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Nine Inside Tips From MBA Programme Directors!

70 MBA directors got together at Switzerland’s Lac Leman this week for a frank discussion on where the MBA is headed. Here are nine top tips we picked up for anyone contemplating an MBA!


Fri Mar 22 2013

Earlier this week, 70 MBA programme directors from around the world gathered in Switzerland to talk about the challenges they all face to keep their students happy and their MBA programmes relevant.
When MBA Programme Directors get together for a no-holds-barred discussion, it’s a great place to find out exactly what’s happening behind the scenes in the business school world.
BusinessBecause went along to pick up some insider titbits that you won’t hear anywhere else!
The conference was organised by EFMD, the European management education gurus behind the prestigious Equis accreditation for business schools, and held at top business school IMD in Lausanne. 
Read on for our nine must read tips if you’re applying to or already doing an MBA…
1. Your local business school could be a good bet. As well as traditional bastions such as the UK, Switzerland and Canada, MBA directors from schools as far afield as Lithuania, the Ukraine, Vietnam and Ecuador were out in force. Business schools in Scandinavia also made a strong showing. Course directors at these schools were there to pick up best practice from big cats like London Business School and IMD and take them home.
2. Check out the Chicago Bulls. John Sadowsky, leadership professor at Grenoble Graduate School of Business highlighted how legendary coach Phil Jackson transformed the basketball team. The culture at the top of the NBA in 1989, when Jackson took over at the Bulls, was one of competition between team mates. When a star player got the ball, the rest of the team would fall back. Jackson instilled a culture of unselfishness and teamwork at the Chicago Bulls, leading them to win six NBA titles between 1989 and 1998.      
3. Canada is calling! This year Canada's top six business schools formed the Canadian MBA Alliance. Why? Because Canada is an insanely attractive destination for international students right now. Its public universities are great value for money: tuition for the 16-month MBA at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, ranked 57th in the world by the FT, is a mere $55k Canadian dollars (about US$53k).
Canada’s favourable work permit scheme gives graduates of two-year MBA programmes the right to stay in the country to look for work for up to three years. Canada is a country built by immigrants and the government and business community view talented international students as an asset, said Wendy Ma, Assistant Dean at Sauder. Other schools in the Alliance are Rotman, Ivery, Schulich, Desautels and Queen’s.
4. The Master in Management at London Business School is great value for money. Gareth Howells, Executive Director of the MBA and Master in Finance and all round decision-maker said the school has thrown considerable resource behind the MiM. It has a higher staff-student ratio than the MBA, seven dedicated careers advisors, and shares faculty with the MBA. Students on the MiM receive intensive career coaching and are allowed to join the MBA clubs at LBS.
Howells pointed out that, far from being a cash cow for LBS, the MiM is actually less profitable than the MBA, and grads have a higher employment rate three months out (95 per cent)! Tuition is less than half that for the MBA, but you can’t apply if you have more than one year of professional experience!
5. The International MBA at Spain’s EADA is super innovative. It’s a hotbed of new thinking in professional development and you’ll gain skills that will last you longer than that post-graduation pay rise! The school emphasises learning by doing, with cases and projects that challenge students to reflect and to deal with change and ambiguity. The class has strong representation from Latin America, and turns out grads who aren’t afraid to try bold experiments. One recent grad set up a hockey tournament in her native India to bring people from different castes together.
Programme Director Giulio Toscani, a fomer strategy consultant and chemical engineer, graduated from the EADA MBA ten years ago. He made so many suggestions to improve it that he was called back to run the programme, and the results are impressive! Oh, and the MBA kicks off with a treasure hunt around the stunning city of Barcelona.
6. Want to manage a $20 million P&L when you graduate? Check out Schindler Group. This Swiss firm “moves one billion people a day”, as a leading manufacturer of elevators and escalators. IMD alum Deepak Khandpur, head of Business Competitiveness, had some home truths for MBAs. Keep your expectations in check, he said: you won’t make the high level decisions you practiced at business school till about five years after you graduate. However, if you’re willing to throw yourself into frontline sales and marketing, and take on new emerging market competitors in an “unsexy” but high tech industry, you’ll be given a lot of responsibility. MBAs employed as Customer Service Managers at Schindler manage 50 to 60 blue collar technicians and a P&L of $15m to $20m – “real work!” said Khandpur.
7. The food at IMD is ridiculously good, befitting a school that attracts the crème de la crème of Europe’s business and finance leaders to its campus for executive education and MBA courses. The IMD MBA is ranked 19th in the world by the FT and is very exclusive: it only admits 90 students a year. Alumni such as the CEO of Nestle and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands no doubt enjoyed the daily spread of fine cheeses, sea food and pastries. We asked, and yes, it’s this delicious every day of the week.
8. There’s another mainland China MBA on the block The country’s elite Beijing University established a business school in the financial and industrial hub of Shenzhen in 2004. Following an endowment, it’s been renamed the HSBC Business School. Associate Dean Professor Vincent Chang holds two PhDs, from MIT and Berkley, and is on a mission to provide international, rather than Chinese, business education to domestic and foreign students alike. All teaching is in English and there is no Mandarin language requirement for entrance. HSBC Business School currently offers two-year Masters programmes in Finance, Economics and Management, and an MBA will launch next year. Best kept secret: there are several full tuition scholarships on offer so now is a great time to apply!  
9. Use deodorant. The first morning of the conference, one MBA Director received an email from a student, formally complaining about a particularly stinky classmate. The complainant wanted a separate room to work in. Apparently even the cleaners had said the student’s room was too filthy to enter. Forgetting to shower and bad personal hygiene will make you very unpopular.      
We also took some snaps of the hardworking MBA Directors. Some of them are on BusinessBecause - feel free to get in touch!
ESMT's charming MBA Director Nick Barniville 
Henryk Sterncziuk from UNB Canada and Nubi Achebo of Lagos Business School
Grenoble's Professor John Sadowsky, a Chicago Bulls fan even though he's from Boston
Tiit Elenurm of Estonian Business School and Veysel Yucetepe of Kean University, USA
HSBC School of Management's Vincent Chang wants to the next generation of Chinese leaders to think outside the box
Gareth Howells: London Business School admitted the winner of Turkey's Pop Idol to the first MiM class 
Deepak Khandpur of Schindler Management tells it straight 
UBC Sauder's Wendy Ma makes everyone jealous of Canada's cuddly image abroad
Jeff Petty, Ari-Pekka Hameri and Lionel Stoudmann from HEC Lausanne