Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Perfecting Your Harvard MBA Essay


They say the early bird gets the worm. Almost one month earlier than last year, Harvard Business School (HBS) has released its application essay prompt. Maybe it was able to do so expeditiously because… it made no changes to the question from last year. HBS Director of Admissions Chad Losee, now entering his third application season, must feel the prompt is effective in eliciting the kind of information the admissions committee finds valuable in evaluating potential students. Our analysis of the prompt and advice on the best way to approach it therefore also remain constant…

“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?” (no word limit)

Harvard Business School sets up for Class Day on Baker Lawn

Take special note of the word “more” in this straightforward question. With it, the admissions committee is subtly acknowledging that it already has a lot of information about you that it can and will use to get to know you better, including your resume, extracurricular activities, recommendations, short-answer question responses, academic transcripts, and GMAT/GRE score. You should, therefore, think first about what these portions of your application convey about who you are as an individual and candidate, so you can determine which parts of your profile still need presenting or could benefit from more detail. Now, some applicants may fret that this means they absolutely cannot touch on anything mentioned elsewhere in their application, for fear that the admissions committee will become annoyed and reject them.

However, Harvard Business School is not asking only for fresh information—it is asking for more, and specifically, whatever “more” you believe the committee needs to evaluate you thoroughly and fairly. So, even though a bullet on your resume may inform the school of a certain fact, if a profoundly important story lurks behind that fact that you feel effectively expresses a key part of your personality or skill set, you should not feel hesitant to share that story. That said, we are not advocating for you to explore your resume in depth, just trying to convey that “more” here does not mean strictly “thus far unmentioned.”


Before we discuss a few approaches you might take in framing this essay, we must note that your goal in writing it is sincerity. The admissions committee is not staffed by robots, seeking to detect a certain “type” of applicant. These are human beings who are trying to get to know you and really want to end up liking you! With this essay, you essentially want to forge a meaningful connection with a complete stranger, and if you try to present yourself as something or someone you are not, you will fail.

You, like many other applicants, may worry that your sincere stories will sound clichéd. For example, if you want to write about making a difference, you may wince simply thinking those words: “making a difference.” But the power of your story does not lie in the theme you choose (if you choose to write thematically, that is) but in the manner in which you reveal your actions. If you have truly made a significant difference in the lives of others and can own that angle by offering powerful anecdotes and demonstrating a deep emotional connection to others and profound purpose in your acts, you can write on this topic. Although more than a few candidates will undoubtedly submit clichéd pieces on making a difference, if you can capture your admissions reader’s attention fully and make a strong enough impression, the cliché aspect will disappear, and he or she will be impressed by your actions and character.

So, what approach might you take to this essay? The prompt is so open-ended that we cannot possibly capture all possible options, but here are a few:

1. Thematic approach: You could write about a characteristic or attribute that has woven its way throughout your life or that you have woven into your life. Do some self-exploration and see if you can identify a thread that is common to your greatest achievements, thereby illustrating its importance in bringing you to where you are today. Simply stating that theme is not enough—you need to really guide your reader through the illustrative events in your life to show how and why this theme manifests. In the end, your values are what need to come to the fore in this essay, rather than just a series of discrete episodes. (Note that highlighting your values is necessary with any approach you take to your HBS essay.)

2. Inflection points: Maybe the key events and aspects of your life cannot be neatly captured or categorized within a neat and tidy theme. People are complex, meaning that many are not able to identify a singular “force” that unifies their life experience. If this is you, do not worry—instead, consider discussing a few inflection points that were instrumental in shaping the individual you are today. This does not mean writing a very linear biography or regurgitating your resume in detail. The admissions committee does not need or want such a summary and is instead interested in your ability to reflect on the catalysts in and challenges to your world view and the manifestations thereof. Likewise, you do not need to offer a family history or an overarching explanation of your existence. Simply start with the first significant incident that shaped who you are as an adult, and again, ensure that your essay ultimately reveals your values.

3. Singular anecdote: Although this is rare, you may have had a single standout experience that could serve as a microcosm of who you are and what you stand for. If this experience or moment truly defines you and strikes at the essence of your being, you can discuss it and it alone. You do not need to worry that offering just one anecdote will make your essay seem “skimpy” or present you as one-dimensional, as long as the story has inherent strength and power. You will need to delve into the narrative and let the story tell itself; if you are choosing to write a singular anecdote, the story should be sufficiently compelling on its own, without a lot of explanation.


You may have read through these three options and thought, “What about a fourth option, in which I discuss my goals and why HBS? Certainly they want to know about that!” The HBS admissions committee is a straight-shooting group—if the school wanted candidates to write about their goals and why HBS, or wanted them not to, the prompt would come right out and say so. The reality is that most people should not use this essay to discuss their career ambitions and interest in HBS, because doing so will not reveal that much “more” about them. For example, if you are a consultant who plans to return to consulting after graduation, we cannot imagine a scenario in which addressing your goals and why an HBS MBA is critical would constitute an effective use of this essay. However, if you are a medic at a bush hospital in Uganda and are applying to HBS with the goal of commercializing low-cost technologies to fight infectious diseases, this may well be a fitting topic for your essay, as you seek to connect the dots between your unusual (in a positive sense) career path and your aspirations. In short, for most candidates, we would suggest eschewing a “Why MBA? Why HBS?” approach, but in a few rare cases, it may be appropriate and compelling.

Finally, let us talk about word limits! HBS has not stipulated any particular parameters, but keep in mind that with each word, you are making a claim on someone else’s time—so you better make sure that what you have written is worth that additional time and effort. We expect that most of our clients will use between 850 and 1,000 words, with some using as few as 600 and a small minority using as many as 1,250. We have difficulty imagining a scenario in which an applicant would truly need more than 1,250, but we certainly know of candidates who were accepted with essays that exceeded that high target. In short, take the space you need to tell your story properly and showcase your personality and experience, and then work to reduce your essay to its lowest possible word count, without sacrificing any impact or effectiveness.


From the admissions committee: “Following the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection using our online application system. This must be submitted within 24 hours following the completion of the interview. Detailed instructions will be provided to those applicants who are invited to the interview process.”

For the fourth consecutive year, HBS ask candidates who are granted an interview to complete one more written task. Within 24 hours of interviewing, you must submit some final words of reflection, addressing the question “How well did we get to know you?” As with the application essay, this post-interview reflection is open-ended; you can structure it however you wish and write about whatever you want to tell the committee. HBS urges interviewed applicants not to approach this reflection as a formal essay but instead “as an email you might write to a colleague or supervisor after a meeting.”

Some candidates may find this additional submission intimidating, but we encourage you to view it as an opportunity to reveal new aspects of your profile to the admissions committee. Because your HBS interviewer will have read your entire application before your meeting, you will likely discuss information from your resume, essays, recommendations, etc., during your interview. This post-interview reflection, then, could provide an opening for you to integrate new and different elements of your profile, thereby adding depth to your candidacy. For example, if you could not find a way to include the story of a key life experience of yours into your essays, but your interviewer touches on a similar story or something connected with this experience in your meeting, you would now have license to share that anecdote.


As soon as your interview is over, jot down all the topics covered and stories you discussed. If you interview on campus, note also any observations about your time there. For example, sitting in on a class might have reminded you of a compelling past experience, or participating in the case method may have provided insight into an approach you could use in some way in the future. Maybe the people you met or a building you saw made a meaningful impression on you. Whatever these elements are, tie them to aspects of your background and profile while adding some new thoughts and information about yourself. This last part is key—simply describing your visit will not teach the admissions committee anything about you, and a flat statement like “I loved the case method” will not make you stand out. Similarly, offering a summary of everything the admissions committee already knows about you will not advance your candidacy and would constitute a lost opportunity to keep the committee learning about who you are.

HBS offers some additional advice on the post-interview reflection that we strongly urge you to take seriously and follow:

- We will be much more generous in our reaction to typos and grammatical errors than we will be with pre-packaged responses. 
- Emails that give any indication that they were produced BEFORE you had the interview will raise a flag for us.
- We do not expect you to solicit or receive any outside assistance with this exercise.
- As for how long this essay should be, HBS again does not offer a word limit. We have seen successful submissions ranging from 400 words to more than 1,000. 
- We recommend aiming for approximately 500, but adjust as appropriate to thoroughly tell the admissions committee what you feel is important, while striving to be succinct.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018






1. 経験を積む方法は、MBA以外にもある

雇用主がMBA取得者を求める理由は、批判的な思考と複雑な問題解決の能力を持っていることにある。こうしたスキルを集中的に磨けるコースやプログラムに参加してはどうだろう? 問題解決スキルを強化するため、現職でできることはないかについても考えること。


2. 応募したい求人にMBAが必須とは限らない

職務内容記述に、MBAを持っていることが「好ましい」ではなく「必須」と書いてあったことはあるだろうか? 求人広告でたとえ自分が持っていないスキルが求められていたとしても、ためらわず応募してほしい。


3. キャリアの目標を見つける方法は他にもある

ネットワーキング(人脈作り)を始め、自分が関心を持っていることは何かを見極める。あなたが心から情熱を燃やすものは何だろう? そのことを既に手がけている人に話を聞き、キャリアチェンジのために何をすべきかについて見識を得よう。今から習得でき、持っていれば変化に一歩近づけるような特定のスキルはあるだろうか?


4. 必ずしも投資回収できるとは限らない


英紙フィナンシャル・タイムズによると、世界の経営大学院トップ100校の現在の学費は、卒業から3年後の税引前給与の8.7か月分に相当する。その他のコストや生活費を加えれば、米国の一流MBAコースに2年間通った場合の費用は総額30万ドル(約3200万円)を超える。これを相殺し、利益が得られるようになるまでにはどれくらいの時間がかかるだろう? 学生ローンの返済がどうなるかなど、考えたくもない問題だ。

たとえ雇用主が授業料を肩代わりしてくれるとしても、それには時間という代償が付いてくる。雇用主へのコミットメントとして、その会社で働かなければならない期間は何年になるだろうか? 5年以上も転職できないのであれば、新たな学位を得る意味などあるだろうか? 時間をあまり浪費せずに済むような他の方法で自己投資を開始しよう。



From Forbes Japan  






Michigan Ross Just Launched A Big Data MBA Course

Big data courses are coming to the MBA at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The school has just announced the launch of a data and business analytics concentration in its full-time MBA.

Student and employer demand spurred the move. In an era in which analytics can make or break business, employers are increasingly seeking workers who understand and utilize business analytics.

According to an analysis this month by professional network LinkedIn, data science is the fastest growing job field in the US, and among the best paid ($113,000 median salaries for data scientists).  

“Companies want individuals who can lead their organizations using data and thinking analytically,” said Heather Byrne, director of the Michigan Ross Career Development Office, which will work with the MBA team to ensure students have the right data science skills.

“Our goal is to prepare students to explore career options in which they can apply these skills, and help companies source exceptionally-qualified talent.”

For Michigan Ross, the offering is the latest in a long line of MBA concentrations that include business and sustainability, healthcare management and real estate development. Big data is the first concentration to launch under the leadership of Brad Killaly, associate dean of full-time and global MBA programs at Ross.

He said: “We’ve developed the Data and Business Analytics Concentration to meet the needs of today’s MBA student as well as today’s evolving business world. As students continue to seek careers in data-intensive industries, such as consulting and technology, Michigan Ross will offer the necessary business acumen that students can utilize to give themselves a competitive edge.”

Students on the conentration will be required to take courses from a wide array of options, including big data management, marketing research, advanced big data analysis, data mining, and digital marketing.

The new concentration will be offered in fall 2018. Ross began developing it in 2017 after receiving feedback from students who wanted a more specialised course focused on big data.

Ross’s announcement highlights the rapid growth in demand for and provision of big data programs at the world’s top business schools. According to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council (owner of BusinessBecause), 74% of specialist big data master’s programs in the US reported application rises last year, compared with just 32% of full-time, two-year MBAs.

A raft of top schools have launched programs in response to that demand — MIT Sloan School of Management, Imperial College Business School and Warwick Business School are among them. Other schools that have created optional electives in their MBAs like Ross include the Cornell College of Business and INSEAD.

How Important Are MBAs In The Tech World?

How important are MBAs in the tech world right now (2018)? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Andrea Masini, Associate Dean, HEC Paris MBA, on Quora:

Successful MBA programs need to look ahead and prepare students for the business challenges of tomorrow not only for those of today. Therefore, with the pervasive digitalization of our economy and the increasing importance of technology in our society, I would say that an MBA degree is more valuable than ever. MBA graduates are among the few professionals able speak both the language of business and the language of technology, bridging the gap between these two worlds. This is a badly needed skill nowadays.

To that end, at HEC Paris we put a lot of efforts in strengthening the technology component of our MBA curriculum. A new specialization on digital transformation will be offered starting in September 2018. Our entrepreneurship specialization has a distinctive technology element too. Students choosing this specialization work hand in hand with top scientists and have access to our on-campus eLab, an exclusive laboratory equipped with state-of-the-art interactive technologies designed to stimulate creativity and communication.

The importance of an MBA degree for the tech sector is confirmed by the interest that recruiters from tech companies have in MBA graduates. For instance, about 20 percent of the HEC Paris MBA class secured employment in the sector last year. The range of technology recruiters in the sector included Amazon, Microsoft and Google among the top recruiters, and also some exciting new disruptors including Deliveroo (food delivery, UK), Finleap (Fintech, Germany), Happn (online dating, France) and Zoobashop (e-commerce, Africa).

All these companies are looking for outstanding graduates that are able to combine a solid technology background with the ability to understand and analyze the business implications of technological innovations.

From Quora

The World's 40 Best Under-40 MBA Professors

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Van Doren once mused that “the art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” That’s an art that our 40 top business school professors under the age of 40 share with each other. They draw students into often esoteric subjects, inspire deeper thinking and engaged discussion, assisting in the discovery of new and powerful ideas.

For the sixth time in the last eight years, Poets&Quants searched near and far to uncover this remarkable group of men and women, some of whom have barely reached the age of 35, yet they have made a name for themselves as rising stars in business academia. We asked B-school officials, students and alumni for favorites and then sorted through the nominations to come up with this year's Poets&Quants' list of the world’s top 40 business profs under 40.

This year’s call for nominations brought in close to 800 submissions, crushing last year’s record of 430. Another first: a new record number of nominations for one given professor. Students, alumni, and colleagues of Imperial College Business School’s Ileana Stigliani declared their appreciation for the 38-year-old 135 times over, a new all-time high that beat last year’s 72 nominations for Ivey Business School’s Ning Su. In total, 91 individual professors were proposed this year.

Of the entries we did receive, our assessment to narrow down the top 40 remained centered on research and teaching with an emphasis on high student impact. The final 40 hail from Miami to Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University to the University of Canterbury, London Business School to Nanyang Business School, and many points in between. They are a diverse group, with a record 17 of the 40 at schools outside the U.S., up from just five in the inaugural 40 under 40 list published by Poets&Quants in 2011. Ten of the 40 profs on the 2018 list are women, roughly the same as the 11 women who made the cut seven years ago.

“Institutions believe that great researchers are the best professors. Students believe that those who engage students class after class are the best professors,” Wharton MBA Angela Chang says. We couldn’t agree more and with that, we commenced our search for the best business professors under 40 years old who score high marks in both the key areas of research contributions to their field and impact on students.

One such nominee was Natalya Vinokurova, a Wharton management professor nominated by Chang and nearly two dozen other students, alumni, and Wharton professors. Vinokurova, 38, has made a name for herself in looking at competitive strategy, organizational behavior, and public policy as they relate to decision-making and innovation management. She’s won awards that aptly define her research as “most novel,” and she’s received several honorable mentions and best paper nominations from the strategic management community. Yet her excellence as a researcher is not to be outdone by her teaching performance, which is where she shines brightest. According to some of the nominations, her allegiance to students makes her especially outstanding, the spark that has earned her two “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty” teaching awards — the professional achievement which Vinokurova says she is most proud of.

Each testimony consistently spoke of Vinokurova’s profound dedication and mentorship that helps students identify and prioritize what’s most important to them. One Wharton alumnus placed Vinokurova’s name next to some of Wharton’s biggest heavyweights: “I had some pretty spectacular professors at Wharton (Adam Grant, Cade Massey, David Wessels, and David Bell to name a few) and even amongst these names Natalya was a standout. It’s my view that she, more than any other professor at Wharton, is the perfect confluence of teacher, researcher, and mentor.”  

As always, going above and beyond is a consistent trait among best business professors. Another: a passion for their discipline that’s so extraordinary, students can’t help but be inspired to learn. In no other case is this more attested to than with Imperial’s Ileana Stigliani. In the unprecedented 135 nominations she acquired, students praised her for the way she captivates her classroom with a contagious passion for design thinking, a relatively new and unconventional business school topic.

“She introduced me to the world of design thinking with bountiful amounts of energy and enthusiasm,” one student exclaims. “I feel Dr. Stigliani’s teaching in service design is helping a new generation of business managers embrace the value of innovative design thinking in creating more effective human-friendly business operations,” says another.

Sometimes, it seems, MBA students must be convinced of the value of what they’re learning. Rather than an aggravation, many of this year’s top 40 agree that this healthy skepticism is one of their favorite parts of the job. In fact, most say it’s is what they appreciate most about teaching MBAs.

“They’re not a passive audience,” says Anuj Shah, a 34-year-old professor of behavioral science at Chicago Booth. “They’re willing to have a conversation, and that conversation sometimes highlights some of my own blind spots.”

Thirty-five-year-old Paolo Taticchi from Imperial College Business School says, “I like their critical mindset and their ambition. They are always ready to challenge you!”

Paolo Aversa, 35, of Cass Business School in London, echoes Shah and Taticchi when he’s asked to share the best part about teaching MBAs. “The fact that they are often ambitious and not afraid to challenge my arguments.” To note, when asked what’s the most challenging aspect of teaching MBAs, Aversa gave the exact same answer. “Too much of a good thing,” he says.

When it comes to this innate ambition and students’ willingness to cross-examine an instructor, one Columbia Business School professor used it as an opportunity to counter widely held stereotypes about MBAs. Says Dan Wang, “There are lots of stereotypes about MBA students being Type-A managers who only care about efficiency and shareholder value. This is not true at all. My favorite part of teaching is getting to know each student individually. It is such a privilege to be responsible for creating an environment in which students are not afraid to share their knowledge so that their experiences can be synthesized into useful lessons for each class.”

Saturday, April 21, 2018

What It Takes to Get Accepted at a Top MBA Program

MBA admissions officers at top b-schools say the key trait they look for is leadership potential.

By Ilana Kowarski, April 20, 2018, at 12:15 p.m.        
Top MBA programs search for students who collaborate well on group projects and possess strong communication skills. 

When prestigious MBA programs choose students, academic performance is an important factor, but it is not the only factor, according to MBA admissions officers.

Because business schools are professional schools designed to prepare students to thrive in the business world, these schools seek students with the leadership skills necessary to succeed in business. In addition to evaluating a student's test scores and grades, a top MBA program will consider whether the student has a history of making meaningful contributions to the organizations where he or she has worked, admissions officers say.

Top b-schools typically assess whether a student is a willing team player who can collaborate on group projects and if the student has strong communication skills, according to MBA admissions officers.

"This is not a purely academic program; it's not a Ph.D. program," says Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean for admissions at the Yale School of Management. "We are trying to bring in people who are going to have impact after they graduate."

DelMonico adds that test scores are a crucial factor in the MBA admissions process, because these scores facilitate comparisons between applicants. Test scores are "more consistent than some other, more subjective measures" of preparedness for MBA courses, DelMonico says. He says that quantitative test scores are especially significant for MBA applicants with humanities backgrounds, since these applicants need to show MBA admissions officers that they have the math skills required to excel in an MBA program.

[Show these qualities during MBA interviews.]

Demonstrate Self-Awareness

DelMonico says that every MBA applicant has strengths and weaknesses in his or her admissions profile, so the best course of action for any applicant is to acknowledge his or her weaknesses and find some way to compensate for those deficits. "Nobody is above average across the board," he says.

Regardless of whether applicants think their academic statistics are more compelling than the success stories documented in their application or the opposite is true, they should not attempt to hide their weaknesses. Instead, they should show humility and explain how business school would help them grow in their career, DelMonico says.

Applicants shouldn't be afraid to admit that they have a desire for additional professional development, since that yearning for personal growth actually bolsters their case for business school, DelMonico says."We know that anyone who is applying to business school is looking to improve themselves," he says.

In fact, MBA applicants can cite the ways they hope to improve in business school when they are providing a justification for pursuing an MBA, DelMonico says.

Describe Nonacademic Accomplishments

Soojin Kwon, managing director of full-time MBA admissions and program at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor's Stephen M. Ross School of Business, says one especially important aspect of the MBA application is the resume.

Kwon says that the resume is the first part of an MBA application that she reads in order to assess an MBA applicant's candidacy. She adds that MBA applicants who have well-respected employers on their resumes do not automatically impress her, because what she's looking for is evidence that a student has done high-quality work.

"Leadership is not as narrowly defined as an applicant might think," she says.

Experts say that candidates who are younger than the majority of applicants should take comfort in the fact that business schools care less about the number of years spent in the workforce and more about applicants' long-term professional prospects.

Chirag Saraiya, principal at Training the Street, a company that provides finance courses that prepare people to work in the finance industry, and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, says that many years spent in the workforce do not necessarily result in a more compelling MBA application.

Saraiya says an MBA applicant who appears to have reached a standstill in his or her career is less attractive than someone who appears to be progressing.

Emphasize Nontechnical Skills

Alumni of top b-schools say that MBA applicants who hope to get into premier programs should know that soft skills are important in the MBA admissions process.

"Beyond good test scores, top MBA programs are looking for students who demonstrate initiative," said Vijay Koduri, an MBA alumnus of the Ross School of Business and co-founder of HashCut, a technology company, via email. "This can be entrepreneurial – have you started a company and scaled it up? It can be intrapreneurship – did you raise your hand and lead the way for a new product idea or new market in your company? It can also be social impact – are you passionate about a cause, and have you led significant change in your region or around the world to make a difference?"

MBA alumni say that demonstrating problem-solving skills is one way to stand out in a positive way.

Shaifali Aggarwal, an alumna of Harvard Business School and the founder and CEO of the admissions consulting firm Ivy Groupe, says most students selected for admission to top b-schools have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to innovate.

"These students show that they are able to think outside of the box to come up with creative solutions, which is an extremely important quality to possess when solving business problems and leading organizations," she says.

Harvard Business School alumna Paige Arnof-Fenn, the founder and CEO of marketing company Mavens & Moguls, says having perfect or near-perfect grades and test scores isn't a guarantee of acceptance to a selective business school. Arnof-Fenn urges MBA applicants to remember that top-tier institutions have many applicants with stellar qualifications.

Students who dream of getting accepted at multiple top business schools can explore the chart below to get a sense of what the average credentials are at these schools. However, it's important to understand that selective MBA programs admit applicants with a range of credentials, including credentials above and below the averages displayed in this chart.