Challenge YOUR challenge via MBA

When a person is considering various business school options, he or she no doubt has already carried out some research and visited sites – and therefore has discovered that many top business schools have very similar propositions.

Have you ever asked yourself a question: is this something that you should accept, or should you try to find an alternative solution? Although all business schools proclaim almost the same, do they really differ from each other?

Times changed. People also changed. As well as their expectations. If you compare an MBA diploma issued, say, 1989, or 1994, with that one given out in 2010, you will see how distanced from each other they actually are (even though graduated from one and the same business-school ).

Here are some thoughts and ideas why does this happen. And besides possible answers to your questions on the way of choosing an MBA programme.

WHY? (market facts and trends)

  • Nowadays more and more employers seek real practical experience and a track record of completed projects (up to 80% according to Prospects UK Career Services).

There are much more effective learning approaches and methods than case work. According to Dr. Andrey E. Volkov, the Moscow school of management SKOLKOVO Dean, there are just 4 educating methods which are used during any study process. Since Sokrate’s and Platon’s times lecture method was on stage when students simply  got  information directly from the teacher. Nothing different happens nowadays. Lecture method still exists, although the most up- to-dated story is actually the ‘project work”, when a person is brought into reality by putting him or her in live conditions and environment for business “survival”.

Take for example SKOLKOVO which even worked out the most up-to-date education methodology – a unique “learning-by-doing approach”, which helps to experience a real environment and acquire solid business skills via penetrating into reality. You work for a local Chinese or Indian company for 2,5 months doing a project which will be implemented into life without any assumptions or indulgences to “first-year-associate” or “pampering intern”. No – this is real life, real goals and real responsibility.

Life is not a sugar at all and a hard trial must be undertaken by your own before you face it within working experience. The thing is that business-school experience might not be separated from real life. And this is what the most up-to-date approaches and education methodologies try to implement. Not simulate a reality, but to live it through.

  • Many traditional sectors (like banking and consulting) are losing their attractiveness on the employment market. According to Graduate Recruitment Survey of AGR Group, number of vacancies in these fields decrease in 28% last year.

Your entrepreneurial approach becomes the way that you choose your future. Many schools turned to the point of exploring entrepreneurial opportunities, not the corporate path. Harvard proclaimed a new mission after more than 20 years they used to live an old one  – and now it expresses their target on globalized leaders (“we educate the leaders who will change the world’) To say nothing of “purely entrepreneurial schools’, like MIT or Stanford, which have been always

known for its deep-dives in entrepreneurship and leadership combining both at the same page.

World-known European schools, like IMD and INSEAD, introduced dedicated courses to match market’s trends and students’ expectations. And even more — student clubs and events that take place on campus including the Entrepreneurship Accelerator (INSEAD), the Global Entrepreneurship Forum (INSEAD location), INSEAD Private Equity Conference; as well as competitions and contests organized by the schools and its partners — Business Venture Competition (INSEAD), the Celebration of Entrepreneurship (IMD). There is also a subject on entrepreneurs in residence – experienced entrepreneurs and investors from a range of industries who

provide support and advice to entrepreneurial oriented students and Alumni (INSEAD) and who are involved in the education process being invited as guest speakers to academic courses and lectures, sharing their own experience to dedicated topics from their point of view (R. Vardanyan, V. Makhov, O. Tinkoff,  R. Tariko etc participate in SKOLKOVO MBA programmes).

Even if you think about corporate career, the present times demand from you entrepreneurial skills and competencies which might help to survive in fast-moving conditions and challenging day-to-day work. Corporations become more entrepreneurial in its core mission and daily operations.

  • Global growth is shifting to emerging markets, especially BRIC countries (OECD reports 2010).

Incredible growth means incredible opportunities. Make sure the school provides you with global opportunities, combining an international education with the local specific features of the market. The present times even demand a new terminology for expressing what is on the plate today: thus appeared the word “glocal”, which means global approach to local features. Be sure that you really need that and wants your life being globalised in the future.

  • An MBA becomes more about you rather than only about achieving particular business objectives.

A career path is not the only thing in life and is not forever. Make a preliminary research whether the school focuses on developing your personality and supports your personal growth and professional development, whether it really meets your needs about “extra” curriculum on the programme’s timeplan (e.g. individual trainings, development program, deep-dives, coaching or mentoring sessions).

HOW? (to-do list before applying)

  • Get first-hand experience from real students and graduates. Some schools offer an option to visit Campus, to meet students in person, and even to take part in current classes. Lots of schools organize Alumni Clubs and meetings, where applicants can take a part (Harvard Alumni Club, SKOLKOVO Tea&Coffee meetings with students etc). Don’t miss the chance. It will help you to feel the school from the very inside.
  • Learn not only about academic courses, teaching faculty and living facilities, but also about  individual development programme: whether it suits you or not, whether it follows your interests, whether you can build your future in your own way.

It is the fact that schools admit different numbers of students onto the programmes (compare: INSEAD – 998 FTMBA studs yearly, Wharton – 1566 FTMBA studs yearly, ISB – 560 MBA studs yearly, SKOLKOVO – 40 studs yearly). The point is whether you want and need an individual approach and whether you really get it then.

  • Entrepreneurship opportunity: if you have something to show to the world, just do it – in the best environment and the best eco-system. Make sure that the school provides such opportunities (business incubator to set up the business, master-classes or “raise-up-trainings” for the beginners and “just graduated”, opportunity to visit classes or guest-speakers events for Alumnis). This is not too early to think before applying. This is too late to understand when you are already graduated.

And for the last but not the least impression…let us share with you a piece of advice from Robert Bowen (UK), SKOLKOVO FTMBA student :

“Be prepared to fully immerse yourself in a completely different environment and remember that it is only natural to have doubts at times; you haven’t thought it through properly if you don’t. My last piece of advice is that you should be prepared for both — the pluses and minuses of that being the case.”

To sum it up, take a challenge wherever it makes a challenge.


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