THE WORLDâ€™S LEADING PUBLICATION FOR MBA STUDENTS & APPLICANTS
FALL/WINTER 2012- 2013
An eye on experience How important is it to your MBA career? MBA life in photos Featuring: London Business School, UCLA Anderson, Wharton, and many more!
GIANLUCA SPINA President and Dean MIP
ROB WIDING Dean MGSM
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TopMBA Career Guide Editor-in-chief Nunzio Quacquarelli Editor Richard Burns Sales manager Kamran Ahmed email@example.com
General production manager Ed Winder Designer (SFH#FETPO
Nunzio Quacquarelli, MA Cambridge, MBA Wharton Editor-in-chief, and managing director of QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited
Feature writers Aled Owens Alina Pahoncia Ann Graham Debeshi Gooptu Bakshi Kin Ly Narayani Menon Richard Burns Richard Macauley Ross Geraghty
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Inside this issue Importance of experience when applying for an MBA Page XX What business schools have been up to during the past 6 months Page XX Top tips when applying to business school Page XX The rise of the east Page XX Why the west still dominate Page XX
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he intervening six months since the last edition of the TopMBA Career Guide have been packed with globally signiﬁcant events. From the passing of much-feared dictators in Libya and North Korea, to the formation of the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, and the ongoing trials of the three most-senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge, which may ﬁnally see justice for the people of Cambodia after more than 30 years. In the UK, investigations into the questionable actions of the press threaten to spread further aﬁeld across the Atlantic, while in the US the initial public offering of social network Facebook is likely to be the largest sale of shares by an internet company yet. Economically, Brazil overtook the UK as the sixth largest global economy, following the Chinese economy’s move to second place behind the US earlier in 2011.Then of course there are the ongoing ﬁnancial woes of the Western world, with implications of a wider scale as global trading partners suffer the consequences of stricter government budgets. Mass uprisings have brought about regime change in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, while protests against austerity measures and the actions of multi-national corporations signify huge demand for changes in the way both governments and businesses operate. For MBA applicants, students, and alumni alike it’s certainly an exciting time. While a lack of jobs is making headlines around the world, it appears that global businesses are placing their faith in the skill set of MBAs in order to help stave off the effects of ﬁnancial decay. For students, the fast-paced nature of evolution in the global economy allows for greater class interaction with the outside world, allowing for a new generation of future business leaders. Meanwhile, MBA applicants need to spend the time researching which business schools and MBA programs are the right choices for them. More so than ever before, the specialist focuses of a school, its location, and its reputation among MBA employers matter. Throughout this edition of the TopMBA Career Guide, we have aimed to advise applicants, students, and alumni on how to go about making the right decisions for them. However, when it comes to MBAs, there is no ‘one size ﬁts all’. Ultimately it is up to you yourself to use the information and tools available in this magazine, online on TopMBA.com, or at one of QS’ many MBA events such as the QS World MBA Tour and TopMBA Connect 1-2-1 to make the right decisions.
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AN EYE ON EXPERIENCE: HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOUR MBA CAREER? Richard Burns asks business schools why all eyes appear to be on the professional experience of MBAs
WHICH MBA PATH IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Ross Geraghty looks at the different types of MBA programs available and explores what they have to offer
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MBA RANKINGS A great deal of media attention is thrust upon MBA rankings when they are released. But how valuable are these lists to applicants?
40 TECHNOLOGY AND MBA HEADLINE Richard Burns explores how business schools have adopted technology to enhance the MBA learning experience 44 PREPARE FOR THE GMAT With a new format of the GMAT recently launched, Richard Burns explains how candidates can prepare for the test 48
LIFE AFTER BUSINESS SCHOOL: MBA ALUMNI PROFILE Chief financial officer at the global consumer products company Unilever, JeanMarc HuĂŤt, tells TopMBA Career Guide how his MBA helped him to succeed
CAN YOUR ONLINE PROFILE HARM YOUR MBA APPLICATION? Ross Geraghty discovers that if you are applying to business school, you need to be cautious about how you use social media
INCREASE YOUR POST-MBA EMPLOYABILITY Richard Macauley explains how to ensure you are attractive as possible to potential employers when you graduate from your MBA program
WITH AGE COMES WISDOM: Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of QS, reviews a selection of the findings from the QS TopMBA Applicant Survey 2012
MBA PROGRAM NEWS IN PICTURES An insight to what the top business schools have been up to during the past six months
THE CONTINUED DOMINANCE OF THE WEST Find out why North America and Western Europe remain so influential and attractive to global MBA applicants, recruiters and faculty alike
HOW TO FINANCE YOUR MBA An overview of the different options available to help finance your MBA
SPECIALIST MBAS: IS IT WISE TO PUT ALL EGGS IN ONE BASKET? Richard Macauley explores the worthiness of studying an MBA specialization, as opposed to the traditional holistic format MBA programs
CAN BUSINESS SCHOOLS TEACH ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION? Ross Geraghty asks leading business schools and their alumni how they have succeeded in the nurturing of both entrepreneurship and innovation
THE GROWTH OF THE SUSTAINABLE MBA Ross Geraghty finds out how the issue of sustainability has come to be so influential in the business school world
THE RISE OF THE EAST Richard Burns finds out how MBA programs in China and Hong Kong are rapidly growing in international employer reputation.
AVOID COMMON MISTAKES WHEN APPLYING TO BUSINESS SCHOOL Richard Macauley finds out how best to navigate the MBA admissions process
HOW MBA PROGRAMS PREPARE STUDENTS FOR THE BUSINESS WORLD Thom Atkinson finds out how integration with businesses can help to equip graduates with the skills needed to succeed
BROADENING HORIZONS Steffen Müller explains how winning a QS scholarship will help him to achieve his career ambitions
INSPIRED BY CAREER GROWTH: Amit Mahajan, the QS Community Scholarship winner, talks about stepping into the business school classrom at Cranfield School of Management
NORTH AMERICAN MBA: STILL THE NUMBER ONE TARGET FOR STUDENTS Aled Owens explores why the birthplace of the MBA is still the most popular choice for business school applicants
129 THE GROWTH OF THE LATIN AMERICAN MBA Home to one of the four BRIC nations and with emerging economies spread across the region, Latin America is offering an increasing number of opportunities for MBAs 132 THE DIVERSITY OF THE EUROPEAN MBA Western Europe can offer MBA students a great deal in terms of diversity, international perspective and recruiter appeal
138 DECIDING WHICH BUSINESS SCHOOL Nataliya Mylovanova looks back on her time at the European School of Management and Technology and tells Top MBA Career Guide how her MBA has helped her career
136 GROWTH OF CEE MBA COURSES Alina Pahonica explores why business schools from cetral and eastern europe are emerging as a popular MBA study destination
Dean’s Diaries 80
ESSEC Business School
172 AFRICA REGIONAL FOCUS Alinwwqwowoqoqowowowowowowodidwo ddjdjwidjdjdjshsdhdshdhdh dhdhdhshsiddhdhd
Graduate School of Business, California Lutheran University
Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong
University of St. Gallen
Macquarie Graduate School of Management
IESE Business School, University of Navarra
MIP Politecnico di Milano
178 THE APPEAL OF INDIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST India’s post-recession resilience and the Middle East- seeking to diversify its economy away from a reliance on the extraction and trade of natural resources - are convincing students from North America and western Europe to consider MBA programs elsewhere
190 OCEANIA REGIONAL FOCUS Alinwwqwowoqoqowowowowowowodidwo ddjdjwidjdjdjshsdhdshdhdh dhdhdhshsiddhdhd
184 EASTERN DOMINANCE? MBAS IN ASIA-PACIFIC Asia Pacific is beginning to ensure that its economic and political clout is once again proportinate to the region’s size and population
Business School Proﬁles NORTH AMERICA 96 97 98 99 100 101 102
103 104 105 106 107
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University of Arizona, Eller Graduate School of Management Babson College, Olin Bentley University Boston College, The Carroll School of Management Boston University School of Management Brandeis International Business School California State University Fullerton, Mihaylo College of Business and Economics University of California, IrvineMerage School University of California, San Diego Rady School of Management CLU Graduate Program in Business (California Lutheran University) Emory University Fordham University Graduate School of Business Georgia State University - J. Mack Robinson
109 Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business 110 University of Georgia - Terry MBA Program 111 Hult International Business School 112 University of Iowa, Tippie School of Management 113 University of Ottawa, Telfer School of Management 114 University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business 115 Queens School of Business 116 Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Management 117 University of San Diego 118 University of San Francisco 119 Southern Methodist University, SMU Cox School of Business 120 St John’s University - Tobin College of Business 121 Saint Mary’s University, MBA Sobey School of Business 122 Suffolk University School of Management 123 Thunderbird School of Global Management
124 Tufts University, Fletcher School 125 Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management 126 University of Western Ontario, Richard Ivey School of Business 127 University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Business 128 York university, Schulich School of Business
166 Sabanci University 167 SDA Bocconi 168 University of Surrey, School of Management 169 Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School 170 Warwick Business School 171 University of Westminster, Westminster Business School
139 Amsterdam Business School (UvA) 140 Ashbridge Business School 141 AUDENCIA Nantes School of Management 142 Brunel Graduate Business School 143 Business School Lausanne - BSL 144 Central European University Business School / CEU Uzleti Kar Kht 145 Copenhagen Business School 146 University of Edinburgh Business School Scotland 147 EMLYON Business School
173 University of Cape Town - G.S.B 174 Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria 175 University of Stellenbosch, Business School 176 Wits Business School, University of Witwatersrand
148 ESSEC Business School 149 European University 150 University of Geneva - Executive Program (HEC) 151 Grenoble Ecole de Management Grenoble GSB 152 HEC Paris 153 Henley Business School 154 IAE de Paris - Pantheon Sorbonne (Paris 1) 155 IE Business School 156 IESE Business School 157 Imperial College Business School 158 Leeds University Business School 159 The Lisbon MBA - Catolica NOVA in collaboration with MIT 160 Manchester Business School 161 Mannheim Business School 162 Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University 163 Reims Management School 164 Rouen Business School 165 RSM Erasmus, Rotterdam School of Management
INDIA/MIDDLE EAST 180 Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) 181 Indian School of Management Lucknow 182 MYRA School of Business
ASIA PACIFIC 186 The Chinese University of Hong Kong 187 National University of Singapore Business School 188 Singapore Management University
OCEANIA 192 AGSM 193 La Trobe University, Melbourne 194 Macquarie Graduate School of Management 195 The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Business School 196 University of Newcastle Australia 197 University of Wollongong, Sydney Business School
An eye on experience How important is it to your MBA career? The emphasis placed on the experience of applicants amongst business schools and MBA recruiters is huge, and has only grown greater during the current period of global economic uncertainty. Richard Burns asks business schools why all eyes appear to be on professional experience
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hen it comes to your career, experience matters. Whether you’re applying for a job, or graduate education such as an MBA program, you’ll always be assessed on your experience, and how it can be applied to your chosen program or career. “Employers are looking for well-rounded MBAs,” explains Shadi Kelly, MBA careers director at Ashridge Business School in the UK. “Work experience prior to an MBA provides the student with a platform to build on during their studies. Students beneﬁt from being able to refer to their own experience during classroom discussions and apply management theory to their existing practical knowledge. As the job market becomes more competitive and employers have graduates from a wide variety of schools to choose from, organizations are looking very closely at MBAs work experience.” According to the latest QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey, global MBA applicants are gradually increasing their levels of work experience prior to applying to programs. Across all regions, the ratio of applicants with ﬁve years or more work experience has increased. Further, the age of MBA applicants has increased by 0.7 years in 2012, to a global average of 28.3 years. As Kelly points out, for those enrolling on an MBA program, an increased level in the amount of work experience possessed by their cohort is certainly a good thing. The opportunity for MBA
students to learn from each other’s prior experiences is one of the primary reasons for the degree being considered so valuable to an individual’s career. With an experienced and knowledgeable class, discussion elevates to the sharing and understanding of business from multiple industries and backgrounds. As a result, in order to ensure highquality learning for all, MBA admissions teams are particularly careful about who they admit to their programs. Quality over quantity “From an admissions perspective, when we look at how ‘place-able’ applicants are, we tend to look at the whole picture: the company where they worked (some of the larger, well-known companies have established training programs), their tenure at the company, the type of work performed there, their progression along with their leadership and team management,” explains Regina Regazzi, executive director of corporate relations at UCLA Anderson’s Parker Career Management Center. Regazzi is clear to point out that in her experience, both recruiters and MBA admissions teams prefer quality over quantity. Quoting the number of years of experience in an industry might be impressive, but it’s what an applicant has done in those years that really matters. At UC Berkley’s Haas School of Business, Lisa Feldman, executive director of the MBA Career Management Group, describes that she has seen the most successful MBA recruiters genuinely making an effort to understand their potential new recruits. “A smart employer will look not only at the quality and quantity of a candidate’s work experience but also at his or her character,” Feldman says. “Gone are the days of ‘placement’, when how a student looks on paper and the requirements of a job were aligned for a successful match. Employers who hire our MBAs are looking for high potentials, and to do that they have to go beyond the resume to see the candidate’s real talent. “Communication skills, curiosity, strategic thinking, and ﬁt are critical for success in today’s organizations, and that can only be demonstrated through direct interaction.”
Internships and vocational education For MBA applicants, students and graduates alike, the need for professional experience is clear. But for those who feel their levels of experience might be lacking in comparison, it does suggest that
gaining career enhancing professional experience is a difﬁcult goal to achieve. “Companies really want to see passion about the industry, company, and an interest in and love for particular products,” says Regazzi. “It is one reason that we think club participation at UCLA Anderson is a must, especially for someone who doesn’t have much experience in their ﬁeld of interest. “For example, if a student wants to pursue a career in entertainment, but lacks time spent in the ﬁeld, being a member of the Entertainment Management Association can help illustrate their industry interest. With investment management, managing one’s own portfolio and keeping track of it can be helpful. An individual needs to go both deep and wide around that stock, its industry, the macroeconomics surrounding it, etc., which can help demonstrate a conviction when making a stock pitch.” Internships, whether prior, during, or after and MBA can be extremely useful in not only gaining professional experience within a speciﬁc industry, but also making valuable contacts and impressing senior levels. Common in North America during the summer break period of the two-year MBA format, many schools also advise students that feel they might be lacking professional experience within their ideal industry to consider arranging an internship outside of their MBA program. “Internships can help students on multiple levels and provide assistance for those who are looking to switch careers,” says Regazzi. “We encourage all students to seek summer internships to gain additional experience. It can be especially advantageous for those interested in areas such as private equity, investment management, or entertainment, as it’s a great way to get a foot in the door.” However, as Kelly at Ashridge notes, while internships can be extremely useful in gaining the initial industry knowledge required to understand a potential new role, they can’t be compared to genuine industry knowledge gained from years of professional experience. “They [internships] can’t make up for a shortage of experience, but they are certainly very beneﬁcial. An Ashridge MBA project or internship provides practical work experience for graduates to show relevance to the industry, function or country they wish to work in post-MBA. This type of experience is particularly important when an MBA is looking to make a career change.”
Shifting ideals and career paths Feldman at Haas also draws attention to the changing needs and ideals of both businesses, and MBAs. As career plans amongst MBAs have become more diverse and all-encompassing, the spread of industries that recruit MBA graduates has also widened. “It used to be that a student worked for two years as an analyst in a consulting ﬁrm or bank and then attended business school to achieve the next level of that same career path. The primary recruiters of these students were the same professional services ﬁrms, who did not expect more than two years of prior experience. Banks and consulting ﬁrms continue to look to MBA talent, but our MBA is valued by a great variety of types of employers – large and small, high tech and low tech, domestic and global. “Don’t forget that today’s students have visions of their careers that are more multifaceted and less linear than ever before. As a result, the decision making process is far more complex than it was 30 years ago. “Economic uncertainty could also be a factor. If an employer is going to take a risk on hiring a candidate, the longer the trackrecord of success, the potentially safer the hire.”
Internships can be useful in not only gaining professional experience within an industry, but also making valuable contacts and impressing senior levels
Read the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012 today by visiting TopMBA.com/applicant-survey
Which MBA format is right for you? With a vast array of options available and many factors to take in to consideration, choosing the right MBA program can prove to be a difficult decision for some candidates. The Top MBA Career Guide takes a look at the different types of MBA programs on offer Full time MBA he full-time MBA is the most renowned of all MBA degrees and, according to research by TopMBA.com, is the preferred option for over 55% of MBA candidates. In a full-time MBA course, students can expect to rub shoulders with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds. And in this sense, the full-time MBA program gives students unrivalled access to a peer-to-peer education with talented business people from all over the world. As Mary Granger of ESADE Business School in Spain, which prides itself on attracting a diverse range of students, says: “The professors at the school are only part of the equation in terms of education. The peer-to-peer learning and networking among the students is equally, if not more, important.”
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One- or two-year MBA degrees? North American business schools tend to offer two-year MBA programs while in other regions, such as Europe, the preferred model takes one year. Which option is ‘better’ depends largely on the opinion of the MBA candidate themself. The two-year MBA generally has an assisted internship during the intermediate summer, allowing the MBA student to spend some weeks in a company of their choice, gaining valuable work experience on the ground. Some say that the two-year MBA allows more time for self-reﬂection and consideration and more time for networking with fellow MBA students. The one-year MBA is extremely intense and will take up almost all of the student’s time. However the course will be less of a ﬁnancial investment and will mean less time out of the workplace than the two year option. Part-time MBA Though the full-time MBA degree is the preferred method of study for most people considering a business education, a part-time MBA can often be far more convenient. After all, the commitment of leaving a job that you might like, and even leaving the region or the country that you are in may
not suit everyone, particularly those with family, friends and roots in a region. It is the need to stay in work and to pay one’s way through an MBA degree, which attracts a proportion of candidates to part-time MBA degrees. There are a large number of people whom, for one reason or another, are unwilling or unable to pay out the fees in advance of a full-time MBA course. For those, remaining in the workplace is the only viable option. Professor Susan Miller, MBA academic director at Hull University Business School, says: “In the current climate, many people who are in employment are not prepared for the insecurity of quitting their job for a qualiﬁcation which, although internationally recognized as enhancing career options, has no concrete employment at the end.” To cater for this, the best business schools now have very viable part-time MBA courses. These can take place after work, at weekends or during holiday periods, and are extremely demanding on the student. After all, balancing the rigors of a full-time job, family, and social life are quite enough for most people, so adding a very demanding MBA degree on top is a major challenge. However, it is that challenge that makes part-time MBA alumni an attractive option to some recruiters. Distance learning MBA With the technological advances of the internet over the past two decades, both online and distance learning programs have become increasingly popular. In terms of MBA programs however, it is fair to say that neither modes of learning are as well respected by employers as the traditional, on-campus full- and part-time versions. Distance learning MBA programs, differentiated from online courses because, while the majority of study is via the internet, students are required to attend some on-campus sessions, exams and networking events, are becoming extremely popular amongst applicants. Unfortunately, for the distance learning MBA study mode, there has been a lot of negative press over the years, as some institutions
have been accused of acting as ‘diploma mills’, where MBA hopefuls pay their tuition fees and are awarded a diploma on the back of unproven ‘life-experience’. However, many distance learning MBAs are operated by business schools that have offered campus-based versions for many years. The majority of these programs are accredited under the same umbrella as their full- and part-time equivalents, and so have to meet very strict criteria. While the mode of learning might be more convenient on distance learning MBA programs, applicants should not assume that the entry requirements and workload are any less stringent or timeintensive than those of traditional programs. However, while some distance learning MBA programs are clearly becoming more reputable, there will always be the risk that an employer could dismiss a degree based purely on the fact that it hasn’t been taught wholly on-campus. Applicants considering enrolling on either online or distance learning MBA programs should look at where the institution’s MBA alumni are in their career, and which companies they are employed by – if that’s what you want from your MBA, then a distance learning MBA could well be suitable for you. Online MBA Online MBA courses are designed for convenient access from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. If you are considering an online MBA course but don’t know which course to choose, it can be useful to look at business schools that have already been accredited after operating regular MBA courses on campuses for many years. Many of these schools argue that MBA students are taught very similar if not the same curricula, and therefore graduate with the same skills. Probably the most important consideration for any online course, MBA or otherwise is how much it is valued after graduation. Accreditation is very important here, and potential applicants should be sure to check for the three international accrediting bodies. Two of which accredit business schools overall: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). The Association of MBAs (AMBA) accredits individual programs rather than schools. There
are a number of schools that have one, two or even all three of these heavyweight accreditations. However, many experts are becoming concerned over some online business schools that seem to operate purely for proﬁt, rather than to educate their students. “Sometimes you want to ask, are you running a business or a business school?” Andy Policano, previous chairman of the board of AACSB International 2010-2011 and dean of the University of California at Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business enthuses, before giving his advice to prospective students. “Some schools really do appear to be more concerned with making money than educating their students,” Policano worryingly points out, reiterating the importance that prospective students check that a business school is properly accredited before handing over their tuition fees. View the top 15 accredited distance learning and online MBA programs at TopMBAConnect.com
Executive MBAs Designed for professionals with six or more years of work experience, an executive MBA (EMBA) is an MBA catered for those who wish to continue working while pursuing an MBA. The EMBA program is delivered in a part-time format, over a period usually around 12- to 24-months, allowing participants to study while they work. Course format varies between program, from weekend or evening sessions to more modular approaches. Business schools look for EMBA participants with a high level of managerial experience and as a result EMBA candidates are usually more mature than their full-time MBA counterparts. Due to the nature of EMBA programs, participants often require support, and in many instances ﬁnancial assistance, from the organizations they work for. EMBA classrooms are usually made up of a range of executives with varying backgrounds, job functions and positions. Due to the ﬂexible nature, EMBA programs are becoming increasingly popular amongst MBA candidates. For more information on executive MBA programs, turn over this magazine for the QS TopExecutive Guide
The significance of rankings when applying for an MBA A great deal of media attention is thrust upon MBA rankings when they are released. But how valuable are these lists to each individual applicant? Ross Geraghty takes a deeper look into the worth of MBA rankings.
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usiness school rankings? Well… they’re here to stay,” says Nancy McGaw, deputy director of the business and society program at the New York-based Aspen Institute. The institute’s sustainability rankings, Beyond Grey Pinstripes, have proved inﬂuential in the restructuring of some MBA programs over the last ten years. Ironically, Beyond Grey Pinstripes, which ranks business schools according to how sustainability is taught on an MBA course, is no more. The 2011-2012 rankings, which placed California’s Stanford Business School at the top of the pile, was the last. McGaw explains: “Since we began the rankings, the number of schools providing information to us has expanded massively. It’s now more time-intensive than we can cope with which means that we have, in some part, made a contribution to [the education of sustainability in] business schools. In business school terms there is little that divides opinion as much as the issue of MBA rankings. Even McGaw admits, “The schools we speak to both love and hate them.” Some commentators distance themselves from rankings, such as a previous dean of The Wharton School, Pat Harker. Others say that rankings are important to help students differentiate between classes that appear, on the surface, quite similar. McGaw agrees: “It’s helpful to have a third party assessment. But have rankings really helped us? I’m not so sure. It’s important to take each ranking as one input, not as the ﬁnal determination. We started Beyond Grey Pinstripes as we thought the other rankings didn’t give a full picture of what was happening at business schools. “In [other rankings] schools would rise to the top simply because of ﬁnancial value to the students. That is only one interpretation but there are others. It’s not just about formulas and calculations and salaries and ﬁnancial beneﬁts.” There are ﬁve major stakeholder communities who have a genuine reaction to whether MBA rankings ‘matter’. The students – or the ‘customers’ if you will; the business school as an entity itself; the academics that teach the courses; the recruiters paying the salaries MBAs expect and, ﬁnally, the alumni of each individual school.
For this generation of business schools and MBA students, the process goes far beyond buying recycled paper for the office and fitting energyefficient light bulbs Business schools The business school itself treads a delicate balance in bringing the best possible facilities and professors to those MBA students. Simon Evenett, academic director of the St Gallen MBA in Switzerland, says: “St Gallen takes the rankings of our programs very seriously. However we do not let rankings drive our overall strategy. This university has been educating managers for over 100 years and I think we have a pretty good idea what it takes to prepare them for the global labor market.” Despite some business school staff claiming that they glance at rankings, and not worry too much about them, a higher-ranked business school can, in theory, charge higher fees, develop better facilities, attract the greatest academic minds which, in turn, attracts the greatest student talent. Valérie Claude-Gaudillat, MBA director at Audencia Nantes in France says: “For schools, [rankings] play a key role in getting the program known. Our own MBA is relatively young, but thanks to a ranking in the Which MBA? Guide in The Economist, our visibility has been increased considerably.”
Academics Academics themselves are proud people and a school’s prestige is in most cases something to be considered carefully. For them, it is important to be associated with the most prestigious schools, and competition between such schools drives the war for academic talent, which now in 2012, has never been ﬁercer. After all, academics are professionals. If you rise to the top of the profession you expect prestige and remuneration accordingly. This is more likely to meet your expectations, the theory goes, at a higher-ranked school which should not only be expected to pay better but to have the best students and the highest prestige amongst academic peers. Alumni MBA alumni also expect their school to maintain or improve upon their rankings. There is little gain in graduating from a top ranked school, particularly in America, where alumni are routinely expected to invest ﬁnancially back in their schools once they have left, only to see the school dipping down the rankings. This is, in part, why asking alumni how their MBA program, in rankings, can be a ﬂawed methodology. After all MBA alumni don’t want to drag their own school’s rankings down. MBA recruiters The other stakeholders may believe what they like. If a recruiter, for some reason, believes that your school produces below average MBA alumni, they will not pay the salaries that reﬂect students’ desired ROI and the system collapses like a tower of cards. Nuria Guilera, MBA marketing director at ESADE Business School, agrees: “Rankings deﬁnitely matter and play an important role for recruiters as much as for prospective MBA candidates. MBA degrees are an absolute requirement to have access to many job positions, and companies use rankings as a ‘guide’ to help them understand the value of this degree. MBA candidates are ﬂooded with information about business schools, and rankings are used as another tool to take into account during the decision process.” MBA candidates But how does this impact upon the MBA candidates and students themselves? For some, the belief that they are going to a recognized school that will help them improve their careers and, often, the associated salaries is important. Business school requires a signiﬁcant time and ﬁnancial investment and so the return on that investment (ROI), is fairly crucial.
MBA applicants: proceed with caution! However, business school experts are at pains to explain that, despite all of the above, rankings are not the be-all and end-all of the decision-making process. They urge caution and show that rankings consist of varying methodologies, and often, those methodologies can be ﬂawed. It’s virtually impossible, they say, to genuinely compare schools in such scientiﬁc ways and that, in fact, candidates have to dig far deeper, ﬁnd out how the school ﬁts with them and with what they want to learn. Candidates are wisely urged to look very closely at a ranking’s methodology and see that a given ranking may prioritize aspects of the school that aren’t important to that candidate. Sue Beech, distance learning program manager at Warwick Business School, says: “I think it’s important to be intelligent in your reading of the rankings. Be aware that all the different criteria have different weightings and if the thing that you’re most interested in has a very slight weighting then perhaps that particular ranking isn’t for you.” Mary Granger, admissions manager at Spain’s ESADE business school, generally concurs. “Candidates shouldn’t see rankings as the only criteria to base their selection on. We believe that MBA alumni getting the right career for them, at the right school for them is more important than coming out of business school and getting the biggest salary, or fastest return on investment.” So how does this impact on the MBA candidate trying to shortlist schools to apply to? Firstly, decide what it is that you want from your MBA. Is it purely to boost salary? Is it to widen your horizons? Is it to ﬁnd a strong career as an entrepreneur? Is sustainable business important to you? Then, look at the rankings, taking into account all of the above. Finally, easier now than it’s ever been, look even deeper to see which school feels like the right ﬁt for you. Find out which business schools MBA recruiters value the most. Read the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/ global-200
Can your online profile harm your MBA application? There’s no denying the popularity of social media, whether it be for getting back in touch with old friends, business networking, or telling the world what you think of the latest celebrity to publicly make a fool of themselves. However, as Ross Geraghty discovers, if you’re planning on applying to business school, you may need to be cautious about what you post online.
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ocial networking site Facebook has over 900 million users globally. This is equivalent to every single man, woman and child in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and the whole of Western Europe, who engage in telling all of their friends how their holiday was, uploading pictures, playing games and, in many cases, saying a few things they may not want everyone in the world to know. In the UK, it emerged that social networking is a facet of legal, as well as cultural life, when a Welsh man was jailed for 56 days for tweeting racial slurs on Twitter against the stricken footballer Fabrice Muamba. This case demonstrates that when you tweet, you could potentially be reaching out to a global audience, and that comments made on social networking sites, are not beyond the law. MBA applicants: proceed with care What is apparent is that social networking sites like Facebook are opening a Pandora’s Box for careless social networkers. It’s not just friends and family who know what you post, what your personal habits and opinions are, prospective employers and business school admissions ofﬁcers could also check out your online proﬁle. According to a recent survey conducted by Kaplan, 27% of business school admissions ofﬁcers have Googled an applicant and 22% of business school admissions ofﬁcers have visited an applicant’s Facebook page. Not only are some admissions ofﬁcers checking applicants’ digital trails, but what they ﬁnd can be damaging to those applicants. 12% of college admissions ofﬁcers and 14% of business school admissions ofﬁcers found something online that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances, the survey says. But is this really a cause for concern for MBA applicants? Do MBA admission ofﬁcers genuinely make decisions to turn down
applicants because of what they have seen on a Google search or on a social networking site? “It is true that we Google applicants or look up their Facebook proﬁle. However, we don’t systematically do it,” says Cristina Sassot, director of admissions at ESADE Business School in Spain. “According to these [ﬁgures from the survey], we could say that we belong to those percentages. It could inﬂuence the admission process. However, up to date, or at least since I held this position, it has never been the case.” Sassot’s colleague Jeroen Verhoeven, associate director of admissions at the ESADE MBA, suggests that all information, including that found online, can inﬂuence a business school’s decision as to who to offer places to: “Our job as admissions professionals is to identify and select the best talent for our classes. In addition to face-to-face meetings and interviews, we do check other digital sources, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, so as to get more information about our potential candidates. Usually these kinds of platforms provide admission ofﬁcers with important additional information about our applicants, which are sometimes reviewed along with their application essays.” Social media for MBA student recruitment and marketing Yvonne Li is MBA director for admissions and career services at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). For her, social networking sites are more actively used as a marketing tool, and “not yet for evaluation and reference check purposes. We are not at the stage of using social media to check candidates’ creditability. But we do sometimes include the information as a reference.”
The situation with this China-based business school is also complicated by ‘related national policy’, Li adds. “Mainland Chinese have very limited access to international social media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. We do have an interest in getting to know our applicants via social media, but we are also careful about the accuracy of information conveyed from those channels. We rely more on face-to-face communication with prospects, and on direct recommendations from our alumni and current students.” What seems to be apparent is the difference between the social networking sites. While Twitter is seen as an ‘immediate’ way to react to news or events in real time, Facebook is more of a social gathering place, more frivolous and personal, with LinkedIn taking the reins of a more professional networking source. Philip O’Neill, director of the McGill MBA Japan program says that looking at a candidate’s online proﬁle is for professional purposes only, for marketing and for keeping track of alumni, perhaps, but not to check out an applicant: “We have used LinkedIn ads to recruit candidates for our program, and using these almost invariably involves seeing their LinkedIn proﬁle. However, we don’t have a policy for looking up people on social networking sites like Facebook. I have Googled people we have lost track of, but this is a rare case. “So, while we use social media as an advertising tool, we don’t systematically look at people’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages. I don’t know how much these would be worth in an MBA admissions context, unless there was a major discrepancy between the CV we receive and the information shown on Facebook. But again, we don’t have a protocol for this.” Jenni Denniston at Richard Ivey business school at Western Ontario agrees with O’Neill: “We tend to use LinkedIn as opposed to Facebook or Google because of the type of information we’re looking for. If there is a prospective applicant who we know a little about (i.e. we
have met them at an event or they have emailed with questions but we don’t have a resume from them) we often search for them on LinkedIn to learn more about their professional experience and education. This is the information that helps us determine if a person ﬁts our base criteria for the program, and also allows us to tailor our conversation with them. You can’t get this kind of information from Facebook most of the time.” However, Jeroen Verhoeven counsels that caution is always the best option. While ESADE do not base an application decision on an applicant’s online presence,Verhoeven says he would “strongly advise MBA applicants to be fully aware of their online presence and how this may affect their MBA proﬁle.”
22% of 27% of business school admissions ofﬁcers have Googled an applicant
business school admissions ofﬁcers have visited an applicant’s Facebook page
14% of business school admissions ofﬁcers found something online that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances
With age comes wisdom: Global MBA applicant background, plans and ambitions In order to understand what is needed from business education, primary research into applicant desire and ambition is key. NunzioQuacquarelli, managing director of QS Quacquarelli Symonds, reviews a selection of the findings from the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012.
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usiness schools, and MBA programs in particular are primarily focused towards two key consumers: businesses, and their employees (both current and future). Of course, there are other stakeholders and beneﬁciaries that need to be taken into account, such as governments, society, and economies, but primarily business education is geared towards these two groups. As a result, primary research that reports on the needs and desires of either one of these groups can prove invaluable in assessing the current value of business education, and how it could further evolve in order to meet these two consumer’s needs and demands. Each year, QS produces the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey, which aims to give global MBA applicants a voice by publishing the needs, desires, and ambitions of thousands of their counterparts from around the world. For over 20 years, and in various forms, QS’ MBA applicant survey has been highlighting what exactly it is that prospective MBA applicants want, or need from their future business education. Released only recently, 2012’s QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey report is certainly an interesting and insightful read. Greater diversity in MBA study destinations Of particular note is the greater diversity in the choice of MBA study destinations amongst global MBA applicants in general. While the US and the UK clearly remain the top two preferred destinations for MBA applicants, their lead has decreased year on year, continuing a trend of the last ﬁve years, as more and more countries become relevant as MBA study destinations. Table 3.1 reveals that countries outside of North America and Western
Table 3.1: Top 20 MBA study destinations Top 20 destinations 2012 Rank
2011 Rank 1
Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012
Europe, which did not feature as MBA study destinations a decade ago, are rising up the top 20 destination list each year. Singapore is now 9th, China has risen to 12th, the UAE to 15th, and South Africa to 18th most popular MBA study destination. As countries such as China and South Africa increasingly feature
Table 1.1: Mean age of respondents
Chart 1.2: Years of work experience ͲǦͶ
US & Canada Globally
Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012
Table 2.1: Preferred study mode (single answer) Study mode
% of respondents 2011
46.0% 52.3% 9.5% 37.6%
52.9% 14.6% Latin America
Africa & Middle East
33.2% 41.0% 11.0%
18.3% 38.6% 43.0%
US & Canada
47.2% 33.4% 15.9%
32.9% 56.9% 10.2%
in global economic discussion, MBA applicants are being attracted to local business schools aiming to beneﬁt from developing a cultural understanding and close ties with local employers. However, at the same time, the top 10 destinations retain a strong lead in popularity amongst MBA applicants and are almost exclusively western nations. The only exception is Singapore; a nation well-known for offering Western business ideals, as well as strong business education links to Europe. The dominance of European and North American business education destinations reﬂects the long history and good reputation of business schools located in those countries.
Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012
However, we also see some evidence ofMBA applicants having greater conﬁdence in post-MBA salaries and the MBA being seen as a safe haven qualiﬁcation which is attracting increased numbers of candidates with over four years of work experience. Shorter, adaptable MBA programs growing in popularity This year the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey reveals that MBA applicant program preferences are continuing to shift. The full-time MBA remains by far the most popular study format. However, results in 2012 reveal a tendency for more MBA applicants to consider program formats that can be combined with work, or which minimize the time spent out of work in order to attend business school. In table 2.1 this is evident through the slight increase in applicant preference towards online, distance, and executive MBA program formats, coupled with a small decrease in the popularity of fulltime MBA programs. The popularity of part-time programs has decreased, perhaps due to the comparatively greater ﬂexibility offered by executive, distance and online options. Of course, these trends are purely a selection of the ﬁndings in this year’s QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey – the full report reveals a substantial amount of ﬁndings in both the primary data and analysis. For instance, the salary expectations of MBA applicants have reached all new highs, but at the same time differ considerably between male and female candidates. Then there’s the industry sectors that MBA candidates are coming from, as well as hoping to enter into post-graduation, and how applicants from around the world plan to fund their MBA studies.
Increasing levels of experience Very prominent in the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012 is the increasing age, and years of work experience possessed by those responding to the survey. While the age of MBA applicants varies from region to region, as it always has, table 1.1 shows the average age has increased in every region, and globally by 0.7 years. A number of factors may be inﬂuencing the changing demographic proﬁles of MBA applicants around the world. In Asia, where there is a shallower dip in young applicants, the greaterwillingness of parents to partly fund MBA study as a path to career success, combined with strong job markets, may be sustaining demand amongst all age ranges. In North America and the Middle East, positive signs of MBA employability relative to non-MBA employment, as reported in the QS TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report 2011, may be sustaining demand across all ages and levels of work experience. By contrast, in Latin America, the boom in graduate jobs and tight labor market may be putting off younger applicants already experiencing rapid salary growth, but encouraging more experienced candidates seeking to achieve a career change into a management role. In Europe, the surge in demand for pre-experience Masters is likely causing those Masters graduates to wait longer until they subsequently invest in an MBA. Other young MBA applicants may be more risk averse during times of economic uncertainty.
Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012
Read the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012 today by visiting TopMBA.com/applicant-survey
The long-term dominance of North America and Europe Despite advancements in the ambitions of business schools in other regions, respectable international MBA rankings reveal a simple truth: North American and Western European business schools dominate the MBA world now as ever before. Ross Geraghty explores why North America and Western Europe remain so influential and attractive to global MBA applicants, recruiters and faculty alike.
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n TopMBA.com’s MBA employer rating, the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2012, 82 business schools feature in North America, 67 in Europe, 36 in Asia-Paciﬁc, and 10 in Latin America. Further, looking at the various global MBA rankings available, it’s not common for a business school outside of North America and Western Europe to appear in the top 20 MBA providing institutions. This is echoed in MBA applicant preference. TopMBA.com’s primary research into global MBA applicant preferences reveals that, though other regions are slowly gaining in popularity, western business schools remain the most popular destinations for MBA study. “As countries such as China and South Africa increasingly feature in global economic discussion, MBA applicants are being attracted to local business schools aiming to beneﬁt from developing a cultural understanding and close ties with local employers,” explains Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of QS Quacquarelli Symonds and author of the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012. “However, at the same time, the top 10 MBA study destinations retain a strong lead in popularity amongst MBA applicants and are almost exclusively western nations. The only exception is Singapore; a nation well-known for offering western business ideals, as well as strong business education links to Western Europe.” North America’s strong business education history The MBA began in America, of course, with Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth creating the ﬁrst management program in
1900 and Harvard Business School with the ﬁrst actual MBA in 1908. Harvard also innovated the case study method of education in 1920, a model that has proven dominant over the intervening nine decades. Chicago introduced the executive MBA in 1943 while, in 1950, the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey became the ﬁrst business school outside the US to offer an MBA. For Professor Sridhar Balasubramanian, associate dean for the MBA program at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, this educational heritage is an essential reason for the dominance of North American schools. For him, the strength of research within these schools, built up over carefully-planned decades, is a deﬁning feature: “A key reason for this dominance is the key role of business research [including] the development of inﬂuential theories and concepts, the establishment of important empirical ﬁndings, and the publication of impactful books. [This] is a key input into how faculty are evaluated, promoted, and recognized by their peers. “The research culture that supports research productivity has been nurtured over time. This culture cannot be transplanted or mandated. It has to be built from the ground-up. Strong scholars will be attracted by the presence of other strong scholars at the institution. But attracting an accomplished cohort of scholars to ‘kickstart’ the process can be difﬁcult in the ﬁrst place. Given these challenges, some schools in Asia and Australia have succeeded in creating a strong research presence, and many have not.” For Professor Murali Chandrashekaran, associate dean of professional graduate programs at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, the historical context in
ambitious, well-funded and attractive enough propositions to host not only local students who could not afford to study overseas, but also retain some of the talent that would have drained abroad in the past. In cases like CEIBS in China and the Indian School of Business, some have begun to attract overseas talent to their campuses.
The Asia-Paciﬁc MBA The two major power blocks in the MBA world are being strongly tested by the rise in ambition, in quality and in resources of Asian business schools. In 2004 there were only ten Asia-Paciﬁc schools in the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, an impressive increase to 36 in less than ten years. Simon Evenett, academic director of the St Gallen MBA says: “Across Asia universities are investing considerable sums both to retain their best students and to overseas talent keen to take advantage of opportunities in emerging markets, no one should be surprised as the balance slowly Professor Balasubramanian at UNC Kenan-Flagler agrees: “It must be said that with the entry of new, often privately managed, business schools in countries outside North America and Western Europe, the competitive scenario is changing, and these schools are also transforming themselves much more rapidly than they have in the past.” With enormous amounts of investment going into Asia, as emerging economies become developed economies, and with a recruiting class that is beginning to realize the beneﬁts of having highly educated business leaders to deal with that development, it will be interesting to see how many years it takes until Asian business schools achieve relative parity with Europe, as European schools have achieved with their North American counterparts.
which management study was developed is essential: “Business administration as an academic discipline and modern management practices were born in the west out of necessity to support and propel rapid industrial development at the turn of the 20th century. “So, the infrastructure for business education in North America and Europe has long been ﬁrmly established and has boomed ever since. While in more recent times other parts of the world have embraced management as a discipline worth serious academic study, the tradition and infrastructure remain much stronger in the west and the knowledge frameworks that continue to be applied by businesses around the world are still western in their roots. “Moreover,” he continues, “the established strength of the west is bolstered by dissemination platforms of business knowledge, including academic journals, and by the major accrediting bodies, which are western in origin.” Recognition by the major accrediting bodies, the US-based AACSB, Europe’s EQUIS and UK-based AMBA, coupled with a strong reputation amongst recruiters are major factors. This is not to say that Asian business schools will not compete to some extent, particularly with domestic recruiters, for business talent but, as Sauder’s Chandrashekaran continues: “The consequence of this well established tradition is a global acceptance of North American and European MBA and other business degrees as valuable commodities in the global job market.” In short, and rightly or wrongly, approaching a recruiter with an MBA from long-established North American or Western European school carries a more weight than an MBA from a relatively ﬂedgling school based elsewhere, in the minds of some international MBA recruiters. As business schools are capitalist institutions (largely) espousing pro-market economic theory, it’s natural that the notion of competition raising the quality of these institutions comes into play. Though American schools dominated the MBA until the 1950s, when European schools such as INSEAD, Manchester and Smurﬁt in Dublin began a serious challenge of dominance - as Asia-Paciﬁc schools may well replicate in the near future - there have been several decades now for each institution to be forced to raise its game. Professor Balasubramanian at UNC Kenan-Flagler says: “Particularly in North America, business schools are locked in intense competition to move ahead in the rankings… one has to run hard to even stay in place. A business school that maintains the status quo will quickly slip behind. This drives rapid innovation in these business schools across different areas. “Schools outside North America and Western Europe have historically faced a less competitive environment. These schools have often been leading and recognized institutions within their countries, and their acceptance ratios of MBA applicants are often far lower than those of schools in North America and Western Europe. They have many intelligent and talented students knocking on their doors to get in, and ﬁlling up the classes with high quality students has never been a major challenge.” He goes on to add that the environment for business schools in the regions are very different: “Schools in North America and Western Europe ﬁght hard over the pool of applicants, and have to constantly differentiate themselves in the marketplace to draw a high-quality cohort of entering students. This again drives innovation.” In more recent times business schools in Asia have become
The rising global importance of business schools in China and Hong Kong As the global economic significance of China increases by the day, spurred on by ongoing economic events in Europe and North America, the country’s management education sector is by no means being left behind. Richard Burns reports that, with increasing demand from international employers around the globe to hire management executives with first-hand experience in the country, some MBA programs within China and Hong Kong are rapidly growing in international employer reputation.
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hina and Hong Kong have become a more attractive destination for MBA study with such an economic power shift,” explains Chris Tsang, executive director of MBA and MSc programs at HKUST Business School. “China has become the world’s second largest economy...You can see that there are huge opportunities in China, hence, a huge demand [for talented management executives] in the region as well.” While globally renowned business schools based elsewhere in the world excel at teaching MBA students management at an international level, there is a great need for those aiming to work in, or with businesses based in China to understand the country at a local level. As the country grows in global importance, so too will this need. “Management is very much context speciﬁc. In other words the way you do management is impacted to a large extent still by country borders,” says Dan LeClair, executive vice president and chief operating ofﬁcer of the US-based MBA accrediting body the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). “The ﬂat world described by Friedman doesn’t really exist. Borders still matter and there are things to understand in a cross border perspective that are very important.” The MBA qualiﬁcation is a relatively modern concept in China and Hong Kong, as for the most part it has been in the last two
decades in which the degree has developed. Compare this to The Wharton School in the US, which was the ﬁrst ever collegiate business school established in 1881, and INSEAD in France, which brought the MBA degree to Europe in 1954. As a result, it would be harsh to compare business schools in the region at an international level. Local and international markets Professor Julio Urgell, director of quality services at the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), is responsible for the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), a globally renowned MBA accreditation. He explains that there are two markets that MBA programs in China and Hong Kong need to cater for. “Firstly, the economic growth in China is tremendous, so the need for business education is parallel to that growth. From that point of view, it would be important to develop MBA programs for the local market. “However, in this day and age, I believe it is important that we realize that managers will manage in a global world. So from that point of view, receiving a good international education in the terms of providing to students international learning experience is important.”
Overall $VLD3DFLÀF rating* Business school 9
China Europe International Business Schol (CEIBS)
The HKUST Business School
BimBA: Beijing International MBA at Peking University
The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Business and Economics
School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Guanghua School of Management, Peking University School of Management, Fudan University
Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012
*Only business schools offering full-time MBA programs located in China and Hong Kong are featured in this table. The full rating lists schools throughout AsiaPaciﬁc, other global regions and industry specializations. The full report is available in its entirety by visiting TopMBA.com/global-200
In the 2012 edition of the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, eight MBA programs from China and Hong Kong feature in the Asia-Paciﬁc regional rating. By their placing in the MBA employer rating, we can see the local and international markets that Professor Urgell refers to are being catered for. “It is apparent from the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report that, in terms of employer opinion of business schools in China and Hong Kong there seems to be two clusters emerging,” explains Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of international education experts QS Quacquarelli Symonds. “A top-tier cluster exists, consisting of three schools with a very high international appeal. Graduates from these three schools are attractive to most major investment banks and consultancy ﬁrms. The second cluster of schools has developed a broad regional appeal, but is not currently as relevant to global MBA employers as the ﬁrst.” However, as in any MBA ranking or rating, purely because a business school is not crowned as a top-tier school, it does not necessarily lessen the value of MBA graduates from that school to local and international businesses. “The world doesn’t necessarily need another 100 ‘top business schools’,” points out LeClair. “The need very much depends on the country. There might be a need for a few ‘top business schools’ and then a portfolio of schools that meet different needs for the country, the region, or even the world.” The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) administrative director of marketing and student recruitment for MBA programs, Lawrence Chan Hang Kin explains how local schools in China and Hong Kong ensure that international business is taught at a local level.
View TopMBA.com’s MBA employer rating, the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2012 in its entirety.Visit TopMBA.com/ global-200
International input for local beneﬁt “I believe most [business schools in China and Hong Kong] develop more research and teaching with a focus on China and regional management issues and theories in order to provide close to market learning opportunities. Many local schools have developed joint degrees with international business schools and established extensive exchange programs in order to provide and compliment certain experiences to local students whereby they may not ﬁnd these in their home institutions.” Institutions from all over the world have been instrumental in the guidance and development of MBA programs in both China
and Hong Kong, ensuring that the MBA programs offered are of an international standard. “In the case of the top business schools in mainland China, they have beneﬁted with close contact with partners in Europe, as well as other places,” says Professor Urgell at EFMD. “Certainly in the case of developing MBA programs, they have received inspiration from business schools around Europe and the US.” “In the case of Hong Kong, which has always had close ties with the UK, Hong Kong based business schools have always received some kind of support, partnership, collaboration or inspiration from many of the business schools in the UK.” One school of signiﬁcant note here is Shanghai based China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). “CEIBS was founded as a joint venture of EFMD and Jiatong University,” says Franz Heukamp, associate professor and secretary general at IESE Business School in Spain. “IESE has been a member of the academic council of this joint venture since the beginning.” Testament to the two school’s cooperation is the long list of IESE faculty members who hold, or have held high level positions at CEIBS, including the Chinese school’s current president, Professor Pedro Nueno. “CEIBS is a great example of EU-led cooperation in Chinese business education,” says George Iliev, accreditation services manager at the association of MBAs (AMBA), a London based MBA accrediting body. “These programs offer transfer of knowledge through the exchange of professors, students and course curricula. Numerous Chinese business schools already attract highly-paid visiting faculty from Europe.” Global demand for China and HK MBA programs Lydia J Price, associate dean and MBA director at CEIBS believes that the demand for MBA programs in China and Hong Kong that teach international business management at a local level is only set to grow. “We anticipate that China’s MBA market will continue to grow in line with anticipated increases in China’s demand for local talent with a global perspective, and the demand of multi-national corporations for international talent with in-depth understanding of the China market,” Price says. “One of the key reasons why international students choose to study in China is to gain access to this powerful economy and job market. In addition, it is quite difﬁcult to gain true perspective on China and Chinese business from abroad.” But as Quacquarelli concludes, while business schools in China and Hong Kong are certainly growing in international MBA employer recognition, they are not yet at a level that can be compared to those in the more established regions of North America and Europe. “When looking at the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, which is based on employer opinion, the MBA specialization ratings clearly show the dominance of North American and European business schools. Published on TopMBA.com, the report shows that MBA employers consider institutions based in Western Europe, the US, and Canada to be the best in the world at producing MBA graduates with speciﬁc industry knowledge.”
Side-stepping the mistakes The right way to apply to business school While a successful MBA application can change a person’s life for the better, all too often those seeking to enter business school take shortcuts and make silly mistakes. Richard Macauley asks those in the know, MBA admissions directors how best to navigate the admissions process
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uanghua Management School is the name of our neighbor,” says Jia Ma, IMBA marketing and admissions director at Beijing’s School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University. “One time I read an application saying, ‘I am determined to join the Guanghua Management School at Tsinghua University’. Obviously the applicant had used the same essay in applications to both schools... We didn’t invite him for an interview.” The lesson from this applicant’s story is not so
much that prospective students should not use essays that are the same or even similar to one another when applying to several business schools, but rather that time should be taken to check that the correct school is named on each. “Such careless behavior is a very bad indicator of an applicant’s accountability in other important work,” says Ma: clearly, feelings were not hurt at Tsinghua University, but the image that that applicant created for himself was fatal for his application. There are plenty of ways to slip up when applying to a business school, but the resounding advice from most schools regarding the application process is to keep things simple, be sincere, and be accurate. Follow that advice, and the scope for embarrassment should be thoroughly narrowed. Understanding the purpose of each part of the application process, as well as why it is that business schools are requesting particular information, is an important way for an applicant to ensure that they are utilizing each part of the process to its best effect. Thinking of the requests for essays, facts and interviews as tools that can be taken by the applicant and put to positive effect would be more positive than to consider them as a burden, or simply as hurdles to clear. Putting those tools to good use, and appropriately so, a prospective student can transform the application process from something to fret over into an opportunity to discuss their strengths and ﬁt for the school of their choice. “The admissions committee rely upon application essays to develop a complete and more comprehensive proﬁle of the candidate,” says Gopika Spaenle, associate director of admissions, marketing and ﬁnancial aid at INSEAD’s MBA program. In essence, the purpose of the essay is to add color and depth to the information so far derived from other areas of the application
process such as GMAT and GPA scores,” Speanle says. “Application essays give the candidate a unique opportunity to introduce themselves and their achievements. They also provide valuable information to the admissions team on the candidate’s motivations and overall ﬁt for the program.”
What do business schools look for? Nick Barniville, MBA director at ESMT European School of Management and Technology, gives precise explanations of what it is the school is looking for when assessing a candidate’s essay. He puts a lot of weight on the equal importance of both a ﬁt for the applicant and for the university itself. “The ﬁrst [question] is whether the applicant’s expectations are likely to be met by our program,” he says. “The second is whether the experience of fellow students in the cohort would be enhanced by having this particular applicant in their class, [and] the third is whether the applicant is likely to enhance the reputation of the program and the school as an alumnus.” Ma explains that at Tsinghua the essay aspect of the applications offer the university an opportunity to examine candidates’ personal qualities, which is done over the course of multiple essays. “We usually ask the candidates to write four or ﬁve essays in their applications, [and] we will read each essay to understand the candidates as much as possible in terms of their standard of ethics, maturity and motivation,” she says. “Logical thinking, leadership, and communication style, as well as their written capability, [are also valued highly].” Before the interview stage and more important than the essays however, says Barniville, is the CV or résumé. “The CV is probably the most important element: it is the ﬁrst knock out criteria for our program,” he says. “If the candidate does not have enough experience to be able to contribute to the discussion, then he or she will not be accepted on to the program, regardless of what sort of essay they write.” Lindsay Duke, postgraduate student recruitment manager at Durham Business School, says that for her, “managerial work experience demonstrated on the CV, followed by academic qualiﬁcations,” are what counts. But the essays are perhaps where there is the most opportunity for open-ended creativity, and therefore where the margin of error is largest. “Stating that they need a full fee scholarship - and stipend! - in order to study,” says Duke, is not the best way to win over an admissions committee. “We expect students to look for their own funding, be it selffunded or looking for external sponsorship,” she adds.
The ideal essay What a great essay should contain instead, says Barniville, is “clarity of expression, honesty, openness and some examples of achievement. Bland, formulaic essays which tell nothing about the candidate’s relationship to people in his or her circles,” he adds, give no extra weight to the application whatsoever. Furthermore, Barniville points out, the essay should act as a primer for the discussion that takes place in the formal interview, and so a clear and reasoned essay will make for a much more valuable and informed interview, which is the best possible platform for a candidate to get their information across. As such, highlighting the ﬁt between the applicant and the school is perhaps more valuable than simply taking achievements and overemphasizing them. Ma explains that there are some pitfalls that students continue to make, and that one of them is to focus too much time on the essay discussing previous studying experiences. “Tell stories from your work experience, no matter whether it is from a full-time job or an intern,” she says. “Some students mention how the failure of a college entrance exam or some similar exam makes them mature. Although it might be true, it may give the reviewers the impression that you lack real work experience - otherwise you shouldn’t be bothered by an exam from so many years ago.” The most common comments regarding ways candidates can improve their application process, however, focus on the tendency of many applicants to second-guess the admissions committee. “Contrary to some myths, the admissions committee is not looking for a standard template; candidates need to avoid writing what they think the admissions committee would like to hear,” says Barniville. “Candidates always impress me most by [delivering] quick and genuine answers with great wisdom or humor,” says Ma - a standardized essay format with little personal information will fail to grab such a reaction. Introducing personal information as well as professional then, without becoming too mundane and formulaic, does not mean wandering off-topic. “[Other] common mistakes are not actually responding to the question,” says Spaenle. “We know candidates frequently juggle work while applying to the program and are stretched for time. However, it is important for applicants to plan appropriately and to take sufﬁcient time to write, review and edit essays in order to ensure that the image they are projecting is not skewed by inaccuracies, unclear sentences or technical jargon and acronyms. Respecting the word limit is also very important.” And the ﬁnal word from Barniville at ESMT? “Spell every word like it means life or death. There is no excuse for misspelling words; it’s a sign of laziness.”
How do MBA programs prepare students for the business world? Integration with businesses has become even more essential for business schools worldwide as they prepare students for an ever-evolving economic climate, Thom Atkinson finds. They offer, not only relevant MBA courses but adapt modules to better equip graduates with the skills needed to succeed
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high priority for most, if not all business schools is to make sure students get hands on experience within a working environment. In North America in particular, this means a great deal of emphasis is placed on internships, as Amy Wittmayer, director of the MBA career management center at UNC’s KenanFlagler Business School explains. “Internships are a critical factor in MBA students ultimately landing their desired post-graduate position. About 99% of our students receive internship offers, with many of these internship offers ‘converting’ into an offer of full-time employment with the same employer in the fall of their second year. In fact, for some careers, an internship is the primary avenue for the full-time job. Our school is an active partner with employers to help them source, attract, and interview their internship candidates.” With schools noticing a spike in demand for internships over the past few years the trend signals how students increasingly value internships as a segway into full-time positions or a stepping stone to explore career changes. But with internships lasting only 7 – 13 weeks outside a program, modules within the course are equally as important in the preparation of students. Sridhar Balasubramanian, associate dean for the MBA program and professor of marketing
at Kenan-Flagler expands on how theoretical case studies of businesses allow students to get an insight into their preferred sector. Both theory and case-based learning “We rely on cases to enhance student skills at delineating the core problems faced by business, applying concepts, principles and analytical skills to solve the delineated problems, and developing effective templates for business problem-solving that students can apply at their jobs. At the same time, we also believe that theoretical instruction is the best way to get some fundamental concepts and frameworks across. Therefore, our curriculum comprises a robust balance of theory and case-based learning.” Dr Ian Dougal, dean of masters programs at Hult International Business School concurs that “case studies are without doubt an effective way to bring to life business fundamentals. Models and theories are important, but it is setting them in the context of relevant case studies that generates the most enduring learning outcomes. The most successful professors of business are those who are able to harness the case method as a critical learning tool. In doing so, they are helping students to grasp the practical realities of the international business environment.” With the current global economic troubles, businesses are looking to hire graduates with not only innovative ideas and understanding of business infrastructure, but also those with a successful competitive background of business practices which can be amassed through school business competitions.V K Menon, senior director of careers, admissions and ﬁnancial aid at the Indian School of Business (ISB) explains their philosophy behind business competitions. “The Indian School of Business’ management program grooms more than just business graduates - it grooms entrepreneurs. Several business competitions are held at the ISB and these business competitions help students crystallize their learning and develop a viable, marketable plan. These competitions facilitate interaction with venture capitalists, besides affording networking opportunities.”
Re-entering the job market The extensive range of business competitions, case studies and internships all help graduates garner sound business acumen, but to integrate fully with the international business sector one skill remains essential, networking. With businesses set to hire more MBA graduates in order to stave off the effects of current economic turbulence, on an international level, networking becomes a global currency. Sarah Juillet, director of postgraduate careers at Cass Business School in London states; “In the wake of the global ﬁnancial crisis, networking is the number one way our MBA students secure their next role postMBA. Across both our full-time and executive programs we have increased our careers induction to get this message across early on so that students take advantage of the many opportunities for networking that Cass affords them and to ensure they start building their network for future success from day one. In addition there is a compulsory emerging markets consultancy week each year which is a fundamental part of the MBA itself. During this the candidates provide consultancy services to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in a developing market such as Brazil or Vietnam.” Entering as a graduate into the global market with a successful combination of work experience, business practice and a competitive skill-set, students may seek ﬁnal career advice before accepting any offers as they consider their preferred sector and location. “We take a holistic approach to our career counseling and we feel our students are more versatile and able to articulate the real value their MBA can add to a company when they graduate,” says Paula Quinton-Jones, director of career services at Hult. MBA hiring patterns vary by region and sector and Hult has seen an increased demand for MBAs from Latin American multinationals, but demand world-wide is increasing also. Paul Quinton-Jones asserts that “many organizations are looking for internationally educated talent to return to their home countries, and in markets such as the UK an MBA and relevant experience combined is a powerful mixture.”
Beyond the MBA classroom With many institutes thinking outside of the box to instill a marketable skill set in their graduates, Bernard Garrette, MBA associate dean at French business school HEC Paris, explains how the school thinks outside of the classroom to allow graduates to obtain a unique set of qualities transferable to the working business environment. “We believe that leadership can be taught and developed, but the best way to do this is not necessarily classroom based learning. One way that we reinforce this is through our participants spending two days at the Saint Cyr French military academy. Participants are given speciﬁc tasks to perform with objectives to achieve within a time limit, including building a raft to cross a lake. “Our MBA students each take turns in being the group leader, and are given feedback from army ofﬁcers who follow the group’s actions. Additionally, participants can carry out an elective in ethics in the customized phase, in which they spend one week at a monastery in the south of France.” With innovation also comes forethought on how schools prepare their students to integrate with different industry sectors, such as ﬁnance and consulting, but also to hone their entrepreneurial skills, as Julia Sanchez, executive director of the International MBA Program at IE Business School in Madrid highlights. “Students learn to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and embrace change. Entrepreneurship and change management form an integral
part of the curriculum and equip our students with the capabilities they need to succeed as professionals in any business environment. Beyond the classroom, the faculty at IE encourages its students to carry over these skills into their professional lives; as an intrapreneur at a corporation or as an entrepreneur. Moreover, students learn to welcome change and use it to their advantage through several practical modules that focus on personal, global and organizational change.” Many MBA students will have had the opportunity to set up their own business or enterprise as part of the curriculum at a top international business school as Sanchez at IE continues. “Throughout [the program] students have several opportunities to set up entrepreneurship projects. As part of the core curriculum, all students must build a business plan that culminates in a ﬁnal presentation. In many cases, students wish to continue developing these entrepreneurial ideas into the elective period. “In addition to projects that fall under the scope of the entrepreneurship department, students can also participate in consulting modules such as the Wharton Consulting Practicum. A group of students from IE team up with a group of students from Wharton to work with a Spanish company on developing a market entry strategy outside of the local market. This provides these students with an excellent opportunity to conceive and implement an idea with the oversight of faculty and company executives.”
Technology and the MBA A necessity in modern management In order to develop their students best, business schools have always been early adopters of new technology. As Richard Burns discovers, the adoption of new technological advancements are a vital component in modern management education
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ll too often, higher education institutions are perceived as dusty, cobwebbed facilities more at home in the industrial revolutionary years of the 18th and 19th centuries than the modern day 21st. But in order to keep track of the constantly evolving use of technology in business, for a long time MBA programs have had the challenge of remaining one step ahead of technological evolution. In fact, the increasing popularity of collaboration over distance has exacerbated the need further still. “It’s vital for business schools to embrace new technologies to help students prepare for an increasingly global business world,” says Russ Morgan, professor of marketing and associate dean of The Duke MBA’s daytime program at Fuqua School of Business. “Technology helps connect students with their professors, with one another, and with business leaders with whom they might not otherwise be able to interact. “In addition, students must learn to become familiar with the various technologies being used by businesses worldwide.” Fuqua is one of many schools that are currently considered innovators through their use of technology in the teaching of MBA students. Having recently kitted out one of their MBA classrooms with Cisco TelePresence technology, students studying their MBA at Fuqua’s campus in North Carolina are able to communicate with students, professors and business leaders elsewhere in the United States and even the world, with almost as much ease as if they were speaking face-to-face. “The high-deﬁnition video and high-quality audio system provides a realistic communication experience enabling individuals or groups in multiple locations to interact as though they were sitting in the same room,” Morgan explains. “The scheduling logistics that often prevent business leaders from travelling to college campuses to meet with students no longer prevent students from gaining access to the people – and ideas – that are shaping
the global economy of the 21st century. Students undertaking residencies in India, China, the Middle East and other regions can share their newly gained insights with their classmates in real time.” Can technology replace face-to-face learning? Swiss business school IMD has long been working to revolutionize the way in which their students learn. Janet Shaner, director of MBA program design and delivery at IMD explains that rather than replacing faceto-face learning, like many others the school aims to compliment it through its use of modern technology. “Technology is clearly an important element both in education as well as in the business world. It’s IMD’s objective to use the most current technology to facilitate the learning of the MBAs. This does not mean that we replace face-to-face learning, or sometimes even paper. It means that we look for the most effective teaching method for the subject and situation and use technology to enhance or deliver that where appropriate.” Jim Harnden, CIO at Thunderbird School of Global Management highlights that for many, face-to-face learning at a top business school is simply not possible due to other commitments or restraints. “I personally believe that there is an incredible value with faceto-face learning. However, if we have students and clients who live all across the globe, who currently have jobs and even families, it is almost impossible to ‘put life on hold’ for a year or two in order to go obtain an MBA, MS, MA or even an online certiﬁcate.” “With this said,” says Harnden, “I believe there will be both on-campus and online educational needs for the foreseeable future. Technology has improved dramatically over the last few years, but unless you have some type of dedicated circuit or Quality of Service capabilities over the internet, it can still be challenging, and sometimes disruptive to attempt a video over the internet.” Then there is the increased accessibility of higher education that incorporating modern technology into the MBA classroom affords. “There are more and more technology-based tools being developed to help with the disabled or physically challenged students, such as screen readers, visual enhancers, audio tools, and many more,” Harnden adds. With such advances in technology, educational opportunities become available to those who would previously not be able to beneﬁt, not only allowing for the participation of these students, but also a wealth of views for the entire MBA class through greater diversity and wealth of experience.
The tablet computer One piece of equipment that appears to be particularly relevant to MBA study is the tablet computer. In particular, Apple’s iPad is now frequently handed out to fresh MBA students at various business schools in order to aid with their studies. After trialing their use back in 2010, IMD now provides all enrolled MBA students with iPads. “All MBAs receive iPads at the start of the program, and the majority of their course materials are delivered via iPad,” says Shaner. “It is simpler for the participants
to have all their course materials available in one, ‘thin’ place and it also helps IMD to reduce its environmental footprint, reducing the amount of paper we produce.” Add to this an increased ease in international study, as busy students are able to communicate, work, and study while on the move, and it’s quite clearly a tool that can increase productivity enormously. In Belgium,Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School is currently trialing the use of tablet computers for students enrolling on their MBA-FSI program, a specialist program for the ﬁnancial and insurance sectors. Jonathan De Grande, program manager of the MBA-FSI program highlights both the environmental and portable aspects of the technology: “The use of the iPad does not just mean the complete elimination of paper, it also reduces the ecological footprint by avoiding the unnecessary transport of reading materials by plane. “Up until now, folders containing printed course material were always dispatched from Belgium to their destination. However, fat and heavy course folders are not really very easy for our participants to carry in their baggage. Replacing paper with a digital carrier is a very compact, user-friendly and cost-effective solution, so we are very keen to hear the initial, hopefully positive, feedback from our participants.” With the ever-growing speed in the evolution of technology in the 21st century, it could easily be possible to get left behind as both rival businesses and colleagues perfect their productivity and effectiveness through implementing modern advancements. Through constant consideration and novel implementation however, business schools are ensuring that their students, and the companies they eventually represent will be leaders in the modern day technological revolution.
The GMAT lowdown Maximize your score The GMAT exam is by far the most common MBA entrance exam. Richard Burns explains how the recently revised format works and how candidates can prepare for the test
Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), the GMAT test now also includes an Integrated Reasoning section. The new Integrated Reasoning section replaced the Analysis of an Issue essay; one of the two essays which formerly made up the Analytical Writing Assessment. In regards to length however, the GMAT test remains unchanged at 3.5 hours.
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Analytical writing Assessment Formerly consisting of two essays, as part of the new format GMAT test, the AWA section now contains just one essay. The Analysis of an Argument task presents a short passage of text which makes an assertion or states a point of view and then tries to support it. The argument may be a proposal to improve the performance of a commercial enterprise, for example, or may relate to an educational policy. You are not expected to have expertise in the area in question. Your task is to critique the structure of the argument and explain how persuasive or unpersuasive you ﬁnd it.You are not supposed to give your opinion and argue it in this essay, and doing so will cost you points. When you see the argument, you should ask the following:
What’s the conclusion? What evidence is used to support the conclusion? What assumptions does the writer make in moving from evidence to conclusion? Is the argument persuasive? What would make the argument stronger or weaker?
Integrated Reasoning section Thirty minutes in length, the new Integrated Reasoning section consists of 12 questions, each of which will fall under four different question types:
New format for the GMAT In June 2012, the format of the GMAT was changed, meaning that in addition to a Quantitative section, a Verbal section, and an
Graphics interpretation: questions that test MBA applicants on their ability to interpret graphs and/or graphical information. Graphics interpretation questions will consist of a graph or graphical image with one or more statements, of which candidates will need to select the correct multiple-choice option
ne of the most common concerns amongst future MBA applicants is achieving an acceptable score in the GMAT. In fact, many applicants often neglect other aspects of their MBA applications in order to focus their time on preparing for the infamous management education admissions test. he reason for the test is that, while admissions essays and interviews can prove difﬁcult to compare, business schools use an applicant’s GMAT score as a common gauge to judge many applicants on paper.
to make each statement correct. Two part analysis: here, candidates will be presented with one or more statements, and a table with multiple-choice selections. Candidates should select one answer from each column in order to solve a problem with a two-part solution. Table analysis: as the name suggests, candidates will be required to prove their understanding of information displayed in a table. Questions are presented with an introductory explanation, a table of information which can sometimes be sorted, and a series of opposing statements (yes/no, true/false, etc…). Multi-source reasoning: In the multi-source reasoning questions, candidates will be given a series of sources accompanied by statements for which they must select the one(s) that are proven correct by one or more of the sources. The Quantitative section The Quantitative section of the GMAT entrance exam is the third part of the test, and students are required to complete 37 multiplechoice questions in 75 minutes. For many GMAT test-takers, the Quantitative section is the most daunting, and especially so for those who haven’t considered maths for a long time. However, the maths content covered on the GMAT is not considered too difﬁcult or advanced. In fact, many will have seen similar questions before, during high school. The Quantitative questions are comprised of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. However, while participants are saved from answering questions on calculus and trigonometry, calculators are not allowed, so students must be prepared to brush up on their mental arithmetic as well as review the key concepts. Roughly, the questions are divided up as follows: Arithmetic, which equals about half of all questions Algebra, equaling roughly a quarter of all questions Geometry, representing around a quarter of all questions The Verbal section Split into three sections (reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction) the Verbal part of the GMAT is designed to test participants’ understanding of the English language. Throughout this section of the test, test-takers will be expected to answer questions that prove their ability to read and comprehend written text, analyze and compare contrasting arguments or opinions, and correct errors in bodies of text. With a total of 41 questions, and 75 minutes in which to answer them, students will be presented with a mix of the three question types. The difﬁculty will vary according to the test-takers ability, determined by the GMAT’s Computer Adaptive Test format.
Your GMAT score In total, students receive ﬁve scores on the GMAT: an overall score, ranging from 200 to 800; a Quantitative sub-score ranging from 0 to 60; a Verbal sub-score ranging from 0 to 60; a score for the AWA, ranging from 1 to 6: and a score for the Integrated Reasoning section, ranging from 1-8. While participant’s scores for the AWA section and the Integrated Reasoning section will be available to the business schools they apply to, they do not count towards the overall GMAT score. Instead, the Quantitative and Verbal results form the overall score of between 200 and 800. All ﬁve GMAT scores are given a percentile rank, which highlights what proportion of test takers scored lower in each part of the test. The higher the percentile rank, the higher your GMAT score is compared to other test takers. For example, a percentile rank of 55 means that you have scored higher than 55% of other GMAT test takers. This method of scoring will also be available to business schools that you choose to apply to, and will allow them to see how respectable your score is when compared to everyone else’s. What is a good score? The simplest and most accurate answer to this question is the higher your percentile, the better your GMAT score. However, it really does depend on which business schools you plan on applying to, and even then your application will not rely entirely on your GMAT score. Information on the average GMAT scores that successful applicants have at different schools is available on TopMBA.com’s business school proﬁles. Find out what the average GMAT scores are for the business schools you wish to apply to, and then develop a preparation plan to achieve it. Improve your GMAT score with expert advice. Visit: TopMBA.com/mba-admissions/gmat
GMAT preparation If you have chosen to use one of the many ‘GMAT prep’ companies, then you should have a rough idea of the score you are capable of when it comes to sitting the test. However, you should always keep in mind that preparing for the test, and actually taking the GMAT are very different. Whatever you have scored during your preparation phase, it is unlikely that you will achieve the same grade. This is partly due to test day pressure, but also as a result of the differences between the practice GMAT questions and the real ones. For instance, some preparation companies will purposely make their questions more difﬁcult, in order to prepare their students for every eventuality, while others may make them easier in order to encourage students
to stay with them. For those that are going it alone, many beneﬁt from creating their own study plans, and sticking to them. Of course, these will always differ between applicants as some will not need to put in as much study time, while others will not be able to due to other commitments, and some simply won’t have the inclination.
Life after business school: an MBA alumni profile Having progressed through his career to become chief financial officer at the global consumer products company Unilever, Jean-Marc Huët holds a position that many MBA applicants strive for. The TopMBA Career Guide caught up with Huët to hear how his MBA helped him to succeed.
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tudent experience and diversity are two words often used by business schools to describe their MBA cohort. In fact, these two indicators are valued so highly in the MBA world that most, if not all MBA rankings use them in some form to create their lists of what they perceive as the best business schools. Speaking to Unilever’s chief ﬁnancial ofﬁcer, Jean-Marc Huët, it’s clear the successful INSEAD MBA class of December 1998 alumnus considers both key inﬂuencers in his enviable success to date. “I’m actually glad I chose to go to business school when I did, aged 29,” explains Huët. “I was probably one of the older ones. And I’m happy that I was there as one of the older ones. Firstly, I had sufﬁcient life experience as an adult. Secondly, I really took the MBA for what it was, which was taking a step back to think about what I’d done in my career, what I was going to do, and why I was going to do it. “I’m not saying it was a spiritual period of time, but it was a crossroads and as a result the time was truly worthwhile. I wouldn’t have liked to have gone and done my MBA three years after graduating from university, because it would have really been a different type of experience.” When referring to the students on an MBA class, both experience and diversity can mean multiple things. Experience for instance can refer to a class’s combined work experience, their personal life experience to date, even the range of qualiﬁcations that have helped the MBA students earn their place on a program. Diversity meanwhile could be the range of industry backgrounds possessed by the MBA students, their gender proﬁle, or the many different nationalities found in MBA classrooms around the world.
“One of the things that I did learn on my MBA was an appreciation of diversity. In INSEAD, you have people from Israel, the US, South America… it really is a huge melting pot. And because it’s such a pressure cooker, you really don’t form cliques or anything like that. So one of the wealths of the experience is just having so many different nationalities as well as walks of life; there was a doctor, a ﬁghter pilot, a consultant, all together. “The plurality of views and the wealth of having those plurality of views, the diversity of the student body there, these really were sources of inspiration.” Personal and career experience Explaining his career to date, Huët offers a surprisingly succinct overview of a career that has seen him rise from selling bicycle tires, to one of the most inﬂuential roles in one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies. “I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, then came back to Europe, but couldn’t ﬁnd a job. I then met someone who gave me work after four month’s searching; a small company selling bicycle tires in Italy, and remained there for a-year-and-a-half to two-years. “I then decided to enter a more institutionalized industry, investment banking. I joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst in the investment banking division in 1993, and remained there until 2002 by which time I had been promoted to executive director of investment banking services.” It’s this experience that Huët valued as he took a year out of the working world to enroll on his MBA program at INSEAD’s Fontainebleau campus in France. In 2002, three years later, it was his existing contacts in the business world that helped him secure his next inﬂuential role at one of his previous clients, Numico, a specialist baby food and medical nutrition company. “That business got sold to Danone, so I then became chief ﬁnancial ofﬁcer of Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global US-based pharmaceutical company, which also at the time had a baby food business called Mead Johnson. I stayed there for a couple of years and then joined Unilever, mainly because it was an Anglo-Dutch global company in the consumer sector which required a lot of changes so that was a very attractive happening. In his personal life, and during the same time frame Huët married and is now father to three children. While at INSEAD, he also developed a passion for horse riding, which he says he’s now left behind. “I learned how to horse ride and just outside Fontainebleau, there’s a lovely ménage where I did lots of horse riding so that I could surprise my wife on our honeymoon by taking her horseback riding. I learned there in secret in Fontainebleau.”
calibrate my business life, ambitions, what I personally wanted to do. It gave a good forum to discuss, debate with other people in an environment that is obviously intellectually very stimulating. “Next to that, while I don’t have many close friends, two of them come from INSEAD so I’m also very fortunate to have friendships that have actually lasted. We do talk business, for it is a different kind of friendship you create, it’s not just university students, there is a relevance to the friendship because you’re that much further progressed in your lives so the commonalities are different to the ones you have with students on a more junior level, if you see what I mean.” When considering the MBA program curriculum itself, Huët is keen to highlight two modules that have been of particular use to him since graduating. “There are certain topics from my MBA program that I have been able to use. There were two classes that were of particular note to me; one was organizational behavior and the other one was on family ﬁrms. And those are two themes that have been always very relevant. Because sometimes in the past I have bought family ﬁrms, so understanding the dynamics around these has been very insightful. “Secondly, organizational behavior is relevant to any organization bigger than two people.You are bound to have some politics so to be appreciative and sensitive to the importance of the psychology of organizations has been very beneﬁcial.” However, while the successful MBA alumnus is extremely clear on how he has managed to achieve what he has so far, he also points out that he didn’t start his career with a game-plan. Instead, adaptability and hard work are what he feels have been key components in his career. “The three common threads in my career to date, is one, nothing has been pre-meditated. Secondly, it’s an inherent belief of mine that if you work hard enough, you’ll achieve what you set out to achieve. Thirdly, a calculated approach to risk and feeling you only live once so you might as well seize opportunities when they arise.”
Looking back on the MBA experience Though the majority of MBA applicants usually prefer to remain within their current industry once graduating, many also opt to use their MBA to give them the skills needed to enter a different profession post-graduation. “For me, my MBA gave me the self-conﬁdence to do something outside investment banking. An MBA doesn’t necessarily give you the depth of business: how industry, or how corporates work. What it did do for me was give me enough of a base to feel that I could be permitted to venture into different careers. “Secondly, it was a very good time to take a step back, to really
For me, my MBA gave me the self-confidence to do something outside investment banking
Maximizing your post-MBA employability When on the post-MBA job hunt, ensuring you are as attractive as possible to potential employers is paramount. However, as Richard Macauley discovers, working on your professional profile shouldn’t be left until graduation
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arcel Kalis, head of career services at ESMT European School of Management and Technology is realistic with prospective students about graduation prospects. “One of the biggest misconceptions [among prospective MBA students] might be the famous silver-plate job,” he says. “That does not exist.” Job ﬁgures and routes to employment have been scrutinized to an incredible degree recently as a result of the ﬁnancial troubles that continue to cause concern in both Europe and the US, and the MBA has not escaped the spotlight. There is still little doubt that an MBA improves a person’s employability, but while studying for an MBA or even after graduating, there are still plenty of ways for individual students to branch out and increase their own attractiveness to employers. Business schools regularly stress the importance of students building a network through which they can then learn about, apply for, and then secure jobs. “85% of our graduates ﬁnd jobs via [their] network,” says Kalis. “It is important to start early, build a strong network and get active.” Network, network, network! The important aspect of this strategy is that it is not industryspeciﬁc; employers in most sectors will feel more comfortable hiring someone who is not only qualiﬁed, but also familiar to them, or recommended by someone they trust. There are, however, several avenues to explore when building up a network. “At Durham Business School we give students the opportunity to undertake a business project with a company,” says Ieva Eksts, career development manager at the UK business school. “This sometimes leads to future career opportunities.” Being proactive throughout the academic year and not treating the search for employment as a year-end activity will also increase the likelihood of an MBA student ﬁnding employment, Eksts adds. Kalis at ESMT says that the resources offered by the universities
themselves, together with preparedness on the part of the student, will prove invaluable, if put to good use. “We advise students to start thinking about a personal development plan early in the year,” he says. “This means spending time on exploring ideas, having conversations with a personal career coach and following the suggestions of peers and career advisors... Experience shows that people who are prepared ﬁnd jobs easier, [and] designing a career strategy at an early stage is crucial.” With networking so important, the strength of a business school’s alumni has to be assessed. A good alumni network can act as a ready-made set of connections that is sympathetic to fellow graduates of the same school. A well-managed alumni network will allow for current MBA students to track down previous graduates currently working in the companies they themselves hope to join after graduation. In addition to making connections with the alumni network, becoming familiar with recruiters and head hunters is also important. “MBA graduates should build key relationships with recruiters so they understand the graduate’s needs and future ambitions,” says Fiona Ward, career consultant at Durham Business School. Without a personal connection recruiters will be able to learn only hard facts about a graduate from their CV, and while this may be enough to secure a graduate employment, it may not necessarily be in the most satisfying job or the one that the graduate had in mind when they began their MBA course. To attract the attention of recruiters and head hunters, social media has particular strengths, adds Ward. “A well written proﬁle on LinkedIn which clearly states the graduate is interested in employment opportunities is very useful,” she says. “LinkedIn and Social Hire are regularly used by recruiters and head hunters to source candidates, [so] it is vital that the graduate’s proﬁle is professional and up to date.”
Remaining in an industry that a person already has experience in will likely make moving overseas much more of a possibility. Alternatively, performing the same role in a new industry could then open up the chance to switch within that industry to the end goal of both a role and an industry that a graduate wants to be in. Using the marketing student example, Ward suggests, “ﬁrst try to move into the ﬁnancial sector within a marketing position, and then move into more ﬁnancially orientated roles”. Appealing to MBA employers In order to increase one’s attractiveness as a new hire, exposure to an industry is extremely important. After all, if switching industries is the end-goal, then the transferable skills that can be applied from previous roles, and effectively highlighting them can be very inﬂuential. Gradually shifting careers as Ward suggests can be an effective method of achieving this. The ability to work in or with a range of cultures might also be an increasingly powerful swing factor in securing employment after obtaining an MBA. Most fast-growing markets are not in the West, meaning a global perspective is important in understanding new opportunities if working at international organizations. At ESMT we ‘check’ the global mindset,” says Kalis. “We are looking for diversity; speaking different languages is certainly an asset, and in some positions a must. The same goes for traveling.” Ward, too, says that Durham University considers this to be of rising value. “Once an individual has reached a certain professional level the ability to travel is to an extent is expected,” she says, adding that, “although a large proportion of our full time MBA students are from overseas, the MBA is taught in English and they are [still] expected to learn another language.” Understanding how it is that various countries do business is also key to building professional relationships, Ward adds. Ward also adds one ﬁnal piece of advice for those still looking for employment after graduation: “Network, network, network!”
Realistic expectations This must be coupled, however, with an accurate knowledge of the employment market too. “The most common issue in placing some graduates is their expectations after graduation, particularly in the current market,” says Ward. A large number of MBA students make plans not only to switch industries and try something new once they have completed their MBA but also try to combine this switch with moving to a new country and even their role within a new industry or sector. This ambition needs to be matched with slightly more humble goals, Ward suggests. “A student who was previously employed as a marketing executive in the food industry in Egypt, for example, may express a desire for a career change to an investment banker in the City of London.” In instances such as this there are a range of reasons why this may not be achievable, at least in the near-term. “A person’s viability of being able to remain and work in the [country of choice], a lack of experience in their [chosen] sector and having no experience in the role [they wish to move into]”, each make the option of such a huge switch unlikely. “Employers are still largely cautious about employing individuals who cannot demonstrate previous experience even though they possess an MBA and transferable skills,” Ward adds. That is not to say though that over the long-term, such a transition can’t be achieved.
Being proactive throughout the academic year and not treating the search for employment as a year-end activity will increase the likelihood of finding employment
How to successfully finance your MBA For some MBA candidates, financing an MBA can prove to be one of the biggest hurdles of the application process. Ross Geraghty explores the different finance options available for prospective MBA students
esigning from a secure job, moving country, even leaving behind family and friends; potential MBAs seem to take such obstacles in their stride. But with top MBA programs now costing an average of US$132,600 (including course fees, living expenses, loss of earnings and the like), one question seems to occupy MBA applicants more than any other: just how can you ﬁnd the money to ﬁnance your MBA? Each year, the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey samples over 4,500 MBA applicants around the world to establish the mindset and aspirations of business school candidates. The latest survey found that out of 15 different selection criteria for business schools, the most important criterion is the availability of MBA scholarships and ﬁnancial aid. If you’re already wealthy enough not to have to worry about ﬁnancing your MBA program then you could ask yourself if business school is necessary for you at all. And if you haven’t asked yourself that question yet, perhaps your lack of business acumen isn’t right for business school in the ﬁrst place. When MBA candidates initially look at the business school fees at most of their preferred programs, it can cause a degree of shock. After all, MBA fees at the top schools can ﬁgure in the high tens of thousands of dollars. Then one has to factor in the additional costs involved. There are living expenses, especially if you’re thinking of studying in the US or Western Europe, where the cost of living can be extremely high. There are the costs of books, computers and software, there may be essential travel, and administration charges by the business school that are often separate from course fees. And all of this needs to be covered while the MBA student is out of the working environment for anything up to two years. Bearing all of these additional expenses in mind, it is hardly surprising that for a percentage of candidates, the business school trail ends right there. However, while MBA programs are not for everyone, successful MBA students are those who perceive business school not to be a cost, but as an investment. Whether you are a ‘career-developer’ staying within your chosen career or an MBA ‘career-
changer’, most MBA programs are designed to help you progress ﬁnancially after you graduate. Return on investment You probably will not earn mega-bucks immediately after you leave business school. Regardless, MBA graduates earn, on average, more than any other graduate and, with perhaps 30-40 years of work ahead of you, the return on investment of most MBA programs is extremely high. Return on investment (ROI) can be calculated by the increase in salary over a career lifetime after graduating. An easier way to look at it, is to calculate how quickly your course will pay for itself. There are no strict rules for this as there are too many variables, such as what your current earnings are, what your expected earnings will be and so on. However, if it will take more than ten years to get a return on your investment, something in the equation needs to be looked at closely before you sign the check for those course fees. Business school funding Paul Danos, dean of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, says: “We look all around the world for the best talent. A lack of money never stopped the right candidate coming to Tuck.” This is a reference to most business schools’ internal departments, which are designed to facilitate MBA students’ passage through the course; helping them ﬁnance their MBA programs. While the business school itself is unlikely to literally dig into its own pockets to pay a student’s way, the best schools will provide a wealth of methods to get the student through their MBA. MBA scholarships, particularly in the US, are a favored method. There are ways the school can help guarantee loans or be aware of other avenues of funding, especially for international students, that they may not have been aware of themselves.
Company sponsorship In 2008-2009, company sponsorship for MBA programs had all but disappeared as corporations tightened their belts in the face of an international recession. Training and development is often the ﬁrst thing to go in such straitened times. However, by the summer of 2011 the situation looked a lot less bleak and it appears that companies are starting to look again at their education budgets. After all, if they feel they have a person worth investing in, in order to keep them with the organization, it is likely to be more cost-effective to develop that person at business school and retain their talents than to let them go, having to then reinvest in a new and untried staff member. One such person, an MBA candidate at American Express in the UK, said that her boss was “more than encouraging” and even brought the idea of business school to her rather than the other way around. If you feel your communication levels with your current company are good, then it is worth asking them what their opinions are on the issue.You may ﬁnd that your boss is more amenable to this than you ﬁrst thought. Whatever the methods you choose to pay for your MBA fees and to cover your costs while attending business school, the return on investment ﬁnancially is usually very persuasive. Other returns, such as career ﬂexibility, networking and amazing business advice are well worth the investment, most MBA business school alumni agree. For MBA applicants looking for scholarship funding, QS offer a total of US$1.2 million in funding. To apply, visit TopMBA.com/scholarships
Private loans For some years, loans have seemed like a dirty word in some parts of the world. Even now, banks in the UK and USA are less inclined to offer loans to students from their own countries, let alone from overseas,
and in many cases the repayment rates can seem extravagantly high for those loans. Despite this, money is available and it is worth looking at all the options available in the country you’re choosing to study in. Some banks are more aware than others in this regard and, as MBAs tend to earn decent salaries when they enter the workplace, one would think banks would consider them a safe bet. To some extent this is still true, although it is a fact that loans are harder to come by, and more expensive, than they were some years ago. Likewise, with loans, for any MBA student who bankrupts themselves by taking on a loan at a terrible rate of interest or repayment criteria, business school may not be ideal for them in the ﬁrst place.
MBA scholarships “I spent almost as long on my scholarship research as I did on ﬁnding the right business school,” says one MBA student. Indeed, MBA scholarships are written into the fabric of business schools in many countries. There are scholarships which are schoolspeciﬁc, often named after the benefactors or alumni who offered the money for the scholarship initially. There are scholarships for MBA candidates from certain backgrounds too, which are usually much harder to ﬁnd. Additionally there are international scholarships, not speciﬁc to any school in particular, such as QS’ very own Leadership and Community Scholarships. Further scholarship funding is also available through QS for speciﬁc business schools, totaling in excess of US$1.2 million. Candidates have to attend one of the many QS MBA events and be accepted to an attending business school in order to qualify. In addition there are other scholarships available worldwide that can be found with good research. However, not all scholarships are absolutely genuine and a lot of background work is recommended before applying for these. The general rule is if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
While the business school itself is unlikely to dig into its own pockets to pay a student’s way, the best schools will provide a wealth of methods to get the student through their MBA
MBA specializations Placing all your eggs in one basket? The specialist MBA is a comparatively recent phenomenon and one which, upon its launch, almost immediately attracted controversy, doubt and even criticism. Richard Macauley takes a deeper look into the worthiness of studying an MBA specialization
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raditional MBAs were designed to provide students with a range of skills and qualities that could enable them to handle various business problems, from accounting and ﬁnance to human resources and marketing. A specialist MBA adjusts this focus however, and provides a much deeper level of knowledge of a much narrower subject. Finance is one area that MBA specializations have become popular, but specializations in marketing, IT, even sports management, and mining can be found, amongst many others. “The demand for MBA specializations emerged as a result of market demand, from speciﬁc industries’ needs for programs that provide participants with speciﬁc skill sets,” says Chen Shimin, associate dean and MBA program director at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Nevertheless, Chen still suggests that caution should be exercised if choosing a specialist MBA, stating that, “specialized MBA programs cannot replace a reputable general MBA program.” Professor Alfons Sauquet, dean of ESADE Business School in Barcelona, also argues that the true value of the MBA lies in giving participants a general management approach and thus an overview of the whole corporate institution. As with all top MBA programs, electives play a key role in a student’s personal development and interests. “Within the MBA, electives allow participants to place extra focus on a particular area of interest and tailor their MBA in a different way depending on their backgrounds and future goals. [The electives must] work together to give the participant as clear a view of, say, ﬁnance as they have of strategy.” For Sauquet, there is a place for specialist masters courses but these are targeted at a different group of students than the MBA. They “develop speciﬁc competencies in areas such as marketing, operations and ﬁnance [and] are aimed at functional managers, rather than future leaders of organizations.”
Industry expertise However, many feel that MBA students who already know the precise industry they wish to move into - including those who are already working in that industry and who wish to remain in that sector after obtaining their MBA - could certainly beneﬁt from a specialist MBA which offers a deeper study of just that speciﬁc sector. Professor Russ Morgan, associate dean for Fuqua’s daytime MBA program at Duke University in the US, cites healthcare as one industry that could beneﬁt a great deal from graduates of specialist MBA programs. “Health care continues to be increasingly in need of well-prepared managers, and [Fuqua’s MBA with an HSM certiﬁcate] attract extremely talented students in this area,” he says. “Although the health care sector is broad, the structure of the industry has some fundamental differences that make specialized education extremely valuable.” The value of a specialist MBA, says Morgan, is that it allows graduates the opportunity to add value to the more general management skills taught in the core MBA. “While the foundation of the Fuqua MBA is the development of skills in general management and leadership, for instance, a focus on breadth and depth in a speciﬁc area can provide skills that enhance or leverage [those] underlying management skills,” he says. After all, different sectors require different levels of unique knowledge. A great business leader with excellent management skills and working experience of ﬁnancial companies, who now wants to work in greentech, could ﬁnd that an MBA with a greentech specialization is more valuable than a traditional MBA that would improve management skills that the manager had already acquired somewhat through experience. Deciding to specialize does present some risk to the student though, as by default specializing in one subject means narrowing the breadth of knowledge studied. In effect, it is a decision to cut
out some aspects of the traditional MBA that has been so popular for so long. Yvonne Li, director of MBA admissions and career services at CEIBS, suggests that the great beneﬁt of the traditional MBA is that because it equips students with such broad management skills, graduates are able to ﬁnd themselves employable in a large range of sectors and industries. “Students who do a specialized MBA degree may ﬁnd it challenging to move across industries, compared to students whose generalized MBA provided them with cross disciplinary or cross industry knowledge,” she says.
View TopMBA.com’s MBA specialization ratings, part of the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/global-200
The importance of diversity and range of experience When considering the soft beneﬁts of studying a generalized MBA too, there are other losses that could be incurred by opting instead to choose a narrow focus of study. Li adds that, students on specialist MBA programs “may also miss out on the diversity of classmates and experiences, as well as the more extensive alumni network that a generalized program provides.” Broadly speaking, a wide network of contacts can always be considered an asset, but the value this has speciﬁcally in ﬁnding an MBA graduate job varies from industry to industry. There is a key question involved in evaluating the risk of taking a specialist MBA and, as such, dropping the wide-ranging transferable skills and soft beneﬁts that a traditional MBA contains: it is important to ask whether or not the beneﬁts dropped - or indeed the special knowledge gained - could be obtained elsewhere. Is it really necessary, for instance, to forfeit the inter-industry contacts and management skills acquired at a traditional MBA if the beneﬁts offered by a specialist MBA could just as easily be offered by a long-term internship in that chosen industry. Similarly, sticking with a traditional MBA and deciding not to beneﬁt from specialist knowledge may not be a wise choice if those management skills can
be acquired through at-work training or other alternative routes. “Most industries could beneﬁt from MBA programs providing some additional depth in an area that aligns with their needs,” says Morgan. “[But] you can imagine that in some industries experience will be a good substitute. In others, experience may not provide what comes from the specialized courses in an MBA program.” Morgan adds that the focus on the specialization though should never be the overbearing swing factor. If a prospective graduate is intent on entering one industry, a specialization may assist entry into that sector, but if the core MBA is no good underneath then no amount of specialization will make them a good manager. Just as it was advised that the specialization can be used to leverage a foundation of good management skills from the core MBA, specialization with no foundation leaves a graduate looking less than perfectly employable. “If [prospective students] have an interest in a specialized area that they would like to combine with an MBA it will be important to ﬁnd a program that can deliver on that specialization but also keep in mind to ﬁnd a program that can deliver on the core MBA program and provide a cultural ﬁt for the student,” says Morgan. “The specialization should be an ‘and’.” Once a specialist MBA with a solid core MBA has been found, the specialization should be put through just the same rigorous tests as any other MBA program. Who is teaching in the faculty? How are the courses managed? What do graduates go on to do and how many of them ﬁnd relevant employment? If a prospective student is conﬁdent in moving into a particular industry, can accept the balance between a narrower but deeper skill-set and makes a rational assessment of the specialization - in that there is no blind faith in its value - the specialist MBA could prove to be far more common in the near future.
How do business schools teach entrepreneurship and innovation? MBA programs are well-known for providing the skills necessary to grow novel ideas and new practices into revenue earning success stories. Ross Geraghty asks leading business schools and their alumni how they have succeeded in the nurturing of both entrepreneurship and innovation.
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hen professors of entrepreneurship are asked, “Can entrepreneurship really be taught?” the answer is usually an analogy. One such example is from Newton Campos, a professor of entrepreneurship in emerging economies at IE Business School in Spain. “Tiger Woods may be the world’s best golfer but he may not be the best golf coach,” he says. “Usually the best coaches are the ones who watch the best players, compare the top 20, analyse the results and be able to transmit that well to other people.” At MIT Sloan Business School in Massachusetts, professor Ed Roberts uses baseball great Babe Ruth as an example. “He was the greatest baseball player that ever lived but of course he had a coach. Someone who could stand aside and scrutinize, and say ‘you need to raise your elbow a little’ and make small but important adjustments.” The teaching of entrepreneurship and innovation on MBA programs is currently very popular – often the case during times of economic worry. One-third of MBA applicants cite entrepreneurship as a key reason for taking an MBA, according to ﬁgures in the recently released QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012. Around 31% of applicants say they intend to start their own business after the program is complete. But how, exactly, is entrepreneurship taught on an MBA? What many MBA candidates may not realize is quite how many businesses start while the student is actually still on the course, often with the direct help of the professors at the business school itself. Entrepreneurship as a process Jordi Vinaixa, academic director of the ESADE entrepreneurship institute in Spain, introduced a very creative approach: “We think that technology is important and that many businesses come from
that cutting edge. We invite people from research and technology labs and set up a meeting called ‘innovation speed dating’ which mixes these innovative creators together with business school students. They only get to meet for a short time but our MBAs are able to take any of these ideas for their business plans during the MBA and several companies have come out of this.”Vinaixa continues that, for him, “setting up a new venture is a process. Processes can be learned and therefore improved.” Newton Campos, professor of entrepreneurship in emerging economies at IE Business School, agrees. For him, opening up new avenues of thought are key: “We don’t teach the students to be entrepreneurs but we can teach them what the most cutting edge industries are and in which cutting edge regions. Emerging markets means type of market, such as industry, not just a geographical region, so there are emerging markets within emerging economies. Many of these will be amazing economies in ten years.” Campos adds that inﬂuencing students’ behaviour forms a large part of the education: “We do this by making students question everything every day, like ‘why is it this way not that way?’ When they ﬁnish the MBA they are questioning everything and are much more prepared to be innovative, and this is the behavioural part of the formula.” Entrepreneurship is becoming a massive investment for many of the world’s leading business schools, going far beyond merely ﬁnding the right professors for the right core modules or electives. ESADE have made a radical overhaul towards beeﬁng up their reputation in entrepreneurship by moving the entire full-time MBA program, as of August 2012, to a Barcelona business park called ESADEcreapolis. Nuria Guilera, director of MBA admissions at ESADE, says:
“ESADECreapolis is a business park hosting about 65 small to medium enterprises as well as the innovation departments of bigger companies. The main goal is to innovate, so it is mutually beneﬁcial to those companies and the MBA students. Many companies beneﬁt from having others different from them in the same building great for diversity of ideas .The students will have classes there but interact with resident companies, and can take advantage of being around such a diverse set of innovative companies. The students will be part of the innovation process of those companies, involved in business plans and marketing plans. Many are startups too so this links well with the entrepreneurship course.” Jordi Vinaixa continues: “We try to foster entrepreneurial behaviour, to show students the good and bad things about being an entrepreneur. We go through those issues in the classroom so if they want to launch a new range, we help with that. They can start working on their business plans, meet the teachers, tutors, angel investors and they can work on their ideas and start trying to see if the concept works. If they want to carry on the next step is to accelerate the strong conceptual ideas and move them on to gather resources, developing a product or service and present their ideas and projects to business angels. In class you try to teach them that being your own boss can be a nice way of developing professionally.”
Entrepreneurship and innovation electives In many of the world’s leading business schools, entrepreneurship forms a core part of the program. After all, entrepreneurial thinking is important within existing companies, not merely for startups. Google and Apple are two very famous examples of companies that promote entrepreneurial thinking within the organization. Rarely is it just a single module that teaches everything that a student needs to know about entrepreneurship. There are usually several courses associated with that subject and an MBA student
may ﬁnd themselves doing associated classes with experts in business plan writing and value chain management, not just in entrepreneurship. Phil Duffy is an alumnus of Boston University’s MBA program, who entered the MBA in order to develop his own already existing toy manufacturing company. The biggest thing he learned was how to assess various business models: “I know about products from my company, but that side of entrepreneurship gives you the ability to look at the strategy of loads of different kinds of business models. You have to work out the value chain, work out what’s needed for each division the product goes to, sourcing, manufacture, distribution, logistics. It also gives you the ability to look at the value chain and decide where you want to be in that. I am a designer but I am not limited to having to work in that end now, I can do work in any part of the chain. The MBA gives you a broader view of the process.” For Phil Duffy, learning about ﬁnancing was a crucial aspect of the course: “I self-ﬁnanced for many years which, as I found out, was not smart. Now I understand ﬁnancing, angel investing, venture capitalists and the whole stream of ﬁnancing. I know how to raise capital so, going forward, I would no way self-ﬁnance. Now I know how to put a deal together, to structure it so that everyone’s getting a slice of the pie.” Another essential component of an entrepreneurship module is learning how to create, and to sell, a business plan. Andres Lipp, an MBA student also at St Gallen, says: “Business plan writing is an important course because it helps you learn what is important when you have to present a business plan to a board of executives, what is the real information that is important in order to get the internal budget or the loan that is required to develop a project. So I took it to learn the tricks and how to do it right. What stood out for me were the parts learning how to sell a project because if you can’t sell it [to investors] then customers aren’t going to buy it.”
The evolution of sustainability on MBA programs The issue of sustainability in big-business is ever-evolving, with business schools continually revamping their MBA curriculums in order to best ingrain sustainable principles onto their students. Ross Geraghty takes a closer look at how the issue of sustainability has come to be so influential in the business school world.
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he RSM MBA re-deﬁned my understanding of sustainability,” says Alex Dalley. The Australian MBA student at the Netherlands’ Rotterdam School of Management and the Association of MBAs Student of the Year 2011, selected the course in part to develop his knowledge of making business sustainable. “Prior to the course I saw this concept as ‘being green’. I now see it much more broadly, as in asking what can we do as business people to make sure our businesses are strong for the next 100 years and beyond?” The concept of sustainability in business education has changed considerably over the last 10 to 15 years. Before the turn of the century, nascent awareness of what it meant to be a responsible business, wherever that existed, consisted largely of small-scale environmental concerns. ‘Green to be seen’ versus truly sustainable business Some businesses however would be ‘green to be seen’ because they’d managed to convince their staff
to use scrap paper rather than to bin it, and perhaps this is where skepticism remains in some quarters about the genuine intentions of big business. However, now there are entire business schools and methodologies built on a solid reputation for educating students about sustainability. Companies such as Innocent Smoothies in Europe have a business model dependant on it. There are even specialist MBAs, such as Norwich Business School in England with an MBA in strategic carbon management. However, to this day a lot of MBA programs have not caught on and are falling behind in terms of teaching the next generation of business leaders about sustainability. For this generation of business schools and MBA students, the process goes far beyond buying recycled paper for the ofﬁce and ﬁtting energy-efﬁcient light bulbs. Sustainable business, Dalley explains, asks: “How will we need to change with society to ensure that our way of working, our business model, remains in step and up to date with what our customers and the communities in which we operate expect. It includes
not breaking labor laws in countries that may have sweatshops, not ripping off customers and other stakeholders, and working within what we know are ﬁnite resources.” Matthew Gitsham is director of the Centre for Business and Sustainability at Ashridge Business School near London. He’s surprised at how many business schools have not broadened to encompass sustainable issues. “There are lots of laggards who haven’t cottoned onto it. This leads onto a broader question about how innovative those schools are or are not.You hear a lot of schools where there’s been little change with some professors using coursework they’ve used for 20 years, so those clearly aren’t keeping pace.You’d have to question schools in general that aren’t teaching sustainability as an issue. Are they, as a school, keeping up with modern trends enough?”
For this generation of business schools and MBA students, the process goes far beyond buying recycled paper for the office and fitting energyefficient light bulbs
A holistic approach to sustainability at business school Perhaps the biggest recent evolution, one that Beyond Grey Pinstripes refuses to take full credit for, is the concept within schools that sustainability has to be taught not just as a module, either core or elective, but as a holistic philosophy that reaches across all of the school’s courses, staff, students and faculty. “Those schools doing well in our ranking,” she says, “are those stepping back and talking to faculty across the curriculum and asking, ‘What are you teaching that will prepare students for that kind of leadership and contributes to all our collective wellbeing?’ At some schools there’s been a great process of uncovering what content really matters and seeing connections across the curriculum. If you’re introducing these issues in one part of the curriculum and another is teaching a very outdated, short-term model there’s a conﬂict there.” “We’re now in another redesign,” says Matt Gitsham at Ashridge, “we’ve reevaluated the whole curriculum. We’ll keep compulsory sustainable business but it also appears in some way in all the modules, such as in strategy. ‘How do you build stakeholder as well as shareholder value?’ And in ﬁnance or marketing: ‘How can we critique old patterns of consumption, and experiment with new ways of doing it?’” “The work is not ﬁnished,” closes Nancy McGaw. “But what’s important is that the conversation has started.”
The boom of sustainability in business education Nancy McGaw, deputy director of the Business and Society Program at The Aspen Institute in New York is ideally placed to comment. She has worked with the inﬂuential Beyond Grey Pinstripes business school ranking since its creation until its ﬁnal issue in 2012. “Beyond Grey Pinstripes,” she says, “looks for evidence that the MBA course in a broad sense prepares students for sustainable and environmental stewardship. We look to see if the course touches on the purpose of business, the context of it and the metrics by which it’s judged.” The reason for ending the project reﬂects on the positive evolution, the boom of business schools with sustainability in mind rather than a decrease in interest: “The landscape has changed so much in the last decade,” says McGaw. “Instead of [The Aspen Institute] going hunting for information, as we had to when the ranking was founded, now there are thousands of courses and research papers available. It’s become an overwhelming task to look at all of the content submitted by the schools.” Ashridge Business School is one of only a handful of UK schools that participates in the voluntary Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking. The school is notable for a progressive outlook and was among the ﬁrst in the UK to introduce sustainability as a core subject rather than just an elective. Says Matthew Gitsham: “We redesigned the course to include this as a core module as early as 2006. To us it has a broader perspective taking in socio-political trends, the big issues in the world, climate change, population, demographic trends changing, the scale of number of people in the planet. So the sustainability and environmental thing comes from connecting with these larger processes. Scarcity of natural resources would matter less if there were fewer people on the planet, for example.” Educating new business leaders about their responsibility has begun to take on issues with huge implications to the world, which go beyond simply running a tight ship at board level. “The role of business in society is changing,” says Gitsham. “In the past, business leaders were oblivious to these issues, they generally had to be people leaders. In the last generation governments have become less inﬂuential and business has become more so. The most powerful institutions in the world used to be nation states, but now more than half of ﬁnancial institutions are bigger than some countries. A lot of political issues now arrive on the desks of big companies and CEOs, and as a result, you have scope and responsibility to play a positive role. “Learning about these issues is important in moral terms, for the sake of the planet, but it’s also important from a competitive
advantage for the students who’ll be in a better position in career terms if they really understand these issues.” For MBA student Alex Dalley, these big picture issues are what make studying sustainability so compelling: “[The MBA] has enabled me to think more broadly about the role that businesses play in society. This is a core competency in most leadership skills frameworks developed by global companies today. They assume, because you have a good CV and were accepted into an MBA, that you are an effective operator. But what companies look for is something a little extra, some sign that you can sit at a table with very senior business and political leaders and conﬁdently contribute something novel.”
Remaining connected with the business world
Ashok Som Associate Dean, Global MBA ESSEC Business School
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t’s not a ground-breaking observation to say that today’s business world is changing, and as such the needs of businesses are evolving, as well. Companies today are seeking a new breed of managers: individuals who are agile, adaptable, and comfortable in a volatile and uncertain environment. Successful managers today are those that can function in multicultural teams, who are sensitive and exposed, and who are capable of solving problems that didn’t exist ten years ago. Business schools have traditionally trained managers who have the general knowledge to get the ‘big picture’ in a company and who can both guide employees and guide strategy. Students traditionally read the classic case studies; they learned that the Tylenol recall was good PR, that the Exxon Valdez was not so good. But is textbook knowledge, learned in classrooms from lifetime academics, sufﬁcient training for this complex, globalized, hyperconnected world we are operating in today? And when current best practices in management are in the midst of revolution at places like Google, Facebook, and Apple, are the articles that were published last year or even last week up to date enough? The answer, obviously, is no.Traditional approaches to business education are too narrow to be relevant in today’s business world, and degrees from institutions that have failed to innovate at the pace at which business itself has innovated are producing students who are already behind
when they should be helping their employers to be one step ahead. So how do we bridge this gap between the business school and the business world? How do we stay relevant in a climate where something is new one day and obsolete the next? At the Global MBA at ESSEC Business School, we have designed our program to do just this. Our academics cover business fundamentals, but they focus on the problems, markets, and questions of tomorrow. Emerging markets, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, public policy, environmental concerns… these are just some of the topics that our students explore in depth with faculty from renowned institutions around the globe. Our diverse cohort, too, fosters a multi-cultural and multi-perspective forum for discussion.The Global MBA student body is 90% international, representing 14 nationalities and students with six years’ average experience across a range of industries and functions.We believe that at this point in their professional trajectory, our students have the real-world know how to make an MBA a truly valuable experience. But what makes the Global MBA unique and what has truly prepared our ﬁrst cohort of students to become relevant and transformative leaders in the “real world” is what happens outside the classroom. Our emphasis on experiential learning means that at multiple points throughout the year our students pack their bags, close their text books, and get out in the ﬁeld. A study term in Singapore punctuated with company treks, visitors from local and international business based in the city-state, and plenty of chances to get immersed in the fascinating and varied culture of South East Asia exposes our students to the opportunities available to them in Asia. A ﬁeld trip to Eastern Europe this year revealed the inner workings of eight Russian companies to the Global MBA students, an instructive glimpse into doing business in a political and economic climate quite different from our own. In these projects that go beyond mere simulation, the students have learned to navigate and capitalize upon the diversity of skills in their multicultural teams in a hands-on context; language, technical proﬁciency, business etiquette and
customs, communication skills, problem-solving, adaptability, and resourcefulness have all come into play in a variety of ways in each location. Our approach to building meaningful relationships with the “real” business world happens closer to home, as well. ESSEC’s commitment to engaging with the business community has made us the favored school for French recruiters, and resulted in our students’ reporting the highest level of satisfaction with their post-graduation integration into the working world.The Global MBA frequently hosts noteworthy speakers, both ESSEC alumni and members of the business community at large; individuals like Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, Antoine de Saint-Affrique, President of the Foods Division at Unilever, Peter Herbel, Head Counsel for Total, and Michele Amièl, Head of Talent Management at LVMH come to mind.These intimate presentations give our students an exciting chance to interact with, question, and connect with today’s business leaders. And for students who want to do business while they learn, internal organizations such as ESSEC Ventures and the ESSEC Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship help students build their own businesses, providing resources and tools, assisting in seeking funding, and even incubating a number of start-ups each year. On an institutional level, ESSEC has partnered with other schools to create the Council for Business and Society, a global alliance that seeks to build partnerships between policy-makers, academics, and corporate leaders in addressing key issues at the intersection of business and society, encouraging dialogue, disseminating educational materials, and combining expertise to advance important initiatives. Our strategy and approach is to give students not just the knowledge but the tools and experience they need to be able to think on their feet and provide innovative, timely, relevant solutions to the companies they will enter after graduation. By focusing on hands-on and experiential learning, we push our students to test their classroom knowledge and build upon it, becoming truly global managers for a business world that needs them.
Developing honest and responnsible MBAs always seen our role as going a step beyond teaching the immediate skills that are demanded from MBA graduates in many ways:
Charles T. Maxey Dean, Graduate School of Business, California Lutheran University
With all of this in mind, CLU is committed to deliver cutting business education that is both rigorous and meaningful:
We offer an education with a focus. A basic business understanding is certainly necessary, but it is far from sufﬁcient in today’s environment. Our increasingly specialized world demands increasingly specialized managers. An emerging trend in graduate business education worldwide is the movement towards specialization. At CLU one can earn a general MBA, but there also exists the possibility of earning an MBA in one of several specialized ﬁelds including: Finance, Marketing, International Business, Management/Organization Behaviour, Information Technology, Entrepreneurship,
In response to myriad global competitive challenges, MBA programs have evolved in many different ways.The current global economic crisis provides a good occasion to think of yet the next step in the evolution of business schools worldwide.The educational programs that will develop tomorrow’s successful executives most effectively, are those which provide a good grounding in the fundamentals of business and at the same time teach students to deal meaningfully with the new complexities. If you are looking for an MBA that combines thorough business education with sound values, one which is efﬁcient, innovative, encourages focus, is respected by employers, and can be completed in 12 months, the MBA program at CLU may just be the right program for you.
ot everything is bad about the economic downturn. One of its positive side effects is that we have started to question some of the principles by which corporate and individual behaviour have been guided in the past. Government, business and higher education are ﬁnding themselves amidst discussions about values such as honesty, responsibility, sustainability or even modesty. In these discussions, one of the recurring themes has been the role business schools and, in particular, MBA programs have played. Many times, MBA programs have been accused of promoting some questionable behaviour that may have contributed to the current global economic crisis.There is no doubt that business schools worldwide must accept their fair share of responsibility. And yet, we must accept the fact that business schools are primarily there to educate current and future managers according to the needs of the corporations. After all, and most importantly, companies need to be proﬁtable and competitive. It is therefore also important not to loose sight of the knowledge, skills and abilities that are required to run organizations successfully. Only when MBA graduates have reached mastery of the many fundamentals, they will be empowered to make responsible decisions. At the Graduate Business School of California Lutheran University (CLU) we have not just recently started to react to these changes in the global economic environment.We have
Our faculty members believe in the value of respect for the importance of individual, organizational and societal values. Around the world, we are increasingly aware that the decisions that business leaders make have important implications for the larger society. Values implications are central to sustainable business practices, and at CLU we take business ethics and values very seriously, exploring them throughout our curriculum and practicing them in our day to day work with students. At CLU, we believe the differential advantage of our MBA programs includes the acquisition of useful, applied knowledge. Neither purely theoretical models nor detailed case studies alone can provide for the development of the insight, perspective, and skills that business leaders need in order to act responsibly. CLU faculty and MBA students thoroughly examine the competitive environment of the future. It is clear that business history repeats itself in ways painful to those who have not learned its lessons.The future belongs to those who meld their understanding of the past with the ideas of those who can visualize beyond the current competitive horizon. Balance is imperative. Our curriculum and courses are designed with this in mind.
and Financial Planning. Employers assure us that these specializations position our graduates to be among the most highly desired in the career marketplace. Velocity is a function of speed and direction. Just as business must increase their speed and constantly reassess their trajectory to remain competitive, graduate business schools must do the same. CLU’s accelerated MBA program can be completed in as few as 12 intense months, and ﬂexibility exists to extend this period, should the student choose.The sooner you graduate, the sooner you will be back in the labor market, where you and your employer will be beneﬁting from the knowledge and skills of your MBA experience. Over 90 % of CLU students in full-time programs complete their MBA in 12 months. However, should you wish to make changes in the length and intensity of your MBA program, you have that option at CLU. That all business is global has long ceased to be a secret. Not only do our faculty members have multi-year professional experience from a multitude of countries, thereby providing an international outlook in their classes, moreover, CLU’s MBA program also offers a diverse student body that lets student experience both the beauty and the challenges that cultural differences may present. In such an environment, questions of values and responsibility form an integral part of the learning experience.
Looking beyond short-term ﬁnancial gain
John Glynn Executive Dean Sydney Business School University of Wollongong ilton Friedman, who died in 2006, has been widely regarded as the foremost free-market economist of the post-war era. Friedman championed a capitalist laissez-faire business environment, one in which the role of government intervention ought to be kept to a minimum. In fact the only economic lever that he would have allowed government to use when managing the economy, was the one that controlled the supply of money – a monetarist, anti-Keynesian, view that this Nobel Laureate shared with John Maynard Keynes. Lord Keynes maintained that governments had a duty to help capitalistic economies through periods of recession and to prevent boom times from exploding into high inﬂation. Friedman was also a libertarian who also promoted the political argument that you have to have economic freedom in order to have political freedom. One of Friedman’s often quoted sayings (paraphrased) is that the social responsibility of business is to increase its proﬁts so long as it stays within the rules of the game.That is that the role of business is to engage in open and free competition without deception or fraud. Writing in The New York Times Magazine in September 1970 on the theme of social responsibility, Freidman made clear his view that “businessmen who talk this way (referring to corporate social responsibility) are unwitting
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puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.” He was ﬁrmly of the view that a business, being an artiﬁcial construct, could not have views on social responsibility. This was the purview of individuals. Executives and managers as employees of the owners have no right to reduce the returns to their shareholders by diverting proﬁts to social activities that beneﬁt the community at large. It was one thing for this manager or executive to determine how to dispose of their personal wealth but they had no right to make predetermined decisions on behalf of shareholders who, in turn could determine how they wished to dispose of their dividends. This OFT cited article was based on arguments presented in his book Capitalism and Freedom. Such arguments, Freidman held, would and should not hold for a not-for-proﬁt entity because their very establishment was to promote some social, well-being cause. In today’s society, when businesses are required to directly report on their corporate social responsibility, can it be argued that Freidman’s arguments are extreme and ought to be dismissed out of hand or does his views require deeper analysis and understanding? Certainly, Freidman did not only hold his viewpoint with the role of managers and executives. He argued that if union ofﬁcials were to try and enforce wage restraint for the greater good of the community, they would incur the wrath of the workforce. Several writers have consistently argued that proﬁt maximisation, despite its many failings, still remains the best rule available by which to judge business performance. Yes we have witnessed the short-sightedness and greed of executives whose unethical behaviour led to the global ﬁnancial crisis and personal hardships for tens of millions of direct and indirect (superannuants and the like) shareholders. Fraud aside, it could be argued that proﬁt maximisation always coincides with social good. For example, witness the number of foundations established to provide social good by such luminary entrepreneurs as Bill
Gates and Warren Buffet. My personal view is that the views of extremists be they on the right or left, of politics and economic philosophy, are often taken up by commentators and distorted. Freidman did not argue for short-term ﬁnancial gain, which we have noted is what fundamentally drove those who managed such global brands as Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Royal Bank of Scotland, and so the list goes on, to destruction. Such destructive attitudes have undermined and questioned the notion of a free market. As Warren Buffet has said,“it takes 20 years to build a reputation and ﬁve minutes to ruin it.” The backlash of all this questioning has been a call for greater regulation. But does greater regulation improve market activity? Inevitability it is a matter of balance. Certainly over-regulation will stiﬂe markets and lead to the unethical minority seeking to rort the regulations.This might create employment for the corporate policing agencies but does not add value to investors and society at large. It is a well argued truism that all managers and executives should ask themselves two basic questions, from a moral standpoint, when making decisions: (1) is this legal? And (2) would I feel comfortable to have the consequences of this decision reported in the media? Entrepreneurs who control their own companies can decide on their, and by implication, their business’s corporate social responsibilities. For other companies, the corporate social responsibility reporting agenda means that it is open to individual investors to assent or object to the way in which their proﬁts are spent. Freidman, if he were alive today would probably not change his viewpoint but would accept that transparency and engagement by managers and executives with their shareholders on matters of social responsibility was acceptable. After all, shareholders continue to have the right to liquidate their investment in one organization and transfer their funds to another. A clear witness to this trend has been the more recent expansion of the ethical investment industry.
The importance of producing versatile MBAs
Simon J. Evenett Academic Director University of St. Gallen
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usiness schools sell themselves short if they only train MBAs to make proﬁts. For sure, preparing MBAs for demanding managerial assignments in the private sector is a signiﬁcant and long-standing goal for most business schools. But an excellent MBA program should prepare its participants to make sound decisions for every type of organization. The public sector in many countries is huge and the non-proﬁt sector is ﬂourishing, both need forward thinking decision-makers and managers superb at execution. If you have any doubts, think back to your last frustrating experience with a government agency. Surely better management would have improved matters? Anticipating how businesses will react is another important payoff from studying an MBA and this skill is crucial for elected ofﬁcials, regulators, and ofﬁcials at national and international investment agencies, like the International Finance Corporation (the private sector arm of the World Bank Group). For these reasons, over the past few years at St. Gallen we’ve had several medical doctors, one politician and a few lawyers enrol in our MBA programs. The responsibility of business schools, then, is to train ﬁrst class decision-makers, and many social beneﬁts follow from that, both
directly and indirectly. Directly in the form of better results for public sector and nonproﬁt organizations and indirectly through the enhanced employment prospects and taxes paid by successful private sector ﬁrms. Catering to the public sector and nonproﬁts in no way softens or diminishes an MBA program. Even an organization that isn’t interested in making proﬁts, being serious about cost control, motivating and retaining talented staff, strategic planning, and the like are all valued skills. Setting and taking steps towards meeting targets is important, whatever the organization. In short, the lot of a traditional MBA program is of direct relevance to decision-makers and future leaders outside the private sector. Still, MBA programs seeking to train the full range of decision-makers need to augment a solid base of courses on core skills with specialist courses on the particular challenges faced in the public sector, in public-private partnerships, and in the non-proﬁt sector. One creative option here is for MBA programs to team up with relevant, specialist schools at their university and elsewhere. For example, some MBA programs have developed joint electives and even joint programs with medical schools, schools of government, and schools of environment. Even for private sector executives, the goal of making proﬁts is much broader than it seems. Should a company best target repeatedly quarter-by-quarter or annual proﬁtability? Or is long term value creation a better goal? Maybe the choice need not be so stark, as long term proﬁts could be pursued along with other short and medium term targets. Which approach is best almost certainly differs across ﬁrms. BMW, for example, makes its plans on the basis of a decade-long forecast of the US dollar-Euro exchange rate and doesn’t tinker with its strategy in response to short term ﬂuctuation in exchange rates. A well trained MBA should know what time horizon to target proﬁts and have the tools necessary to come to that decision and to justify their recommendations. MBA programs
that focus on showing how to boost short term proﬁts are missing a lot and aren’t preparing their graduates well for many of the best companies, both inside and outside the Anglo Saxon world.
The responsibility of business schools, then, is to train first class decisionmakers, and many social benefits follow from that As many specialist university degree programs become more theoretical or focus solely on ‘analysis’ and are taught by careerresearchers with little practical experience, the case for studying for an MBA becomes stronger and stronger. In addition to personal and career development, which smart MBAs realise they can proﬁt from, MBA curricula that seek to substantially enhance the capacity of participants to design and execute sound decisions, should grow in appeal. In challenging economic times such as these, every organization needs the best possible leadership and line management, and MBA educations can ﬁll this need like no other.This is not the time for deans and MBA directors to go on the defensive, nor is it wise to let the proﬁt motive unduly colour the design and marketing of MBA programs.
Successful MBAs go beyond increasing proﬁts Businesses have a moral responsibility to the community of which they are a part Rob Widing Dean, Macquarie Graduate School of Management
n 1973, Milton Freidman argued in The New York Times that the only social responsibility of a business is to increase its proﬁts. He went as far as to state, that not only was this its sole responsibility but that to give money away, such as to charity, was misappropriating funds as this money belongs to the company’s stakeholders. As the Dean of Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), a business school that proudly upholds its mission statement – we develop leaders with a global mindset who create sustainable value and are good citizens – I hold a different view. Let’s consider the counter-arguments. Firstly, businesses have a moral responsibility to the community of which they are a part. The two are connected: a thriving business cannot operate independently of its community, and vice versa. Secondly, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is good business. It provides a competitive advantage, not only can it boost a brand but also employee morale and global network member relationships. Thirdly, when a company neglects to operate in a socially responsible way they will often face consequences when an external stakeholder is forced to step in and regulate. Adam Smith would agree. Smith wrote that “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interests of the producer
ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer” (book 4, chapter 8, paragraph 49). In short, capitalism’s goal is not to advance producer wealth, but to advance the well being of the consumer, meaning all of us (i.e. the wealth of nations). When organizations advance their interests at the expense of the consumer, be it ﬁnancially, socially or environmentally, they lose their legitimacy in the free market system and are subject to penalties, regulation and break-up. These days, many businesses, employees, customers and suppliers expect companies to actively engage in CSR – and so do our students. A study carried out in 2011 by MGSM’s Dr Debbie Haski-Leventhal found just this. Conducted along with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), the global survey of 1,250 MBA students, from PRME signatory schools located in 40 countries, aimed to discover the students’ attitudes and perceptions of CSR and responsible management education. It began by asking the students how important each of the following were to them: making a lot of money; helping the community and people in need; being successful in their studies or work; making the world a better place; living a happy and comfortable life; being able to do what they want; and living according to their religious faith. Interestingly, although these are business students,‘making a lot of money’ ranked last on the ‘absolutely essential’
rank, but ﬁrst in ‘fairly important’, while ‘helping the community and people in need’ ranked second on ‘fairly important’ and ﬁfth on ‘absolutely essential’. The survey also listed 11 statements on social responsibility and asked the students to state their level of agreement with each. To the statement ‘Involvement by business in improving its community’s quality of life will also improve long run proﬁtability’, 82.8% of students agreed or strongly agreed. From these responses, I think we can surmise that students in PRME signatory schools do not live according to Friedman’s notion of proﬁt as the sole social responsibility of corporations. At MGSM we are ﬁrm supporters of CSR. We believe that business schools must produce students who create sustainable value for companies and communities; create shared value together with their stakeholders, and do this with the best interests of all in mind. MGSM takes pride in its role as a “good citizen” within the local, national and international communities in which it operates. Over its 40-year history it has continuously strengthened its community service role through an increasing number of programs involving students, staff, alumni and the business community. Since becoming a signatory school to PRME in 2010, we have redeﬁned our mission statement and created four missiondriven attributes: leadership, global mindset, sustainable value and global citizenship.We have modiﬁed our curricula to better include ethical management concepts and recruited new faculty whose ﬁeld of research is in this area. Finally, we are developing partnerships with corporations, not-for-proﬁts and government institutes and engage in community outreach. As a result, graduates of the MGSM not only do well, they do good.When this occurs, we all go further. Our graduates become leading professionals at the global frontier of business. Our corporations, governments, entrepreneurial ventures and not-for-proﬁt organizations become more successful in making a difference. And, at MGSM, we achieve our mission.
The long-term value of a global MBA program
Pedro Videla Professor, IESE Business School, University of Navarra
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ore than ever, future MBA students are pondering the real return on investment of business education. And as new MBA programs emerge around the world, prospective students have a growing number of options to choose from. When investing in an MBA program however, one critical thing should be kept in mind: tomorrow’s business world will be shaped by those who have the skills to make effective decisions in a global environment. Global Skills Will Provide the Edge The long-term value of a globally-focused MBA program is becoming more evident. Companies are increasingly recruiting talented MBA graduates who know how to manage multicultural teams and do business in diverse parts of the world. In this sense, the value of going outside your home country to do an MBA is immeasurable. But to reap maximum beneﬁts, the program you choose must have a global focus. At IESE Business School, students in the full-time MBA program reﬂect 50 different nationalities and professors come from all over the world. Students study authentic business scenarios and analyze the speciﬁcs of doing business in different geographic regions. All this fosters a learning environment on our Barcelona campus that is truly international.
MBA students can take part in intensive modules at key global locations such as China, Brazil, Kenya, Singapore and the United States.These modules are more than country visits – class content centers on the country and meetings with local business leaders give students a close-up view of doing business in the region. The result is that IESE students’ knowledge is highly transportable. IESE MBAs are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to survive and be effective decision makers in diverse contexts.They understand the social, cultural and political factors that affect doing business in different regions of the world and are prepared to manage those successfully. Finally, the case method employed by IESE offers a practical approach to gaining new knowledge. Students acquire the analytical and decision making skills necessary to confront extremely complex situations, wherever they may be in the world.They explore actual business problems and contrast their opinions with people of different nationalities and business backgrounds.This experience gives them the global mindset they need, to succeed in situations of great uncertainty. Risk of Staying Home Students in fast-growing regions of the world may be tempted to stay home and take part in one of the expanding number of local MBA programs. However, you should carefully weigh the long-term risks of this choice, since some programs may not offer the global expertise you will need throughout your career. And while the economy may be strong today, business leaders have to be prepared for change. Your country might be booming now, but ﬁve years from now this might now be the case. A globally-focused MBA program will give you tools for navigating in any economic climate. Ideal Format A high-level global MBA program requires sufﬁcient time. For this reason, IESE’s full-time MBA program has a 2-year format.The ﬁrst year is spent focusing on business fundamentals, while students choose from a wide range of
To reap maximum benefits, the program you choose must have a global focus electives and participate in global modules during the second year.This framework also offers you the opportunity to do a summer internship in another country and participate in the MBA International Exchange Program at another top business school. Focus on Ethics and Social Responsibility One of the hallmarks of IESE’s MBA program is its focus on ethics.We believe that our graduates have a responsibility to create wealth, as a means of building a fairer society.Wealth creation helps bring people out of poverty and IESE programs are helping accomplish this in a very tangible way. At IESE, professors teach that social responsibility is an inherent part of wealth creation.When examining business problems, they look at them from all angles – how they affect individuals, as well as society as a whole. Following this, we believe that the only relevant sense of responsibility in business is what you feel on a personal level. If business leaders act according to a strong sense of personal responsibility, they will contribute to creating responsible companies and institutions around the world. In summary: the goal should be to increase the size of the pie - not to take anyone else’s. Through its focus on a global mindset, social responsibility and solid management skills, IESE offers an MBA program that is truly distinctive. As the global economy continues to undergo major shifts, we feel our graduates are prepared to meet the many challenges that lie ahead.
Responsibile actions should never be neglected
Gianluca Spina Professor of Management MIP Politecnico di Milano
We encourage students to commit to a variety of initiatives that will make a difference in society demands corporate social accountability and in the recent graduation of our executive MBA students, we reinforced the message that wherever our alumni will go, whatever business they will carry out, they should always be aware of what Mahatma Gandhi quoted as the “Seven Social Sins”, and should always be accountable for their actions: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humility, Worship without sacriﬁce, Politics without principle.
And the recently added 8th “sin”—rights without responsibilities. In this historical phase, those involved in educating future business and political leaders – such as the business schools – should underline that to be responsible means to pay attention particularly to three of the above social sins: wealth without work, commerce without morality, and rights without responsibility.They clearly encapsulate exactly what socially responsible business leaders should never forget in the roles they fulﬁll, both in business and, perhaps more importantly, within the community.
riedman‘s argument rests on the themes of agency theory in which executives are the agents of shareholders and have a fundamental obligation to maximize proﬁts for the beneﬁt of those who hired them. We certainly believe that the business of business schools is to teach business and how to succeed in today’s extremely competitive markets; but not whatever the cost and not whatever the risk! We are all well aware that the risks taken by the largest banks and investment ﬁrms in much of the western world were so excessive and reckless that they threatened to bring down the ﬁnancial system itself. On the other hand, images of the devastation caused by the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are hard to forget and the direct, but also social, costs may linger for years in the communities affected by the environmental disaster. These errors must not be repeated.We believe that business schools should be educating leaders who can create and manage businesses capable of being successful in competitive markets. However it is fundamental that they are instilled with high ethical standards which dictate that any proﬁt should be balanced by a commitment to creating beneﬁts for all stake holders, in other words, responsible action towards the communities of which they are a part.
Business school students are, by nature, competitive and entrepreneurial, but are also the ﬁrst ones to stress the importance of responsible actions. Our MBA class, graduating this coming July, has decided – without any encouragement - to sign an MBA oath pledging that they will work as “professionals”, that is, as if they were required to adhere to a professional and moral code, akin to that of doctors or lawyers. The oath states, in part:“As a business leader… I promise that… I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession to continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.” In fact, our prospective students, enrolled students and alumni will soon ﬁnd that, at the school, we all share the same values of integrity, professionalism, respect for diversity and a passion for innovation, and these values drive us constantly in our mission of educating future responsible business leaders. The role of corporate social responsibility on MBA programs is evolving as a result of the economic difﬁculties over the past years. After the ﬁnancial crisis at the end of the last decade, some, rightly or wrongly, placed blame on business schools for failing to promote the importance of such values amongst their students and alumni. We believe that the right path to follow is to bring together people and ideas from around the world to cross-fertilize cultures and knowhow, with the ultimate goal of contributing to better and more sustainable management of both private and public sectors. Throughout our programs, we encourage students to commit to a variety of initiatives that will make a difference in society: not-forproﬁt management, sustainability, professional codes of conduct, and corporate social responsibility. My belief is also that school rankings will eventually have to change too, to put more emphasis on measuring the global impact of a school or program, and not focus as heavily on individuals’ post-MBA salaries and individual successes. With responsibility comes also accountability. In this case, corporate social responsibility
Making the most of your MBA application
Simone L Pollard Director of business school relations at ETS
3. Prepare essays that answer the questions. This sounds basic, but many applicants overlook this simple, yet important practice. Good, thoughtful essays require time to draft and review. It may be tempting to reuse pieces of essays you have written previously, but proceed cautiously because the time you think you are saving may work against you and weaken your response. 4. Be willing to do more than is required by submitting information that highlights other relevant accomplishments or important skills. Personal attributes such as creativity, teamwork, communication, planning and organization, ethics and integrity, and resilience are important for success at the graduate level and highlighting these to admissions committees can show a more complete picture of you and your capabilities.The ETS PPI® tool is one such tool that allows you to convey your personal attributes. 5. Pay close attention to detail. Admissions committees can be easily distracted by mistakes in your application. Follow instructions carefully and show how important this decision is to you by submitting all materials before the published deadlines. Your application to enroll on an MBA program is your opportunity to shine. Prepare yourself so that you can make the most out of your MBA application! The Educational Testing Service (ETS) delivers one of the most popular entrance exams for graduate programs around the world, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Recently revised, the test is taken by applicants to both graduate and business school. For more information about ETS and the GRE revised General Test, visit ets.org.
1. Make sure your test scores represent your personal best. To do this you will want to prepare for the test by taking practice tests. Practice tests can help you become familiar with the test timing, format, design and content.You can get free, downloadable practice tests on test-maker websites, such as the GRE website. As you prepare, focus on the topics and concepts that you are less comfortable with, so that you will feel conﬁdent on test day. The GRE revised General Test has a new ScoreSelect option that allows you to send schools the test scores that you feel reﬂect your personal best. The TOEFL test has many free test prep materials available online.
2. Obtain letters of recommendation from individuals who know you well enough to describe the skills and attributes you have that are needed for success in business school and beyond. Admissions committees use these letters to garner another view of your skills, attributes and professional experiences. So, select a manager, colleague, or professor that worked closely enough with you to provide this helpful, speciﬁc input.
he process of applying to an MBA program requires careful thought, planning and preparation. Admission to business school varies in competitiveness, with highly regarded programs typically being the most selective. Regardless, applying to any MBA program will take some investment of your time and should be viewed as your opportunity to present your skills, experience, accomplishments and other attributes to the admissions committee as you advocate for your acceptance. Most programs publicize admission requirements on their websites and this serves as an excellent guide for how the admissions committee will evaluate you. MBA programs typically require applicants to submit the following documents and information: completed application, undergraduate (and if applicable, graduate) transcripts, letters of recommendation, admissions test scores such as the GRE® revised General Test, and in some cases English language proﬁciency test scores such as the TOEFL test, plus completed essays and an application fee.While this is fairly typical, you should conﬁrm application requirements by visiting the websites of the programs to which you are interested in applying. All of the information that you submit is used by the admissions team to obtain a holistic picture of you. Prior to selecting which MBA programs to apply to, you will want to learn about the key features of your potential courses, including the
curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, and career development potential, before determining which ones are truly a match for you and your interests. This research will also help you generate the list of programs to which you will ultimately apply. Research can be conducted in many ways and may include searching online, attending MBA fairs and other recruiting events, visiting business schools, and meeting with current students and alumni of various programs.There are also a number of websites and blogs which provide helpful information about business schools where you can also interact with and learn from other prospective MBA students. After you have completed your research and identiﬁed the programs that you would like to attend, it’s time to complete your application. The application packet is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions committee and provide them with the information that will convince them to admit you. This is also your opportunity to articulate why the program you are applying to is right for you. You can do this by highlighting what you learned about the programs and how that aligns with your interests, goals and experiences. Admissions committees are also interested in what you can contribute while in the program, so you will want to address what you will bring to both the program and the wider business school community. Five key tips to help you make the most of your MBA application:
Broadening horizons: QS scholarship winner Having recently been informed of his successful application for one of QS’ scholarships totaling US$1.2m, the QS Top MBA Career Guide caught up with Steffen Müller to hear about how his career aspirations aligned with his future MBA program. interesting and challenging experience. And for me – without a business background – it is one of the few ways to go.”
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ne of the primary appealing factors of an MBA degree to many applicants is the view that they afford into management practices across many different industry sectors. This provides graduates the skills to understand, and manage systems across an entire department, product, or even organization. For QS scholarship winner Steffen Müller, the holistic approach to business was the key motivator in commencing his MBA journey, and what led him to select IE Business School in Madrid, Spain for his MBA program. “I hope that the MBA will bring me up-to-speed regarding economics and ﬁnance topics. Moreover, I want to improve my management and soft skills during my time in Madrid. Finally, I am really looking forward to the entrepreneurship classes. In the future, I want to specialize in international business development and maybe start my own business. “I think an MBA program at a top business school would be the most
Pre-MBA experience Coming from an IT background, Müller has long felt a need to expand upon his existing skill-set in order to advance his career. Through careful consideration during his pre-MBA professional life, the German MBA candidate ensured that he gained relevant experience in order to achieve his long term career goals. “During my studies of computer science, I realized that I like the structured way of solving problems and also that I would like to be more than a programmer or IT specialist in the future. So I ﬁrst started as an internal consultant for Bayer in their business intelligence department.” Remaining with the German chemical and pharmaceutical company, Müller’s desire to progress into the upper realm of business has heightened even further. “Currently, I am project manager for marketing analytics projects for our most important brands. During the last years, I understood that I want to make the step into the ‘real’ business. That is why I started my preparations for the MBA application.” MBA application process As a non-native English speaker, Müller ﬁrst started his MBA application journey with an English language test, then continuing the rest of the process much like a business project, “step by step.” “I started with the TOEFL and continued with the GMAT. At the same time I informed myself about different business schools. I used the internet, talks
to alumni and of cause the QS World MBA Tour fair. Finally, I started the formal admissions process. “I don’t think that the essays are tough. They are really time consuming, but not tough. If you are prepared for the MBA and you know why you want to do it, than you just have to write it down. Be authentic and give them speciﬁc details about your past and future. “At the interview stage, the admissions committee wants to check if the applicant’s CV and essays are consistent. Moreover, they want to get to know the person behind these documents. I had my interview via video phone and it was a very nice conversation of about 45 minutes.” MBA scholarships For many MBA applicants, the issue of securing the money to pay for both tuition fees and living expenses can be the most troublesome part of the admissions process. As a result, many opt to apply for the various MBA scholarships that are on offer to talented applicants. So far, Müller has been successful in applying for two scholarships; one from IE Business School where he plans to study, and one from QS, which he became eligible for by attending the QS World MBA Tour. “MBA scholarships are a great opportunity to lower the ﬁnancial burden and I am really thankful for this. It is a great way to focus on the MBA and to forget about the current loan.” If you’ve attended the QS World MBA Tour, then you’re eligible to apply for one of QS’ scholarships. Visit TopMBA.com/scholarships
The North American MBA A primary target for applicants As one of the most prestigious MBA study destinations in the world, North America attracts a wealth of international and domestic students. As the birthplace of the MBA, there’s few who question why it’s still the most popular choice for global business school applicants
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s the historical home of business schools and the MBA, North America has always been at the forefront of MBA education, with hundreds of the world’s best business schools at institutions in every state and major city. The MBA was ﬁrst introduced over a century ago, and for more than half of that 100 year period, it was largely conﬁned to the USA. This has allowed long-standing US-based business schools to develop a signiﬁcant reputation amongst international employers, something few other business schools in the world are able to match. Constantly at the top The top business schools in North America have longestablished networks of alumni, people who believe in their school’s core values and will use the network to mutual beneﬁt. The schools beneﬁt from this too, as they are able to return to their alumni for years after they leave the school and ask for ﬁnancial contributions. Since QS began its annual research into the opinions of MBA applicants, the USA has always been the number one study
Esther Cruz, The Wharton School Fortunately, I ended up getting into Wharton and Columbia during round one. I decided to attend Wharton based on job placement rates in my industry of choice, although I truly believe that either school would have gotten me where I wanted to be.You really can’t go wrong with either of those choices and I’m extremely happy with the results. For those who didn’t get in this year, I’d highly encourage you to apply again – some of my associates have applied several times and with a lot of perseverance, they eventually got into their school of choice. I set aside two months to study for the GMAT every day after work, Monday through Thursday for one to two hours, and on weekends for larger chunks of time, typically four or more hours. I then took one week off work before the exam to hone my skills and solidify everything I had learned. I took one practice exam per week for the last month before the test and one per day for last week before the test. When I ﬁrst began taking practice tests, my score started in the mid-500’s, which was discouraging. However, I ended up in the mid700’s, proving that anything is possible with lots of work!
destination for MBA candidates, with around 80% of candidates considering studying there. Canada is popular too, consistantly appearing in the top ﬁve MBA study destinations. It is testament to the quality of the schools and the great reputation they have built up, that these ﬁgures have remained the same for several years. Choosing to study an MBA in North America allows a candidate enormous access to some of the best business schools in the world. Each year, these top schools vie for the highest-ranking positions in almost all polls, including the QS Global 200 Business School Report MBA rating, published annually on TopMBA.com. In the Financial Times MBA ranking, which is the only major poll that
Choosing to study an MBA in North America allows a candidate enormous access to some of the best business schools in the world compares business schools across borders, 11 of the top 20 business schools are in the US. Canada meanwhile has ﬁve in the top 100. Two-year MBA degrees Generally, although there are many exceptions, North American MBA courses are two years in duration, compared with the European model, where courses usually last for one year. North American schools believe that the two-year option allows for a deeper level of understanding of oneself, time for selfreﬂection, time to build up solid networks with other students and professors, and to look deeper at the subject matter in hand. These courses will almost always help students ﬁnd internships during the intermediate summer, a situation that the European model tends not to offer. Despite initial concerns, the global economic downturn of recent years has done little to stiﬂe overall demand, or reduce competition for admission to top MBA programs in the US and Canada. Where it has had a signiﬁcant effect, is in forcing business schools in region to re-asses and improve how they offer MBA programs to their students, in order to continue to develop relevant future business leaders. Business schools constantly adapt, offering more variety and diversity in their curriculum, and increasing the number of ways students can access their programs. More elective options, greater number of MBA specializations, and increasingly ﬂexible study
Brendt Lambert, Queen’s School of Business, Queen’s University
Before my MBA studies at Queen’s School of Business, I worked for the Fortune 500 ﬁnancial services and commodities trading organization INTL FCStone, at the Chicago Board of Trade. I spent four years on the 24-hour commodities trading desk dealing with Asia-Europe orders. On the desk, our team dealt with the ﬁnal stages of an order in a process known as ‘execution’. We worked with a myriad of different clients such as the commodities exchange organization, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). I decided to take my MBA at Canada’s Queen’s School of Business because of the calibre of its one-year education program, its emphasis on continuous innovation, and its team-based approach. Although the vast majority of one-year MBA programs are in Europe, I thought it would not be a wise choice because the region’s ﬁve-year European credit default swap continues to widen. After graduation, I plan to work with an integrated agribusiness company in a merchandisingexport ﬁeld, as there appears to be a host of opportunities since the breakup of the Canadian Wheat Board. In the long term, I plan to launch the ﬁrst inter-commodity spread based hedge fund in Canada.
Chun Sawatyanon, College of William and Mary Mason School of Business Before my MBA, I was working at a power plant contractor company in Thailand. I knew that this experience alone wouldn’t be enough to run my family business in the future; and so I decided to apply to business school. As a leading world economy, I chose to pursue my MBA in the US, and I was accepted at the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Through its specialist programs in areas such as entrepreneurship, I was able to broaden my engineer’s view to an executive view. However it was not only the academic experience that beneﬁted me. The two years that I spent at the Mason MBA also ﬁlled me with culture experiences and friendships from diverse students, faculty and staff. After earning my US MBA degree, I secured a position back home in Thailand as an assistant manager in Siam Brothers Corporation, a family-owned ﬁshing rope and net manufacturer.
methods are just a few ways that North American business schools continue to entice top students back into the classroom. The development of part-time or modular executive study formats have also allowed business schools to appeal to those keen to continue working, whilst improving their long-term prospects during a time of uncertainty. Post-MBA life With such a rich history and high standards of education, studying an MBA in North America has great beneﬁts. However, in terms of visas, things can get a little complicated. In 2003, widely considered as an act or protectionism, the
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Vadim L Ostrovsky, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University Before applying for any MBA programs, I selected schools based on their rankings in the Financial Times, Businessweek, and the US News MBA rankings. I supplemented the rankings with extensive conversations with students and alumni of the schools that I was interested in. There are many factors to consider when weighing-up the pros and cons of MBAs from differing business schools. For me, salary upon graduation, a school’s reputation, percentage of foreign students securing full-time employment upon graduation, a school’s historical ranking trend, and the average level of debt upon graduation were all very important factors. Identifying the main drivers was difﬁcult, and so was quantifying these factors so that I could compare them. I chose Duke because of its excellent reputation and ﬁnancial aid offered. Fuqua is a very strong school that creates an environment where anyone can thrive. I have matured professionally, intellectually, and socially beyond anything that I could have imagined before starting.
George W Bush administration decided to slash the number of visas it granted to MBA graduates from 200,000 to 65,000. This meant that MBA alumni who failed to receive the H1B visa had to ﬁnd an American company to sponsor them to stay, or leave the country soon after graduating. America’s loss was Canada’s gain, however. Realizing that there was an opportunity to start attracting the brightest talent there, the Canadian government announced that it was extending its visa regulations to allow qualiﬁed people to stay in the country up to three years after graduating. This has coincided with some very strenuous marketing by Canadian MBA programs such as Queen’s School of Business, Rotman School of Management and Richard Ivey School of Business, to raise international awareness of Canada as a viable study alternative to the US, a work in progress that is starting to reap rewards even now. Despite this, the US remains the world’s leading MBA destination and will doubtless remain that way for the foreseeable future. Applications for the top North American MBA programs are competitive, but the standard of education is high and the kudos of studying at many of those schools, Harvard, Tuck, Wharton, MIT Sloan, and NYU Stern amongst others, is internationally renowned. Diverse MBA classrooms and team interaction North American business schools have strived to offer students the most relevant and challenging classroom experience. Students often ﬁnd their MBA classroom to be the most diverse working environment experience they have ever encountered. Reﬂective of today’s business world, there is a heavy focus on team interaction, peer learning, participation in case study competitions and international class residencies. Schools have also been keen to take advantage of changing social trends, as well as to give more ﬂexibility to students. This has seen an increase in courses and customization options for specializations in emerging areas such as non-proﬁt management, corporate social responsibility and energy sustainability. However, the emergence of these interests has been at the expense of more traditional areas, with MBA specializations in ﬁnance, in particular, declining in popularity over the past few years. A further result of this development has been the continued increase in the number of MBA graduates turning to roles in consulting, particularly in non-traditional industries. This has been encouraged through schools increasing the opportunity to gain consulting experience as part of their MBA, including short- and
long-term international residencies, many of which include consulting engagements. Adapting to MBA job market conditions These changes have helped students alter their approach and positioning in the MBA job market. Many who started their MBA program with speciﬁc career goals have adapted to market hiring conditions, or found new business opportunities in their own passions and interests. To some, this has meant exploring technology and e-commerce organizations, which are looking to attract the brightest talent; or turning to opportunities within healthcare industries which are looking to restructure in order to meet the demands of an ageing population. To others, entrepreneurship hubs and venture funds have allowed them to explore business start-ups with the support of expert faculty and infrastructure within the business schools. Many assumptions can be drawn as to how these developments have affected students who have passed through business schools in recent years. However, despite ongoing concerns of currency instability, a lack of investor conﬁdence and fear of the current euro problems creating further economic worries in the US, there is evidence that many of these changes are beginning to show success. After enduring three years of bleak reports on post-graduation job prospects, students have been buoyed more recently, as MBA employers in the US and Canada report increases in the number of jobs on offer. These reports and predictions are good news for current students, recent graduates and those considering applying to business schools in North America over the next 12 months. They suggest that the schools’ reactions to changes in hiring demand have helped MBA students endure turbulent economic times.
Find out which North American business schools MBA recruiters value the most. Read the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/global-200
International study experience: MBA study in the US Business schools in the US are fully aware of the beneﬁts of promoting their programs to international students. As a result of this, it is often the case that 20% to 50% of MBA students in the US originate from another country. However, the number of international students not getting into business school in the US is also extremely high, often explained by a lack of research and applying to an inappropriate selection of business schools. MBA applicants hoping to gain entry into a US business school will often place high emphasis on inaccurate assumptions, with sometimes too little research into opportunities at other US business schools outside of a select group. International applicants place more focus on MBA rankings than their domestic US counterparts. They often have little understanding of how each ranking is calculated and less awareness of which, if any, is most relevant to their situation. Unfortunately, this means that many world class study opportunities are overlooked. One of the ongoing difﬁculties facing international students is securing a post-graduation work visa to remain in the US. Although many international MBA students try to remain in the US, some of the most successful international students of recent years have been those whose MBAs ﬁt into their plan to return home, postgraduation.
The growth of the Latin American MBA Home to one of the four BRIC nations and with emerging economies spread across the region, Latin America is offering an increasing number of opportunities for MBAs
Report have jumped signiﬁcantly up the Latin American ratings. Pontiﬁcia Universidad Católica de Chile has made a seven-place climb from eighth place to ﬁrst and Universidad de Chile has jumped from tenth place to fourth. In Mexico, three business schools are featured in QS’ rating: EGADETecnologico de Monterrey at Campus Monterrey; Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM); and IPADE Business School, Universidad Panamericana. Mexico’s economy has strong potential, as the latest QS TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report reveals a 100% increase in employer demand for MBAs within the country. Furthermore, the North American Free-Trade Agreement means Mexican businesses have extremely favorable trade agreements with those in North America. Last year, the country completed US$400 billion worth of transactions with the United States, third behind Canada and China. This could see Mexican business schools moving up QS’ employer ratings in the near future as multinational corporations based outside Mexico look to recruit local talent in order to improve corporate ties within the country.
Discover which Latin American business schools MBA recruiters value the most. Read the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/global-200
n the past, Latin America has been relatively minor as an MBA destination, with most internationally-minded Latin American MBAs choosing to study and work abroad in Europe or North America, but this is starting to change. Brazil in particular, is a vibrant economy offering many opportunities for MBAs in banking, energy, natural resources and consulting. Over the last decade, Brazil’s economy overtook Mexico’s, to become the largest economy in Latin America. As the country prepares for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics, even more opportunities are opening up for MBAs in Brazil. According to Armando Dal Colletto, dean of Business School Sao Paulo (BSP), Brazil’s growing economy is one of many attractions for employers: “BSP’s MBA program includes thorough analysis of the current business environment and its trends. This is important as the world is turning its eyes to the emergent countries [in Latin America] such as Brazil because of its strong and solid economic growth, and cultural similarities and afﬁnities to Europe and North America.” Chile is another country with a growing economy, partly due the country’s strong commitment to free trade. Its market-oriented policies have created signiﬁcant opportunities for foreign investors to participate in the country’s steady economic growth. Employers are attracted to the future prospects this provides, and therefore need local business leaders to ensure those prospects become reality. This explains why both Chilean business schools which featured in this year’s QS Global 200 Business Schools
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The diversity of Western Europe As one of the most diverse regions on earth, studying an MBA in Western Europe can offer business school students a great deal in terms of diversity, international perspective and recruiter appeal
he MBA qualiﬁcation was ﬁrst introduced to the region in the late 1950s. Since then, Western Europe’s MBA reputation has steadily evolved, to become one of the most sought after MBA destinations in the world. With hundreds of business schools in the region, it is now commonly regarded as one of the two major hubs of business education. Competing for top spot According to the latest QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey, 10 Western European countries feature in the top 20 MBA study destinations list: the UK, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany,
Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark respectively. While the US remains in ﬁrst place, there has been a slight drop in the number of applicants choosing the US as their preferred study destination, suggesting a gradual shift in applicant preference from North America towards Western Europe. Schools in Europe also take up many of the top spots in QS Global 200 Business Schools Report employer ratings of 10 of the most popular MBA specializations, competing ﬁercely with their cross-Atlantics peers. Undoubtedly, the region is in good stead to compete with the US for the most talented MBA applicants.
Ashini Shah, Imperial College Business School I studied marketing and psychology at university in the US before starting a career in media marketing at NBC Universal. The chance to do an MBA in London amongst a truly global cohort and at an institution where my entrepreneurial and innovation skills could be honed was what compelled me to apply to Imperial College Business School. I chose to do a full-time MBA at Imperial to further develop my non-marketing skills and to really understand the bigger picture behind successful start-up businesses. The alumni network, including my own MBA cohort, is probably one of the greatest assets I graduated with, as each person has such a wealth of experience and is from a different path or culture. Being from the US and living in London, my alumni network provides me with an instant network that I can trust and a sounding board that I can rely upon for new ideas.
One-year MBA degrees Unlike in the United States, where MBAs usually last for twoyears, European MBA programs are generally one-year in length. Although some schools, such as ESADE in Barcelona, do offer an MBA that can be completed in 12- to 18-months, according to the student’s needs. While the shorter program does not allow time for an internship, it does offer a “short, sharp shock,” according to Eric King, an MBA alumni from ESADE Business School in Spain. “It’s a shorter program, but it’s amazing what they can cram into that shorter space of time.” The one-year MBA degree requires less ﬁnancial commitment from students than the two-year option. With less time away from the workplace, European MBAs also beneﬁt from being able to start the return of their investment more immediately than their American colleagues.
Cultural and business diversity With such a wide array of cultures, languages and economic systems in what is a relatively small area, Western Europe has a wealth of diversity that few other regions can claim. In a globalized business world, multi-national organizations are increasingly turning to Europe to appoint the next generation of business leaders who have been educated in a diverse environment. Studying in an international environment is an integral part of many Western European MBA programs. Javier Muñoz, MBA career services director at IESE Business School in Spain, says this is one of the most attractive aspects of studying in the region. He explains that this combined with the use of case study methods, whereby students analyze research-based business cases and the real-life challenges that international businesses face, “helps students gain and hone their international management skills.” Many students choose to study in Western Europe for this reason. Eric King, originally from the US, decided to take an MBA at ESADE in Spain because of the diverse learning environment it had to offer. “Nearly every company interacts internationally in the new ‘ﬂat’ world, and I wanted to get a more international worldview than the typical US school could offer,” he says.
Securing a job post-MBA While studying in Western Europe can be extremely attractive to multinational organizations seeking MBAs experiences of varying cultures, it also opens the doors to job opportunities within companies located in Europe. Despite continuing economic uncertainty and hiring restraint within the European ﬁnance sector, the demand for talented MBAs in 2011 was strong. The UK and Germany in particular experienced large increases of 34% and 28% respectively for MBAs, the latest TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report shows. Margarita Alonso, director of alumni and careers at IE Business
School in Spain, says MBAs stand the best chances of ﬁnding their ideal job after graduation, if they are prepared to improve their language skills. “Mobility is necessary to pursue an international career and one of the most important skills for mobility is language proﬁciency. It is naive to think that although English is the business language, that it is the only language of business, and that one can work in a multinational organization in Spain or France without speaking a word of Spanish or French.” She adds that in order to be successful in the job hunt, graduates must become: “Marketers of themselves and embrace the job search as an important part of pursuing an MBA. Students should become actively engaged with the school’s career management team, to learn about all of the resources available to graduating students, such as recruiting events, assistance with creating an effective resume and networking opportunities.”
Kelly Longﬁeld, also from the US, chose to study at Cass Business School in the UK, partly due to a perceived lack of diversity in the US, but also because of the historical links Europe has with different parts of the world. “The US is huge and our associations are more with Canada and South America, so in many ways it’s insulated. Here there is more access to Europe, the old world and emerging markets.” Indeed, studying in western Europe can open up a wealth of opportunities to join international companies further aﬁeld. Muñoz has witnessed this in the placement of IESE MBA graduates. “We work closely with companies from all over the world and have a very international placement. A high percentage of students have found jobs abroad - 37% in other European countries, 11% in Asia and 12% in Latin America,” he says. Europe’s admission process With many aspiring business leaders wanting to gain qualiﬁcations in Western Europe, competition for admission to the top business schools in the region can be tough. Muñoz says a good way for applicants to stand out among thousands of others, is to bring their “own culture with them.” Tony Somers, career management center director at HEC Paris, echoes this and says that applicants who are bilingual and can demonstrate that they can speak the language of the country they wish to study in, or willing to learn, would see beneﬁts. “English is the only language required for doing an MBA at HEC, but it is advantageous for participants to have a basic understanding of the French language and culture before they arrive.” While there are MBA student services to help with residency, insurance and daily issues, it is advisable that students enrol on a language course. “A knowledge of the language, will not only help participants to get a job in France, for example, but also allows them to make the most of different options available within the course, such as electives taught in French by top professors,” says Somers. As one of the two traditional hubs of business education, the appeal of Western Europe for MBA applicants is always going to be strong. Further, with the area’s enviable trade and business links, even during tougher economic climes, post-MBA job opportunities are likely to remain strong. Add to this the huge reputation posessed by many business schools in the region, and it’s easy to understand why many countries in Western Europe appear so highly in global MBA applicant preferences. Discover which Western European business schools MBA recruiters value the most. Read the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/global-200
With many aspiring business leaders wanting to gain qualifications in Western Europe, competition for the top business schools in the region can be tough
Samar Bultaif, IE Business School I have an undergraduate degree in economics but wanted more of a businessoriented degree. An international MBA would give me an academic approach to business in areas such as marketing, ﬁnance and strategy, and it would be delivered in a challenging and multicultural environment. At IE Business School, the people you meet with different experiences, backgrounds, and industries was most deﬁnitely a highlight of the MBA. I’ve not only gained useful skills in business management, but I’ve made friends, colleagues, and advisors in a variety of countries. If you want a career in management, don’t hesitate to pursue an MBA. Today, it may be a male-dominated industry but not because there aren’t opportunities for women or because it is a male oriented industry. But rather, it is difﬁcult to ﬁnd women with high qualiﬁcations, so an MBA can make a difference.
Lungi Maminza, Rotterdam School of Management
It’s being able to talk face-to-face with people that makes all the difference. I had not even considered the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) before I went to the QS World MBA Tour, but being there, talking to them, ﬁnding out how well they ﬁtted with my criteria was instrumental in my deciding to go and study in The Netherlands. My criteria were very clear. I wanted to study abroad, meaning experience the diversity of culture, and in a non-Anglo-Saxon country. My thinking being that there would be an extra dimension to the experience if I was in a non-English speaking environment. I wanted classes to be small, made up of different nationalities with no dominance and to be able to spend time in China. Other things were important as well - such as rankings and the availability of scholarships - but these were my key criteria.
Central and Eastern European MBAs Witnessing regrowth The Central and Eastern European region offers a great deal of economic diversity, as well as opportunities for MBA students to learn from business regeneration as it happens
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here’s no denying the great deal of negative economic events surrounding some countries in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. But at the same time, neighbouring countries within the region are comparatively healthy compared to the rest of Europe – Poland for instance is already beneﬁting from an increase in export competitiveness brought about by currency depreciation. Further, this economy boost is likely to reach other countries in the region in the not-so-distant future. As a result, cost-conscious MBA applicants seeking to reap the educational beneﬁts of studying business within a region currently experiencing a huge need for innovative and entrepreneurial management thinking would certainly ensure real-life industry case-studies on their doorstep as businesses look to restructure and emerge successfully into a rapidly changing economic environment. Around 200 business schools now operate in the region, and although the reputation and fame of these schools are far from the notoriety of their North American and Western European competitors, this is something that is slowly starting change. The latest QS Global 200 Business School Report’s European rating features six CEE business schools, of which two are Greek institutions: ALBA Graduate Business School and Athens University of Economics and Business, two Hungarian: Corvinus School of Management and CEU Business School, one Polish: the Warsaw University of Technology (WUT) Business School, and one Cypriot institution: The University of Cyprus. International students attracted by competitive costs Professor Witold Orlowski, director of WUT Business School suggests that one of the biggest attractions drawing international students to MBA programs in CEE, is the competitive cost of programs in the region. “Today, as they [business schools] join the global game, they
beneﬁt from a big competitive advantage. In short, the best MBA programs offered in the CEE countries are of as good a quality as in the well-established educational centers in Western Europe, while being signiﬁcantly cheaper.” According to Ulrik Rasmussesen, a Bucharest-based partner from the executive search consulting ﬁrm Pedersen and Partners, CEE business schools are equipping international students with the business skills required within multinationals or organizations operating in the emerging markets around the world. “While in North America and Western Europe the MBA schools have a long-standing history and well-developed curricula, much of the education is based on case studies applicable to the countries in these regions, but not necessarily adequate for the realities of the dynamic CEE markets.” However, Rasmussesen stresses that business schools in the region should focus on including more practical experience in their MBA’s, such as ﬁeld trips, help with organizing internships and meetings with top executives. “The knowledge is still very theoretical, especially as many of the professors are lifetime academics, but not practitioners.” Salary expectations and variations MBA salaries in CEE average US$47,500 per year, compared to US$85,600 in Western Europe, according to the latest QS Top MBA Jobs and Salary Trends report. However, even though these differences are quite striking, an MBA increases the chances of putting you in a superior league, as many multinationals in the CEE region look for strong business abilities and competencies to meet their development needs. “As our head-hunting activities are consistent in almost 15 countries in CEE, the particularities of salary levels are quite different from one country to another,” explains Oana Datki, country manager for Romania at Consulteam. “In Romania or the Balkans, an MBA is a plus, but it is not automatically expected from all top management candidates.” “Salary wise, the differences between a candidate with an MBA and one without would be around 25% in eastern Europe,” says Datki of ConsulTeam, a group of companies providing recruitment services, training and HR consulting services, as a representative in several CEE countries of global consulting ﬁrm Mercer.
First and foremost I was looking to widen my career choices and increase my marketability for future jobs. I was also looking for another challenge in my life and I thought that the right business school would present that challenge. I really want to run my own company and get the appropriate tool kit, connection and knowledge base to do so. After the experience at Skolkovo I have realized that I may want to increase my network base and work with a few small to medium sized companies before embarking on this venture. The business school experience is a voyage of introspection, self discovery and consistent questioning. There have been many highs and frustrating times in the process. I miscalculated just how difﬁcult it would be to operate in Russia without knowing the language; nonetheless it has been an incredible experience.
Nevertheless, don’t expect to be paid exclusively for the degree, no matter how good the brand of the business school you graduated from. The MBA diploma must also be backed with solid skills and experience. “We are not willing to pay a premium for having an MBA per se, nevertheless candidates holding an international top MBA often have characteristics that we consider highly attractive... For this reason, they are likely to have attractive offers,” says Alessandro Trebbi, head of human resources for the international division at Enel. While there are differences in salaries between Eastern and Western Europe, there are also salary discrepancies that appear within CEE, due to the different stages of development of each country. Russian employers offer the biggest salaries in the region for MBA graduates. The average salary for MBA graduates in Russia reaches US$71,235, almost double that of average MBA salaries in countries like Bulgaria (US$41,175), Greece (US$36,694) or Ukraine (US$31,733). However, the high salary level seems well balanced with the cost of living. Moscow, for instance is one of the most expensive cities in the world, ranking fourth among 214 cities covered by Mercer’s 2012 Cost of Living survey. For the discerning international MBA applicant, choosing a business school in the CEE region to study at Find out which CEE business schools MBA recruiters value the most. Read the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/global-200
CEE business schools are equipping international students with the business skills required within multinationals
Waseem Kawaf, Skolkovo Moscow School of Management
Deciding which business school An MBA proﬁle For Nataliya Mylovanova, getting an MBA was a professional challenge. Looking back on her time at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), the Ukrainian graduate reminisces to the Top MBA Career Guide on business school life, and how her MBA has helped her progress in her career.
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n the Ukraine, MBA programs are highly regarded,” says Mylovanova. “Although probably not ubiquitously known because it was a comparatively new phenomenon until a few years ago.” Now many young Ukrainian professionals are eager to add an MBA degree to their carnets of diplomas and vast practical business knowledge and Mylovanova was one of them. “Having received two degrees in my home country, I decided that an international MBA would be a good continuation of my education path,” she says. “For me, getting an MBA was a professional challenge to further my career and to move it to new leadership levels.” Deciding to do an MBA degree is the ﬁrst hurdle; choosing which business schools to apply to is the next. Mylovanova made a preliminary analysis of business schools and short-listed those which were
of potential interest to her. “I intended to make a career switch from the management role in the service industry to a management role in the manufacturing industry,” she says. “In my opinion, the decision about which business school to choose, and how to choose it, is a very subjective process. In my case, there was a lot of media analysis, as well as personal contacts with the schools and peer opinions.” Mylovanova’s ﬁnal decision was to apply for the ESMT MBA program. “When choosing an MBA program, I focused particularly on schools’ curriculum content, faculty background, and career service support. ESMT’s close connection with German companies and extensive mentorship programs were also important aspects in choice. MBA ﬁnance “Financing an MBA is probably one of the most crucial issues to tackle when deciding on pursuing the degree and when choosing the school,” says Mylovanova. “Scholarships are surely the best option, but they are an exception rather than the rule. Therefore, ﬁnancing options, or school assistance in ﬁnding ﬁnancing solutions, often becomes one of the school selection criteria. “In any case, I would advise all candidates to start looking for ﬁnancing as early as possible in their MBA quest. Considering some loans or ﬁnancial assistance in your home country can be a very viable option.”
Getting an MBA was a professional challenge to further my career and move it to new leadership levels It was a few years ago that Mylovanova graduated from ESMT with her MBA degree, but she can still recall the best and worst things of business school life. “The best things are the challenge, the knowledge and the fun,” she says. “The worst are: not much sleep, especially if you choose a one-year full-time MBA, little free time as one has to manage having some good times with classmates even during tedious study hours, and the uncertainty about post-MBA life.” In fact, Mylovanova recommends studying for an MBA wholeheartedly. “An MBA gives a solid truly broad managerial feeling and business view. In my case, it was a great training in leadership,” she says. “An MBA is deﬁnitely a very intensive synthesis and training in all related leadership skills.” If you’ve attended the QS World MBA Tour, then you’re eligible to apply for one of QS’ scholarships. Visit TopMBA.com/scholarships
Business education in Africa: full of potential Across the African continent, business schools offer huge potential for career growth and developing a deep understanding of a region that many multinational corporations seek to grow their presence within.
s Africa’s ﬁnancial and economic hub, South African business schools are a particular favourite for MBA employers seeking to recruit future management talent with a business understanding of the region. In the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2012, three out of the ﬁve schools featured in the Africa and Middle East rating are located in South Africa; University of Cape Town GSB, University of Stellenbosch Business School, and the University of Witwatersrand. There are many more business schools across the African continent, but management education is still in its infancy and it will take many years before these schools achieve real prominence on the international stage. The only other African business school highlighted by employers in QS’ rating is the American University in Cairo, Egypt. South Africa is also showing great promise as an international MBA study destination. In the recently released QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012, the country has claimed a place in the top 20 most popular MBA study destinations in the world, rising from 29th place in 2011 to 18th place this year. Almost 4% of global MBA applicants highlighted the country as their preferred study destination. With South Africa joining the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China to make the acronym BRICS, the country’s global relevance to management education is surely only set to rise further in the coming decade.
Pranav Tandon, University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business My hometown is Shimla, one of the most famous travel destinations in India. In 2008 I received my engineering qualiﬁcation in Mumbai, and from there I started work in an investment banking agency in the ﬁeld of tech analysis. After some time in this environment, I came to the conclusion that I prefer a generalist role to a specialised one. Furthermore, I began dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur. This led me to pursue the idea of studying my MBA. Through MBA rankings I came across the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB), and after lots of research and seeing how much the GSB MBA suits my chosen path, I decided to make the move. It was a difﬁcult decision. Obviously, a big change for me in India we aren’t really aware of how South Africa operates, especially the class of education that an institute such as the GSB has to offer. But it seems I have made the right decision.
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Bonnie Mbewe, The University of Stellenbosch Business School I chose to study for an MBA in South Africa as we have some of the best business schools in the world. During my year of study, there were a large number of international students enrolled for the full-time class at USB. I think this bears testimony to the quality of education. I was accepted by The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) as well as the Graduate School of Business (University of Cape Town). I studied with the USB as the latter cancelled their part-time MBA that year for various reasons. Besides the fact that the USB has a number of international accreditations, I was attracted to the ﬂexibility of studying part-time. This allowed me to stay in full-time employment while pursuing my studies. We used to have class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. The USB lecturers are world class. I had the privilege of going on the International Study Tour of Spain and France where we attended lectures for two weeks. This gave me a platform to compare the South African lecturers to their European counterparts. I was left without a doubt that I was in good hands at USB. The USB offers core subjects and a wide selection of electives, where one can choose according to preference. The USB is always looking for ways to improve their subject offering. It was one of the ﬁrst business schools to offer Business Ethics as a subject which I found very useful.
India and the Middle East Growing appeal With India’s widely touted financial growth in the coming years and the Middle East seeking to diversify its economy, both are gradually growing as viable destinations for local and international MBA applicants
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ndia’s rapid transformation from an agriculture-based economy to a knowledge economy has been an interesting case study for engineers such as Daniel Gomez, a Spanish telecommunications engineer. “For people like me, who are working in the ﬁeld of Information Society, India’s development into an information and knowledge economy provides numerous examples of government policy implementation, social entrepreneurship and corporate initiatives aimed to bridge the digital divide and bring technology to the forefront of industry and progress,” says Gomez. While Gomez was drawn by the country’s evolving ICT sector, James Beeson, another student from the United Kingdom, was impressed by India’s focus on quality management education and the reputation of the Indian Institutes of Management. “I believe the experience at IIM Ahmedabad has helped me enormously,” says Beeson. “The course widened my understanding of areas of management in which previously I had little knowledge such as marketing, operations and organizational structure. This helped
me look at management problems from a more holistic perspective. I also had the added advantage of being able to reﬂect on issues of strategy, corporate culture and organizational structure.” Foreign students make up nearly ﬁve per cent of the student strength in most Indian business schools. Vinoo Urs, regional director for India at Duke University, Fuqua School of Business India says, “No nation can thrive without the collaboration and competition that result from conducting business internationally. As the world economy becomes ever more interconnected and interdependent, it’s vital for business leaders to become globally competent. Exposure to a number of viewpoints and business practices is an integral part of India’s success as an emerging world economic power.” Indian nationals staying at home to study It is not just foreign nationals at business school campuses across the country. Indians living abroad are also making their way back home in search of
Keisuke Matsumoto, Indian School of Business Keisuke Matsumoto is a Buddhist monk from Hokkaido, northern Japan. Though perhaps not a typical MBA student, Matsumoto believes an MBA degree, coupled with the cultural environment found in India is the ideal combination for him. “The Indian School of Business’ learning environment strongly attracted me. It gives me an outstanding opportunity to share my learning experience with motivated students and diverse faculty in cutting-edge facilities. ISB’s location has special importance for me. I gave my son an Indian name. India was the cradle for Buddhism, as depicted in Herman Hesse’s classic, Siddhartha. I was attracted to Hyderabad’s multi-cultural characteristic and the talents of ISB students. In the future, I want to develop a special learning package for Buddhist priests to acquire essential management skill for the temple. Among many kinds of subject in MBA, there are some subjects of special importance for them especially in the ﬁeld of Marketing and Strategy. After developing it, I want to share it with other Buddhist priests through an online education system. Apart from that, I also think much of education for young priests. I want to provide them of many opportunities to interact with people outside the temple in order to broaden their view and to develop their social skills.
quality management education. Take the case of Chandrasekhar Goda, currently enrolled in ISB’s MBA program. An entrepreneur based in Chicago, Goda’s company provides supply chain management solutions to the health care sector. “I was looking for a school that matched my goals,” explains Goda. “As I am from India, I was looking at Indian business schools and ISB was the perfect choice.” Apart from the fact that the school was located in his hometown of Hyderabad, Goda realized that an MBA degree from one of India’s top business schools would add an edge to his résumé. “Since I already had a footprint in the United States, I wanted a chance to further my education in India at a time when so much is happening in the economy.” Goda is happy with his choice of school. “The pedagogy is of a very high level, the faculty and peer group are above average.” While entrepreneurship remains top priority, Goda wants to undertake a short stint in the consulting and private equity sector while in India. Clearly the tide is turning. By providing challenging education and career opportunities to individuals such as Beeson, Gomez and Goda, India’s ‘brain-drain’ crisis, where much worry surrounded talented locals emigrating in order to further their careers, may well be a thing of the past.
Find the top rated business schools according to MBA employers. Read the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/ global-200
Established business schools opening in the Middle East Rich in oil and natural gas, home to man-made beaches and curious architecture – the Middle East is a unique region culturally, historically and physically. Fast becoming known for its business prowess, investment banking opportunities and entrepreneurial spirit, the Middle East is looking to diversify its economy away from a strong reliance on the extraction and trade of natural resources. Although business education in the Middle East is still in the early stages of
development, countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are investing in attracting management education providers from abroad, to help train local business leaders and future-proof their economies. The Dubai Knowledge Village, established in 2003 has attracted many international business schools to set up campuses within the purpose built education facility. London Business School, Edinburgh Business School, Hult International Business School, and University of Strathclyde Business School, are just a handful of the well established business schools which have set up campuses in the Middle East. London Business School for example, has a campus in Abu Dhabi. However, none of these institutions appear in QS’ MBA recruiter rating, the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report in their own right, as they do not produce dedicated full-time MBAs serving employers in the region, and so are not included in the research. Richard Gillingwater, dean of Cass Business School, says the Middle East is a growth region for skills, talent and education, particularly in the light of the ﬁnancial crisis. “This (crisis) will cause an inﬂux of labour and talent in the Gulf region, but it is a great opportunity. Until now the scarcity of skilled labour was a major drag on development, but this has now eased. As with any emerging market, the need and demand for MBAs is set to grow in line with the development of the region. Dubai will therefore form an important part of our recruitment strategy.” Though the North American, European, and to a degree, AsiaPaciﬁc regions tend to claim the international headlines in terms of management education, both India and the Middle East are popular MBA study destinations. Particularly attractive to those originating locally, business schools within the area are gradually growing in international MBA applicant popularity.
Rising in the East The Asia-Paciﬁc MBA The world is getting used to hearing that Asia is once again reclaiming its place on the international stage. Cries of a world dominated by the east are currently a little far-fetched, but the region is beginning to ensure that its economic and political clout is once again proportionate to the region’s size and population.
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he latest QS Top MBA Jobs and Salary Trends report shows that across Asia, employers are continuing to embrace MBAs as they pursue global expansion. Furthermore, MBA demand is shifting away from the developed economies of North America and Western Europe towards the emerging markets in the east. Professor Lydia Price, associate dean and academic director of China Europe International Business School’s (CEIBS) MBA program says that “Even prior to the global ﬁnancial crisis, Asia was growing at an astonishing rate, fuelled by foreign investment and outbound exports. Since the [ﬁnancial] crisis, the trend has accelerated.” Studying an MBA in Asia Aside from the importance of Asia to the international job market, the experience of studying for an MBA in Asia offers students an alternative to the traditional courses, found in Europe or North America. Demands for qualiﬁcations among the Asian workforce are high and in cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, it is expected that employees continuously train outside of their work, says Scott Goddard, director of Nottingham University Business School’s MBA program in Singapore. As such, many business schools in the region offer part-time courses for those who see the need to gain an MBA while holding onto their current position. International students will however, ﬁnd plenty of traditional full-time MBAs. The most notable difference between studying for an MBA in Asia compared to other destinations is the business experience that the region provides. Students studying in Asia beneﬁt from ﬁrst-hand experience in Asian companies, or multinationals that are accustomed to working in the region. Understanding the ethos, values and methods of businesses in the world’s fastest growing region is a valuable commodity in the international jobs market.
MBA jobs and salaries in Asia “South and South East Asia have excellent economies and are demanding a lot of MBAs,” says Goddard. “But, while the same can also be said of China, the salaries offered by Chinese companies just don’t meet the level found in the rest of the region.” In 2011, China showed a 23% rise in demand for MBA holders, and Goddard says that the market will eventually mature. “Right now though MBA holders will ﬁnd plenty of positions available but it will be some years before the salaries catch up with the demand.” Alternatively, Singapore may prove attractive to MBA students willing to immerse themselves in east Asia. As a city-state, it is one of the wealthiest societies in the world, and boasts some excellent business schools and international corporations dealing with ﬁnance and logistics. Recently, Singapore has been rated highly for its business schools’ ability to provide MBA students with the expertise required to work in ﬁnancial sectors. According to the TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report, the average MBA salary for those in Singapore is US$82,700. This places the city-state fourth in the Asia-Paciﬁc region, behind Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong, where MBAs earn on average US$117,800, US$92,000 and US$87,500, respectively. Reputation of Asian business schools North American, European and, particularly well-established Asian and Australian business schools still command the affections of many employers. It is likely that this trend is set to continue, as the newer Asian schools cannot yet compete with the reputation of older establishments elsewhere in the world. However, many schools in Asia are well-accredited and there are many opportunities to study an MBA at western business schools in Asia. This offers students the experience of the Asian business world, whilst studying at world class institutions. Professor Price provides an example of how the pace of change in Asia demands that business students pay close attention to the region: “Fifteen years ago, professors at CEIBS were introducing basic western business practices into China,” she says. “Today things are different... Chinese companies are developing new ways of competing - ways that challenge long held assumptions on ‘how the game is played’.” It is clear that knowledge of Asia will become increasingly required of MBA holders across the globe. Although much of Asia’s markets are still in development, the region is already home to some of the most advanced cities and best business schools in the world, while also offering a low cost of living for students compared with the west. Taking this into consideration, choosing a business school in Asia could prove to be a step in the right direction for many prospective MBA students.
My goal is to be at the top management level of multi-national corporations. While both my bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree are not related to business studies, taking business classes to equip myself is necessary to achieve this goal. The MBA offered me well-rounded training and now I am able to perform in different areas such as marketing, sales and ﬁnance. A successful leader should be dynamic. I always knew that social connections would be the key element for my career plan. By joining the MBA, I am able to expand my network, so although the tuition fee is expensive and I have sacriﬁced a lot of family time for the study, it is well worth it! I wanted a reputable institute that offers practical knowledge, but not just a qualiﬁcation. I wanted to learn how to start up, operate and expand a business; to raise funds and even make the company a listed company. All this requires knowledge of business law, accounting, investment management, six sigma, etc. After comparisons with other institutes in Hong Kong, I chose The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s MBA.
number of schools in Asia.“In the past ﬁve years, 23 schools in Asia have received AACSB accreditation and that’s more than doubled. The number of accredited schools in Asia is now 42,” says Jan Williams, AACSB chairman. “A large number of business schools in the pipeline for obtaining AACSB accreditation are from Asia. We currently accredit over 600 schools and while the majority of these schools are in the US, recently much of the growth has been outside the US, and Asia is a primary growth area,” Williams adds. Business schools in Asia-Paciﬁc are rising rapidly into, and upwards through the ratings provided in recent years by QS and other organizations such as the Financial Times and Businessweek. With economic growth, career opportunities and investment in the region likely to continue expanding in the future, it is also possible that the attraction for potential MBA students will maintain a similar momentum. Differences in MBA specialization, salary expectations and living environment will continue to differentiate countries in the AsiaPaciﬁc region. But as a whole, it is unlikely that the vibrancy of the region will dissipate in the foreseeable future.
Discover which business schools MBA recruiters value the most in AsiaPaciﬁc. Read the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report, available at TopMBA.com/global-200
MBA accreditation in Asia The boom in accredited business schools across Asia-Paciﬁc has been linked to the region’s growing popularity. Historically, the US has been the most popular study destination among those candidates from Asia-Paciﬁc. But according to ﬁgures by GMAC, fewer test scores from Asian citizens are being sent to the US. “As more Asian schools have gained international recognition, the proportion of scores sent to the US by Asian examinees has actually fallen, from 75% in test year 2006 to 68% in test year 2010,” says Jane Delbene, director of EMEA marketing at GMAC. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a US-based organization that provides business school accreditation globally, says it has provided accreditation to a growing
Anthony Chan, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Oceania’s business schools: Internationally strong Close proximity to Asian economicpowers, coupled with a strong educational reputation make the Oceania region an attractive MBA study destination
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ften grouped in the same region as Asia, Australia’s business schools outperform many of the country’s closest neighbors in the various MBA rankings and ratings.Considering the country’s smaller population size compared to the US and some European countries, plus its geographical isolation with many western countries, Australia’s business schools certainly perform well on a global scale. Australia, alongside New Zealand attract many MBA applicantsas a result of lax visa controls and close proximity to the rising business and ﬁnancial power houses in Asia. Add to this a wealth of cultural diversity, strong emphasis on quality of life, and extremely competitive MBA salaries and it’s easy to understand the region’s lure. In fact, in the recently released QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey, both countries appear in the top 20 list of preferred MBA study destinations for MBA applicants. Australia competes in attractiveness with many Western European destinations, settling in sixth place, while New Zealand sits comfortably in 16th most attractive MBA study destination. Oceania’s accredited business schools For those seeking an alternative to North America and Western Europe, MBA programs in the Oceania region can prove an appealing option, with many of the region’s top business schools boasting international accreditation. “There are currently ten Australian [business schools] that have been accredited by AACSB,” says Jan Williams, chair of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).“We have provided accreditation to one or two business schools in the country every year. There hasn’t been any school in that region that has gained and then lost their accreditation status. The number is going up slowly.” There are now also six business schools in New Zealand that have been accredited by AACSB. Findings in the latest in QS Global 200 Business
Schools Report provide further evidence that the Oceania region is perfecting its MBA offerings.Over 4,500 businesses worldwide, which are actively recruiting MBAs provided details of which schools they prefer to recruit from. In total, 11 of the 36 business schools highlighted by global recruiters in the Asia and Oceania region are Australian. It’s closest Asian rival (in terms of numbers), India took six of the top 36 places. Melbourne Business School is the highest rated business school in Australia being placed third in the region by thousands of employers across the globe.Other business schools in Australia that have featured prominently in the MBA employer rating include Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Monash University Faculty of Business and Economics, and Sydney Business School at the University of Wollongong. Professor John Seybolt, former dean at Melbourne Business School says that Australia’s improving MBA proﬁle amongst employers is partly due to the country’s long European heritage and location. “Australia is a bridge between both cultures, perfect for [English speaking] students seeking exposure to the emerging AsiaPaciﬁc markets in the comfort of an international English speaking country,” he says.
Salary expectations and global popularity While Australian employers offer MBA graduates the highest average salaries within the Asia-Paciﬁc region, interest in taking an MBA in Australia has dipped slightly according to research by QS. A total of 2,140 employers worldwide who were actively recruiting MBAs contributed to the TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report 2011/2012, providing details of the annual salaries that they offer MBA graduates. The report found that MBAs employers in Australia offer the second highest salary in the world
at US$109,100, behind only Switzerland where MBAs earn an average of $119,400. Further data from QS’ applicant survey shows that the largest proportions of those considering applying to MBA programs in Australia and New Zealand come from the Asia-Paciﬁc region. For Australia, this is most likely the reason why the country’s popularity has fallen slightly in recent years, as south Asian applicants were likely dissuaded due to media coverage of perceived racial tensions against students in the country. In 2009, Australia was listed as the world’s fourth most popular MBA study destination, but fell to sixth place this year with 15% of the 4,527 survey respondents specifying it as their preferred location to apply for an MBA. Data on the number of GMAT scores sent to Australian business schools also suggests that the country previously experienced a small dip in popularity amongst MBA applicants.Australia slipped from 10th to 11th place in 2010 according to the number of GMAT tests received by business schools in the country. Despite this, Alex Chisholm, senior research analyst at GMAC refutes that the data is reﬂective of a drop in interest. “Despite the one-place drop, the number of score reports sent to Australian business schools actually increased from 2,831 to 4,156 between 2006 and 2010, an increase of nearly 50%,” he says.“Australia is also unique in terms of the origin of students sending scores to its schools. In test year 2010, 88% of the 4,156 scores sent to Australia were from foreign citizens. This speaks volumes to the attractiveness of pursuing higher education in Australia,” he adds. It appears that, in neglecting applying to MBA programs in Oceania, business school applicants could well be missing out on a range of opportunities that the country has to offer future management talent.