant portion of the CFA Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK), helping students prepare for the CFA exam.

It is important to note, however, that at the end of your MBA program, you will only receive the MBA degree; there is no two-in-one qualification.

You must pass the three levels of the CFA and meet their qualification to be a charter holder.

Nevertheless, if your goal is to obtain both designations, then attending an institution whose curriculum includes a significant portion of the CBOK may be beneficial.

As the CFA designation is a global standard, when selecting an affiliate institution, I recommend targeting a business school that yields the best return on investment as it relates solely to your MBA.

The target school selection process should include determining your geographic aspirations. I have outlined a few top CFA affiliate business schools to consider in the western hemisphere.


Europe

If your post-MBA goal is to work in investments within European organizations, the two top-ranking MBA programs to consider are INSEAD (France) and IESE Business School (Spain).

According to its 2018 employment report, about 15% of the INSEAD graduating class accepts jobs in the finance sector, and 81% of those functions are investment related.

Although INSEAD is globally recognized, 43% of students remain within Western Europe post-graduation.

INSEAD students interested in investment management receive a complimentary daily brief on financial markets and access to CFA Level I sample exams.

A limited number of scholarships are also offered to students for the CFA program.

In Spain, IESE has a slightly higher rate of MBA students accepting finance roles (18%).

For those interested in the CFA designation, IESE awards three CFA Program Awareness Scholarships to second year students.

Both institutions are highly regarded by leading financial services organizations, particularly in Europe, but also abroad.


North America

Across the pond, four of Canada’s top 10 business schools are affiliates of the CFA Institute: Ivey, Schulich, Smith School of Business, and John Molson School of Business.

While less globally prestige than the aforementioned in Europe, Schulich, Ivey, and Smith have a higher percentage of MBA graduates taking on roles in financial services (between 30% and 37%, respectively, with significant post-MBA job placement in their respective provinces in Canada).

In addition to embedding CBOK in relevant courses, they also offer the possibility of scholarship support for students interested in the CFA designation.

A one-of-a-kind three-year MBA/CFA program that fully integrates the CBOK is the MBA in Investment Management at John Molson School of Business.

The program includes CFA exam-prep courses scheduled twice a week in Toronto and Montreal campuses. Their CFA Level-I pass rate is nearly double the worldwide average.

There are 60 seats available in total between the two campuses and they boast a 97% employment rate three-months post-graduation.

If your goal is a more integrated approach to the CFA studies, John Molson is the program. However, if you value the external recognition, then Ivey may be a better program for you.


Check out: CFA Vs MBA? Here’s Why You Should Do Both

cfa-mva


Looking south to the United States, four of the top 20 MBA programs are affiliate partners of the CFA Institute: NYU, Darden, Johnson, and UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Through electives, each business school offers content learning opportunities to prepare for the CFA exam.

Johnson also offers two credit-bearing CFA review courses to prepare for all three levels of the exam.

Johnson and Darden also provide a limited number of scholarships that may include fee waivers and/or covers a portion of the enrollment fee for any of the three CFA exams.

Although it offers fewer advantages, employers in the financial services sector have a particular affinity toward NYU Stern’s MBA graduates, reflected in their over 26% graduate placement in investments.

While earning an MBA in tandem with preparing for the CFA may facilitate the study required to earn the CFA designation, numerous non-CFA-affiliate MBA programs have excellent reputations within the financial sector.

With schools like Wharton, Stanford, Columbia, and more, don’t limit yourself to only evaluating member institutions of the CFA Partner Program; instead, look at business schools holistically and ensure your best professional development.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! 

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Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Linda Abraham, founder and senior admissions consultant for accepted.com, anything you want about getting into business school.

Linda has been a leader in the admissions consulting field since 1994.

Got a question you'd love Linda to answer? Submit your question on our Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below! 

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It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from Gautham Vundavilli (pictured) from Mumbai, India. He's completed his bachelor's in power engineering and also a master's in managementgautham-image.jpg

He is currently working with Unilever India and is hoping to study a full-time MBA at a US business school next year.

His question is answered by Dawna Clarke, executive director of admissions at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business.


Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

What is studying an MBA like for an Indian in the United States? How safe and congenial is the atmosphere at UVA, Darden for students from India?


The Answer:

While every school is unique, in general you will find significant numbers of students from India at top MBA programs in the United States.

MBA programs continue to see strong interest from students with Indian backgrounds, and we continue to see strong growth in the percentage of GMAT test-takers in India.

While there are many reasons behind the steady increase, one clear factor is the rapid economic expansion in India.

This has created opportunity for a new generation of future business leaders in the country.

The success of Indian students in MBA programs also perpetuates the trend.

When a student from India, who comes to the US for an MBA program, has great experience and lands a great job, whether in the US, India or somewhere else, they set an example that others in their network may emulate.

We’ve certainly seen that at Darden, where Indian students have a strong record of earning top jobs after graduation, especially in the fields of consulting and technology.

Another trend we’re seeing is Indian students who come to the US for school and work here for a number of years before deciding — for a variety of reasons — to take the next step of their career in India.

So, while an MBA may not have been at the forefront of thought for students in undergraduate programs in India even a decade ago, increasingly, it is!

It’s also important to keep in mind just how global a top business school is in 2019.

At Darden, about one-third of current students were born outside of the US, representing 36 different countries.

In every class, Darden has around 20 to 25 students who hold primary Indian citizenship, a significant number for a relatively small and intimate school.

Many MBA programs are larger, but you’re likely to see similar figures in top programs in the US.

Even if a student begins a US MBA program and is setting foot in the United States for the first time, there is a network of support firmly in place to ensure success.


Check out the Top-One Year MBA Courses In The USA

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Among Darden’s many clubs and organizations is the Darden South Asia Society, which brings together members of the Darden community who are interested in business and cultural aspects of the South Asian geographical region.

The club organizes seminars, speaker series, panels, recruiting events, admissions activities, and cultural and sporting events distinctive to this region. 

The club has many students from India and South Asia, but it provides cultural opportunities for the whole school, organizing Holi and Diwaili celebrations and career panels with alumni, for instance.

There is a similar story with faculty members. At Darden, multiple professors are originally from India, and this ranges from some of our newest faculty members to groundbreaking professors and school leaders who are charting the direction of the school.

To give you a sense of the importance of the market and strength of our relationship, Darden has a full-time regional director, Suds Tirumala, representing Darden in India and Southeast Asia.

In July alone, three Darden professors — Saras Sarasvathy, Roshni Raveendhran and Raj Venkatesan — will hold separate events in the country.

Similarly, in August, I’ll be in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, telling students about the Darden experience and the springboard to career success afforded by an MBA.

One message I’ll take is that while Darden’s classroom spaces are located in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the Washington DC area, student learning, faculty research, and the powerful alumni network stretch across the globe.

For example, Darden has full-time representatives in Mumbai, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Again, top US business schools are increasingly global in just about every way you can imagine.

Learning from diverse peers and faculty members benefits all, as conversations require active listening, persuasion and negotiation while navigating different viewpoints and cultures.

In the high-engagement Darden classroom, students from India and South Asia bring cultural insights and experience to share with their fellow students.

Similarly, they benefit from learning from a diverse set of peers whose backgrounds cover the globe.

There is often an adjustment from the learning style in many Indian universities to MBA programs, where there is often more discussion and ambiguity. With a strong support system, Indian students make this transition without issue.

So, while there is no one answer to what studying for an MBA is like for an Indian student in the United States, schools like Darden work hard to ensure the journey is one of personal transformation, with graduates leaving prepared for a lifetime of meaningful work on the global stage.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! 

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Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Susan Berishaj, a New-York based admissions consultant, anything you want about getting into business school.

Susan is based at Sia Admissions, offering coaching to MBA applicants who are applying to US, European, and Canadian schools.

Got a question you'd love Susan to answer? Submit your question on our TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below!

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It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause! 

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from Makarand Sawarkar (pictured) from Pune, India. 

He completed his electrical electronics and power engineering degree in 2017 and has worked as a manufacturing engineer and service engineer for nearly two years. 

His question is answered by Wendy Pearson, MBA and Masters careers consultant at Durham University Business School.


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Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

I completed my Electrical Electronics and Power Engineering degree in 2017 and worked as a manufacturing engineer and service engineer for 1.6 years. I am looking for job opportunities in the MBA field. Please guide me!


The Answer:

If engineers ask how, MBAs ask why.

As an engineer, you will have developed in-depth technical knowledge, which enables you to develop solutions to known problems.

An MBA will complement your technical expertise with a greater breadth of commercial understanding.

This enables you to take both strategic and operational perspectives, which makes you a valuable asset in a range of functions and industries.

Added to that, engineers tend to be very good at making connections, whether between the functions in a process or between parts of a complex business structure or supply chain.

Through your MBA, you will also gain skills in asking 'who'.

You will gain an insight into different aspects of a business, so you can lead projects which bring together stakeholders from marketing, finance and human resources, as well as your fellow technical experts.

You can also use the international aspects of your MBA to help you to coordinate projects over multiple locations. 

Your engineering background, together with an MBA, can open the door to multiple career options.

You could stay close to your roots in a role that takes your engineering career to the next level.

Chief engineer or project management roles provide team and stakeholder management and require business, project, resource, and budget management, as well as the ability to plan ahead to be at the forefront of technology innovation and funding opportunities.

This kind of career progression will often require a higher level of client interaction, as well as the ability to act as a trusted technical adviser to help them to grow their business as well as yours.

You may choose to move further away from engineering and explore other career opportunities, which will use your skills in a different way.

These might include consultancy, or more data-driven analytical roles.

There are some consultancies who have a strong track record of employing engineers with MBAs. This is particularly the case for operational consultancy.

Whether you choose to stick with engineering or branch out in a new direction, it is important that you do your own research.

Before you commit to an MBA, check the roles available in your target market.

A simple search of jobs boards listing roles in your area will give you a feel for the qualifications and experience required by employers.

You can also check out the career paths of the alumni of the schools you are considering (LinkedIn works well for this). What do the engineers who attended the business schools of your choice go on to do?

Don’t just look at their jobs post-MBA, but their longer term progression to help you chart your own career journey.

Ideally, you will come to your MBA with a clear goal but also an open mind.

Your goal will make it easier for others to support you and give you a focus to work towards.

One of the most exciting aspects of an MBA program is the wealth of new insights, both personal and professional, that you will have access to.

Keeping an open mind will help you to engage with a wide range of guest speakers and develop your network to support your career development in the long term.

For most professions, an MBA is not a requirement, but more a signal that you are ambitious, ready to learn and are not afraid of new challenges.

It will be up to you to communicate what you can offer to potential employers.


Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! 

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Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Dawna Clarke, executive director of admissions for University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, anything you want about getting into business school.

Dawna joined Darden as executive director of admissions in October 2017.

She oversees the recruitment strategy for admission to the full-time MBA and the Executive MBA.

Got a question you'd love Dawna to answer? Submit your question on our TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below! 

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Rakesh Saha grew up seeing social and economic inequality in India on a daily basis. He developed a will to help others caught in the mire and was ultimately led to the nonprofit sector.

He began that journey as a volunteer teacher at Make A Difference, one of India’s largest millennial-driven nonprofit organizations helping children in need of care and protection.

Rakesh rose through the ranks quickly and was promoted to director just over a year later. It was then that an MBA appeared on the horizon.

“Prior to assuming this role, I had limited experience in finance and data analytics, and these were essential for me to be effective,” he says. “I realized that to be an effective change agent, I needed to gain a deeper, a more cross-functional understanding of how organizations function.”

He chose Yale School of Management for his MBA as he says he connected with their mission, that leadership is essential for all aspects of business and society.

The Yale MBA has transformed his career—later this year he will be joining Bridgewater Associates, a macro hedge fund, in a management role, successfully completing the MBA triple jump and landing a job in the US.

It’s an intentional step away from the nonprofit sector, he explains, for a few years. His ultimate goal is to pivot back to the industry with an enhanced skill set and stronger experience.

BusinessBecause caught up with Rakesh to find out more.


Why did Yale stand out for you compared to other schools?

What truly sets Yale apart is the integrated curriculum which views complex organizational issues through the perspective of various stakeholders—who often have conflicting priorities—and  not through the myopic lens of functional divisions in organizations.

The School of Management is also tightly integrated with all other schools at Yale, giving students access to an incredible range of resources and hence allowing them to customize their learning experiences to meet their unique goals.


What does Yale look for in its MBA candidates?

A major factor that influences the learning experience at Yale is the diversity of the peer group. I attribute most of my growth and development during my MBA to the rich discussions in the classroom and during group projects with my peers.

So, naturally, Yale looks for candidates who bring this diversity of perspective to the classroom.

Yale also looks for candidates who have leadership experiences in solving issues in business or their communities. Candidates who have taken on big challenges, stepped outside their comfort zone, and have grown as a result of these experiences.

Finally, Yale looks for candidates who have some understanding of what they want to achieve in life and who have shown some thoughtfulness, intention, and directionality in the major decisions they have taken.


How have you benefitted from the Yale MBA?

At Yale, I took courses on corporate finance, economics, and accounting which enabled me to develop financial models for organizations. I took several courses on statistics and data analytics which have helped me get comfortable with big data.

I also got the opportunity to leverage my prior experience and implement these skills while serving as a student consultant and advisor to local nonprofit startups as a part of Yale’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking.

The Yale MBA program not only helped me gain these transferrable skills and experiences, but also gave me access to employers and alumni across a range of industries.


Where does your passion for nonprofit work come from?

Growing up in India, I was exposed to economic and social inequities almost every day. So, I have always felt this pull towards the nonprofit sector and working towards improving the quality of life for vulnerable people.

While working in this sector I realized that drive and good intentions are not enough. To bring about scalable and sustainable change, one also needs a range of functional skills to understand and quantify problems, design and develop solutions, and build organizational mechanisms to deliver these solutions.

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By Abigail Lister


Abdoul Aziz Ba had always felt a pull towards leadership roles, starting with his time working in Egypt for a Panafrican financial institution.

“During my time in the bank, I was fortunate enough to learn from some of the brightest minds of the continent who had an interest in developing Africa by designing and creating innovative solutions,” he explains.

“All of them suggested that if one day, I wanted to be a leader, I would need to develop new skills in terms of communication, design thinking, and problem solving.”

For Abdoul, this meant looking for a graduate business degree to gain some of those advanced skills, and he started considering an MBA program.

Abdoul admits that he had been following triple-accredited Hult International Business School “for many years,” but he started to think seriously about applying to their Global One-Year MBA after reading about the annual Hult Prize, an international business competition that aims to tackle some of the world’s most challenging social issues.

Abdoul saw his leadership drive, ambition, and desire to make a community impact reflected in the goals of both the Hult Prize and the business school in general.

“As an African, the school intrigued me.” Abdoul explains. “Hult really focuses on entrepreneurship and impact investing, which are aligned with my values and overall vision for developing the African continent.”

“The goal of Hult is clear,” he adds, “create the next generation of global and innovative leaders.”


An inspiring MBA program

Hult’s one-year MBA program immediately throws students into the world of social impact with the first module, entitled ‘Business and Global Society,’ which focuses broadly on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

From day one of this class, Abdoul knew he was in the right place to develop his own long-term leadership and social impact goals. “At Hult, students are exposed to current global issues and understand the various dilemma each stakeholder is confronted to.

“CSR and sustainability are two important topics that I believe that are no longer options, but rather musts for any company. The class allowed us to put ourselves in the shoes of a CEO and understand the challenges they must face either from society or from their shareholders.”

The Hult MBA was ranked the 15th best international one-year MBA in the world in 2017 by Forbes. Hult’s student body is comprised of students from over 160 nationalities, and graduates of the class of 2017 came from industries as varied as the media, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing, making the typical MBA classroom “a great way to network,” Abdoul says.

Abdoul had the opportunity during his MBA to meet Fortune 500 industry leaders “almost on a monthly basis” thanks to networking events. “It was extremely beneficial to meet these entrepreneurs, as they provided great advice on how they overcame the obstacles they had to face in their careers,” he explains.

Abdoul is based in London. But Hult also offers students the chance to rotate to up to two of its international campuses later in the program, giving MBAs the chance to study in three global cities like San Francisco, Boston, New York, London, Shanghai, and Dubai.

“The global campus rotation is a great opportunity to learn about other cultures as well as create a global network,” Abdoul continues.


Achieving business dreams

Although initially Abdoul was interested in simply securing a top leadership position in a financial institution post-MBA, through his experience at Hult he’s also started to broaden his professional horizons.

“As my MBA progresses, I understand that I have more to offer,” he muses. “My deep understanding of African issues in relation to the rest of the world allows me to think outside the box and to propose some solutions to the issues the African continent are facing.”

At Hult, Abdoul co-founded the Food, Culture, and Business Club (FCB), using this as a way to investigate and expand his growing interest in the agricultural sector.

“Today, Africa has most of the arable lands in the world; yet it remains the poorest continent in the world,” he explains. “Revolutionizing the agriculture sector in Africa will have major positive outcomes for the population.”

Ultimately, Abdoul says, it’s Hult’s combination of a belief in positive impact and its international environment that will ensure he’s ready for the next step in his career.

“Hult specifically look for motivated and ambitious students who aspire to become global leaders while leaving a positive footprint in their communities or on a bigger stage,” Abdoul explains.

“I hope to be part of a new wave of young Africans who see investing in agriculture as a top priority; completing the MBA at Hult gives me the chance to achieve my dream.”

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For international students, an MBA offers the chance to meet other business professionals from all around the world, boost their network, and get a global view on business.

Dayris Arias’ (pictured) ambitions were no different. Originally from Peru, she completed her undergraduate degree in economics at the prestigious University of the Pacific in Lima, and afterwards moved straight into a role as a business analyst with the third-largest airport management company in the country.

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“I stayed there for five years and transitioned through three different positions,” Dayris explains. “I really liked it, however, I felt like after five years focusing on one industry, I wanted to try something new and see what I was missing.”


Why Cornell?

The option to do an MBA had been one that Dayris had been thinking about since her undergraduate degree—“I always knew that an MBA was a good platform to have a really good, global view of a whole company and different industries,” she recalls.

While applications to US schools were in decline last year, that didn’t influence Dayris’ decision. “I always considered going to the US,” she says. “A lot of the headquarters of really great companies are in the US, and a lot of people told me that if you want to be focused on your career then the US is a better option.” 

When an old friend from her undergraduate program told her about his experience at Cornell University's Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, she knew she’d found the right US school for her.

“When I was still figuring things out about the MBA, he told me about his whole experience at Johnson, and I really liked the sound of it,” she recalls. “The school was very open to me even when I was just applying—the whole application process felt very welcoming.”


Community

Upon starting the Two-Year MBA at Cornell in August 2018, Dayris became part of a cohort of only 280 students, 27% of which are international. Compare this with Harvard’s class of 2020, who total a massive 930, Dayris says Cornell provides a more intimate learning experience.

Cornell also works to make sure that all participants get to know each other before their classes start, something that Dayris appreciated. “What really stood out for me at Cornell was the close-knit community—it’s amazing and very supportive.”

In fact, participants in the Two-Year MBA at Cornell start a month earlier than standard MBA programs so students can participate in the Johnson Outdoor Experience (JOE), an orientation retreat in the Finger Lakes in New York.

“They divide you into teams with the people of your ‘core’ group, who you’re teamed with for the whole first six weeks of classes,” Dayris explains. “It was a rollercoaster getting to know each other—we could really see our individual weaknesses and strengths.”

The program also benefits from being situated in Ithaca, New York, a small college town with big city amenities.

“If you’re studying in New York City, you might leave your university and go straight home, but in Ithaca what’s nice is that at the end of the day people say ‘let’s go out for dinner’ or ‘let’s have a gathering at our house’,” Dayris explains. “It’s really nice that there’s this group environment after a hard day studying.”

It’s no surprise that students welcome a little time off—Cornell is still an Ivy League school, after all, and the Two-Year MBA at Johnson was ranked the 10th best in the US in 2018 by Bloomberg Businessweek, ahead of institutions like Yale SOM and NYU Stern.

“Cornell makes sure that you study with A+ people,” Dayris asserts. “Everyone in my class has their own opinions and perspectives and an amazing story and background—they all are unique in their own way.”


Consulting

Ultimately, Dayris is planning on using her MBA from Cornell Johnson to transition into consulting. While the recruitment process for consulting in the US is tough, Dayris says Cornell has been on-hand to assist her.

“There’s a consulting club at Cornell that’s been very supportive in this journey,” Dayris explains. “They prepare us for the different parts of the interviews, as well as teaching us more about the culture in different consulting firms—that’s very important when you consider where you want to find your next social base after Cornell.”

Though Dayris is still in the early stages of her Two-Year MBA at Johnson, she’s certain she chose the right school.

“I really encourage Latin American or other international students to go to Cornell,” she says. “It will be an experience that you will never forget.”

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A core objective of an MBA degree is to promote innovation and rich dialogue through diverse cohorts.

Exemplary of this is Bath School of Management—its cohort of only 51 students come from 23 different sectors, 16 countries, and possess, on average, seven years of professional experience. This ensures a high standard of discussion among students, each approaching business problems from unique perspectives.

Janice McGann has been a diplomat with the Irish Civil Service for twelve years. While originally planning on becoming a solicitor after studying law for her undergraduate degree, Janice was offered a position in the Irish Foreign Ministry. Since then, she’s worked on UN and EU related issues, and held diplomatic positions in Lithuania and Brazil.

Following such a varied, international, and impressive career path, Janice decided to do an MBA at Bath School of Management. BusinessBecause caught up with her to find out why.


Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I wanted to advance my career and increase the options available to me. I also decided that I wanted to make a greater impact with my set of skills. I’m committed to the idea of public service, and using my abilities to make a positive difference. I wanted to develop my leadership and management skills so that I would be able to step-up and make that bigger contribution, whether that's in the public sector, an NGO, or a social enterprise.

Why Bath School of Management?

Apart from the fact that the Bath MBA has an excellent reputation, I was particularly interested in issues to do with sustainability and ethics. I used the Corporate Knights Better World MBA rankings to identify possible MBA courses that emphasized sustainability on their programs. I also liked Bath's focus on personal, not just academic, development. I felt that the small class size and excellent gender balance would create a more collaborative learning environment—and this has proved to be the case!

What stands out from your MBA experience so far?

I’ve had so many fantastic experiences on the Bath MBA that it’s hard to pick one – excellent teaching, great support from the School of Management and a fantastic cohort.

Personally, the best thing has been the renewed sense of possibility when I consider the new opportunities available to me because of the course. The Bath MBA is an intense, challenging experience and I’ve been very struck by the resilience and kindness of my classmates as we’ve supported each other along this journey. I think it’s those types of interactions that really help us to learn, grow, and turn an MBA course into a life-changing experience.

What else have you gained?

The MBA has helped me to develop personally, particularly my leadership ability. Working on so many projects, with such a multicultural group, has really strengthened my project management and interpersonal skills.

It has also given me new tools and concepts to be a more effective manager. Coming from a legal and public sector background, it has been great to gain a deeper understanding of the private sector viewpoint. I believe that having a holistic understanding, of different areas and sectors can enable managers to become more innovative and adaptable to change.

What are your plans for the future?

The Bath MBA has reaffirmed my commitment to public service and I’m excited at the thought of being able to use my improved skillset in the sector. At the moment, I have decided to focus on working in the public, or NGO sector. However, I wouldn’t entirely rule out a move to the private sector, particularly in a role that had a social element such as a corporate social responsibility program or a social enterprise.

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We live in a VUCA world—volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. With disruptive progress in technology, ominous challenges of sustainability, and tectonic movements in the world of politics, businesses must place innovation at their core to succeed.

Nic Windley chose the MBA program at the UK’s Aston Business School with these considerations in mind. Located in Birmingham, the UK's second-largest city, 93% of MBA students at Aston are international, nurturing a diverse learning environment.

An entrepreneur with extensive commercial experience in the corporate world, Nic's ventures were detrimentally affected in the financial crash of 2008. This led him to appreciate the adaptability and robustness required of successful initiatives, and the leadership skills needed to drive them.

"We have to think seriously about leadership in a context of change; we can't rely on things staying the same,” Nic says. “This requires developing dynamic organizations more suitable for such conditions.”

Aston Business School is acutely aware of these challenges. Aston Edge, a program integrated with the MBA, enables students to cultivate highly-tuned interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence based on behavioural scientific research. The program aims to hone critical thinking capabilities underlying effective decision-making and leadership.

Nic says that Aston's leadership principles emphasize restoring trust in organizations and leaders. A perceptive strategy—in a recent survey by American PR firm Edelman, 70% of respondents cited ‘building trust’ as the number one job for CEOs, ahead of ‘providing high quality products and services’.

"Including such leadership principles not only prepares us for the future, but also ensures that business makes a positive contribution to society," Nic observes.

Nic was awarded an MBA scholarship from Aston to fund his studies—the school’s personalized approach stood out.

"I applied to other UK universities, and was accepted to all of them. I looked at league tables, and other indicators of performance. However, it was Aston's engagement and responsiveness to candidates that impressed me; they showed an understanding of communication and marketing which was a good sign,” he says.

“I found them welcoming, open, and I liked the industry connections they've had for a long time.” For their final projects, Aston MBA students can undertake consulting projects for real firms.

Nic's project explores the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. He's collaborating with the school's engineering and mathematics departments to investigate opportunitites for commercializing AI technology. 

Aston Business School also provides a comprehensive careers service and runs an alumni mentorship scheme to help students navigate opportunities after graduation. Nic is due to graduate in September 2018, well-prepared for the challenges ahead.

"Aston prepares us for the future," he says.

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With a directorship at a mining and metals company in Santiago, Chile, Ramiro Blanch doesn’t have a bad CV. But like many middle managers, he felt stuck in his career; stagnant. That spurred him to pursue an MBA at Maastricht School of Management (MSM), a highly-ranked business school in the Netherlands. 

One reason for choosing MSM over other top schools in Europe was that the MBA program can be completed in 12 months, meaning he will pay less in tuition and forgo fewer earnings studying full-time. It was also easy to secure a study visa, which will enable him to work in the Netherlands for up to a year after he graduates in 2018. 

He enrolled in the MBA in October 2017. For Ramiro, a Latin American, diversity has been the highlight. Students on the MSM MBA typically come from 20 different countries and many professional backgrounds, though the program is taught in English. That diversity will be beneficial for Ramiro in his career, he believes, as the ability to work with people from different cultures is an essential trait of an effective executive. 

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I needed change, something different, and sometimes studying is a good option to figure out what you want to do next. And when you already have several years of work experience, the best degree program to study is an MBA, especially if you want to work in business. Also, I came to realize that networking is a must to keep growing as a professional, and an MBA is surely the best alternative to working to increase the size of your network. 

ramiro-blanch

Why Maastricht School of Management?

I wanted to study abroad, in a program in which I could speak English. But I also wanted to study in Europe, so my options were the UK and some other countries where their inhabitants spoke English. I chose the Netherlands because I knew that almost 90% of the population spoke English. And MSM because it has a high proportion of international students — usually the MBA class is composed of 20 different nationalities. This is one of the best aspects of the program.

 

How have you profited from your MBA experience so far?

Sometimes, you think you know everything. But coming into the MBA program, I was wrong. So far, I’ve been taught so much about new subjects, which I did not expect. 

Being part of such a diverse cohort has also opened my eyes in many ways. The world is more globalized than ever before, so nurturing interpersonal relationships with people from different backgrounds is increasingly becoming important. It is enriching to not only learn new subjects and managerial skills, but also to develop and thrive in a multicultural environment. 

What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

When you make the decision of studying for an MBA, you must take into account the many costs involved. Without scholarships, an MBA degree will be expensive. And most people chose the full-time version, so you will need to resign from your current job and forgo a salary. Most importantly, you will be out of your comfort zone, and will need to adapt quickly.

Because of the high cost involved in getting an MBA, it is extremely important for candidates to know why they want the degree: what are your motivations? What do you want to achieve? If you cannot answer these questions clearly, you will likely not benefit from the MBA as much as you otherwise would. 

What has been the most enjoyable part of the Maastricht MBA program?

The fact that I have kept growing. When I was working, I felt I was stuck. With the MBA, I am learning new things again; knowledge and people skills. Other things that I have enjoyed on the program are the great parties and people I have had the pleasure of knowing.  

How easy, or difficult was it to secure a visa to study in the Netherlands? 

In my case, it was easy. It took me only one trip to the Dutch embassy in my country, and that’s it.

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MBA applicants considering business school want professional transformation; to take the next step in their careers, break glass ceilings, and make an impact.

For Olawunmi Thomas-Quarcoo, the Global MBA program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business did just that.

Coming from a non-traditional MBA background working as a social worker in Philadelphia, Olawunmi chose Fox with a long-term vision to become a social entrepreneur.

Fox has a commitment to social impact at its core. The Fox Board Fellows program places MBA students on the boards of Philadelphia-based non-profits as active, working members for an entire academic year.

The Global MBA program also includes two global immersions, taking MBA students on two-week international trips—to India, China, and countries in Latin America, and Africa—where they visit companies like Coca-Cola, Deloitte, and Microsoft, and engage in real-life consulting projects for real firms.

Fox’s career department, led by the charismatic Janis Campbell, is the hallmark of the school’s success. Fox’s director of graduate professional development placed 100% of actively seeking MBA graduates into jobs in 2016.

Since graduating in 2017, Olawunmi has taken the first steps on the road to social entrepreneurship. Before starting her own business, she’s getting more work experience first. Through Fox, she landed an HR internship at a food services firm in Philadelphia, and now a full-time job at a leading North American bank, based in New Jersey.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?olawunimi

Originally, I wanted to become a social entrepreneur. At the time, I had professional experience as a social worker, but knew I would need to develop some business acumen. I never wanted to abandon my social work skills; I just wanted to leverage them to start a business.

Once I began the program, I realized I wanted to get corporate experience before becoming an entrepreneur, so an MBA still seemed to fit the plan.

Why Fox?

I attended information sessions at a few other schools, but Fox stood out to me. Among the full-time programs that I looked at, Fox was the only one that offered a Global MBA. We live in a global economy, so I wanted the opportunity to learn about and visit emerging markets to understand how business operates in those parts of the world.

Also, I had the privilege of attending Discovery Day and Decision Day, which are both opportunities to learn more about the various programs at Fox, meet faculty, administration and current students, and sit in on sample classes. I was intrigued by the classes and by hearing about the students' experiences in the program. 

The job placement rate after graduation was also a deciding factor because I learned that over 80% of student land a job within the first three months after graduation. This showed Fox's emphasis on career development.

How have you profited from your Fox MBA experience?

The person I am today is not the same person I was when I started the program in 2015. I've developed a confidence and self-awareness that did not completely exist before the program and my summer internship.

Janis was a crucial part of my positive experience. She helped me leverage my transferable social work skills into a new career in human resources. I was offered a full-time job before I graduated and that’s in part due to Janis constantly working with me to hone in on my skills and capabilities.

I had a lot of the pieces to be successful before Fox School of Business, but the program added the missing pieces such as business acumen, strategic and critical thinking, and leadership development. The leadership development that was embedded throughout the program is still something that I lean on at work.  

The network I built is invaluable and especially strong with a few of my classmates. We know each other's strengths and opportunities for growth, and continue to support each other professionally.

What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

You will only get out what you put in. Most programs have the components for students to be successful, but individual effort is just as important. You have to learn how to focus on academics as well as your career—studying for an exam is just as important as attending a networking event.

When selecting a school, you have to make sure it’s the right fit. Does it have the area you want to focus on academically? Do the companies you want to work for recruit at the school? Are the faculty members industry leaders? What is the alumni network like? How is the job placement rate? Those questions are just some of the things to consider when choosing an MBA program.

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Caroline Casanovas went on an international consultancy week to Iceland and explored entrepreneurship and innovation in Israel and Palestine during an intensive, one-year MBA program at London’s Cass Business School.

Before business school, Caroline worked as a fashion designer for Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger. She went on to work as a buyer for Manor, Switzerland’s largest department store chain.

Determined to move out of fashion and explore her career options, she chose the triple-accredited Cass MBA – ranked among the top 40 MBA programs in the world by the Financial Times.

In the latest Cass MBA class, 74 students represented 28 different nationalities. 36% of MBA students were women.

At Cass, students can tailor their MBA experience to match their career goals. On international elective modules, MBA students can choose to explore digital innovation in Silicon Valley, marketing in Las Vegas, brand building in the UAE, and emerging markets in China, South Africa, and Cuba.

To conclude the program, MBA students take on the Business Mastery Project, designing and managing their own consulting project to address a real-world business problem for a chosen company, industry or research area.

Caroline spent three months working with London-based online fashion marketplace Lyst. After graduation, she landed a job as a product manager for Swiss furniture company Vitra, switching industry and role.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

Before the MBA, I had grown from a creative role as a fashion designer into a business-driven role as a buyer for a department store chain. To develop myself further into a managerial role, but also out of pure interest in broadening my horizons, I decided to do an MBA.

I wanted to improve my business-related skills and knowledge. Moreover, I was aiming to re-direct my career away from the fashion business and was curious to learn more about new industries.

Why Cass?

I chose Cass for two main reasons. Firstly, because it’s in London. It was important for me to do an MBA in a major capital, where I would meet people working in industries that are relevant to me. The pace of London in terms of innovation, in retail, for instance, is truly unique.

Secondly, because the Cass MBA is a dense one year program. At this point in my life, I believe that studying for one year was the right choice since it meant not being absent from work for too long and still getting all the latest knowledge.

What stands out from your MBA experience at Cass?

I truly enjoyed my final MBA project with Lyst since it enabled me to dive deep into a subject I was passionate about. Being able to solve a problem from scratch and offer strategic recommendations to a company was challenging and inspiring. The way Cass enables its students to design their final project independently is great because one can tailor it to their own career aspirations.

On a more personal level, I believe that at the end one always remembers the people and the experiences we have gone through together. Working closely with people from over 30 different nationalities was truly enriching. What stands out is the consultancy week in Iceland and the elective on innovation and entrepreneurship in Israel and Palestine.

How have you profited?

The MBA has given me the ‘big picture’ of business administration in general, in the sense that I now understand many business-related topics and can easily dive deep into something I am more interested in. It’s given me a sense of how everything comes together within, but also outside a company.

As to my career, I believe that it has enabled me to move away from the fashion industry into a new sector. In my current role, I make use of the fact that I have learned to quickly grasp a problem – even though the industry is new to me - and tackle it in a structured way.

What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

MBA applicants should think about their personal and professional goals and how to best reach them. MBA programs differ a lot and one should be clear about what they want to get out of it. In the end, it always depends on what each individual makes out of the experience. Your MBA is only as enriching as you make it.

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By Andrea Coulis

The question of whether to take the GRE or the GMAT when applying for business school has no one-size-fits-all answer.  

Neither test is easier than the other; neither is preferred by admissions over the other; and neither is ‘better’ than the other. Nevertheless, opting to take the GRE was by far the best decision for me specifically, and may be better for you too if you share similar circumstances.

Here’s four reasons why I chose to take the GRE:


1. The GMAT is only good for business school

If you’re still weighing your options and haven’t decided between pursuing an MBA or another graduate degree, or are considering pursuing dual-degree programs, the GMAT is generally not the most logical choice for you.

The GMAT is only good for admission to business school and nothing else, while the GRE is accepted for admissions to hundreds of different graduate programs, including nearly all business schools.

If you’re not 100% set on pursuing an MBA and only an MBA, you may want to choose a test that can work for all graduate school options you’re considering so you don’t have to take multiple exams.


2. My target school had no preference

Luckily, when I applied to business school, I had one target school in mind and that school did not have a preference or bias towards one test over the other.

While the partiality towards the GMAT has diminished significantly in recent years, there are still a few schools out there who do not view the tests equally.

You’ll want to investigate the preferences of your target school(s) before signing up for one exam or the other, so you don’t put yourself at a disadvantage from the start.


3. I already had a proven test-taking strategy

I’ve consistently performed well on standardized tests throughout my life, largely thanks to a simple test-taking strategy: getting the easy questions out of the way and going back to review the more time-consuming, challenging questions afterwards.

Unfortunately, this approach is literally impossible on the GMAT, because the question you are asked next is adjusted based on your answer to the previous question.

Because of this unique computer-adaptive exam layout, test-takers will not be able to use my strategy for tackling harder questions later. For me, this would have meant a big adjustment to my strategy, and likely a good amount of panicking during the exam.


4. I’m a poet, not a quant

Arguably, the most significant reason I chose the GRE is because of my strong appreciation for the English language.

Growing up with an English professor for a parent gave me not only a penchant for reading, but also a larger-than-average vocabulary, making the usually challenging verbal section of the GRE a breeze.

Conversely, those who have an aptitude for mathematics will find the GMAT a much better opportunity to show off their skills.

If you have a profound sense of your strong points, choosing which exam is a better fit shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re still not sure, take a practice test of each type and see if your scores are vastly different the first time around. This can be a pretty good indicator of which test is more likely to accentuate your strengths.

Remember, there’s no good answer for which test is better for everyone, but there’s almost always an answer to which test is better for you. Self-reflection, research, and consideration of the experiences outlined here can help you find it.

andrea-oxford

Andrea Coulis is a senior tutor with MyGuru, a provider of in-person and online GMAT tutoring. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and an MBA from the University of Oxford, Saïd School of Business. 

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Andrea Coulis is a senior tutor for MyGuru, a provider of in-person & online GMAT Tutoring. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and an MBA from the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School.

Here's five ways you can score in the 98th percentile on the GRE, just like Andrea:


1. Go back to geometry class

Remember back in grade school when you were having trouble with the Pythagorean Theorem and began questioning the teacher, 'But when am I actually going to use this?' A smart seventh grade teacher would have told you, 'On the GRE!' because that’s probably truthfully the next time those concepts will appear again in most people’s lives.

The GRE will feature tons of those triangles, parallelograms, and acute angles you became so fond of during your early teenage years. Since the material is likely not fresh in your mind, your first step should be reviewing the rules and practicing some basic geometry questions. Don’t rely on being able to outsmart this section without reviewing the material. Even a few hours spent familiarizing your mind can boost your score significantly because the content itself is not all that complex once it’s fresh again.

2. Understand and appreciate the English language

Prospective students often choose to take the GRE because they picture themselves memorizing definitions and choosing them from straightforward multiple choice options during the exam. Verbal section tackled with a few flash cards, right?

Not so fast. The GRE tests not only your understanding of words’ definitions, but also your ability to transform words into precise, meaningful communication. There will be no regurgitating of definitions, so memorization on its own won’t get you far on the GRE. The best way to ace the verbal section is to incorporate an appreciation of the English language into your daily life. Don’t just memorize words, use them to enhance your communication abilities from day one and have that growing mastery organically translate itself into a better score.

3. Save the harder questions for the end

The part of the GRE I found most attractive when compared with the GMAT is the ability to skip questions and return to them later. This is a test-taking tactic I had come to rely upon throughout my entire life, and being unable to move on from a question during the GMAT caused some unneeded anxiety in an already-stressful situation.

Capitalize on your ability to flexibly work through the test by marking questions you know will be more challenging or require deeper thought for later. After a few practice tests, you’ll learn to easily recognize which types of questions require more brainpower and avoid wasting time on them until you can dedicate your mind fully and take some extra time to catch their nuances.

4. Learn weaknesses early and use them to your advantage

Take a practice test early for the purpose of identifying where you already shine and where you won’t need to spend much time brushing up. Then, focus on the areas where you did not perform well and educate yourself on what you were missing on these questions. Was it a simple lack of familiarity with the subject matter (you haven’t studied algebra in 12 years), or a real struggle with the content (you do not understand the reasoning behind some of the reading comprehension questions)?

A simple lack of familiarity can usually be quickly alleviated by a refresher in the subject, while overcoming a struggle with the content itself may require more time and effort. Develop a sincere understanding of the content in the types of questions that trouble you and do not—I repeat, DO NOT—attempt to memorize exactly how to solve a certain type of problem as if there is a magic formula. 

Truly comprehending not only what the right answer is but also why it is the right answer will allow you to adjust your strategy when the question on the actual exam is inevitably slightly different from those encountered on practice tests.  If you dedicate your time to mastering these most challenging questions early on, you’ll become more confident in solving them and may actually become relieved rather than anxious when they pop up during the test.

5. Relax

The last but arguably most important tip for mastering the GRE is to relaxand have confidence that all the work you put into studying will be worthwhile. It’s easier said than done of course, but taking a deep breath and avoiding stress prior to the exam can put you in the right mindset to conquer the challenge and channel your energy into performing your best.

It helps to consider the exam an opportunity to show off your skills, rather than a serious of traps you can’t wait to be past. Remember, you’ve prepared, you know what to expect, and you’ve seen every type of question the exam has to offer. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t score just as well on the actual exam as you did on practice exams, so relax, picture yourself back home in your living room, and give it all you’ve got! 

 

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This article is sponsored by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), maker of the GRE® General Test.

We’ve all been there. The night before a test, working against the clock, cramming as much information as possible into our brains.

The world of MBA applications is no different. Even before test prep starts, business school candidates are faced with a dilemma. Should you take the GRE® General Test or the GMAT® exam?

Although both paths are paved with good intentions, one is becoming increasingly alluring. Taking the GRE® General Test instead of the GMAT is an increasingly popular option for business school applicants—admissions expert Barbara Coward says around 50% of the applicants she coaches opt to take the test.

BusinessBecause caught up with Barbara, and expert admissions coach Bara Sapir—founder and CEO of TestPrep New York and TestPrep San Francisco—to find out more.

Here are five reasons why they think you should take the GRE® General Test:


1. Flexibility

GRE® General Test scores are valid for five years, and you have the option to send only your best set of scores to schools, no matter how many times you have taken the test.

Seven out of 10 GRE® General Test takers get the same, or even better scores, on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections when they take the test a second time.

This gives candidates the flexibility to test multiple times, familiarizing themselves with the process before selecting their best set of test scores with which to apply to business school.

What’s more, the GRE® General Test does not apply specifically to MBA programs; it can be used to apply for a variety of master’s and other graduate programs.

“It gives you the flexibility if you’re not entirely sure whether you want to do an MBA,” Barbara explains. “You take that one test and you’re one and done.”


2. Credibility

Nearly 1,300 business schools accept GRE® General Test scores for their MBA programs, including 98 of the top 100 institutions on the U.S. News & World Report 2019 Best Business Schools Ranking, 83 of the top 85 institutions on Bloomberg Businessweek 2017 Best U.S. MBA Programs ranking, and 90 of the top 101 institutions on The Financial Times 2018 MBA Ranking.

The growth in popularity of the GRE® General Test, alongside the wealth of institutions that accept scores, makes it an attractive proposition.

Students have a choice, says Bara, to take practice tests for both the GMAT and the GRE® General Test. They can then see which they feel more comfortable with, and which they score higher on. The rise in popularity suggests that students are increasingly more comfortable with the GRE® General Test and score higher when they go down this route.


3. Cost

A rise in popularity could also come down to cost, says Barbara. The GRE® General Test is $55 cheaper than the GMAT.

“How many cups of coffee does that buy you?” Barbara asks. The answer is a lot—certainly enough to keep you caffeinated during those study sessions.

With the elite MBA programs costing upwards of $100,000, every little bit you can save will help. And, since the GRE® General Test and the GMAT are looked at in the same way by business schools, it makes sense to go for the more affordable option.


4. Challenging, but benevolent

We all wish sitting for an examination was a walk in the park, complete with an ice pop and a gentle summer’s breeze. But, in reality, we know that’s not the case.

Business schools want evidence that you’re an appropriate candidate, that you’re going to fit into their program and steamroll into a successful career after you graduate. The GRE® General Test is a vital piece of evidence, part of the puzzle.

Still, applicants might feel less stressed with the format of the GRE® General Test: “The advanced adaptive design of the GRE® General Test allows applicants to freely move forward and backward throughout an entire section, allowing them to use more of their own test taking strategies” Bara explains.


5. Free test prep

Educational Testing Service (ETS), the maker of the GRE® General Test, offers POWERPREP® Online, which allows candidates to take two practice GRE® General Tests before the real thing.

Test takers get instant access to their scores on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections.

The ease of access to free practice material means there’s no excuse not to familiarize yourself with the test before you commit to the path towards full-examination. And, says Barbara, “it’s never too soon to start!”

ETS, GRE, POWERPREP are registered trademarks of Educational Testing Service (ETS).  GMAT is a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which does not endorse or approve this article.

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This article is sponsored by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), maker of the GRE® General Test.

The road to business school comes with plenty of complications along the way. Tricky tuition fees, MBA essays, interviews, recommendation letters that need to be negotiated with care, and admissions tests.

When it comes to those admissions tests, MBA applicants want flexibility and a fair but straightforward approach.

Brenna Casey got the opportunity to pursue an MBA through her work. As an associate consultant at a consulting group based in Chicago, she focused on the healthcare and higher education industries, advising companies on strategy, operations, and technological change.brenna-cjbs

In January 2017, Brenna was accepted into her firm’s tuition sponsorship program. The company would pay $65,000 toward her tuition fees for a part-time or full-time, one-year MBA program—that took care of the financing.

GRE vs GMAT

Still, the schools Brenna applied to—Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Cambridge Judge Business School, and Oxford Saïd in the UK—all required admissions test scores.

Brenna had taken the GMAT® exam in her senior year of undergrad at age 20—she studied engineering and management at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee—but she didn’t do as well as she’d hoped. Together with a few friends, she decided to take the GRE® General Test.

“As I evaluated the schools I was going to apply to, I saw all of them accepted both the GRE® General Test and the GMAT,” she says.

Indeed, today nearly 1,300 business schools accept GRE® scores for their MBA programs, including 92 of the top institutions on the US News & World Report 2018 Best Business Schools Ranking, all of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Top 45 US MBA Programs, and 10 out of the top 10 institutions on The Financial Times 2017 Global MBA Ranking—including Cambridge Judge, ranked fifth in the world and number one in the UK.

Brenna took the GRE® General Test twice—applicants can take the test multiple times. In fact, seven out of 10 GRE® General Test test takers earn the same or better scores on the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections when they take the test a second time.

After completing the GRE® General Test, a candidate’s scores are valid for five years. Applicants taking the GRE® General Test can choose to only disclose their best scores to their selected business school.

Which MBA?

Brenna sent her best GRE® scores to Cambridge Judge and was accepted. She was happy to return to the UK, where she had worked previously during the London 2012 Olympics.

“There are very few one-year MBA programs in the US, so Cambridge and Oxford immediately came on my radar,” Brenna explains. “I did think about INSEAD; I went to an INSEAD information session in Chicago. While INSEAD is well-known internationally, I think the name-brand and reputation of Cambridge in the US is stronger.

cambridge-judge

“I’m using the MBA as a career strengthener rather than a career pivot,” she continues. “I’m looking to strengthen my career in the consulting industry.”

Since joining Cambridge Judge in September 2017, Brenna has made the most out of her MBA experience. She’s just returned from a career trek to Japan, led by six of her MBA classmates.

There, she visited Kyoto, Tokyo and the headquarters of Toyota and Uniqlo, and met with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee. “I had never been to Asia before and getting to see Japan through the eyes of my classmates was an incredible experience,” she says.

In her first term, Brenna worked on a venture project creating a US market entry strategy for a company, founded by Cambridge students, that’s developed a diagnosis tool for early-stage dementia. She stepped up to lead a diverse team of four ex-consultants, financiers, and marketers, from South Africa, Brazil, China, and Japan.

“That project was well-aligned with my career goals,” Brenna says. “I’ve worked in teams for the last few years in my consulting projects, but working in a team of people from different industries and five different countries was completely new!

“One attraction of Cambridge Judge was getting that international exposure,” she continues. “US MBA programs are usually 70% American and 30% international, but here I think only five out of 208 students are from England.

“Plus, the cross-collaboration and the college system here—living with other master’s and PhD students from different disciplines and the learning that comes with that—is very unique. It’s not a standalone MBA program.”

Test prep

At Cambridge, there are GRE® test takers across the wider university. Unlike the GMAT exam, the GRE® General Test offers an added flexibility; candidates can use GRE® scores to apply for a wide range of master’s, specialized master’s, and PhD programs globally.

Educational Testing Service (ETS), the maker of the GRE® General Test, offers POWERPREP PLUSOnline, which allows candidates to experience taking a mock computer-delivered GRE® General Test before the real thing. Test takers get instant access to their scores across all three measures—Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

gre-test-prep

ETS’ official test prep book for the GRE® General Test includes four practice tests—two in the book and two simulated on the POWERPREP PLUSOnline platform.

Brenna will graduate in August 2018. After her MBA, she’ll return to her previous role at the consulting firm in Chicago with the expectation that she’ll be promoted within a year.

From taking the GRE® General Test, to an MBA at the UK’s number one business school according to the Financial Times, Brenna’s b-school experience has already opened new doors.

“The classes at Cambridge Judge help you develop a combination of technical and soft skills—I’ve picked up business skills I didn’t have before,” she says.

“I’ve also discovered a deep interest in the social innovation space, nonprofit consulting, and impact investing. I can see myself focusing more on those areas—I’m passionate about making an impact.”

ETS and GRE are registered trademarks of Educational Testing Service (ETS). POWERPREPTM Online and POWERPREP PLUSTM Online are trademarks of ETS. GMAT is a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which does not endorse or approve this article.

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By Mike Sugarman

Mike is a senior tutor for MyGuru, a provider of online GRE tutoring which helps students build customized study plans and focuses on GRE-specific test taking strategies. Mike graduated from Columbia and scored in the 99th percentile on the GRE and SAT, and a perfect 36 on the ACT.

You probably thought that you would be done with standardized tests forever when you took the SAT in high school, right? No more multiple choice questions about boring reading passages, no more questions about integers, no more taking a test for three hours and then writing an entire essay. 

But if you’re planning on applying to grad school, you have likely found yourself in a place where you need to prepare for a standardized test yet again.

Don’t sweat it! With some focused preparation, you can get yourself in a great place to qualify yourself for whatever program excites you most.

Just follow these tips for prep and you’ll be on your way to your ideal GRE score.

1. Set Your Target Score

There’s no such thing as a best GRE score, only the best GRE score for you. Research desired scores for every program you want to apply to. Some programs will list their median GRE scores for accepted applications right on their websites, but in some cases you’ll actually have to get in touch with the graduate advisor in that department.

Create a list of those desired GRE scores and then, this part is important, take a practice GRE so you know how much you’ll need to improve. So much of your prep strategy is going to count on how many points you need to improve.

Fortunately, ETS offers PowerPREP, which includes two free practice tests as well as some extra practice problems. Take the first one as a diagnostic.

2. Know The Format of the Test Inside Out

You’ll certainly get the general idea of GRE’s format after taking your initial practice test. But knowing the test’s format inside will help you feel a lot more in control come test day.

The GRE’s format is simple: two Analytical Writing sections; two Verbal Reasoning sections; two Quantitative Reasoning sections; two unscored sections that could be either Verbal or Quantitative.

What gets tricky is that both the Verbal and Quantitative sections are adaptive, meaning that the more questions you answer correctly, the harder the questions get. Harder questions are also worth more points, which means the GRE massively rewards accuracy.

Understanding the high value placed on correct answers will hopefully be a motivating factor for you to put in serious prep work.

3. Create a Plan for Improving on Specific Sections

With the Quantitative section, make a list of all of the math concepts you’re the least rusty on. There is a wealth of quality math workbooks on Amazon and free math resources you can find with some simple Googling, all of which can help you brush up on that geometry you haven’t seen since freshman year of high school, or those percentage concepts that always tripped you up.

With Verbal, brush up on your grammar and read something challenging every day until the test. Again, there are plenty of free grammar resources online, and challenging reads can come from quality newspapers and magazines, or classic books you always meant to read.

If you want to get actual hands on practice with reading comprehension practice try the Reading sections of practice SAT exams.  While the SAT’s reading section isn’t identical to similar material on the GRE’s Verbal Reasoning section, you will still be getting quality practice reading short passages and dealing with multiple choice answers.

4. Plan on Taking Multiple Practice GREs

Practice is one of the surest ways to get in control of the test. That ETS resource, of course, has two practice GREs, but you’ll want to find more.

ETS offers two more official practice tests with its PowerPREP plus practice and that’s really not a bad investment if you’re committed to getting enough practice.

Taking multiple GREs in the test center makes for great practice, too. Nothing is going to give you the experience of dealing with a realistic testing situation like an actual real life testing situation. Taking an actual GRE is the best way to figure out what your weaknesses are.

5. Seek Help

Ask a friend who has taken the GRE what she did to improve on it. If you’re in college now, you may find that there are GRE prep classes offered on campus. You can find GRE classes outside of a campus setting too.

You may want to find a tutor, since someone who is an expert on the test will be able to help you diagnose your exact problem areas and work with you on the exact skills you need to master to get into that program of your dreams.

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