Tag Archives: Harvard Business School

3 Exercises to Help MBA Applicants Develop a Personal Brand

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Some b-school applicants balk at thinking of themselves as a “product” or “brand.” However, by taking the time to really examine your personal …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Some b-school applicants balk at thinking of themselves as a “product” or “brand.” However, by taking the time to really examine your personal qualities, values and aspirations, you’ll ultimately be able to find out which MBA programs provide the best match for your unique profile.

Think of it this way: If you had to create a marketing campaign for a new car, and you decided to focus on the vehicle’s seat warmers and sound system – when these days, potential customers are all about fuel economy – then your marketing messages would miss the mark.

The pitfalls in formulating your MBA application brand messages are similar. I recommend clients start the process with three exercises that can help them think like a marketing strategist, identify strengths and develop a personal brand.

[Find out what to do to sell yourself to an MBA admissions committee.]

Exercise 1: Create a “Brag Sheet”

In the real world, the practice of bragging is generally frowned upon. But when it comes to effectively brainstorming a set of messages you will ultimately want to convey to the admissions committee, a great way to begin is by jotting down every possible unique, exciting, wonderful, dazzling thing you can think of about yourself. Think of it as “brag-storming.”

Don’t worry about anyone seeing your list, and don’t try to do this exercise in one sitting. Keep a notebook handy or start a memo in your smartphone?, and write down ideas whenever inspiration strikes. This list not only serves to jog your memory, but also helps you realize that your hobbies, travels, volunteering and personal or family life experiences can provide raw material for brand messages and eventually essays.

Admissions committees seek out well-rounded candidates who have experienced life, pursued their passions and achieved as much outside of the professional setting as within it. We came up with the idea of the brag sheet after I spent three months working with a client who insisted he had nothing interesting going on besides work.

Just days before the application was due, he casually revealed he had a deep, lifelong interest in martial arts, which he felt was not appropriate for a b-school application. Weaving in this aspect was a great way to balance out a work-heavy application and added a lot of color and interest to his profile.

Now we always have clients do a brain dump of everything under the sun so that these types of stories don’t slip through the cracks.

Exercise 2: Generate Stories

In our work with applicants, we’ve learned that it’s better to sift through an array of life experiences and see what emerges as a core strength, rather than lead off with what clients perceive as their strengths and then try to find example stories that back those up.

You don’t need to actually write the stories at this time. Scratching out a few notes, like “how I overcame a speech impediment,” “the time I backpacked through Asia for six months on $2,000″ or “Have worked in the family business since I was 14 years old,” is fine.

To get the wheels turning, consider personal achievements, leadership achievements in and outside of work, times when your actions made an impact on a person or group, instances when you motivated others or a time you solved a problem with ingenuity. Don’t be afraid to touch upon setbacks or failures, as your strategies for overcoming them may be the best indicator of your future success in the business world.

To determine whether a story is worth fleshing out, see if you can list the concrete actions you took and the results you achieved. The actions you took reveal your approach to a particular problem and provide some clues about your strengths, capabilities and character. The results indicate that your actions made a difference.

[Find out how a learning agenda can help your MBA application.]

Exercise 3: Mine Stories for Strengths

Once you’ve winnowed? down your list of stories, it’s time to figure out precisely which aspects of your skills, talents, strengths and character contributed to your accomplishments.

Ask yourself how this experience shaped your life and made you stronger, or which strengths, talents or attributes helped you make a difference. The answers you come up with will add to the pool of potential brand messages that you might highlight in your application and essays.

I had a client applying to Harvard Business School who wanted to write about his organizational skills as a core strength. Instead, we advised him to write about his ability to lead and inspire others. After all, he had written on his brag sheet about developing a program to provide vaccinations to the poor in underdeveloped countries – an enormous undertaking he developed from scratch. I’m sure his organizational skills helped, but the latter strength was more compelling, and it rose to the surface after viewing his stories.

As with a traditional marketing plan, the goal is to launch a product thoughtfully and effectively. In this case, the product is you. The goal is self-awareness, and combing through your list of accomplishments can be an enormous help. Once these elements have been clarified, you can effectively put your best MBA strategy into action.

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Harvard Business School Enters Online Learning

Harvard Business School has announced the official launch of HBX, an innovative digital platform to support the delivery of online business-focused offerings, including HBX CORe, a primer on the fundamentals of business. “The HBX launch …

Harvard Business School has announced the official launch of HBX, an innovative digital platform to support the delivery of online business-focused offerings, including HBX CORe, a primer on the fundamentals of business.

“The HBX launch marks an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” says HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. “Moreover, HBX will provide a powerful channel for communicating ideas to and engaging with new and wider audiences, complementing the work we do through Harvard Business Publishing.”

The initial HBX offering, CORe (Credential of Readiness), comprises three interlinked courses: Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. HBS Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair of HBX, says that CORe will be a rigorous program designed for serious and committed learners.

“The HBX faculty team has thought carefully about how to create an online offering that mirrors the energy you find in an HBS classroom and that allows students to benefit from the diversity and experiences of other students,” Anand explains.

Consistent with the Harvard Business School case method of teaching and participant-centered learning, CORe requires students to be active learners, thinking through and solving real-world problems.

HBX aims to complement the school’s existing programs. Notes HBS Professor Youngme Moon, Senior Associate Dean and Chair of the MBA program, “CORe is designed to provide basic business fundamentals to segments of the population we’ve never directly addressed before: undergraduates, graduate students in non-business fields, and people who have just begun their first jobs in business but want a better foundation so they can thrive earlier in their career.”

CORe will launch in June, initially with a limited cohort of students drawn from the greater Massachusetts region of colleges and universities; applications will be available in April on the HBX website (hbx.hbs.edu).

Click here for HBX fact sheet.

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Harvard Business School Offers its First MOOC

Weigh Trying a MOOC Before an MBA

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3 Surprising Application Mistakes Prospective MBAs Make

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com When it comes to making mistakes on a business school application, there are many places where candidates can run afoul and ruin their …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

When it comes to making mistakes on a business school application, there are many places where candidates can run afoul and ruin their chances at admission.

The road to an MBA contains countless potential pitfalls, including writing the wrong school name or otherwise failing to proofread; having generic essays designed to impress rather than reveal; and choosing recommenders based on their titles, not your relationship with them.

However, there are also more process-oriented mistakes students commonly make – and ways to avoid them.

[Follow these tips to recover from a botched MBA interview.]

Reality Check: Unrealistic School Selection

With all of the hype around the top b-school brands, it’s no wonder most applicants dream of earning their MBA at Harvard University or Stanford University. The cold, hard truth, however, is that these schools admit a tiny fraction of applicants each cycle.

Harvard Business School admitted just 12 percent of applicants to the class of 2015, while Stanford offered a seat to a mere 8 percent. Programs like those at University of California—Berkeley Haas School of Business or MIT Sloan School of Management are only a tad less competitive, with acceptance rates of about 14 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

This doesn’t mean you should abandon all hope of attending one of the world’s best business schools, especially if your stats are strong and your extracurriculars and leadership examples varied. But, should you happen to fall in the camp of the other 85 percent of applicants – that is, the vast majority – then the subject of having appropriate back-up schools comes into play.

Not all programs are the same, so I suggest applicants do a lot of research as well as soul-searching prior to the school selection process. Being realistic about your profile and aligning yourself with programs that mesh with your particular academic and professional background is the surest recipe for success.

[Look beyond a top business school for your MBA.]

Reality Check: Scores Affect Selection

As we’ve talked about in this space before, preparing early and adequately for the entrance exam is critical. You can’t be stressing about studying for the GMAT or GRE when you should be focused on drafting compelling application essays or cultivating additional leadership opportunities.

Truth is, the school selection process will be greatly influenced by your GMAT score. While each year we hear of that miracle case where someone gets into Harvard with a 550, it’s likely that person’s profile was so extraordinary in every other way that it offset the low score.

It would be foolhardy to believe you too have a decent chance simply because a handful of people out of 10,000 applicants made it in with a score nearly 100 points below the median.

Use your GMAT or GRE score as a barometer to determine a comfortable range of schools to target. If you do decide to go for the “reach school” as well despite a middling test score, make sure you incorporate the fact that you have a low score into your overall strategy.

Reality Check: You’re Not Ready for B-School – Yet

A huge mistake, and one that’s more common that you’d think, is applying to business school before you are really ready. It is true MBA programs are skewing younger these days, accepting applicants with five or fewer years of work experience rather than the typical seven of the past, but that just means candidates need to be even more amazing in less time.

Ask yourself if you have had enough life experiences to provide an interesting perspective to a class. Will your potential recommenders act as champions for your cause, or is your relationship with a supervisor still new and untested? Can you devote time to improving your test score in order to expand your portfolio of program options? Would taking another year to strengthen your profile make more sense and yield better results?

Making 100 percent sure that an MBA is the right step at this time is a crucial part of the soul-searching I mentioned above, and once you can answer in the affirmative, you can embark on the challenging but rewarding journey toward an MBA.

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3-Way Tie in US News Best B-School Rankings

There was little movement and few surprises among the elite programs in the U.S. News ranking of the top business schools, announced today. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the University of …

There was little movement and few surprises among the elite programs in the U.S. News ranking of the top business schools, announced today. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School share the number-one spot in the 2015 rankings.

Harvard and Stanford’s first-place tie remained the same as last year’s standings. This was the highest rank ever achieved by Wharton in the U.S. News survey; last year Wharton finished third.

Chicago Booth School of Business ranks No. 4, moving up two places over the previous year, MIT Sloan School of Management takes fifth place, while Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management fell two spots to No. 6 in the 2015 standings, according to the report.

The top ten is rounded out by UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, Columbia Business School, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, and, No. 10, NYU Stern School of Business.

11. Michigan Ross School of Business
12. UV Darden School of Business
13. Yale School of Management
14. Duke’s Fuqua School of Business
15. UT McCombs School of Business
16. UCLA Anderson School of Management
17. Cornell’s Johnson School
18. CMU Tepper School of Business
19. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
20. Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

The U.S. News rankings are based on a weighted average of several indicators, including overall program quality, peer assessments, recruiter assessments, placement success, starting salary and bonus, average GMAT/GRE score, undergraduate GPA and more.

To compile this year’s rankings, all 453 master’s programs accredited by AACSB International were surveyed in fall 2013 and early 2014. A total of 385 responded, of which 127 provided enough of the data needed to calculate the full-time MBA rankings.

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Biz Ed ‘Oscars’ Celebrate Leading Case Writers

Film actors weren’t the only superstars lauded this week. The 2014 Case Centre Awards, an annual event known as the “Oscars” of business education, honored the professors who have written the most effective case studies. …

Film actors weren’t the only superstars lauded this week. The 2014 Case Centre Awards, an annual event known as the “Oscars” of business education, honored the professors who have written the most effective case studies.

The subjects highlighted through the winning cases give an insight into what is being taught in business school classrooms on a year-to-year basis.

IMD Professor Kamran Kashani and former IMD researcher Aimée DuBrule won The Case Centre’s Overall Award for 2014 with their case Value Selling at SKF Service (A): Tough Buyer Confronts Strategy.

Case-writing powerhouse  Harvard Business School received the most prizes in the individual categories: Professors V. Kasturi Rangan and Sunru Yong, and Thomas Steenburgh, Jill Avery and Naseem Dahod won in the economics and marketing categories.

This year, topical world and economic issues are strongly represented: challenges in recession (SKF- component manufacturer, and Coach – luxury goods), banking under pressure (Deutsche Bank), and the impact of political events (Vodafone/Egypt).

The importance of emerging markets is also examined in banking (Alpen), healthcare devices (GE Healthcare/India) and white goods (Galanz/China). Social media is represented (HubSpot), medical devices and the challenges faced by a woman in leadership (Aesch), and food in a French entrepreneurial context (Michel et Augustin).

Though US business schools—particularly Harvard Business School—dominate the market for case writing, European schools scooped most of the category awards, the Financial Times reports.

“This year’s case awards and competitions honour case writing and teaching expertise on a global scale,” says Richard McCracken, director of The Case Centre. “The Innovation in Case Teaching Award demonstrates how teaching expertise is being shared in Africa. We see how cases are able to respond fast to world events and get topical issues into the classroom.”

Nirmalya Kumar, marketing professor at London Business School, received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method.  His easyJet: The Web’s Favourite Airline (co-authored at IMD with Brian Rogers) is The Case Centre’s bestselling case of all time, used by 133 schools in 32 countries since it was first published in 2000.

“I am delighted to have received this recognition after many years of writing and teaching cases. In writing a case, I take both the instructor and student perspectives and ask how this case will lead to a transformation of beliefs on the part of the students,” Kumar says.

The Case Centre is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the case method in business education. It also distributes the world’s largest collection of management case studies, articles and books on behalf of all the major business schools and internationally respected authors worldwide.

Follow the link for a complete list of the 2014 winners.

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Round 3 Myth-Busting by Harvard Business School

Applying to business school in the final round is a tricky proposition, primarily because your application needs to be exceptionally strong to garner one of those oh-so-limited remaining spots. Harvard Business School Director of Admissions …

Applying to business school in the final round is a tricky proposition, primarily because your application needs to be exceptionally strong to garner one of those oh-so-limited remaining spots.

Harvard Business School Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold recently did some myth-busting related to submitting in Round 3, and here’s what she had to say:

1. There are spots available in the final round. Not as many as in Rounds 1 and 2, but keep in mind, there are also fewer applicants in the final round. “Do I think a strong candidate has a fair shot?,” Leopold asks. “Yes.”

2. From the first applicant accepted until the very last, each student has access to the same need-based financial aid.

3. If your Round 3 application is not successful, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t apply again in Round 1 next fall. “Many people in our classroom today were successful re-applicants,” Leopold notes.

4. Round 3 is a great time for 2+2 applicants to apply, as college seniors will have another semester of grades and activities to highlight. “We can be more flexible about the number of 2+2 admits given that we are not worried about a ‘seat being occupied’ for this September,” she explains.

5. Lastly, while there is no Welcome Weekend for Round 3 admits, you will get a chance to see the campus in real time since all the interviews will be held on campus. HBS will be hosting other events on campus in the next few months, including an LGBT Open House, Prospective Students’ Diversity Day, and lunches for prospective women applicants with members of the Women’s Student Association.

Also, a word to future Round 1 applicants: Spring is a great time to plan a campus visit if you want to see the case method in action, as there’s limited availability for visiting a class in the early fall.

The Round 3 deadline at HBS is coming up on April 7th. Good luck to all who are applying!

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Evaluate in Which Round to Submit Your B-School Application

 

 

 

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