Tag Archives: MBA alumni

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.

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.

Wharton’s MBA admissions essays for 2010-2011: a challenging set of questions

Wharton’s MBA essays for 2010-11 are great; and very significantly reformulated from previous years, demanding new comment and analysis here.

The required question:

What are your professional objectives? (300 words)

This is in some senses the classic Why-an-MBA? question. What’s new is that it is really short, particularly when compared with the longer questions that follow. The implication is that Wharton, following HBS and others, are putting less and less emphasis on what applicants claim they will do on graduation. They expect to heavily influence that. It is important that you have direction and motivation, but they reckon, and they’re right, that 300 words is more than enough to get that across. Notice that there’s very little space for Why (an MBA) Now? or Why Wharton? If there’s something important to say to that, you’ll have to be really succinct, or work it into one of the other essays.

The optional questions — respond to three of the following four:

  1. Student and alumni engagement has at times led to the creation of innovative classes. For example, through extraordinary efforts, a small group of current students partnered with faculty to create a timely course entitled, “Disaster Response: Haiti and Beyond,” empowering students to leverage the talented Wharton community to improve the lives of the Haiti earthquake victims. Similarly, Wharton students and alumni helped to create the “Innovation and the Indian Healthcare Industry” which took students to India where they studied the full range of healthcare issues in India. If you were able to create a Wharton course on any topic, what would it be? (700 words)
  2. Reflect on a time when you turned down an opportunity. What was the thought process behind your decision? Would you make the same decision today? (600 words)
  3. Describe a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? How did this experience help to create your definition of failure? (600 words)
  4. Discuss a time when you navigated a challenging experience in either a personal or professional relationship. (600 words)


Question 1 does a number of things worth noting. First it’s mining for what you, specifically and uniquely, bring to the program. It does not automatically follow that you would create a class around your speciality, but this will be the case for many applicants, and so is a place to show your special attributes, connections, or interests. The question also therefore allows you to show your “fit with Wharton,” not only what you will contribute but what you would like to learn or experience. Further, as the language of the question suggests, it looks toward your innovativeness, which is a core value in MBA admissions. Your choice of class must show innovation with reference to the curriculum as it stands. This of course demands that you demonstrate knowledge of what is already on offer and where the gaps might be. Finally the question tests your realism and knowledge of how b-school electives and/or off-site experiential programs work. You might say “I’ll create a class that goes to visit Nelson Mandela to learn to balance business and policy objectives” but that would show total naivete as to how things really work and what’s really possible, and your application would be in the bin.

Question 2 is a deep, almost wickedly deep, dive into your personal stuff. They are probing the tissue of your motivation, your self-awareness, and self-understanding. The actual opportunity turned down is far less important than why you choose one thing over another, which should takes Adcom right to who you are as a person and what your core values are. Don’t disappoint them in this. Obviously when you turned down an opportunity, it was for a good reason, either a better opportunity or a family obligation or something like that. So what is at stake here too is your judgment and maturity. The question specifically looks to that in asking if you would make the same choice again, in other words, “how have you grown?”

Question 3 is the similar to last year, but the sub-question is new. It is a classic failure question. I’ve written a lot on how to manage failure questions (click on ‘failure essay’ tag,) and in my book. The sub-question that asks about your definition of failure, deepens the motivational, maturity, introspection angles to the standard MBA admissions failure essay. Everyone fails. Not everyone knows why, or demonstrates the self-knowledge or emotional resilience that is core to “bouncing back.”

Question 4 is a fairly typical “challenging situation” question. Of the set it is the one that most clearly asks about your relationship with others — and therefore your role in groups, teams, and so on, although it does focus you on a particular event and a specific 1-to-1 relationship. The ability to manage relationships is key to leadership, and therefore key to business success, and thus key to Wharton Adcom.

All in all, Wharton 2010-11 has put out a really state-of-the-art set of questions. Varied. Behavioral. Hard. But don’t be scared of hard questions. If they were easy you wouldn’t be able to separate yourself adequately from the crowd of pleasantry-and-platitude writers.