Monday, March 28, 2011

The Economist MBA Circle

Meet business schools including Darden, MIT, London Business School, USC Marshall and Yale at The Economist's free MBA Circle on March 29-30. Register free or learn more at

Monday, March 21, 2011

Choosing the right Business School

So you’ve completed and sent off your applications, and now your answers are coming in. Despite your fears and anxiety, the schools are accepting you. Yeah!

But now you have to choose… Do you go with the school in your favorite city? The one highest ranked by U.S. News & World Report? The one that gave you the biggest financial aid package? The one most impressive in the interview? Or the one that felt the best during the Admitted Students Day/Weekend?

No two of us are exactly the same and so our decision-making processes vary. What matters to you may not matter to me. But by conducting thorough research, setting up coffee or phone meetings with current students and alumni, and otherwise collecting all the data and opinion you can – you will help yourself to confidently make the ultimate choice.

For me, culture mattered a lot. I didn’t want to spend two years with my shoulders up to my ears, simply surviving a dog-eat-dog world. I wanted a small school with a friendly, down-to-earth, collaborative environment because this is how I learn best. I also wanted a school dedicated to women leaders and to social entrepreneurship.

I’m a big believer in writing things down. It is not always easy to know thyself, so brainstorming - whether out loud or in my head – and then jotting down key words and ideas really helps. This is how I have always found my way – from articulating and actualizing my first dream job, to making a film, to choosing an MBA program.

Clarity around what matters most to you to can take a lot of the stress out of this decision.

In his landmark 1996 essay in Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter wrote, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Sure, hindsight is 20:20, but taking the time to deeply understand who you are, what matters to you, and what makes you tick can be tremendously supportive in confidently selecting your school.

Rachel Greenberger, Class of 2011
Forte Fellow & MBA Candidate, Babson College

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top international business schools are coming soon to LONDON on the ACCESS MBA TOUR

Top International Business Schools Seek MBA Candidates in London on March 26. Access MBA events offer prospective MBA students the following personalized services:

·One-to-One meetings and workshops with the world’s best MBA programs

·Interactive Panel Discussions with school representatives

·Individual MBA consulting sessions and GMAT advising

·More information here

Register Here to Meet International Business Schools on the Access MBA Tour

Monday, March 7, 2011

Having the Time of my Life at Olin Business School

Hooray for Spring Break! After an intense seven weeks of class at Washington University in St. Louis, I now have two weeks of relaxation before classes resume. Since I’ll be working during my break, let me tell you some highlights of the past couple months.

We have now broken out of the core, so we are free to select our electives and take any classes of our choosing. I had originally planned to stick with the finance platform, which outlines the best classes for a concentration in finance, but I realized about eight minutes before class started on the first day of the semester that I wanted to branch out from finance. So I quickly dropped two of my finance classes and signed up for a critical thinking and data-modeling course that runs for the entire semester. This is one of the greatest benefits of attending a smaller program like Washington University has – waitlists are short, and most students have no problem shifting between classes to make sure their schedule fits their goals. My last-minute decision has proven to be great! Although this class is very demanding and time-consuming, the knowledge I’m gaining is insurmountable. In a very short time, I have learned the ins and outs of sensitivity analyses, simulations, decision trees and other useful tools. In fact, I plan to implement a sensitivity analysis within the budget that I will create while working at my former employer over the break.

At Washington University, outside of classes, we know how to have a good time. On Thursday, March 3, we had our MBA spring formal. The theme was a masquerade, and most of us arrived in gowns, suits or tuxedos donning the most colorful masks we could find. The food was excellent, the drinks were aplenty and we danced the night away, enjoying the last social outing with the MBA Class of 2011, which will graduate in a couple months. Not only did several teachers take part in this merriment, but Dean Gupta also attended to share in our celebration!

There is no doubt about it; the curriculum at Washington University is challenging, but as a result, my professional acumen is growing. And while I am developing as a professional, I am having the best time of my life!

Kelly Bien, 2012 Forte Fellow
Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Two MBA Programs for the Price of One – Now That’s Good Business!

It’s already the spring semester here at Queen’s School of Business, but you wouldn’t know it given the chilly Canadian weather we’ve been experiencing. Since winter break we have been busying ourselves with elective courses, case competitions and international exchange plans. It’s hard to believe that just about a year ago I received my acceptance to the Queen’s MBA program, as well as my acceptance to schools in Paris. When I told my friends and family that I would first be heading to Kingston, Ontario and then Paris to complete my MBA, there were some confused faces; however, I had a plan.

In less than three weeks time, I will be experiencing such things as the Eiffel Tower, accordions on the street corner and great tasting cheap wine – and these will all be experienced by way of my MBA. How, you may ask, will I be able to be in France, while completing my degree in Canada? The answer is simple; I’ll finish my degree at ESSEC through the exchange program at Queen’s.

One of the great opportunities that many MBA programs provide is an exchange program. Taking advantage of your school’s exchange agreement offers you benefits such as a wider international network, a different view on global issues and of course, another fantastic school to add to your resume.

Further benefits of exchange can be reached if two schools accept you that you cannot decide between, you are not accepted into your dream school or you cannot afford your dream school. By looking at your preferred school’s partner institution list, you may be able to gain acceptance by virtue of an exchange agreement, held by another institution.

In terms of funding, the beauty of the exchange is that you pay your home institution’s tuition fees, and are then only responsible for your living expenses. Essentially, you receive the experience of two MBA programs for the price of one.

I’m already feeling a bit nostalgic about my Queen’s experience, but I’m also excited to meet my new colleagues at ESSEC. At ESSEC I’ll be focusing my studies on social entrepreneurship and in anticipation, I have started reading “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia). It’s a great read for those of you who are interested in socially responsible business. Hope you find the time to pick it up! A bientôt!

Kate Murphy
Queen’s MBA 2011 Candidate

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Case of the Case

Even before I entered the full-time program at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota last fall, or knew exactly what a case was, I was aware that cases were VERY IMPORTANT in the life of an MBA student. I had heard about the famous case study method of learning, about the case interviews required for internships in so many fields, and about the case competitions that many students viewed as an important extracurricular activity. So what, exactly, is a case? Definitions I found on the web include the following (source:

(n) case, instance, example (an occurrence of something) "it was a case of bad judgment";
(n) event, case (a special set of circumstances) "in that event, the first possibility is excluded"; "it may rain in which case the picnic will be canceled"
(n) case (the actual state of things) "that was not the case"
(n) subject, case, guinea pig (a person who is subjected to experimental or other observational procedures; someone who is an object of investigation) "the cases that we studied were drawn from two different communities"
(n) case (a problem requiring investigation) "Perry Mason solved the case of the missing heir"
(n) case (a statement of facts and reasons used to support an argument) "he stated his case clearly"

Each of these definitions has something to contribute to the business student's understanding of what a case is, what purpose it serves, and how it can help you be a better student, better interviewer, and better businessperson. A business case is a "special set of circumstances," a "problem requiring investigation," and an "object of investigation... subjected to experimental or other observational procedures." Cases come in all shapes and sizes. They might be written or verbal, short or long, have detailed financial projections or ask big blue-sky questions. A strategy case might ask you to assess an industry's attractiveness using Porter's Five Forces; an operations or supply chain case may focus on the Theory of Constraints or Lean manufacturing principles, and a managerial accounting case might test your understanding of the cost-volume-profit relationship. A broader case might just ask you to solve a business problem without telling you how. What all cases have in common is the last definition: cases are all really about using knowledge and logic to develop a reasoned solution to a particular problem.

If you're thinking about business school, I urge you to begin your case preparation as soon as possible. Case thinking is an approach that extends beyond school to on-the-job problem solving, and it might prove useful before you even have your first business school class! I really liked Marc Cosentino's book Case in Point, which teaches frameworks that can be applied in many different situations. Most major consulting firms also have a section on their website about cases and case preparation, as well as several sample cases. The last reason to start thinking about cases is that aside from their utility, they can be fun, like a puzzle. One of my favorite things I've done in my first year of business school is participate in the NAWMBA and Kelley Women's Case Competitions. The opportunity to solve a challenging problem with a team of my incredibly bright, creative, motivated classmates was so much fun, and since both these cases were "live" we had the satisfaction of knowing that our work might directly impact the organization we were making recommendations to. Pretty cool stuff.

If you have any questions about case preparation, case interviews, the Forte Foundation or life as a first-year MBA at the Carlson School, please let me know! I can be reached at

Elizabeth Woodwick
Forte Fellow, MBA Candidate 2012
Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota