As the coronavirus outbreak forces more activities online, here are eight ways you can make the most of MBA events online
Communication, remote working, and a digital mindset will all rise to prominence in a post-coronavirus business world. Here’s how an MBA can help you hone these
The coronavirus pandemic is hitting small businesses hard. From challenges finding investment to changing business plans and workplaces, we explore how entrepreneurs are adapting to survive
Read our latest coronavirus roundup as the GMAT Online Exam introduces a physical whiteboard option and we release our BusinessBecause Cost of MBA Report 2020
8 Tips For Attending Virtual MBA Events
As the world continues to grapple with the spread of coronavirus, more of us are being tasked with staying home in isolation.
And for those of us with upcoming plans, social distancing has meant event cancellations and the move from face-to-face to virtual, online interactions.
If you’ve been planning on attending an MBA tour event where you would have had the chance to engage with school admissions reps and other MBA candidates in person, you may be wondering, how do I make an impression during a virtual MBA tour event?
1. Dress your best
It can be tempting to dress casually for an event that you won’t leave the house for but don’t make that mistake.
Dressing the part will help you conjure up the atmosphere of what this type of event entails when it is face-to-face. And looking your best will help to boost your confidence. Should the event have a video component, you’ll be glad you dressed like the business professional expected at these types of events.
2. Check your video and audio
Before the event even starts, check that your video and audio are working properly.
Not only should you be able to see the presentation and the presenters, but you’ll also want to make sure that if there is time to ask questions or get any one-on-one facetime with a school representative, that you can do so without difficulty.
3. Prepare questions
Do your research beforehand on the questions you want to ask. You’ll think of more things to ask during the event, but before you get there, you’ll want to know who will be attending and what the format of the event will be.
This can help you prepare the right questions for the right time. Some things to consider while you prepare questions:
Do your homework: Don’t ask questions that are already answered on schools’ admissions sites or could easily be answered with a Google search.
Be intentional: Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking questions.
Convey your goals: Think of questions that get at what may be inspiring you about a school’s programs and how it might relate to your future career goals.
Remember the event’s purpose: Don’t ask questions that prompt an admissions rep to “sell” their school to you. Remember this is more of an information session to help you make decisions about the schools you might be interested in, so while you might be in a position to ask these kinds of questions later, this type of event isn’t the time.
Be memorable: Think of a unique question that will help to get the admissions rep to remember you.
4. Rehearse your elevator pitch and define your goals
An admissions rep may ask you questions to get a sense of your fit for their program.
Having a 30-second pitch that explains why you want to pursue your graduate business degree and shows a concrete grasp of your goals during and post-MBA will let reps know you’re serious and that you’re a competitive candidate.
5. Take advantage of pre-event content
While you prepare your questions and do your research, you’ll also want to check out any pre-event content that may be available.
Each event is different, but some include videos and presentations that can be watched before the event and can give you an overview of what to expect before you get to any of the 'timed' content.
6. Practice respectful online etiquette
Virtual interactions can be awkward. Without the benefit of being face-to-face, it’s easy to accidentally talk over someone or miss unsaid social cues, like facial expressions or body language. Here are some simple things to keep in mind:
Stay positive: Keep things upbeat and you’ll make a better impression. Remember that everyone is doing their best to manage the virtual environment, and many of the school representatives and attendees may be participating in a virtual event for the first time. Show patience and it will reflect well on you.
Do your best to avoid speaking over others: It’s sometimes easier said than done, but be courteous about jumping in to speak. If you and someone else try to speak simultaneously, a good approach is to allow them to speak, and make clear that you would like to speak next.
Don’t despair if you can’t get a word in edgewise: Understand going into the event that you may not get the opportunity to speak as much as you would like to, or much at all. Don’t let this discourage you. Rest assured that you will have plenty of other opportunities to engage directly with admissions staff in the future.
7. Get camera ready
We’ve already talked about dressing for success and checking your video and audio equipment, but let’s talk about your on-camera presence.
You might get nervous talking to admissions reps face-to-face and video may be no different. Keep in mind not rush what you’re saying, speak clearly, and if possible, make 'eye-contact.'
8. After the event
Meeting a school representative at an event is only the beginning of your interactions and relationship with them.
After you’ve had a chance to introduce and 'pitch' yourself, ask for their contact information. The rule of thumb is to send a thank-you email within 24 hours of meeting.
In your email you can identify yourself, thank them again for their time, and tell them you want to stay in touch. After that you’ll want to maintain the conversation through the application process. After social distancing is over, you should also consider visiting the campus and speaking with current students and alumni.
Get ready during your social distancing
Things are changing quickly in the world and we’re all doing our best to adapt to the current situation.
More events that would normally have taken place in-person will be moved online until the coronavirus spread settles down. Until then, you can prepare while you practice your social distancing and put your best foot forward as you attend virtual MBA tour events.
Create an mba.com account today for resources on what to do after your MBA Tour event.
This article by Joanmarie Foster was originally published on mba.com. Start your graduate management education journey at www.mba.com by connecting to business schools, information, and tools to help you achieve your business school goals.
How An MBA Will Prepare You To Lead In A Post-Coronavirus World
When the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, the business landscape will be radically altered. Some companies will have closed their doors forever; some industries will be permanently changed.
“There’ll be hardship and new challenges, but there will definitely be opportunities coming out of that uncertainty,” explains JP Donnelly, chairman of WPP Ireland and lecturer at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
MBA students have a chance to seize these opportunities, but will require a specific, generalist skill set to navigate and make headway in this new environment.
Here’s how an MBA will prepare you for post-coronavirus leadership:
Focus on communication skills
Being able to communicate frequently ranks among the most desired skills for employers. It’s a core part of working among and leading a team.
During and after the coronavirus pandemic, communication has come to the fore. Leaders, in both politics and business, who have communicated clearly have been praised; those who have left their employees and shareholders in the dark have come under fire.
“This is something that will really create meaningful leadership, as long as it has authenticity and truth to it,” JP (pictured right) explains.
This comes down to keeping a company’s values at the core of everything you do, and creating an open and honest line of communication to all the various stakeholders you work with.
Communication forms the backbone of the leadership journey for UCD Smurfit School MBA students, when, on the Foundation Week which takes place at the start of the curriculum, they are introduced to communication and presentation skills.
Chances to apply this are manifold, such as the MBA Leadership Development Program, and leading up to the MBA Capstone Project which gives students the chance to apply these leadership skills to real company problems.
Rigorous preparation for remote working
Many will remember the weeks at the outset of the pandemic when work, learning, and socializing all moved online. As lockdown and quarantine is slowly lifted and social distancing eased, many will return to their offices or places or work.
But remote working will become a far more integrated part of the way we work.
“We won't be swanning all over the world like we have been in the past, but again companies will be working hard to continue to transact business internationally, and we’ll be doing that a lot more virtually,” says Niamh Brennan (pictured above), professor of management at UCD Smurfit School, and founder and academic director of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance.
This goes beyond just mastering tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, knowing when to mute and unmute yourself. Remote working will require an entire rethinking of many products and services.
Given that business schools, with many international students, are likely to retain remote learning components, an MBA is a great place to gain a deeper understanding of how remote working can be applied, and even transform a workplace.
Online consulting projects, which have temporarily replaced international consulting projects, at UCD Smurfit are the perfect training for students looking to apply their skills remotely to other companies.
Niamh stresses that a big part of this is critical thinking, which is a key skill they try and instill in their MBA students at UCD Smurfit School. “This is about not taking things at face value. This is valuable to businesses, especially those under extreme pressure at the moment.”
Data and digital transformation
It isn’t just traditional workplaces that are going to move online after the lockdown. Products and services in all industries will have to grapple in the coming months with a more online, digital offering. Brands in particular can no longer rely purely on the in-person retail experience.
JP teaches digital transformation as part of the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) Global Network Week on the MBA at UCD Smurfit School. This brings together students and faculty from across the GNAM partnership to see how you can transform companies through digital technology.
Things like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain are no longer just gimmicks or buzzwords to businesses.
“These are all things that will start creating value for companies, and they need to recognize that technology can intermediate the organization,” he says.
In marketing, JP’s field of expertise, big data and artificial intelligence are rapidly advancing as a way of creating a closer connection between brands and customers. This is in even higher demand in a post-coronavirus world which will inevitably be more online-focused.
“Data will help insight and manage customers better, to build a more meaningful experience for customers.”
It’s clear that there will be many permanent changes after the lockdown. Economically, the next few years is going to be fairly rough and uncertain for businesses and business professionals.
But the flipside of change and uncertainty is opportunity. For those finding themselves at the crossroads of different opportunities, an MBA is a prime opportunity to upskill or retrain.
“I can't think of a better way to spend a year at a crossroads than doing an MBA. You are bound to be a different person at the end of it than before it,” Niamh stresses.
How Startups Are Surviving Coronavirus
What do you do if revenue streams dry up, you’re forced to let go of employees, or you can’t get investment? Startup founders are facing a massive challenge right now.
Those operating and working for startups are aware of the insecurities and risk that come with running a small company—it’s part and parcel of leaving larger corporations to forge your own path as an entrepreneur.
But once-in-a-lifetime disruption like the coronavirus crisis is difficult to plan for, and the risk to small and medium sized companies (SMEs) is substantially larger than at big corporations. According to a McKinsey report, businesses with less than $20 million in annual revenue have been disproportionately affected by the crisis.
Startups are facing investment shortfall, the need to quickly overhaul business plans, substantial workplace changes, and underneath all of that, the question of how to lead their teams.
BusinessBecause spoke to four startup founders and managers, alongside two b-school startup professors, to find out how startups are surviving coronavirus.
Coping with falling investment
With financial markets in freefall, funding for startups is drying up. Generating investment is hard in the best of times, but right now in a global economic recession it’s dramatically amplified.
According to Crunchbase, around $64 billion was invested globally in Q1 by venture capital (VC) firms—down 17% on the previous quarter, and 8% year on year.
Alexander Bell (pictured above) is director of the startup incubator at emlyon business school, in France.
“The most important thing is to help our startups manage their cash level and cash burn,” Alexander says. “Startups typically have to use a mix of solutions, from securing bank loans (which is hard as most banks don’t play along), to using government facilities like tax delays.”
While some startups are coping well, others need help, he explains. The incubator is providing financial strategy advice—helping apply pressure to banks while also looking at ways to keep costs to a minimum.
Aylin Schaer, freelance director for numerous startups in Germany, and a graduate of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, has seen first-hand the funding issues her startups are facing.
“VCs are harder to approach as money is not as loose as it might have been before the crisis—especially for companies in industries which have been hit the hardest,” Aylin says.
To combat this, Aylin says that for the start-ups with low cash levels they’ve reduced other costs to mitigate the loss of investment.
Whether that’s cutting marketing spend or placing staff on furlough, startups are having to contend with lower cashflow.
“It has understandably become very difficult to raise capital,” Josie explains. “We had to completely change our fundraising plans—postponing our seed raise until Q1 2021 and instead putting together an angel round.”
For some, though, the crisis has forced them to hunt for investment earlier than anticipated. Marc Wandler is co-founder and CEO of Susgrainable, a sustainable company producing baked goods from ‘waste’ products.
“Our goal was not to seek investment for another year—but COVID’s changed that, and now we have to,” says Marc, an alumnus of University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. “People are right now more understanding because of the disruption to the supply chain.”
Changing business plans
Marc and his company were waiting to build up the operational side of the business so they could expand gradually with investment next year. Instead he’s moved forward the launch of the online site, meaning a renewed focus on their marketing and branding.
“We’re very good at talking about what we want to do, but we need to do more of telling the story online if we were going to go online,” Marc says.
During the crisis, startups are contending with a transformed consumer landscape. High street stores have temporarily shut their physical doors, shifting shopping habits online. During April, average sales revenues for online fashion stores were up 21% on last year.
Remaining agile is at the core of leading a small business, though. Doug Villhard (Pictured above, left), academic director for entrepreneurship at Olin Business School at Washington University in St Louis recognizes the importance of staying on your toes.
“Entrepreneurship at its core is about solving problems for customers. Find a way to get yourself in the center of what is helpful to them and you'll succeed in any market situation,” Doug says.
For Josie, this has meant her climate footprint tracking app making a pivot away from travel, to focusing on their customer’s food choices.
“From a product development perspective, we've had to prioritize different features to adjust for the changing lifestyles of our users,” Josie says.
How soon startups can change tact could make the difference between the business staying afloat or folding.
“The most impacted startups have very quickly come up with back-up plans,” Alexander Bell says. “Above all they haven’t hesitated to adapt their business by selling other products, capitalizing on their distribution channels, or selling the same product through different distribution channels.”
Remote working and shifting team dynamics
For startups to implement these changes, it requires strong and clear communication within their teams.
Impromptu team meetings in the office have been replaced by technology like work-place messenger Slack and video conferencing platform Zoom.
The result is dramatically altered working environments, which on the face of it could present a major challenge. But Alexander thinks startups could instead be using the changed circumstances to re-evaluate working patterns.
“Startups can innovate internally by transforming their way of working, making their work environment less dependent on physical presence,” he says.
Alexander lists examples like looking at digitization, thinking about new sourcing methods that involve local rather than global solutions, and investigating new distribution methods.
For Aylin (pictured above), it’s as important as ever to maintain and value the close relationships that develop in a startup environment.
“We’ve made sure to make time to have private chats and virtual coffee chats with each other!” she says.
Communicating to a team during crisis becomes increasingly important. With employees facing increased anxiety and change, the right leadership is the key to getting through, according to Doug Villhard.
“When you are leading a startup it is more than just what you say that matters. It is also about your subtext, emotion, and character,” he says.
“It’s very similar to being a parent—kids learn more by what their parents do than what they say, and employees are not dissimilar. All eyes are on you and all the time.”
Could crisis provide a springboard for innovation?
While for many businesses a crisis of this magnitude will unfortunately have detrimental effects, in the long run it could turn out to be a platform for change.
Pablo Borquez (pictured above) is an alumnus from Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and has co-founded Produce Pay, an online food produce trading platform. He’s had to change much of the company’s forecasts, but with big changes in market dynamics, Pablo like many others is viewing this crisis as a time for opportunity.
“Innovation always comes out of hardship. Friction points spark ideas for businesses, and friction points are never as acute as when in a crisis. I think new ideas will come out of this that would have been impossible otherwise,” he says.
Similarly, Josie is optimistic that a crisis like this is showing the world that it is possible to enact real change. “One of the main blockages to innovation can be believing that drastic behavioral change could actually happen—but that’s a reality we are now all living (for better and worse!)”
There must be caution, of course. With no guarantees of how this current crisis will end or when, if ever, markets will reach 'normality', it is hard to make too bold a prediction,
What we’ve seen from startup founders so far are responses in line with their entrepreneurial talent. Embracing change as a chance to innovate is a winning formula for responding to a crisis.
BB Insights examines the latest news and trends from the business world, drawing on the expertise of leading faculty members at the world's best business schools.
GMAT Online Exam Changes And The True Cost Of An MBA In 2020
End of week roundup
You can now take physical notes in the GMAT Online Exam!
Good news for all GMAT test-takers! The Graduate Management Admission Council has introduced a physical whiteboard option for the GMAT Online Exam, released as a temporary solution for candidates applying to b-school during the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously, some candidates expressed concerns over using the online whiteboard tool, which took a little getting used to. From June 11th, that’s no longer a problem as you’ll be able to take down written notes during your exam and have the option of using a physical whiteboard, online whiteboard, or both.
With many GMAT test centers still closed, GMAC has also announced an extension to its use of the GMAT Online Exam with new appointments available until mid-July.
BusinessBecause Cost of MBA Report 2020
BusinessBecause is proud to deliver our first comprehensive report on the true cost of the MBA.
We’re passionate about the transformative power of the MBA, but there's no hiding the fact that MBA degrees cost money!
In these turbulent times, understanding the full cost of an MBA program before you apply has never been more important—and that means looking at more than just tuition fees.
In our BusinessBecause Cost of MBA Report 2020, we break down the total cost of the world’s top MBA programs covering tuition fees, living expenses, healthcare, and more.
Stanford launches free program addressing COVID-19 challenges
Stanford is launching a 10-week global innovation sprint and free online entrepreneurial program that addresses key challenges emerging from COVID-19.
Starting June 22, Stanford Rebuild is structured to inspire the next generation of businesses that rebuild our economy and create solutions to address the ‘new normal’. The program invites students, entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders worldwide to participate in an investigation of ideas and solutions that will help us accelerate the path to a better post-COVID future.
GMAC CEO speaks out on US visa policies
This tool helps you assess your readiness for business school
Accepted.com has launched the free-to-use MBA Admissions Calculator, which helps applicants determine their admissions readiness. Try it out below: