The Money will Sort Itself Out: IV with a Future INSEAD Student

Click here for more MBA applicant interviews!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Hasmita Nair.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?

Hasmita: I’m a South African and was born in a small coastal town called Port Elizabeth. I later moved to a bigger city, Johannesburg, and studied Actuarial Science at the University of Witwatersrand. After that, I worked at Procter and Gamble as a financial analyst, then moved to Nedbank Capital where I worked in Market Risk, and for the past 4 years I’ve been at Anglo American in Treasury.

I love reading; my favourite book is probably A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Accepted: Congratulations on your acceptance to INSEAD! Why do you think this is the best program for you? What are you most looking forward to?

Hasmita: There were a few things that attracted me to INSEAD. First, the global appeal of the school. I loved that I could study in both Singapore and France. I also liked the fact that it is a relatively short MBA. Because I am self funded, the U.S. MBAs of 2 years+ were not really an option for me.

Accepted: Can you talk about how you raised your tuition money? 

Hasmita: I got a partial scholarship from INSEAD, and also got a loan from Prodigy for a portion. For the rest, I used money generated from the sale of my apartment and my car. As a last resort, I was going to cash out my pension but I’m glad I didn’t have to.

Accepted: Can you share a few tips for our applicants who may also be struggling with how to finance their MBAs?

Hasmita: I think that if you can get into a world class MBA, the money will sort itself out. Money is really not a reason not to apply if you believe you have the potential. There are so many scholarships out there, and student loans are always an option too. I like to think that my salary post MBA will make it worth being in all this debt now.

Accepted: Do you plan on returning to that industry after you graduate, or entering a new field? 

Hasmita: My hobby is freelance journalism, I write for a few magazines and a national newspaper, focusing on food and travel. I would love to merge my passion for writing with finance somehow. Perhaps strategy for a large travel company? I’m keeping my options open right now.

Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the b-school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?

Hasmita: Because the deadlines were all at similar times, and I applied to 8 schools, the application process was all consuming for a period of time. The application essays were grueling, and it took a lot of time and energy. Applying was also expensive; I just paced myself and took it one step at a time. I also project managed my referees, because asking them to complete 8x referrals was an equally grueling request. I made them aware of what needed to be done long in advance and all went smoothly.

Accepted: Can you tell us more about your blog? When did you start blogging? What have you gained from the experience? Do you plan on continuing to blog over the course of your studies?

Hasmita: My blog, Jozilicious, started as a way for me to express myself creatively. I’ve always been passionate about food and travel, and found myself giving recommendations to people a lot, so I thought that I’d be better off posting all my favourite spots online. About a year and a half ago, I was offered my own page in a national newspaper, and after that my freelance journalism career took off. It’s been great to have such a fulfilling hobby, but it does get difficult managing my time. I am definitely planning to blog while I’m in Singapore and France. I think my readers will be interested to see what I’ve been up to.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for INSEAD, check out our INSEAD 2014 MBA Essay Tips

You can read more about Hasmita’s b-school journey by checking out her blog, Jozilicious. Thank you Hasmita for sharing your story with us!

Navigating the MBA Maze

Accepted.com

1000+ Students to Compete in Europe’s 24th Annual MBA Tournament

Students from 13 European business schools compete to take home some sporting glory.

Students from 13 European business schools compete to take home some sporting glory.

This year’s MBA Tournament (MBAT), a three-day sporting event organized by HEC Paris students in which 1,150 students from 13 European business schools compete to take home some sporting glory, will take place this weekend from the 8th-10th. This year there will be 23 sport competitions, including cricket, rugby, football, poker, chess, and ultimate frisbee.

According to MBAT Co-President Katrina Senn, “The MBAT is one of the best things we do at HEC Paris. The competition brings classmates together as a team and lets us show other schools what we’re capable of. In fact, this year, we’re seeing increased participation from all of the schools coming to compete as it continues to gain in popularity.”

The event, which is the largest gathering of MBA students in Europe, provides students an opportunity to network, develop team skills, and have fun.

This year’s participating schools are:

University of Cambridge Judge Business School
• Cranfield University School of Management
IE Business School
INSEAD
London Business School
• Manchester Business School
• University of Oxford Saïd Business School
• RSM Erasmus University
• TiasNimbas Business School
• ESADE Business School
• IESE Business School
• Lancaster University Management School
HEC Paris

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Accepted.com

An Inside Look at INSEAD

Listen to the full recording of our interview! INSEAD. The place where graduates speak three languages. And where 40% of graduates go into consulting.

Listen to the recording of our conversation with Pejay Belland, Director of Marketing, Admissions & Financial Aid at INSEAD, for great insights into the program and tips that applicants to any MBA program should know.

00:01:42 – Singapore, Fontainebleau, and the USA in 10 months?

00:03:25 – Does the exchange program come at the expense of community?

00:05:04 – Why INSEAD likes consultants and consultants like INSEAD.

00:07:33 – Entrepreneurship at INSEAD (50% of grads start their own company at some time in their career!).

00:09:52 – Changes to the INSEAD application: Really getting to know candidates as people.

00:16:25 – The new dean and his initiatives.

00:18:51 – The video essay: in the cards.

00:20:38 – INSEAD’s admissions process and what it means for applicants.

00:24:32 – Can you demonstrate “international outlook” if you’ve never left your home country?

00:25:42 – What Pejay wishes she could tell all applicants.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss  a single show!

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

•  INSEAD
•  INSEAD Admissions Video
•  INSEAD Application Essay Tips
 MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Terrific Tips
•  2014 Virtual Panel: Exploring European B-Schools

Related Shows:

•  Leadership is King: Interview with IMD’s Lisa Piguet
•  Global Business Leadership at Wharton’s Lauder Institute
•  The Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders
•  Case Interview Secrets and More with Victor Cheng

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes!     Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

INSEAD 2014- 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines – Take Two

Check out out INSEAD B-School Zone!Not long ago, in the tips post for INSEAD, I wrote that INSEAD was “bucking the trend” of fewer and shorter essays.  Well, scratch that.  Mid-application-cycle, INSEAD has decided to hew to the trend and changed its essays starting now.  The result is a shorter, more condensed set of essays.  

In the new set, the essays are divided into two categories: Job Description Essays (the same as before), and Motivation Essays.  The use of the word “motivation” should be forefront in your mind as you draft those essays; the concept should appear directly or indirectly in each.  It means that the adcom wants to know what drives you, what propels your choices, decisions, and actions.

Job Description Essays:

Essay 1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved.

The key to strong job descriptions is “results achieved.” Definitely provide the other requested elements, but the distinguishing factor will be those results. Quantifying impact usually shines a spotlight on your impact and contribution. The second most important element is “major responsibilities.” Don’t list the mundane or the aspects of your job that everyone with your title will share. Where did you shoulder “major responsibility”? Be specific in these descriptions to differentiate yourself, especially if you are from a common professional group in the applicant pool.   

Essay 2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position?

Don’t confuse “full description” with “complete history.” How would you characterize your career since college? You also have to answer the second pat of the question and you only have 250 words. Choose the most important elements — those elements that show contribution, leadership, and since this is INSEAD, a multi-cultural and global perspective. 

Essay 3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme if applicable? (250 words maximum)

State the facts straightforwardly.  Note not just what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.  If you have room and if it’s relevant, consider addressing why you are unemployed at the moment.

Motivation Essays:

Essay 1. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words max.)

For a question like this I recommend two strengths and one weakness. If you can choose one anecdote that reveals both the strengths and the weakness, it’s efficient with space and can strengthen the essay. Don’t forget to discuss how these qualities influenced your personal development. For more on INSEAD 1 and writing about weaknesses, please see this video:

A word on weaknesses. Be honest without going overboard. Don’t make up a phony weakness. I attended an HBS info session a few years ago. One of the alumni said that he discussed a “phony weakness” in his essays (required for HBS that year), and his interviewer focused right on it, and basically said, “Come on. What’s a real weakness?” The applicant had to get real in a hurry. Take advantage of the essay: Give it some thought and respond with the benefit of that reflection. For more information, please see “Flaws Make You Real.”

At a recent AIGAC conference one of the adcom members remembered that an applicant in response to a similar question had listed his weakness as “pitching new ideas in a meeting.” The adcom member felt that the applicant was specific, real, and showed self-awareness by revealing this flaw. In fact, by demonstrating these qualities in addition to the requested weakness that he was working on, the applicant actually enhanced his chances of acceptance with his response.

Don’t write about “weakness in pitching new ideas in meetings” as your flaw just because you saw it here. It will become the lame, stale example everyone uses. However, you all have weakness. Just be thoughtful enough and honest enough to reveal yours.

(NOTE: There is potential for some overlap in this essay with Essay 2, so look at both questions together and organize content before writing them.)

Essay 2. Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (400 words max.)

With only 400 words to describe 2 significant experiences, and the specified discussion points, you need to use stories that can be told without a lot of background information.  And keep in mind Essay 1 – don’t use stories that reflect exactly the same messages.  “Achievement of which you are most proud” is a high bar, and it can be from either work or outside of work. It also should be something that reveals qualities or attributes about you that are positive and relevant. I suggest using something from the last two to three years.  Luckily you don’t have to write about the failure about which you are most ashamed… ;-)   Discuss a failure that is specific, fairly recent, and meaty enough to have rattled you a bit.  Again, work or non-work topic is fine. 

In discussing what you learned from the experiences and how they impacted your relationships, identify one specific thing for each point for each story – there isn’t room for more.  And there isn’t need for more, because one can be very powerful if it’s insightful.

Essay 3. Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way.  (300 words max.)

In choosing your topic story, think about “impact” – often people describe being surprised or emotionally challenged by encountering new or different cultures, but that’s not enough to make this a good essay.  Impact is what happens after the initial response: how did the experience change your behavior, or change your perception, or inspire you to learn something, or cause you to reconsider beliefs/ideas – these are impacts. 

Narrate the story succinctly, vividly portraying the impact on you.  The adcom wants to see that you are thoughtful, resourceful, and responsive in encountering cultural diversity, because it is a key attribute of their program.

Essay 4. Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (300 words max.)

Simply discuss the range of activities you participate (or have participated) in – those that are major passions, and those that are “just fun” – clarifying their relative role and importance in your life.  Be straightforward in how they enriched you – no need to strive for something “different” that no one has ever felt or experienced before….  Imagine you are meeting with clients or superiors – between the business dealings (and perhaps over a drink); you and they might chat about non-work interests – approach this essay like such a conversation.  Not quite as casual as with a peer, but still conversational, straightforward, and intended to connect on a person-to-person level.

Optional Essay: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the admissions committee?  (300 words max.)

Use the optional essay to explain anything that needs explaining and/or to give them one more reason to accept you. DON’T use it for a superficial summary, a restatement of your other essays, or anything similarly boring and trite. If you choose to write it, produce a tight, focused essay revealing something you haven’t yet discussed.

INSEAD Application Deadlines:

September 2014 intake:

March 5, 2014

January 2015 intake:

Round 1 March 21, 2014; Round 2 May 28, 2014; Round 3 July 25, 2014

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips - Download your free copy!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.com.

FT’s Best Global MBA Programs in 2014

The Financial Times released its 2014 global MBA rankings! Read on for the list, the facts, the analysis, and the sources.

The List:

2014 Rank

3 Year
(Avg) 

School Country 
1 1 Harvard Business School USA
2 2 Stanford Graduate
School of Business
USA
3 4 London Business School UK
4 3 U Penn Wharton USA
5 5 Columbia Business
School
USA
6 6 INSEAD France/Singapore
7 8 IESE Business School Spain
8 8 MIT Sloan USA
9 10 Chicago Booth USA
10 15 Yale School of Management USA
11 12 UC Berkeley Haas USA
12 15 IMD Switzerland
13 11 IE Business School Spain
14 11 Hong Kong UST
Business School
China
15 15 Northwestern Kellogg USA
16 19 Cambridge Judge UK
17 17 Duke Fuqua USA
17 18 NYU Stern USA
17 19 CEIBS China
20 18 Dartmouth Tuck USA

To truly understand the rankings, much less use them, please see the methodology so you’ll know what’s being ranked. While there are twenty factors considered in the FT rankings, the FT methodology puts the most weight on increase in salary in $US PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) and weighted salary in $US PPP.

Poets and Quants criticizes the FT rankings for absurd results in calculating “Value for Money” as well as for having too many criteria and several criteria that really don’t reflect the quality of education. Others say that it is biased against U.S. programs.

Regardless of the criticism’s validity, the FT ranking is arguably the most cited ranking of global programs because it compares U.S. and international programs in one ranking and seems to do a better job of it than the alternatives. That prominence doesn’t mean these rankings are Gospel. It does mean you have a lot of data in a format where you can easily compare MBA programs from around the world on designated criteria.

The Facts:

Here are some fun facts about FT’s 2014 rankings:

• 7 of the top 10 and 12 of the top 20 programs ranked are US schools.

• Big jumpers this year include Boston University’s business school and Washington Forster, which each jumped 20 spots, to 75th and 58th place, respectively. Another big US jumper this year was USC Marshall which jumped 17 spots to 65th place. UNC Kenan Flagler jumped up 12 slots this year from its 3-year average rank, moving from #45 to #33.

• The biggest losers this year include Dublin’s Smurfit School (dropped 27 spots to 91st place) and Vlerick Business School (fell 16 places to 100th place), as well as the schools which disappeared off the list entirely: U of Iowa’s Tippie School (74th last year), Korea University Business School (86th last year), Incae Business School in Costa Rica (90th last year), Case Western’s Weatherhead School (94th last year), and others.

• Newcomers to the list include: UC Davis (98th), Wake Forest (94th), BYU’s Marriott School (93rd), and ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Germany (89th).

• In terms of geographic representation, the top 20 schools are all in the US, UK, Europe (France, Spain, Switzerland), China, and Singapore, but further down the list, other countries gain their spots: India comes in at 30th place with the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad; SDA Bocconi in 31st place represents Italy; South Korea appears in 45th place with Sungkyunkwan University’s GSB; Canada’s first school on the list is Toronto Rotman at 51st place; Portugal follows with The Lisbon MBA in 52nd place (new to list); South Africa’s U. of Cape Town GSB comes in at 59th place; in the 62nd slot we have Australia’s Australian Graduate School of Management; and Brazil’s Coppead is in 79th place.

•  The city with the highest concentration of schools in the top 100 is (of course) Boston with six top b-schools – Harvard (1), MIT Sloan (8), Hult International Business School (61), BU School of Management (75), Boston College Carroll (82), and Babson Olin (95).

The Analysis:

While it’s fun to look at the changes – who climbed and who sank – for me the real lessons from this ranking are:

1. The top programs move and change very slowly. That lack of drama in these rankings is a better reflection of reality than the gyrations one sees outside the top twenty. Significant change takes time so sharp jumps and dives probably mean nothing. Sustained change in ranking has greater credibility – if you value the same qualities as the FT.

2. The one point made repeatedly in the commentary on this ranking, and it is the same conclusion I draw from both the FT ranking and the Forbes ranking, which both emphasize ROI and increase in salary, is this: The MBA education at top programs provides a solid return on investment for most students. The MBAs surveyed for the FT rankings started their MBA in 2008, just as the Great Recession hit, and graduated in 2010. These MBAs still report on average a 100% increase in salary over what they were making before they started business school.

There are obviously critics of graduate business education, specifically the MBA, and those detractors either believe an MBA isn’t valuable or that the value has declined. I agree with the latter group. However, the questions for today’s applicants are:

1. “Given my current professional background and salary and my anticipated salary after I earn an MBA, do the anticipated financial rewards plus increased job satisfaction justify the investment (both out of pocket and opportunity costs)?” The fact that those entering b-school ten or twenty years ago could anticipate a higher ROI is irrelevant. It is merely a historical curiosity and for you an unfortunate one.

2. “Is the full-time MBA – or whatever flavor you are considering – the optimal way for me to attain my MBA goals?”

FT, to its credit, also has an article on those claiming the MBA is not worth the effort. Sometimes they are right. Each one of you individually needs to examine your circumstances and goals to see if for you the MBA is an expensive waste of time and effort, or if for you it is likely to be worth both. Clearly, most of the people surveyed by Forbes, the Financial Times, and GMAC are in the latter group.

In this video  Della Bradshaw, FT’s Business Education Editor, discusses the results of this year’s FT Global MBA rankings including the finding that MBAs in the class of 2010 are now enjoying salaries double those they were earning before they entered b-school.

The Sources

• FT Global MBA Ranking 2014

•  FT: MBA Ranking 2014: Key & Methodology

•  FT: Big Names Dominate FT MBA Ranking Top Spots

•  P&Q: Winners & Losers in 2014 FT MBA Ranking

•  Accepted: 4 Ways You Should NOT Use the MBA Rankings

•  Accepted: MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know

Learn how to evaluate your profile to determine the best business school for you!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.