MBA Perspectives – IE doesn’t show promise…

Hi – I attended the Design Process Thinking workshop hosted by IE Business School this past week. While the concept is very interesting, I’m not sure a 2 hour presentation on it really appeases a wanna-be-MBA audience, mostly IIT’ians I must point out. I’ll be honest, I was a bit sluggish by the end of it because all I was hearing was how Design Process thinking can help but only one-liners of how IE or their current Alums have used it in their lives took away from concept. I’m sure a case study style workshop would give the future MBA’s more insight.

Well, the fun part began when the interaction with the Alum started. I must say if this Alum represents IE in my region then IE’s reputation is in for a spin. He may be the top shot at a finesse outfit and may even be academically out there but he couldn’t stand without waiving his arms or bobbing his head for half a second. It was hilarious. He was the perfect example of an MBA suit whose responds all other questions in the world but the one you asked. It was funnier watching people trying to hold conversation with him for more than 12 secs. This was hint #1 that IE isn’t the one because it didnt seem to give that life changing experience or work that humbling magic – probably had the “rock-star” effect on Mr. Alum!

Then, I met a couple of new admits who were starting IE from the upcoming term and  it was more puzzling to learn that most of them had IE as their backup school. In fact , when one of us wanna-be’s asked the golden questions – “why not INSEAD or LBS? Why IE?” it was very difficult to hear the new admits concur, almost in whispers, that both the other school stand way above IE and they did not even try applying to those schools. Hint #2 that pride and faith in IE is lacking but full marks for the honesty of the admits.

Finally, I had a long and insightful chat with another Alum. She was just great sharing her experience at IE and very upfront. I’d give her my vote for the face of IE. She was straight forward about what the school can do and what it cannot do for you and one of those cannot do’s was – get you a job. I was a little worried to hear that so I enquired a bit more to learn that there are no companies on campus at the start of the program. In fact the career team at IE still needs to work on the marketing and outreach of the IE brand. Maybe it’s the Europe ill fated economy or maybe it’s the dominance of the other Euro school, but IE definitely needs more work on their identity. The other thing that stood out was the program doesn’t really inculcate the all round thinking approach, so any of you are looking at consulting post MBA iId say look elsewhere – *point to Fountainbleau or NYC*. On the other hand it does seem to encourage Entrepreneurial mindset, which is a big plus.

So IE, I walked in with lots of expectation but walked out bobbing my head and waiving my arms, so keep up with the “constantly evolving” tagline!

Advertisements

INSEAD Interview – #1

Hey All – I have been wanting to share my experience for sometime to help all the Jan 13 & future applicants so here goes…

Interview Process brief – Almost always invited applicants have to schedule 2 interviews in the country of his/her choice (depending on where you are at the time of the interview Invite) with Alums chosen by the INSEAD Adcom.

A few insights – From my experience, and I’ve read on MBA forums, INSEAD handpicks the Alums so that they are related in some way, directly in a few, to your Industry or Vertical. The other thing that I’ve gathered from reading past experiences is that INSEAD is known to use the age old Good Cop-Bad Cop routine.

1st Interview – My interview details promptly followed the interview invite and immediately I wrote to the Alums requesting time from their busy schedules for my interview. I got one of the replies in a couple of days and my 1st interview was scheduled the following week with Mr. VP, Top Global Equipment Company i.e. directly my Industry. I spent the weekend doing research and mock interviews. The interview started off as a casual conversation with a brief walk through my past work and then to the 3 generic Why? questions. The conversional tone was kept throughout the interview but I must say that Mr. VP had some good Q’s to look beyond the prepared responses. For example on the question of Why INSEAD? He made it clear that the marketed reasons are well known so he’d like my personal reasons for considering INSEAD.

Once the “Why” responses were broken down and discussed, Mr. VP asked me questions mostly on my personality and profile:

  • My biggest weakness? And how I manage it?
  • If I’d contribute at INSEAD? and How?
  • how my managers from my old companies would describe me?

He checked my responses each time he wanted more information. With that I was given time to ask him questions but since he had a busy schedule – my interview was pre-poned as he had an important meeting – I was mindful of his schedule and asked him to share his experiences and a after few more queries the 50 mins session came to end.

In all, I’d say the Q’s are justified to understand the applicant and his/her mindset specifically to fit the MBA. Especially for INSEAD, the interviewer kept checking if I could accommodate the intense curriculum and come out strong. It was more laid back than some of my past job interviews, but, as the interviewer is still recommending you, I’d still go in trying to learn more and ensuring that your INSEAD compliant attributes are leveraged.

Next post, my experience with Mr. Bad Cop…

MBA Perspectives – Coffee with a Whartonite

Yesterday I met a Wharton 1st year for coffee. She’s in India doing 1 of the 2 internships and she was super cool to meet up for a prompt coffee chat. The conversation sounded like any prospect student picking the brains of a current MBA student but as soon as she told me that she had to decide between Wharton & INSEAD, I was all ears! No, no I didn’t apply to Wharton, but since I find myself in INSEAD decision week and since I had not met anyone with such a dilemma the conversation just got more personal for me!

She said that her research led her to “W”. Research??? Her biggest reason being W’s “Brand Value”. I just wasn’t sold on that one and I impulsively found myself jumping to defend INSEAD…weird, considering I’m still in decision week! Maybe I’m INSEAD star struck or maybe it’s just the odd timing but I shouted out “INSEAD’s Awesome….this conversation is now over!” Ok, that was only in my head but from that point onwards all my questions were INSEAD strengths wrapped around as generic queries. She was able to square my implicitive Q’s with W’s offerings but even to her INSEAD stood out as more International and, not surprisingly,less pretentious. Now we’re talking!

It was more puzzling to hear her talk about how a good % of students came in with the PE/Banker-I’m-a-rockstar mindset and how that made it difficult for the humbler-rockstars to fit in. This made me think of what an INSEAD alum (PE guy) said about how INSEAD actually opened up his mind, completely humbled him and how that still stays with him. I just don’t see that happening at W, which I think is kinda uncool.

The difference in how the schools impact your pre and post-MBA mindset is so interesting – W ingrains the Rockstar thinking and INSEAD seems to take the more open-minded approach. I don’t know what suits you but I’d say if you wanna be a rockstar just join a band!?!

Rewind…Flashback 1

In true Bollywood style, I thought I’d start with a flashback!

It all – my “MBA-hopefulness” – started towards the end of 2006…

It had been 4 years since I graduated from Uni and after a start-up stint in Canada in a very tough tech market, I found myself in Philadelphia as a project leader fighting time to deliver a 3G mobile chipset. Even after a promotion my imagination wasn’t stretched enough to keep my restless-adventurous-seeking mind occupied. After putting all my smarts to work I was still left with enough time to train and run a marathon, travel around the US and live a grandiose social life!

I needed a challenge, and without a driving force so many questions were bouncing around in my head – Move back to India? Umm or take the entrepreneurial plunge? or maybe time for the job switcharoo? – and around that time, I received an email with the subject “Our company’s shares downgraded”.

While my co-workers were busy calculating the dents to their portfolio, thanks to Mr. Analyst, I was lost in my thoughts trying making sense of this typical stock report – that and I didn’t have enough shares to really loose myself in the dent estimation! Something about this “downgrade” hooked me to look-in to the whole ordeal. I started “googling” and jumping from one link to the other and, I came across all these stock-financial terms that I had read before – thanks to WSJ – but I was still lost. A few more clicks led me to the Senior Analyst’s profile…Mr. Analyst started as an Engineer – Ok, so did I – but wait…he spent a couple of years at a business school and some years later he downgrade’s my company’s stock that causes all my coworkers to huddle around like a soccer team after getting scored against.

Hmmmm M…B…A!