Category Archives: International MBA

‘Ivy League East’ MBAs unite to brand themselves as ‘Top 4 Asia B-schools’

Many industries have seen a shift from the US / Europe to Asia, yet, somehow, education has been one of the slowest sectors to make this transition. Certainly at the elite level there has always been, and remains, a significant migration westward to attend brand-name universities. Institutions such as Harvard and Oxford have unbelievable prestige across the Orient and this is not going away any time soon.

But there are straws in the wind, and the wind is blowing the other way.

As an admissions advisor I’ve started to hear Americans and Germans and Canadians and Italian nationals saying this kind of thing: “My target schools are Harvard, MIT, LBS, and HKUST, and Nanyank.”
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Now four Asian schools have gotten themselves together under the banner “Top 4 Asia B-Schools” to solicit applicants from North America and Europe. The Top 4 are the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), and Nanyang Technological University (NTU, Singapore). The programs are all well-ranked, all accredited by AACSB (US) or EQUIS (Europe) or both, and feature prominent Western faculty.

The admissions implications: First, none of these schools are easy to get into. Part of their growing exclusiveness, part of reaching the top-tier and staying there, is having admissions policies that turn away similar percentages as those dinged by top US / EU schools (about 85% on average.) So there won’t be any “gimmee’s”. But, having said that, the Asian programs are very keen to balance their intake between East and West, so for now a foreigner stands a much greater chance of admissions than a local, all other things being equal.

Second, these four (and other) Asian schools are going to grow further in prestige. This is similar to what I said about the new Johns Hopkins Carey School MBA here. Look ahead and realize that while CEIBS et al does not sound as good as UCLA now, during the span of your career it no doubt will, and the MBA branding, alumni network etc., will be just a strong.

Footnote: According to the CEIBS site, teams from the Top 4 Asia B-schools will attend QS MBA fairs this fall as a group. The dates are:

North America
• Los Angeles: September 11th, Wilshire Grand Los Angeles
• San Francisco: September 12th, The Fairmont San Francisco
• Toronto: September 19th, Metro Toronto Convention Centre
• New York: September 25th, Hilton New York

Europe
• Paris: October 9th, Palais des Congres
• London: October 23rd, QEII Conference Centre
• Madrid: October 26th, Husa Princesa

Look ahead and count the Carey School among the top-10 MBA programs

The Carey School? Never heard of it? It is Johns Hopkins University’s school of business, as renamed in 2006 when the university received a $50 million endowment from banker William Polk Carey.

It’s well known that JHU has been a bit of an oddity — a top-tier university with relatively little offering in business management. It has had a part-time program available at its Washington, D.C., campus, but nothing that attracted serious attention. Now that’s all changed. As reported in BusinessWeek, Johns Hopkins University is launching a new MBA program in August, in Baltimore, and it intends to become one of the world’s best.

The admissions implications are this: for a while — a few years — Carey will be relatively easy to get into. It will quickly move up the ranking based on the stellar JHU brand (it is particularly renown medical and public health schools) and soon will be as hard to gain admission as at any top program. If you’re prepared to think a little creatively, and move quickly, you can have a top-tier MBA ticket even if you’re likely to face a lot of dings from the established schools.

As BW reports, the Carey School is seeking to distinguish itself by designing a curriculum that will capitalize on Johns Hopkins’ strength in medicine and public health, have a focus on emerging markets and ethics, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

Yes, there will be challenges. As a prospective student you should be aware that the Carey alumni network will be nascent at best, and career services won’t have a lot of clout in the market. The school’s inaugural dean, Yash Gupta, is busy recruiting top faculty and still working on AACSB accreditation, and this could all fail. But, brand capital in the bank says chances are it will succeed. And, as with Oxford-Said and Cambridge-Judge in the early days, top-tier admissions is currently there to be had even if you’re a long-shot applicant.
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An MBA application journey, from GMAT prep to acceptance

Today I thought I’d share the extended journey of an MBA Studio client, as reported here and here. Not only is it a worthy and heartwarming success story in which I’m most gratified to have been able to play a part — helping this applicant with a 640 GMAT get into a top European school — but it is also instructive as to the ups and downs of elite MBA applications…

“Hard work certainly goes a long way. These days a lot of people work hard, so you have to make sure you work even harder and really dedicate yourself to what you are doing and setting out to achieve.” — Lakshmi Mittal

“The above quote by the great Mittal is really my matra and this is what i believed in when i started on this journey. There were a great deal of challenges and difficulties that i faced but what kept me going was the ultimate goal! MBA is what i wanted to do, this would take me to my destination and i wanted to give in my 100 percent to get there!

“I started this blog back in February, 2009 and at that time I had no idea what was ahead of me. I still remember my first post on 9th February 2009. That was the day when I first laid my hands on the “Official Guide for GMAT Review”. That was the day I promised myself that I’ll put in my sole(sic) into the GMAT preparation and give-in my best shot towards my business school application.

“So without further ado here is a timeline representation of some of the important events that followed that day:

Feb 9, 2009 – I prepared a GMAT gameplan – a time table of how I’ll be taking on the GMAT. Ordered 5 books and dowloaded the beatthegmat flashcards by Eric. More Info
Feb 18, 2009 – Took my first Diagnostic test from the official guide. Did pretty well!
Mar 2, 2009 – Took my first GMAT CAT (GMATPrep 1 downloaded from mba.com) – didn’t go well.
Mar 16, 2009 – Took my first Manhattan GMAT CAT
Apr 1, 2009 – Found out about GMAT Focus – that was a true gem!
Apr 20, 2009 – My first 700 score in a practice test!
Apr 22, 2009 – Influenced by all the GMAT gurus in the Beatthegmat community, I started an Error Log to record all my errors and started going throu’ them once every 2 days along with the flash cards.
May 1, 2009 – A very anxious day indeed with GMAT in 24hrs!
May 2, 2009 – GMAT Day (Attempt 1) – scored a 640 (Q44 V34). Was disappointed with the score and decided to re-take.
May 4, 2009 – Back on with preparation! Analyzed what went wrong and tried to come up with solutions. (You can read about it here)
May 7, 2009 – Scheduled my GMAT (attempt 2) for 19th June.
June 1 to June 8, 2009 – Took 4 practice CATs and averaged around 720! It was a real moral boost.
June 19, 2009 – One of the worst days of my journey – GMAT attempt 2 – 620!! Herez some realization.
June 24, 2009 – Back in the game for another attempt. This was the first time i met Charles – the best tutor in NYC.
July, 2009 – Rigorous practice. And this time with tougher materials such as LSAT critical reasoning book, GMAT Focus, and others. (More info)
August 8, 2009 – Realized something – I’m a horrible standardized test taker. GMAT (Attempt 3) – 640, Again! (More Info) I decided to stop wasting any more time on GMAT started the b-school hunt with my 640!
August 9 to 11, 2009 – Prepared a list of parameters that would help me select 6-7 b-schools that i’ll apply to. Shortlisted a few schools in Asia and Europe. (More Info)
August 15, 2009 – Prepared an outline for essays. First stop – INSEAD! Quite a bold move eh! :)
August 24, 2009 – INSEAD essays first draft – ready!
Sep 1 to 24, 2009 – went over 4 more drafts of INSEAD essays.
Sep 28, 2009 – After 6 drafts of essays, finally submitted my INSEAD application.
Sep 29, 2009 – Submitted my application to University of Hong Kong (I still haven’t heard back from them :) )
Oct 4, 2009 – ESADE Application submitted – after 3 drafts of essays!
Oct 6 to12, 2009 – IESE essays – done with my 3rd draft of essays.
Oct 15, 2009 – ESADE invited me to interview – this was one of my happiest moments since it was my first interview invite!!
Oct 23, 2009 – IESE Application submitted.
Oct 26, 2009 – IESE Invites me to interview within 3 days – That was the fastest response i’ve got.
Nov 1 to 20, 2009Interview preparation along with NUS Business school application essays.
Nov 5, 2009 – INSEAD dings! I kinda expected that.
Nov 13, 2009 – NUS Application submitted.
Nov 22, 2009 – ESADE Admissions interview (face to face with adcom). I still remember that day. It went amazingly well and I was quite confident on making it.
Nov 23, 2009 – IESE Interview – My longest interview but was a fantastic experience with a super friendly adcom!
Nov 25, 2009 – IESE Waitlists me and invited me to an Assessment Day on Jan 31st! It was a 2 months wait!
Nov 27, 2009 – ESADE dings me! I was totally shattered. I still have no idea why but now i understand that there is someone up there who controls your reins. Everything happens for the best!!
Dec 4 to 10, 2009 – HKUST application essays – draft 1,2 and 3.
Dec 12, 2009 – HKUST Application submitted.
Dec 15 to 31, 2009 – The dreadful WAIT!
Jan 1 to 15, 2010 – Applied to Tsinghua University in China, Interviewed and Waitlisted :(
Jan 29, 2010 – Two days before the big event – IESE Assessment day, I get dinged by HKUST!
Jan 30, 2010 – IESE Case presentation – Sample class by Prof. Mike Rosenberg from IESE B-school.
Jan 31, 2010 – IESE Assessment day – A fantastic experience interacting with 30 brilliant applicants from over 15 countries. A whole day of team activities.
Feb 1 to 10, 2010 – Waited impatiently for the IESE results!
Feb 11, 2010 – The day my dream came true – Got accepted to IESE Business school!

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“Like World cup is to soccer, Wimbledon is to Tennis, an acceptance is to an applicant blog. I waited 12 months for such a post and I can’t be happier. I couldn’t have done any of this without the love, support, and encouragement of my parents and my girl friend. I would like to dedicate this admission to them. Amma, Appa and Vrush – this one is for you!

“I also want to thank many people who have played an important part in my journey:

Eric Bahn for Beatthegmat
Charles Bibilos – my tutor
Rocky for all the support
Avi Gordon – MBA Studio and his wonderful book.
Richard Montauk, for his book
ClearAdmit and Accepted for their amazing resources
The entire MBA blogging community
All my readers for their constant support and encouragement.
Alumni and Students of IESE
Nick Vujicic for inspiring me when i was low. (Check this out)
Guy Kawasaki for sharing his knowledge and teaching me a lot.

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“My apologies for making this post so long. If there is one take-away from my MBA application journey (apart from persistence) that I’d cherish life long is this acquired addiction of Blogging. So I’ll be back here soon with another post. Till then, hang in there and have fun! Muchas Gracias!”
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