Saturday, April 25, 2009

Start Working on Your Application Early

The first round of application is on October, and although business schools have not yet published the deadlines and essay topics for this year, you should definitely think about starting to work on your application even now, 5 months earlier, especially if you intend to create more than one application (which is highly recommended).

But what can you do until the essays are published?

Actually quite a lot. The planning of your application can be started right away. This stage include research of business schools, startegy definition, and topic selection for general essays.
(free consulting session)

After you have a clear strategy, you can then start writing drafts of essays. There are two strategies you can take: writing essays based on the 2008 essay questions, or you can work on a generic application.

The Generic Application
I did a full analysis of the 2008 essay questions, and basically there are 5 essay questions that appear frequently (with wording variations): Career Goals + Why MBA, Achievements, Personal Characteristics (Leadership / Team play), Failure, Contribution to school

You can work on any of the essays, keeping in mind your business school selection. The school specific questions you may leave for last. When the actual essay questions are published, you are guaranteed to have at least half of the work done, and all you will have left to do is tailor the essays for each of the schools, and answer any specific essay questions that was left unanswered.

Here is a full version of the generic 5 essay questions. All question were specially hand picked from actual applications. The reason for choosing the exact phrasing used here, is that answering these questions will be the easiest to tailor to more specific essay quesions:

Career Goals+Why MBA: Describe your career progress to date, including your current job, and your future short-term and long-term career goals. How do you expect an MBA from ??? to help you achieve these goals, and why is now the best time for you to join our program?

Contribution to school: What will you be able to contribute that would make you a unique and valuable addition to the ??? MBA class?

Achievements: What are your two-three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such?

Failure: Describe a setback or a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself?

Strengths and Weaknesses (leadership+teamplay): Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential?

Generic Recommendations
Same method applies for recommendations as well. There are 5 basic generic recommendation questions: Context, Strengths, Weaknesses/Feedback, Interpersonal Skills, Leadership Potential. Once you work with your recommenders on those 5 questions, your referee will have little work to adapt the answers to the specific questions of your application.

Context of relationship: Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. How long have you known the applicant and in what connection? If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization. What is your overall impression of the applicant?

Strengths/Ranking/Impact: What do you consider to be the candidate's major strengths? How would you rank this applicant compared to his/her peer group? How is the candidate’s impact on your organization different from that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles?

Interpersonal Skills: Describe the candidate as a person. Comment on his/her ability to establish and maintain relationships, sensitivity to others, self-confidence, attitude etc. Specifically comment on the candidate's behavior or skills in a group setting/team environment

Weaknesses/Feedback: Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. What do you consider to be the applicant’s major weaknesses or areas for improvement?

Leadership Potential: Comment on the candidate's potential for senior management? Do you see him/her as a future leader? What will this individual be doing in 10 years? Why? How will the MBA degree contribute to the candidate’s career development?

Schedule a Free Consulting Session with IMPACTMBA, and we can start working on the strategy and generic application.

US News 2009 MBA Rankings Published

US News published the annual 2009 rankings. You can find all the 2009 rankings (including US News, Financial Times, and Business Week) at IMPACTMBA Rankings page.

There were no significant changes from last year. Top 3 programs remain HBS, Wharton and Stanford. Kellogg, Chicago Booth and MIT Sloan complete the top 6, while Columbia is down to #9. Completing the top 10 are Berkeley, Yale, and Tuck. NYU Stern is missing from the Top 10 this year.

US News ranks only American business schools, thus LBS, INSEAD, and other European programs are missing from the list.

Interestingly, US News provides Ranking by Specialties. Again, no significant changes from last year. Most surprising is the Finance rankings: Wharton, Chicago Booth, and NYU remain the top 3, however MIT Sloan and Stanford climbed to #4 and #5 respectively.
Marketing: Kellogg, Wharton, Duke
General Management: Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg
Entrepreneurship: Babson, Stanford, Harvard
Operations: MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford
Executive MBA: Kellogg, Wharton, Chicago Booth.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New MBA Rankings 2009 - The Year For Top European Programs

Financial Times and Business Week both published recently their new 2009 MBA Rankings.
A summary of all rankings you can find in my Rankings page at

Traditionally, the top 3 US Programs are Wharton, Harvard, and Stanford. 4 other programs make up the Tier 1 US Schools: MIT Sloan, Kellogg, Chicago Booth, and Columbia. NYU, Tuck, Yale, Michigan, Duke, and Berekley are the strong Tier 2 B-Schools. In Europe there are 3 top tier MBA programs - LBS, INSEAD, and IMD.

Looking at the 2009 ranking, the programs listed above remain the top 10 programs. However some other MBA schools, especially from Asia, climbed up to become top tier. There is a definite trend of improvement in the European and Asian business school to become on par with the US programs.

The key takeaways:
  • Definitely the year for top European programs. London Business School is ranked #1 in Financial Times. INSEAD up to #5.
  • 5 Asian programs in the FT top 20.
  • 7 European programs in the FT top 20. Spain is becoming a center of business schools in Europe with 3 universities on the FT Top 20. UK also with 3 programs in the top 20.
  • 6 US MBA programs in the FT top 10, and 9 in the Top 20.

Financial Times
The top 10 US MBA Programs are: Wharton, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, MIT Sloan, NYU Stern, Chicago Booth, Dartmouth Tuck, Yale, Kellogg

Top 5 European MBA Programs: London Business School, INSEAD, IE Business School, IESE, IMD

Top 5 Asian MBA Program: INSEAD, Ceibs, Indian School of Business, Hong Kong UST, Nanyang

Alumni recommendation (one of my favorite categories, which correlates well with prestige): Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg, LBS, INSEAD, Chicago Booth, Columbia, MIT Sloan, NYU Stern

My insights:
- The list above seems reasonable. I believe that the list indeed contains the top programs in each region.
- The trend of globalization is in full motion - only 9 American MBA programs in the top 20 (6 in the top 10) implies that no longer studying in the US Ivy league is as important as it used to be.
- The #1 school is joint between Wharton and London Business School. Pretty amazing!
- Schools on consistent up trend (3 years) - LBS, INSEAD
- Schools on consistent down trend - Columbia, Stanford, Chicago Booth, Yale

I want to examine some of the key parameters, and list the top 10 schools in each of them:
Salary: Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Tuck, Ceibs, IMD, Chicago Booth, Indian Business School.
Salary Increase: Ceibs, IE, Indian, ESADE, IESE, Yale, NYU Stern, Columbia, Nanyang, Hong Kong
Value for money: IMD, INSEAD, Cambridge Judge, Oxford Said (one year programs are better value-for-money according to FT)

Business Week
BW gives a slightly different view. First, there is no direct comparison between US based MBA programs, and European ones.

Top 10 US Programs: Chicago Booth, HBS, Kellogg, Wharton, Michigan Ross, Stanford, Columbia, Duke Fuqua, MIT Sloan, Berekley Haas.

Top 5 European Programs: IE, INSEAD, LBS, ESADE, IMD

Top 3 Canadian Programs: Queens, Werstern Ontario (Ivey), Toronto Rotman

Business Week also ranks EMBA programs. Top 10: Northwestern, Wharton, Chaicago, Michigan, USC, Columbia, Emory, UCLA, Duke, UNC.

US News
Based on 2008 rankings, US News provides data only on American MBA programs. They do a ranking per specialty.

Finance: Wharton, Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, Columbia, Stanford. I would add LBS to this list.
Marketing: Kellogg, Wharton, Duke, Harvard, Stanford. I would add INSEAD.
General Management: Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Michigan, Wharton. I would add LBS and INSEAD to the list.
Entreprenuership: Babson, Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, MIT Sloan. INSEAD would be ranked first or second.

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