Yearly Archives: 2008

A Truly International Student Body (North Americans Included!)

The more liberal approach that European business schools are taking with their curricula is not going unnoticed by the global applicant pool of aspiring managers and entrepreneurs. Many top-ranked European MBA programs have student bodies in which the nation hosting the institution contributes only a small minority of the student population.

For example, HEC in Paris is 82% international, with only 30% originating from all of Western Europe. David Bach, dean of the MBA program at IE reports that the profile of the MBA class matriculating in 2008 was 90% international. Significantly, IE, along with HEC, RSM at Erasmus University, and others are also seeing an increase in the number of North American applicants. This fact is significant since North America is home to some of the world’s most elite and prestigious business schools, which tend to give preference to qualified domestic applicants.

Of course, some level of diversity can be found in most competitive MBA programs, in North America and elsewhere; the difference is more philosophical in nature. For example, at HEC an American MBA candidate may find himself instructed to work in a team with citizens from China, Germany and Saudi Arabia to develop his abilities to work practically with a variety of peoples. As Valerie Gauthier, Associate Dean of HEC, said in an interview in earlier 2008, “The emphasis is not only on the leadership program, but human development.”

Global Collaboration Initiative

European business schools continue to diversify not only in terms of those they attract to their campuses, or the substantial and growing number of students who take part in exchange programs, but also in the ways they integrate with other educational concerns globally.

For instance, in a conference bringing the deans of 11 top business schools in London in July 2007, educational leaders discussed points of common interest, including joint loans and scholarships for students. They also discussed the merits and organization of their respective exchange programs.

The collaborative emphasis also exists between successful European schools and the developing world. IESE in Barcelona, which recently opened up a new office in New York City, has also opened three schools in Africa in Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya with the hope of bringing about the same sort of transformational change to countries in Africa that it helped entrepreneurs bring to Mexico, Brazil and China 20 years ago. Jordi Canals, dean of the program, has said that he wants the school to use its resources to work within the regional educational systems in Africa to train faculty and administration to become self-sufficient and take a commanding role in their own business education.

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Posted on December 13, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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There is a great shift occurring in European business schools towards a highly modernized business education that incorporates multicultural diversity, interdisciplinary study, new technology, and the adoption of elements of the standard Anglo-Saxon university model.

The Bologna Accord and Europe’s New Educational Paradigm

The shift can be traced to the 1999 Bologna Accord, which outlined the steps necessary to standardize a model of higher education throughout Europe. Its primary goal is to enact reforms that would increase the level of competition between European universities. The reforms of the Bologna Accord include:

  • standardization of degrees granted;
  • establishment of clear divisions between undergraduate and graduate studies; and
  • promotion of student mobility across disciplines, institutions, and nations.

Currently a plethora of different degrees are offered by institutes of higher education in Europe, which often leads to confusion and bureaucratic nightmares. Also, the long first-section model of 5 years is gradually being adapted towards the Anglo-Saxon model of 3-4 years for a bachelor’s degree and an additional 1-2 years for a master’s.

The Accord has been adopted by 40 European nations, and some nations like Switzerland and the Netherlands have already enacted their provisions. 2010 is the target year for the Accord’s implementation in all participating countries.

The Contextualization of MBAs within a Larger Curriculum

In the spirit of the Accord, European Universities are seeking not only to coordinate their MBA programs with the exigencies of the labor and financial markets, but with a spectrum of other disciplines as well Colin Mayer, Dean of the Said School at Oxford said recently in an interview with Business Week that the school’s offerings work in conjunction with those found in the University’s law, finance and science programs. He says that it is this sort of interdisciplinary work that is essential to successful entrepreneurship.

Dean Santiago Iniguez of the IE school in Madrid says that earning an MBA should be an “experience” and not merely a transmission of knowledge. According to Iniguez, the ideal is to create managers who are cosmopolitan, capable of negotiating different cultures while speaking a unified business language.

The degree of interaction between MBA programs and other fields is not clearly defined by the Accord and varies across universities. Some universities have taken steps to simplify the process of taking courses across disciplines, while others like IE have taken the more dramatic step of providing highly customized course offerings within the MBA program itself: courses with subjects like Chinese philosophy and literature, or global musical trends.

Posted on December 8, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Earlier 2008, Thomas Robertson, dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Frank Brown, dean of INSEAD, announced a four-year renewal of the two business schools’ alliance initiated seven years ago in 2001, which they mutually consider has been a great success.


The impetus for the alliance is to promote the internationalization of both schools’ programs in terms of MBA student exchange, faculty exchange, executive education, research collaboration, developing joint PhD curricula, and joint alumni initiatives. With INSEAD’s campuses in France and Singapore and Wharton’s campuses in Philadelphia and San Francisco, students and faculty are able to derive experience from three continents, all of which are vital players in international business.

Joint MBA Program – Size & More

Since its inception, the alliance has educated 800 MBAs, 50-75 from each school per year, through two-month exchanges giving students access to a broader and deeper selection of coursework led by regional faculty and assistance by local career coordinators.

Nearly the same number of executives have taken advantage of the exchange, enrolling in executive education programs like “Strategic R&D Management” and “Leading an Effective Sales Force”, which are taught by faculty of both schools at all the campus locations. The executive training offered by the partnership also makes company-specific curricula available for its multinational clients.

The networking potential for alumni is also immense with 82,000 Wharton alumni spread over 148 countries and 37,000 INSEAD alumni in even more locations.

Research Program

The research opportunities created by the partnership have been substantial as well. Through the creation of the jointly governed and funded INSEAD-Wharton Center for Global Research and Education over 60 faculty members have taken long-term teaching or research positions ranging from six months to two years at one of the partner schools.


What will the next four years bring to the partnership? Robertson says he would like to continue developing a pool of multinational clients looking for global solutions, which he believes the alliance is uniquely situated to provide. Both deans remark that further development of PhDs is desirable given the constant need for excellent faculty. “The more quality academics we can produce, the better off both institutions are going to be and the better off the academic community in general will be,” says Brown.

Near-Term Initiatives

  • A plan to distribute proprietary case studies developed at INSEAD to Wharton;
  • Workshops for staff across campuses that will focus on ideal practice in diverse elements of business ranging from training to diversity management;
  • Continued joint alumni events;
  • Opportunities for peer reviews of alumni work by both alumni populations.

More information regarding the partnership can be found here:


George Yip’s objective in his newly appointed deanship at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, as indicated in one of his interviews with Business Week, is simple: establish the Netherlands school in the league of the most elite European business schools. Using a soccer analogy (or football, depending on what side of the pond you find yourself), he says he wants to take the school from the Premiership to the Champions’ League.

Yip said there are three primary means through which he intends to achieve this goal.

o  Diversity – The first is to attract more American and Germans. While the Erasmus school is already highly international, with 40 nationalities represented in its 100 students, the ability to attract Americans is a necessity for any school that desires an elite reputation.

o  Intellectual Powerhouse – The second is for faculty to publish more research in managerial journals, best-selling books, in the hopes of growing the school’s reputation as an intellectual powerhouse.

o  Expanded Executive Education Programs – Lastly, Yip emphasized that the customized executive education programs will be complemented with open enrollment programs as well.

European vs. US MBA

Yip says that European schools are becoming better positioned to compete with top American programs since the gap in the quality of faculty has largely disappeared and the sort of international experience that European business schools are able to provide and that is essential for the next generation of MBAs is less readily available in American schools.

Yip emphasized while the ethnic or geographic diversity available in Europe is important, there is a real difference in philosophy as well. It is generally recognized that American business schools place a greater emphasis on shareholder value and competition, rather than stakeholder management in a more holistic approach to factor in the interests of all parties such as employees, communities and government.

Focus on Sustainability

The current trends towards sustainable business practices and eco-friendly design may also work towards his four-year target of establishing RSM in the top 20 business schools worldwide. Seated in a nation below sea level, the Netherlands is at the forefront of sustainable development, and Yip intends to continue expanding a planning center for sustainability with an emphasis on climate change and incorporating sustainable business practices into RSM’s MBA programs as well.

Biographical Background

Yip is the school’s first foreign dean and his diverse background embodies what he considers to be the school’s strengths. A dual American and British citizen, he was born in Vietnam, lived in Hong Kong and Burma in his youth, studied economics and law at Cambridge, before completing an MBA and DBA (Doctor at Business Administration) at Harvard. He spent the consecutive two decades working for Pricewaterhouse, while serving faculty positions at Harvard and UCLA, with visiting positions at Georgetown and Stanford, before returning to England as professor at Judge Business School at Cambridge and moving into a position at London Business School.

Posted on November 25, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Recommenders should be individuals able to comment on your preparedness for business school, your past experiences, and your personal and professional attributes. A recommender need not be a big name at your company or elsewhere, but most importantly someone who knows you well.

Sometimes this aspect of the process is frustrating. Your recommender is pressed for time, forgets they promised you a recommendation. But you can make it easier on yourself and your recommender by making sure you:

· Provide them with a copy of your resume, even essay draft.

· Meet with them (whether by phone or in person).

· Give them a clear understanding of deadlines.

On the recommendations themselves, if you feel appropriate doing so request that your recommender address how they know you, your accomplishments, you vs. others in similar roles, your strengths, and your weaknesses. As a rule, the more specific a recommendation is, the better the recommendation is.


Your resume is also an important selling point to the admissions committee. It should be flawless and in a style the admissions committees find suitable. Some schools, for example, insist that the resume be one-page, so you should adapt, cut, and edit to their expectations. Some guiding principles to follow include the following.

· Do not include high school experiences in your business school resume.

· List your work experiences first, before your education.

· Do not state your objectives.



Do the best you can and give yourself adequate time to prepare. Take a review class or seek out private tutoring to ensure that your score is as good as it can be.

Undergraduate GPA

It can not be changed. For some it will be a strength, for others a weakness. Consider explaining in an optional essay, for example, a low GPA, but do not make excuses. Professional or academic successes post-college do say a great deal already.

Extracurricular Activities

Do not simply list these activities. Make sure that you also explain them and their importance to you as well as your particular accomplishments. If you do not have at least 4 extracurricular activities, consider explaining why: Were you working? Were you fulfilling other personal or professional roles? What in the future would you like to do outside the professional sphere? How will you ensure that you are able to do so?

Posted on November 17, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Business schools often ask candidates several essay questions. Generally, schools ask about the applicant’s professional goals and experiences, achievements and/or leadership roles, impact, ethical dilemmas faced, specific events/role models that led you to where you are and where you want to be, and disappointment and how it was handled.

The goal of the essay is to fill in the picture that the admissions committee has of the applicant. The essays should be seen as your opportunity to show, explain, and support your candidacy. In the essay portion, the admissions committee wants to get to know you better and understand why you want an MBA, why now, and why at their particular school. Also, they want to know how an MBA is going to help you achieve your goal in both the short and the long term, as well as what you uniquely have to offer. For some applicants answers to these questions are clear; for others, they require greater introspection. Regardless of whether your answers to these questions come easily or with difficulty, you must be sure that your essays answer these questions. This is one of the foremost concerns of admissions committee and it may seem elementary—but you must ANSWER THE QUESTIONS. They ask the particular questions they ask for a reason, and they want answers to those questions, not to other ones. Your answers should be precise, clear, and straightforward, even if you employ creative styles in your answers. Do not leave them guessing.

Optional essays are an opportunity for you to provide additional information about yourself. You can explain pitfalls, gaps, hardships, or highlight items that have not been properly illuminated in other areas of the application.

Once you have decided on where to apply you are ready to begin attacking the essay portion.

· Create a list of different experiences you’d like to cover in the essay section. You may consider categorizing these according to leadership, team experiences, and growing/learning experiences.

· Read over all essays, required and optional, for a given school. Determine which experiences you’d like to cover in which essays or if any experiences are best left out as a result of being difficult to match with a particular school.

· Outline Essays. Your outlines should include a thesis, supporting points and specific examples.

· Write freely. Do not concern yourself yet with whether or not a particular point is helpful or harmful, just write.

· Edit. This will most likely be an ongoing process. Admissions committees want to see well-edited, clear, concise prose—this may require the help of a trusted friend or seeking out an admissions consultant. The committees read your essays several times so even minor mistakes are likely to be noticed.

Posted on November 10, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Piecing together a full application may at first seem daunting, but applicants from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of personal and professional obligations continue to do so from year to year, in ever increasing numbers. So there is no need to feel discouraged from the outset by particular application components. Instead, begin by figuring out what you will both offer and get out of an MBA program.

Overall Advice:

There are a few guiding principles to follow in the application process.

· Match yourself to programs. Through research, going to campuses, and talking to students and/or alumni, you can begin the process of understanding what MBA programs can offer you and whether your background experiences are suited to a program. Consider the strengths of particular programs and whether these complement your interests.

· Remember also that schools want diversity. Do not assume that simply because your professional experiences are out of the ordinary for a school that it should be automatically eliminated. Your application gives you many opportunities to connect yourself to the school (and, uniqueness is a plus).

· Schools do not frown upon candidates that come from less known or small companies or less represented professions. Make your function and the function of your organization or company clear, and it will likely be a strength in your application.

· Apply in the early application rounds. B-school applications are not something to rush through.

· Send in your applications once you’ve completed them. Sometimes server problems arise at the last minute as many applicants are trying to get applications in.

· After submitting applications, take a couple of days to rest and then start preparing for interviews.

Posted on November 3, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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The addition of a presentation component in the University of Chicago’s graduate application also acknowledges Microsoft’s PowerPoint as an essential tool for today’s tech-savvy, business world. “No one in business today could pretend to be facile in business communications without PowerPoint,” said a declarative Clarke L. Caywood, associate professor of integrated marketing at Northwestern University in an interview with The Chicago Tribune. “It’s like being able to read.”

First created in 1984 at Forethought, a small software company in the Silicon Valley, the visual aid program was originally titled Presenter. In 1987, Presenter was acquired by Microsoft, where it quickly became known as PowerPoint. Now PowerPoint is an internationally recognized program, with 500 million registered copies creating an estimated 30 million presentations a day, but despite PowerPoint’s obvious popularity in the corporate world at large, until Chicago’s recent addition PowerPoint hasn’t been utilized in MBA graduate applications.

Surveying other top B schools recently to see if they too are eagerly adding the presentation element to their own graduate applications, surprisingly, many are doggedly sticking to the essay question. Brent Chrite, associate dean and director of the MBA program at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, recently told The Arizona Daily Star, “[the PowerPoint presentation’s] an innovative and interesting idea. It’s just not clear to me how that format lets you capture the [applicant’s] depth of insight that’s important to us.” A recent email from the admissions committee at Dartmouth College’s Tuck [SCHOOL OF BUSINESS] shares a similar, albeit frank response to the PowerPoint-presentations-in-future-applications query, “We do not require and do not envision requiring a powerpoint.”

Countering this, Martinelli asserts that today’s business environment consistently demands brief yet informative communication. MBA applicants should then readily reflect their capacity to work under these constraints, and a PowerPoint presentation is the best means of judging that quality. “Whether it be e-mail, PowerPoint or a two-minute elevator speech, successful businesspeople need to learn how to express their full ideas in very restrictive formats. We feel the new application requirement represents this very common challenge,” said Martinelli in an interview with EditorsChoice.

Perhaps, as Martinelli told BusinessWeek, there is a “buzz in the market,” and more B schools in future MBA graduate applications will eventually adopt the PowerPoint presentation as a valid form of an applicant’s disposition and achievements. For now, though, many B schools are concerning themselves with enhancing their essay questions. Many top B schools now have more contemporary essay queries like Harvard’s, “How have you experienced culture shock?” and the University of California, Berkley’s Haas {SCHOOL OF BUSINESS}’s, “If you could have dinner with one individual in the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?” that provoke more personal responses.

After a successful pilot, the highly esteemed University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business has officially accepted the PowerPoint presentation as an integral component of their graduate application. In addition to the two traditional essay questions, a mandatory four-slide PowerPoint presentation will be included as a means to better know their prospective students and attract more innovative thinkers to the university. “We wanted to have a freeform space for students to be able to say what they think is important,” Rose Martinelli, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago and key admissions officer behind the decision recently expressed in an interview with The Washington Post. “To me this is just four pieces of blank paper. You do what you want. It can be a presentation. It can be poetry. It can be anything.” Although this ambiguity may seem a bit daunting to MBA applicants, Chicago has set the following ground rules:

 * The PowerPoint presentation must be no more than four slides.
* The presentation must consist of “static” slides, or slides that do not contain hyperlinks or video as each presentation will be printed and added to their application file for review by the admissions committee.
* A Word document containing notes may be attached to the presentation if an applicant feels a further explanation of his or her slides is necessary.

As to Martinelli’s expectations: “I really don’t know what we’re going to get,” she recently told The Washington Post. However, after reviewing thousands of pilot presentation submissions this past year, Martinelli does know that more conservative slideshows did not fair as well. With only four slides given, a nebulous question and the desire to stand out, it may seem instinctual for applicants to immerse themselves in constructing the visual aspects of the presentation first. However, an applicant’s first focus should be finding something distinctive about themselves that would be beneficial for the Chicago admissions committee to know and was not previously addressed in earlier essays. Only after securing a sound topic should applicants “get creative” with their presentations through the use of strong pictures, legible fonts, and colors. In addition, applicants should also bear in mind that their projects will be printed out before they are judged by the admissions committee. “You could tell when someone figured out how to work with the ambiguity and really embraced that,” Martinelli told BusinessWeek, favoring the applicants who weren’t “going to play it safe and regurgitate what is in my application already.”

Martinelli later conceded to BusinessWeek that the university may “put some further context or shape around it [the PowerPoint presentation],” but for now, the former guidelines and restrictions (and ambiguity) will apply.

Below is the actual PowerPoint question you can find the Chicago GSB application.

Chicago GSB PowerPoint Presentation

We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application and now invite you tell us about yourself. Using four slides or less, please provide readers with content that captures who you are.

We have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation.

The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach this essay. Feel free to use the software you are most comfortable with. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.

There is a strict maximum of 4 slides, though you can provide fewer than 4 if you choose.

Slides will be printed and added to your file for review, therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points. Color may be used.

Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.

You are welcome to attach a document containing notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. However the hope is the slide is able to stand alone and convey your ideas clearly. You will not be penalized for adding notes but you should not construct a slide with the intention of using the notes section as a consistent means of explanation.


Posted on October 18, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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