Tag Archives: Ross School of Business

B-School Deans Adopt a New Leadership Profile

This post originally appeared on the U.S. News–Strictly Business blog. On the cusp of 2012, it’s safe to say that deans at the nation’s top business schools will have a lot on their plates in …

This post originally appeared on the U.S. News–Strictly Business blog.

On the cusp of 2012, it’s safe to say that deans at the nation’s top business schools will have a lot on their plates in the New Year and beyond. M.B.A. enrollment in the United States is flat; international expansion is critical but problematic; recruiters want to influence curricula to meet their own talent needs; and the schools’ need to differentiate their graduate management programs is paramount.

As economic pressures escalate and stakeholders shift, business schools must innovate, refocus, and restructure””or risk falling behind their academic competitors, says “The Business School Dean Redefined,” a report recently released by the Korn/Ferry Institute. Staying competitive requires a new kind of dean with a leadership profile that emphasizes strategic skills, enterprise management, innovation, and people and relationship effectiveness.

“In the past, the primary questions for dean candidates essentially were: Can this person get along with our faculty? Do they have a good research reputation? And can they get things done?” says Sally Blount, appointed dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in July 2010, in an interview published within the report.

That has all changed in an era when managing the “business of the business school” is a more like a CEO position, albeit one that also includes challenges that do not constrain private-enterprise executives. “Few CEOs, for example, must grapple with the concept of a tenured workforce, highly diffused authority, and funding constraints placed by donors,” the report’s authors note.

A business school dean now needs to manage relationships with multiple types of stakeholders, says Blount, as well as build the rankings, build market share, and act effectively as the public voice and image for the school.

“I was surprised when search committees at the top schools started seeking me out. I was not your typical business dean candidate,” recalls Blount, adding that she doesn’t think any business school would have considered her a candidate 10 years ago.

“One of the most difficult challenges I encountered when I switched to academia was the need to go deep and narrow in my thinking because I was more naturally a broad, integrative thinker,” says Blount. “Today, as a business school dean, I need to be broad and integrative, and that approach is not typically fostered in an academic setting.”

Enterprise management is a core competency for today’s deans. The ability to organize and set priorities and make difficult resource allocation decisions will be critical to achieving results in a hyper-competitive marketplace.

“There is a much tighter coupling between business schools and the external world today,” says Alison Davis-Blake, the recently appointed dean of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “As a dean, you need a much deeper understanding of macroeconomic conditions because you have to be able to respond to those shifts.”

As the M.B.A. degree becomes available in more and more forms””traditional two-year programs, accelerated one-year degrees, online programs, global M.B.A.’s””attracting students will require innovative strategies to help differentiate the schools from one another.

International expansion, though widespread by this point, continues to demand great innovation in order to generate returns over the long term. Deans must cope with faculty members reluctant to accept overseas assignments and figure out how best to sell the M.B.A. value proposition to foreign students who might balk at the six-figure price tag.

Managing the growing number of increasingly diverse stakeholders has become so critical for deans that it warrants its own treatment as a skill set, say the researchers, who note that deans need to gain buy-in from faculty, donors, alumni, administrators, prospective students, and corporate recruiters””communities that may oppose the dean, or one another, on any given issue.

“I sometimes think of the university as a multi-divisional enterprise,” says Davis-Blake. “Deans are divisional managers who run a business that had better make a profit to generate the investment capital we need. We have multiple lines of business””tuition and non-degree lines of business””that need to be managed as a portfolio.”

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Entrepreneurship Gains Momentum at Business Schools

With Global Entrepreneurship Week underway, the debate over whether entrepreneurship can really be taught””after all, some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs didn’t even go to business school””seems to have died down a bit. In …

With Global Entrepreneurship Week underway, the debate over whether entrepreneurship can really be taught””after all, some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs didn’t even go to business school””seems to have died down a bit.

In fact, more and more M.B.A. programs have ramped up the number of contests and classes designed to help students learn how to transform a good idea into a good business. According to a 2011 survey of 476 prospective M.B.A.’s in 79 countries by CarringtonCrisp, a market research firm, entrepreneurship is now among the top five most sought-after areas of course content.

Granted, the best programs acknowledge that they don’t actually create entrepreneurs””they merely nurture innate ability.

In a recent blog post, Freek Vermeulen, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the London Business School, wrote, “I have yet to meet a successful entrepreneur who did go to business school who proclaims his/her education was not a great help in becoming a success.” Invariably, he adds, entrepreneurs claim their education helped them a lot.

As someone who has started more than one successful business, I leveraged a lot of my M.B.A. classes and resources into my business ventures and can attest to the truth in Vermeulen’s statement.

Every top school devotes considerable resources to its center of entrepreneurship, but here’s a glimpse at the latest breakouts in this area. Just last week, University of Michigan’s highly ranked Ross School of Business announced the launch of a master’s degree in entrepreneurship, offered jointly with the College of Engineering and slated to begin in fall 2012.

The initiative is unique, the school says, because most b-schools focus on the skill set required in larger, more mature organizations, and most engineering programs don’t include market assessment and commercialization skills. “Our new program brings these two cultures together in a novel synthesis that is greater than the sum of its parts,” says Bill Lovejoy, a professor at the Ross School and codirector of the new program.

Meanwhile, over at Harvard Business School, the school’s brand new Innovation Lab hosted a Startup Weekend Scramble November 11 to 13 to kick off its launch week. More than 100 student “creatives, doers, visionaries, and builders” from both Harvard and MIT participated in this intense, 54-hour event to promote innovation, teamwork, and entrepreneurship.

While Startup Weekend is a global event designed to let aspiring entrepreneurs discover if their startup ideas are viable, this hands-on experience took things a step further by mixing in the “scramble” aspect. StartUp Scrambles are two-day intensives offered only to colleges and universities that scramble the lines between real-world experience and classroom education with the help of mentors and professionals.

As the banking and finance sectors face continued instability, it comes as no surprise that many of tomorrow’s M.B.A.’s want to take control of their own careers and avoid the unemployment lines their own parents might be facing.

“Entrepreneurs are our best shot at pulling the current economy from the doldrums, as the excitement and massive participation in this week’s Global Entrepreneurship Week clearly reflects,” says Rhett Weiss, executive director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Earlier this month, Cornell hosted the 3-Day Startup Cornell (3DS), where the goal is for participants to start a technology company over the course of three days. Sponsored in part by Facebook, this year’s program recruited more than 40 students, selected from almost 150, who were charged with devising the best idea for a software startup over the course of a weekend. Six ideas with real potential to create businesses were pitched by teams in the final session.

“We in the higher education space have a responsibility to commit to the growth and training of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs for both their own prospects and the global economy’s prospects,” says Weiss. “Every day, I’m talking with and helping at least one student entrepreneur, founder team, or other member of this incredibly energized ecosystem.”

Whether you fall into the camp of nature or nurture as it relates to entrepreneurship, I think most people would agree that an entrepreneur needs to know the same basic skills as someone running a more established company. After all, every company began as a startup, launched by an entrepreneur.

If anything, you need to know all of the basics as opposed to specializing in one area. My advice to current and prospective M.B.A. students interested in entrepreneurship is to pay close attention in all of your classes””even in the areas you plan to outsource as soon as you have the budget.

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5 Test Prep Steps from UM Ross Admissions Director

It’s that time of year again, when most b-school applicants have the GMAT or GRE on the brain. Soojin Kwon Koh, director of admissions at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of …

It’s that time of year again, when most b-school applicants have the GMAT or GRE on the brain. Soojin Kwon Koh, director of admissions at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, lays out five steps in the latest Ross Newsletter that can help you develop your own test training plan.

Step One: Start preparing early
Unless you’re a natural at standardized test-taking, you’ll need to train your brain to get it into test-taking mode. Studying is like a workout for your brain, writes Soojin, so the more you exercise it, the better you will perform when it counts.

Step Two: Assess your baseline, then set a goal
Take a practice test to assess the level of training you’ll need to close the gap between your practice score and the average and middle 80 percent range of a school’s GMAT scores. Given a similar professional background and undergraduate performance, a higher GMAT score will make you more competitive, the director explains.

Step Three: Set up a study schedule
Commit to a study plan that fits your schedule and budget. Whether you take a test prep class, work with a tutor, or use study guides, thorough and disciplined preparation is a key to success, Soojin writes. While a score over 700 isn’t necessarily a must, schools want to feel confident you won’t struggle in a rigorous MBA program.

Step Four: Simulate the test day scenario
While you can’t replicate the exam environment completely, do eliminate all distractions, set a timer, and take a practice test at around the same time of day you’ll be taking the actual test. This will help you build up your endurance and maintain focus  throughout the exam.

Step Five: Go for your personal record
If you fall short of your goal on the first try, rally your energies to try again, Soojin urges. The admissions committee considers the highest total score, and she says the majority of Ross applicants take the GMAT more than once. If you do re-test, focus your preparation on the sections that challenged you the most.

***

Like most top MBA programs, Ross School of Business evaluates your application holistically; no single section will make or break your candidacy. A great score won’t guarantee admittance, and a less-than-stellar test performance won’t seal your fate.

“Continue these training runs and your preparation regimen until you score in your target range and feel you can go into the actual test with confidence,” Soojin advises.

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Tuesday Tips – Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

As Dean Dolan advises applicants on the Michigan MBA website, the “Ross difference is action-based learning.” Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are …

As Dean Dolan advises applicants on the Michigan MBA website, the “Ross difference is action-based learning.” Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are both intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals.

When you are approaching this set of essays think about how you will best illustrate your fit with the unique Michigan MBA program.

Don’t forget to check your deadlines before getting started!

Essay 1
Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

The first thing to ask yourself is what you would want to know about your future classmates as potential teammates and friends? That is the information you should communicate here. If you have worked on your application strategy and thought about your personal branding, this question is just one part of the whole. You will be discussing career goals and other professional aspects of yourself in the next few essays, so this is your opportunity to tell your future classmates something about you as a person. Do you have a unique background you will be able to share with your classmates? What about hobbies and personal accomplishments? Think about this question as the “elevator pitch” to adcomm, and one that should be more personal than professional.

Essay 2
Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? What is your vision for how you can make a unique contribution to the Ross community? (500 word maximum)

This career goals question is fairly standard, yet focuses more on the future rather than the past. Since you are not specifically asked to explain your entire career path, focus on the high points that will provide the relevant context to your goals. When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments?

When you describe your goals it will be important that they are both aspirational and credible. Because you are investing in an Michigan MBA, you will want to show how your career goals warrant the time and money you will spend. A promotion to the next level is not enough of a reason to spend two years at the Michigan MBA program, but perhaps your goal to run the company one day is. Think about the goal that will represent the pinnacle of your career in the next 10-20 years, and then describe any other sub-goals that will help you get there.

Having done your research on Michigan MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about your motivation to pursue an MBA at Ross and how you will contribute to the community. Choose specific classes, professors and programs that fit into your career goals. Think about clubs and conferences that are unique to the Michigan MBA and will advance your career. This question is about more than how Ross will help you achieve your goals, you’ll also need to show your unique value as a member of the community. Can you share your career expertise? Your network? Personal hobbies or skills? Think again about what you would want from a future classmate and apply that filter to your unique talents.

Essay 3
Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience? (500 word maximum)

Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.

Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Don’t be afraid to admit that you have faced frustration and disappointment, because you are only human. The important part of this story is how you reacted and what you learned. Think about the type of person who will be successful in a Michigan MBA program and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?
Similar to the HBS essay, this is an opportunity to show how you handle challenging situations. Everyone faces frustrations and challenges at work; it is how you decide to react that creates learning and growth. Revealing your emotions and thought process in this essay will provide a window into how you process difficult experiences and emerge from them with a new direction.

The key to a successful essay is to demonstrate how, specifically, you navigated the experience. A lesson learned or beneficial outcome to the experience would end the essay well and allow you to illustrate your leadership, teamwork or social skills.

Essay 4
Select one of the following questions:
Ӣ What are you most passionate about and why? (300 word maximum)

Since you have only 300 words you will want to focus on one aspect of your personal, professional or extracurricular life that really excites you.

Overall, this essay is meant to show how introspective you really are. Have you thought deeply about your passions and motivations in life, and do you know what truly makes you happy? If you can show that you understand yourself and are most motivated by your own passions rather than the expectations of others, you can demonstrate both self-awareness and maturity in this essay.

If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days. Ask friends and family what most excites you when you go about your day to day life. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your passions.

Ӣ Describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such. How have you dealt with it? What have you learned from it? (300 word maximum)
This essay question is similar to Essay 3, but focuses on a personal challenge or obstacle. This question is the perfect opportunity to bring up a pivotal moment in your background that has shaped your personal development. Challenges often reveal quite a bit about character, and your story should convey how you handled the situation, and reflect upon the key lessons of the situation. If you are describing a challenge that was external to you rather than self-imposed be sure to avoid blame or excuses. Everyone faces challenges or obstacles in life, and your response will reveal a tremendous amount about your character. This kind of essay is ideal to seek a third-party opinion on tone and approach.

Optional Essay
Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

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Michigan Ross School of Business Posts Deadlines, Essay Topics

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has announced the deadlines and essay topics for the 2011-2012 application season. The three deadline rounds are as follows: Round 1 Deadline: October 10, 2011 Notification: January …

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has announced the deadlines and essay topics for the 2011-2012 application season.

The three deadline rounds are as follows:

Round 1
Deadline: October 10, 2011
Notification: January 13, 2012

Round 2:
Deadline: January 4, 2012
Notification: March 15, 2012

Round 3:
Deadline: March 1, 2012
Notification: May 15, 2012

The Fall 2012 Full-Time MBA Program Essay Topics:

1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

2. Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? What is your vision for how you can make a unique contribution to the Ross community? (500 word maximum)

3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience? (500 word maximum)

4. Select one of the following questions:
Ӣ What are you most passionate about? (300 word maximum)
Ӣ Describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such. How have you dealt with it? What have you learned from it? (300 word maximum)

5. Optional question: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)

International applicants are encouraged to apply in either the first or second round. The Ross MBA application will be available online in August.  Visit the admissions website at Ross School of Business for more information.

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The Race for Bigger, Better B-Schools

This post originally appeared on the U.S. News — Strictly Business blog A shiny new campus really does make a difference”“even for business schools firmly ensconced at the top of the heap.  Seeing a flawless, …

This post originally appeared on the U.S. News — Strictly Business blog

A shiny new campus really does make a difference”“even for business schools firmly ensconced at the top of the heap.  Seeing a flawless, state-of-the-art facility, whether it’s still in the conceptual phase or newly inaugurated, can inspire other donors and kick-start a lot more giving.

Suddenly, people feel excited about the school again, and enthusiastic about the learning possibilities and potential that exist in an educational institution. With all of the technological innovations currently taking place, an overhaul of facilities is vital to ensure that they are optimal for teaching, sharing and learning. Beautiful campuses make excellent marketing tools as well.

The “arms race” to build bigger and better business schools inevitably attracts the brightest applicants and professors, and larger schools can enroll more students, who shell out more than $80,000 per year in tuition, room and board and other expenses. With those figures in mind, competition between the schools is fierce. Let’s just say that once the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (as it was then known) unveiled their beautiful new campus in 2004, the pressure increased just a tad on Kellogg School of Management to do the same.

Anyone touring the top schools in the Chicago area could not help but notice a gaping difference between the two campuses.  Chicago GSB just felt like a more fabulous place to learn, regardless of what the teachers were doing or saying.

When entrepreneur David G. Booth made history with his mind-boggling gift of $300 million in 2008””still the largest gift to any business school in the world””the name change to Chicago Booth School of Business happened overnight”¦as did the university’s cementing of its status as a premier institution for management education.

Stanford Graduate School of Business held the grand opening of its new, $345 million campus, the Knight Management Center, just over a month ago. Made possible in part by a gift of $105 million given by Nike founder Philip H. Knight in 2006, construction of the new campus came as a result of 2007 changes in the M.B.A. curriculum that called for smaller class sizes, necessitating smaller and more classrooms.

Stanford also built the new center with the goal of earning the United States Green Building Council’s LEED platinum level certification. Knight Center Program Director Kathleen Kavanaugh told The Stanford Daily that green facilities were a priority for educational reasons as well, in hopes that students would carry environmental motivations into their careers.

Thanks to two significant donations late last year, Yale School of Management is well positioned to keep up with the Joneses. The school received the largest gift in its history in December with a $50 million pledge from Yale College alumnus Edward (Ned) P. Evans, who died less than two weeks later. Construction of the SOM’s new 4.25 acre, state-of-the-art campus, designed by the famed architecture firm Foster + Partners, will incorporate the latest in green construction materials and practices and will house high-tech classrooms, faculty offices, academic centers, and student and meeting spaces organized around a welcoming courtyard.

Meanwhile, a donation of $10 million in November from Yale alum Wilbur L. Ross is slated for a state-of-the-art library facility supporting teaching and research. The SOM celebrated the groundbreaking of its new campus in late April and is scheduled to open in 2013.

The trend of mega donations spread to Harvard Business School last October, when it received the largest gift from an international donor in the school’s 102-year history. A gift of $50 million from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Tata Education and Development Trust, philanthropic entities of India’s Tata Group, will fund a new academic and residential building on the Harvard Business School campus in Boston for participants in the school’s Executive Education programs. The school hopes to break ground for the building, which will be named Tata Hall, later this year.

Columbia Business School also received a major cash infusion last October, when it received the largest gift in its history. Alumnus Henry R. Kravis, co-founder of the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, pledged $100 million to support the construction of the business school’s new facilities, which are part of Columbia’s long-term campus plan on several blocks of the old Manhattanville manufacturing zone. One of the business school’s two new buildings will be named The Henry R. Kravis Building in recognition of Kravis’s generosity.

While a business school’s physical condition isn’t the most important consideration for applicants, there’s no denying the strong allure of facilities that provide access to the latest technology. But the real payoff comes from wealthy alumni, whose donations have paved the way for these super structures.

Robert Dolan, who was dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business when it opened a 270,000-square feet, $145 million building in 2009, said “The better the experience people have, the better they feel about the place, the more likely it will be that they would support it at some point.”

 

 

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