The right approach for applying to MBA abroad - TopMBA's Matt Symonds answers

Apurv, a journalist with pagalguy has been posting interviews with leading figures related to MBA, both Indian and International.

As Round One of various American and European schools approaches, we catch up with leading international expert on MBA admissions and the co-founder of QS World MBA Tour Matt Symonds and get his advice on selecting the right schools to apply, the ever-bothersome issue of whether to employ consultants for essays and more.

How do you see the popularity, utility and relevance of the MBA degree panning out in the next decade?

With the continued growth of the global economy, and accelerated economic development in most of Asia, the MBA has firmly established itself as the qualification of reference both for young professionals looking to accelerate their career progress and the companies that need to manage growth. Many of the lessons of the dot.com crash five years ago revolved around a lack of strong managerial experience and weak business plan analysis. By providing the fundamentals of management and analytical skills to complement an MBA graduate’s initial professional experience, the business school is able to develop the future business leaders that India will need to maintain its internal development and international expansion. Tata, Infosys and Mittal will be joined by other cutting-edge companies who are transforming the way that India does business, and the MBA is sure to have helped many of their managers to their current positions of seniority.

In November 2005 the McKinsey Global Institute identified what it calls China’s “looming talent shortage”. We might expect to see demand for business schools rise both for international graduates from Chinese MBA programs and for Chinese graduates from international programs. The report estimates that over the next 10 years the country will need 75,000 leaders who can work effectively in global environments, to match the global aspirations of many Chinese companies. I foresee the same talent shortage in India, and MBA graduates will be best placed to take advantage of this demand.

What should be one's strategy while short-listing a set of schools he or she wants to apply to?

I am a firm believer that an MBA is only worth pursuing if it will bring the candidate a sufficient level of professional advancement and personal development. Can it help them to boost their career opportunities, and open new areas of expertise and mobility? Will they come out of the program with greater confidence and self-awareness, focusing on their strengths to build an exciting career that is matched with self-fulfilment?

If a business school can deliver this then the MBA program is well worth considering. The candidate may also find that they are not just limited to a handful of schools that have long dominated the top of a b-school ranking. By researching the characteristics of the schools, finding out more about the student experience, and how students are achieving their personal and professional goals, they may well find a more diverse shortlist of MBA programs. Meeting with schools and finding out more about the MBA as a qualification is essential, hence the popularity of the QS World MBA Tour events in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The face-to-face discussions with admissions and alumni, as well as workshops on how to select the right school for you, provide a much clearer picture of matching your ambitions with the right school.

Successful MBA applicants, whether applying to schools locally, or in Europe and North America, need to demonstrate a level of familiarity not only with the MBA qualification - how it can help them to build on existing skills and experience, and the direction of their post-MBA career - but also with the personality and strengths of the school. What sets Chicago apart from Wharton? How does IMD differ from INSEAD? Some of these schools might look similar on paper, but they each have their own identity and approach to management development. Research is key.

Read the complete interview here

Matt Symonds is co-Founder of the QS World MBA Tour, and author of the bestselling book on applying to b-school, “Getting the MBA Admissions Edge”. An experienced public speaker in more than 40 countries, whether on TV, radio or public presentations, Matt is an authority on Graduate and Executive Management Education, and is passionate about helping individuals to realize their hopes and dreams.

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