Tag Archives: mba interview

The value of a bad boss in MBA admissions

Unless you are independently wealthy or have been lucky enough to work for yourself all your life (and most of us fall into neither category,) chances are you’ve had a bad boss or two along the way.

You know the type: the boss who sets ambiguous tasks and then micromanages them. Who offers a grunt when you ace a project, but chews you over for 20 minutes because of a minor error. The one who will take credit up the chain for great work you do, but won’t cover for you when deadlines slip. And so on.

I was reminded of this in profiling a client recently. He had been doing everything right, killing himself to complete complex operations/IT projects, plus studying nights for an M.S. degree and co-managing a young family. His boss committed all of the above evils and more. She would casually set him ‘by-close-of-business today” tasks late in the day, interfere in carefully nurtured team relationships he had built up over months, use fear of termination to crack the whip, and the list goes on.

At the first possible moment, he quit. Yay.

Listening to this phase of his life, I felt need to reach for the Kleenex. But I could offer some consolation. After the event, what he had was fabulous experience for his future role as a manager and leader, and it would play well in an MBA admissions essay. Why? Because if you have experienced having your motivation sapped, having to walk on eggshells around an idiot who controls you, having to grind your teeth in frustration at not being able to implement an obvious innovation — that is, if you have been poorly managed yourself, you have excellent insight into what not to do. And therefore, reversing all that a bad boss does, you have a good idea what kind of boss you should be.

Further, for MBA admissions essay or interview purposes, your bad-boss story is “proof” you have been through fundamental learning about management, have developed insights into how to handle people under you, and are therefore ready to manage effectively when your turn comes. If you have a story like this, tell it.

Haas’ ad for a new Executive Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions shines a light on Adcom’s roles and processes

Do you remember when you were in grade school and you suddenly came across your teacher out of school, in the supermarket or at a ball game, and you were completely tongue-tied, not fully realizing until that moment that they had lives out of the schoolroom?

Well, admissions officers also have lives and careers to manage, and sometimes they have to competitive apply for stuff too, as this advertisement for the post of Executive Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions at the University of California Berkeley shows.

The job spec opens an interesting window on what is seen as required to lead an Admissions office at a top business school, and is therefore worth a read by MBA applicants to Haas and beyond. The demands of the position are a bit more varied than the uninitiated might have guessed, and the competitive pressure is clear.

Key takeaway: These are busy people juggling important, multifaceted responsibilities. They are working in teams all the time. They are better at marketing and communication than you might think. So apply cogently. Make your value clear. Don’t try BS them or waste their time with trivia. Help them to help you.

Here are the key excerpts:

The Executive Director, Full-Time MBA Admissions manages the admissions, recruitment and financial aid functions for the Haas School of Business Full-Time MBA Program. The overall purpose of the position is to develop long-term strategic plans and to oversee the successful implementation of all efforts related to admissions and marketing of the school’s Full-Time MBA program. The Executive Director’s role is to enroll approximately 240 bright, diverse, and innovative business leaders. The successful candidate provides leadership with forecasts, analyses, strategic options, advice and recommendations regarding admissions strategy and enrollment planning.

Within the Full-Time MBA Admissions office, the incumbent has direct management responsibility for administration, budgeting, personnel, and works closely with our Marketing & Communications unit on media and publications, public relations and marketing strategy. S/He meets regularly with the dean, faculty, staff, students, and other Haas School constituents in developing strategies for these areas. The Executive Director represents the School to campus administrative units, serves on campus-level policy setting and advisory committees as needed and acts as liaison for the Haas School with central campus administrative units.

Responsibilities
Develops, interprets, and administers admissions and recruitment programs, as well as the financial aid program supporting Haas graduate degree programs.
· Develop annual admissions plan for the Full-time MBA program.
· Oversee admissions processes and procedures.
· Develop overall strategy and oversee implementation of all recruitment, marketing, and financial aid activities.
· Deliver presentations about the program and represent the School at domestic & international admissions events.
· Evaluate and select students for Haas program, including reading/reviewing applications for admission, interviewing MBA candidates, providing a written assessment of each applicant, making final admissions decisions, and determining the composition of the MBA classes.
· Analyze and report on admissions statistics throughout admissions cycle and in annual reports to the administration, faculty, and Haas Advisory Board.

Provides direction to subordinate managers and/or supervisors.

Responsible for developing and implementing budgets for managed functions.

Develop and maintain relationships with students and alumni.

Stay closely connected with campus units such as the Graduate Division and related Berkeley and other UC MBA programs to share leads, ideas, and best practices.

Required Qualifications
· Masters degree in related area or equivalent experience
· 3-5 years of significant management experience in higher education or related field
· Advanced knowledge of education theory, policy, practice, and evaluation.
· Significant knowledge of evaluation methodologies, data analysis procedures, and systems necessary for working with technical staff to develop effective data management and evaluation systems.
· Advanced knowledge of fiscal management policies and practices and University personnel management policies and practices.
· Strong leadership and supervisory experience.
· Strong background in marketing including knowledge in both traditional marketing functions as well as social media.
· Demonstrated commitment to outstanding customer service and professionalism.
· Excellent interpersonal, organizational, public relations and written and oral communication skills.
· Demonstrated ability to work with diverse groups in a busy environment and manage multiple tasks simultaneously
· Experience in recruiting, marketing, financial aid, outreach and/or career services.
· Knowledge of academic business programs.

Preferred Qualifications
· Significant knowledge of the goals and mission of the University and the Haas School of Business as they relate to academic preparation, recruitment, and advanced-standing admission.
· Significant knowledge of UC Berkeley Colleges and schools.
· Significant knowledge regarding UC Berkeley’s graduate admissions policies.

Other Information
This position requires 35% domestic and international travel.

Equal Employment Opportunity
The University of California, Berkeley is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

‘Never let an MBA Admissions Committee assume anything – because we always guess wrong’

MBA Podcaster’s MBA Pod TV provides this 10-min take-out from Q&A at a recent Forte Foundation-hosted MBA Admission Directors Panel:

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In the video, Pat Harrison refers to one of the key mistakes applicants make in MBA admissions: they leave Adcom to make connections and assumptions in joining the dots (as to their prior education choices, career path decisions, reasons for wanting an MBA, etc.) Doing this leaves applicants open to clumsy misinterpretation. As Harrison puts it: Adcom will “guess wrong!”

The solution is not just to be clear. That’s obviously good, but just first base. They key way to get beyond the problem is to consciously take care to provide insight into the reasoning and decision-making behind each important past (and planned future) choice in your life and career.

Other topics covered in the video segment are: how to strengthen an MBA interview; who to get letters of recommendations from; appropriate use of the optional essay; and managing “over-sharing” of personal information.

The panel is Pat Harrison, Associate Director of Admissions, Tuck School of Business; Sharon Thompson, Director of Diversity Initiatives, Duke Fuqua School of Business; Analilia Silva, Associate Director of Admission Kelley School of Business, Indiana University; and Erin Nickelsburg, Director of Admissions and Recruitment, Wisconsin School of Business.