Tag Archives: Harvard Business School
August 14, 2014
The growing number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered at the top business schools is something of a hot button topic these days. Harvard Business School joined the fray this past spring, but rather …
The growing number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered at the top business schools is something of a hot button topic these days. Harvard Business School joined the fray this past spring, but rather than using an existing platform such as Coursera to launch its courses, HBS elected instead to create its own proprietary digital platform, HBX.
In a new Harvard Business Review blog post, HBS graduate and former faculty member Pankaj Ghemawat takes a look at what business schools don’t get about MOOCs, which, he argues, is basically that the future of management education will be a combination of these new and traditional teaching methods, not a battle for superiority between them.
As an example, Ghemawat points out the difference in approach between HBS and the Wharton School, which last year announced it would offer a Wharton MBA Foundation Series that would allow students all over the world to learn the same material a first-year Wharton MBA student would. Harvard Business School, meanwhile, is using its MOOCs to target pre-MBAs.
Professor Ghemawat, who has also taught a MOOC for IESE Business School on the Coursera platform, sees the strengths of each of these approaches but calls them seriously incomplete.
“Both schools treat MOOCs as complements to their existing offerings, rather than as substitutes—complements that are disconnected from what goes on in their traditional classrooms,” says Ghemawat, who suggests a recombining of efforts would be more beneficial.
His post covers arguments from the traditional-minded elite business schools’ position, and offers thought-provoking counterpoints to each assertion. As we move further into the digital age of management education, a deeper understanding of the power and possibilities that MOOCs can provide is in order. I invite you to follow the link above to learn more of Ghemawat’s thoughts on the issue.
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July 24, 2014
Researchers from Harvard Business School, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, and HEC Paris have found that developing a daily writing habit of just 15 minutes a day could pay off in spades when it comes to …
Researchers from Harvard Business School, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, and HEC Paris have found that developing a daily writing habit of just 15 minutes a day could pay off in spades when it comes to improving job performance and advancing your career.
The study’s authors hypothesized that when individuals reflect on their task performance and share their insights with others, they perform better on subsequent tasks as compared to individuals who do not reflect, even when they have had more time to practice on the first task.
Participants who were tasked with doing a daily written reflection did 22.8 percent better on an assessment than the control group. The physical act of writing things down is more beneficial than simply reflecting on the day’s events, says paper co-author Bradley Staats, an associate professor of operations at Kenan-Flagler, because the act of writing imposes a discipline to stay focused.
These findings are a departure from previous work, which equates direct learning with learning-by-doing. Researchers found that “learning-by-thinking” makes experiences more productive.
Interestingly, researchers did not find an additional boost in performance when individuals shared the insights from their reflection efforts with others.
“I thought reflection might help a bit, but I didn’t expect it to make such a meaningful impact on performance,” Staats says. “These people weren’t spending extra time at work — they were spending 15 minutes less on training each day so they could reflect, however by reallocating their time in such a small way we see a significant, positive impact on performance.”
Reflection is a powerful mechanism behind learning, and these researchers believe their findings give further weight to the statement made by American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
The hurdle for many, though, will be summoning the discipline to maintain this daily writing habit—no small task in our hectic, over-crammed lives.
For more details about this study, read Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance.
July 14, 2014
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com When it comes to some of the key qualities elite business school admissions officers are looking for in MBA applicants – demonstrated leadership and management …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
When it comes to some of the key qualities elite business school admissions officers are looking for in MBA applicants – demonstrated leadership and management skills, an ability to motivate and work well in a team and international and cultural awareness – military veterans typically display them in spades.
Coming from the armed forces rather than a civilian career path prior to business school can give rise to certain difficulties when drafting an application, however. Let’s take a look at some common areas in the application where veterans face challenges and find out how to mitigate them.
1. Difficulty explaining experiences in civilian terms: Top MBA programs welcome military applicants and offer seats to veterans each year. So while it’s logical to assume the admissions committee is very familiar with the perspective of applicants with a military background, your application essays, resume and interviews need to make sense to a civilian reader.
“Language and terms from the military are often hard to translate into civilian terms, making it hard to communicate what you accomplished and why it matters,” says Ben Faw, an Army combat veteran from West Point who received his MBA from Harvard Business School this spring. “With limited experience in telling their stories to the civilian world, sometimes a veteran will have trouble clearly and succinctly explaining their own personal story.”
To counteract that, military veteran applicants should enlist trusted advisers outside of the military to proofread essays and help translate any military jargon in the MBA resume into plain English. Ask yourself if what you were writing would make sense to a civilian with no military experience.
Weaving stories from the military into your MBA essays is expected and encouraged, particularly where they illustrate leadership accomplishments in a high stress environment, or how you persevered in the face of setbacks. But your essays should also highlight experiences outside of the armed forces, either during college or related to your extracurricular interests.
Veteran applicants often worry about presenting a clear, concise career goal post-MBA, especially if they have little experience in business. This is not as critical as you might think, since many MBA students change industries entirely as they explore the myriad possibilities offered at business school. Begin by clearly articulating why you’re leaving the military, and why an MBA is necessary to achieve that goal.
[Follow these steps to develop a personal brand as an MBA hopeful.]
2. Trouble handling recommenders and interviews: When trying to decide whom to approach for a letter of recommendation, think about people who have encouraged your development as an individual and leader, and, as you prepare to leave the service, ask if they would provide a supportive reference.
I suggest all applicants create a recommender package, which contains instructions on the process, a reminder list of your strengths with on-the-job examples as well as a growth area you’re working on, and a summary of your career goals that the recommender can use as a reference.
While military applicants may feel uncomfortable approaching a senior officer with this level of coaching, leaving matters to fate could result in a lackluster recommendation, especially if the officer doesn’t have a lot of experience writing letters of recommendation. In most cases, your recommenders will appreciate your assistance and thoroughness, and will produce a better recommendation on your behalf.
If you’ve passed that first important hurdle and are invited to interview, congratulations!
Interviewers will usually be very interested in learning about your military experiences, so capitalize on that enthusiasm. Organize your thoughts by jotting down all of your really cool stories. Then, for each one, write a brief summary of what you did, how it made a difference and what you learned from it. Practice mock interviews with family and friends until you feel at ease discussing your military experience in a way everyone will understand.
And remember, it’s okay to talk about your successes in the first person rather than recounting everything as a team victory. This is how you differentiate yourself and reinforce your personal brand.
3. Not knowing how to maximize your resources: The single best resource for applicants coming from the armed forces is the MBA veterans club of the schools you’re considering. Those who have gone before you and succeeded are almost always willing to go above and beyond to share their advice on what has worked for them.
From providing essay and resume tips to offering an authentic view of the veteran experience on campus, these groups are your go-to resource for insight into the school and guidance for your application.
Many schools waive the application fee for U.S. military members and veterans who have served on active duty, and the federal agency Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, known as DANTES, will reimburse the GMAT or GRE General fee for eligible military personnel. Also, pre-MBA candidates can take advantage of boot camps and paid fellowships through MBA Veterans during the summer before their first term.
An MBA is a great next step for transitioning veterans no matter what branch of service they come from. When asked what advice he would offer future applicants, Faw says veterans should know, “There is something special about you, your experience in the military and what you want to do next. Make sure your application reflects those unique aspects that make you who you are. Authenticity is awesome.”
July 3, 2014
The shift to fewer and shorter MBA essays has taken hold across the elite business schools of the United States, and the Wall Street Journal published two interesting articles yesterday exploring the changes afoot at …
The shift to fewer and shorter MBA essays has taken hold across the elite business schools of the United States, and the Wall Street Journal published two interesting articles yesterday exploring the changes afoot at MBA programs this season.
In Adam Rubenfire‘s article, Want to Get Into Business School? Write Less, Talk More, the author shares a table showing how the Harvard Business School application has changed since the 2004-2005 season.
Ten years ago, HBS required six essays for a combined word total of 2,600 words. Applicants for the Class of 2012 had to write four essays totaling 2,000 words. And last year’s applicants, as many know, faced just one essay—optional at that—with no word limit. Ditto for the Class of 2017 applicants.
Admissions officers at schools that have scaled down the essays say they’ve done so to avoid the cookie-cutter approach adopted by so many applicants each year. At Michigan Ross School of Business, admissions director Soojin Kwon tells the WSJ that “applicants increasingly tell us what they think we want to hear,” so now they need to write just two short essays totaling 800 words.
Sara Neher, assistant dean for MBA admissions at UV Darden School of Business, explains the move to a single essay three years ago came about after she discovered “applicants were writing one essay specifically for Darden and then recycling essays from their applications to other schools.”
Moving away from the topic of essays for a moment, Melissa Korn offers a preview of Harvard Business School’s “sassy” new tone in this season’s application, where a laid-back, conversational approach is designed to retain the attention of Millennial applicants whose eyes glaze over while reading instructions from so many programs.
Director of admissions and financial aid Dee Leopold tells the WSJ her office receives lots of questions that are already answered in the application, so “this new, friendlier wording is also intended to engage applicants so that they actually read, and follow, directions.”
Korn points out that Harvard Business School recently came in second-to-last among elite schools in an applicant survey questioning how well each institution got to know them through the admissions process. Perhaps this new, chattier HBS admissions will leave b-school hopefuls feeling warm and fuzzy…and remind them they’re dealing with actual human beings behind the AdCom desk.
“Why be stuffy and formal if we don’t have to?” says Leopold. Why indeed!