IE Business School Online Masters
Ram Parasuraman
May 7, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students: Essay, you say?
Hi everyone! Welcome to the final post in my Q&A series. Of course, the questions never end, but I guess I should put a stop somewhere. I believe that this series consists of the most common questions that were asked by most of you. Over the last few emails, I found complete coverage, this tells me that we have reached “critical mass” in terms of questions. Of course, if you try a bit, you can find a question that is not covered here, but hopefully that is a very specific question.
Q.24 Which would you recommend, the IE Admissions Test or the GMAT?
A.24 In the sport of Cricket, they would call this a “Googly”. A totally unexpected question, but a good one nonetheless. Again, I am not going to dodge this question and emphasize that this is just my opinion, may not match those of IE, other fellow authors or my colleagues worldwide. So here goes.. The GMAT is an international standard for MBA admissions. Some argue that it is unrealistic, does not test the most relevant aspects required from an MBA entrant, etc. But I am a fan! I think preparing for the GMAT was in itself a great experience. I would say that the GMAT was a lot more relevant to my MBA than the GRE was to my MS. Getting a good 650 or 700+ score in the GMAT would require good written English skills and a good aptitude for quantitative analysis. I would say this is your signature, not the bottom line. With a good GMAT score, you show the AdComs that you’ve got talent.
In talking to several people, I have found that the IE written test may be harder for some and easier for others to get through compared to the GMAT. It tests for some specialized skills that it considers as appropriate metrics for incoming candidates. The GMAT gives you access to any business school, but of course, the IE test gives you access to IE. If IE is your only choice, then maybe the latter is more for you, you might save money on the IE test relative to the GMAT if you take rescheduling fees, retakes, etc. I like standardized tests just as a way to benchmark myself to the rest of the world and considering its validity for 5 years should you not be able to execute your plans.
But of course, I would like to repeat that the GMAT or the IE test is but one aspect of your application. There are essays, your academic and professional preparation, the diversity you bring in, etc.
Q.25 Who would you recommend getting the Letter of Recommendation from? Should my boss be involved?
A.25 Again, excellent question. Looks like it takes 7 parts to get into the actual guts of the application process 😉 Jokes aside, you need 2 letters of recommendation (LoR) for the IE GMBA. First rule of thumb, make sure they are real people and that “they” are writing it, not you. Next, you do not need to let your boss know if you are not going to seek company assistance for your tuition fees. It is much more important that the people that write your LoR are those that know you very well and have worked closely with you. As you can see, IE’s letters are a bit more structured and closed ended than many open ended letters that other MBA programs ask for. So, it is crucial that you get properly represented via these letters.
I am not in the AdCom, so I can only guess what they’d look for, but if I were they, I would want to make sure that these letter reflect what you write in your essays. For example, if the recommender says that you love working on your own to find solutions whereas you boast about your teamwork skills in your essays, that is inconsistent. Who do they believe? The other thing I would look for, just as I would in the essays, is to get maximum coverage. So, if you choose 2 people that know you in a different capacity, for example, if you are a manager, getting one from your peer or direct report and another from your customer, would give 2 very different perspectives about you. This would supplement your essays very well and help AdCom understand you quite well.
I hope I am guessing right, if not, if someone from the Admissions Department is reading this, please feel free to correct via the comments and I will retract this answer and apologize for guessing wrong.
Q.26 How did you approach the essays? There are so many in IE’s Application Form!
A.26 Good question! Yes indeed, IE has more questions than other comparable MBA programs. But I think it gives you an excellent opportunity to introspect and find out what you really want from this MBA. It is okay to be entirely honest and present yourself for who you are. MBA programs ask for essays to gauge your experience, your judgment and the style with which you make your argument. This is critical since this shows the AdCom who you are, how you would contribute to the experience of your classmates during the courses. Plus, I think since the GMBA involves a lot of writing, for presentations, for forum posts, during the chat in the videoconferences, etc. it is only apt that your written skills are put to the test.
So, get down and dirty, write about your most notable experiences, just as you would write it yourself. I think the more you write in your natural style, the better your chances. It is easy for anyone to see through a professed writing style and it is not fair to you or your peers for you to write any differently than you normally would. So, be yourself, and write about the most relevant aspects. One tip I can offer is, try not to repeat yourself during essays. It is to your advantage to expose different facets and experiences in your life in each essay. That way, you give a 360 degree view of who you are. The essays are the eyes and ears into you, so make sure you are heard and seen! Differentiate yourself by talking about experiences that made you what you are. Talk about fun things as well. Humor could be your “niche”! So go for it!
This concludes the Q&A series! I wish you Good Luck in your application and hope to see you as an IE MBA student in the near future! If this Q&A helped you, I would appreciate it if you could drop a line indicating that it did its job or failed in the process. Please guide me with your feedback.
You can Read prior Q&A posts here:
Prior Episodes of this series:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Goodbye Folks! Stay tuned for further notes on the everyday experience in the GMBA from me and from all of us!

The IE Global MBA from Sunny California


Ram Parasuraman
May 1, 2010
Q&A with Prospective GMBA Students: Director’s Cut?
Admissions season heating up.. the climate around us heating up.. time to get this Q&A series heated up as well!

Prior Parts of this series:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Now, on to Part 5…

Q13. I understand that IE utilizes the Adobe Connect platform to collaborate online, what other tools does IE uses to bring the students together?
A13. Yes, IE uses Adobe connect and the online discussion forums. It also offers an Adobe Virtual networking room where any of us can jump in and have a virtual meeting. This class is a great one and we are pushing the boundaries on IE’s offerings. Good thing is that they are a young university and are pretty open minded. You can also sign up for a virtual information session, where you can get a first hand experience of the system.
Q14. I am looking to get a good mix of practical management and leadership skills from the program, can the program deliver?
A14. Yes, for sure. Instruction and coursework are very practical, easily applicable. You can reference the list of courses here. As you will see, the first modules will focus on building blocks and then we transition on practical application of a combination of the skills you pick up along the way. The Entrepreneurship project will put it all together.

Q.15. Even though I will not be using the degree to make career changes or use it for immediate career progression, but will the degree help me in my long term career goals, for example, opening doors for upper management positions in the next 5 years?
A.15 Like I said in response to an earlier question, it is mostly up to you, i.e. your personality, your skills, your experience and your network on how far you take any MBA. Of course, there are no guarantees for anything, since our external environment is changing as we speak. We cannot control the economy, industry trends, etc. But the key is to develop and use a good skillset and to develop a great global network. IE equips you for both of this, yes it is not as popular in USA as yet to leverage your network, but you do enjoy the opportunity to be an early mover into this potent network. As long as you are confident that you can make it based on your skillset and the license that a global MBA degree gives you, there should not be an issue.
Q16. If you are the CEO of a company asked to hire a Director for your new company and you get two resumes from different candidates with similar industry experience with one having an MBA from UC Berkeley and the other a GMBA from IE whom would you consider for the position knowing what you know about GMBA and obviously not being biased towards it?

A.16 Good question. These days I am playing pretend CEO a lot, thanks to our professor’s questions along a similar line ;)Just like they say when we apply for an MBA, that a GMAT score alone does not make or break a deal, similarly where the person did an MBA from alone should never dictate an informed decision. I would for sure evaluate the length and relevance of experience to my company profile. If you were to say all else is the same, then I would hire the Berkeley person if this position were based on a US company and required an Operations, Technology or Real Estate based expertise, on the other hand if it required International Management and Collaboration across several countries in a Finance, Marketing or Entrepreneurial capacity, I would go for the IE guy.

Q17. Have you attended any of the integration days and are they worth attending?

A17. Unfortunately for me, I have been unable to attend the integration days so far. But many of my classmates have attended and I will let them comment on this in the comments section. These sessions offer a very good opportunity to observe your learnings put into practice in the context of different countries and companies worldwide. It is a great feature of our Global MBA and you get to meet alums working in the countries you visit. It is a good professional networking and a culturally enriching exercise.Okay.. got to run for a Group Discussion, but until next time… नमस्कार


Ram Parasuraman
April 29, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students: Spanish Delight?

Before I get into this edition of Q&A, let me get some Links posted:

— It was brought to my notice  that there was a thread on LinkedIn where several of our honorary GMBA alums including Mariel and Paul have posted their insights to some common questions, some of which I have answered here on this site as well. It gives you a few more viewpoints.

— Some of you asked, why I am starting with some weird numbers, like Q8 or Q9… it is because this is an ongoing series. Please review prior blog posts in this series: PartI, PartII, PartIII. On to Part IV now..

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

Q11. Is it a good move to do an MBA in a Spanish school, considering the financial crisis and recession ongoing in Spain now?

A11.  Interesting question actually. But I guess the answer depends on what you are planning to do after your MBA. If you are planning to embark on a full time MBA, living in Madrid and had plans to look for employment in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, then it might be a worthwhile question to pose and to do some analysis on backup options, whether you would be able to go back to your home country and get a better job with your MBA.

However, if you are planning to do a Global MBA or International Executive MBA from your home country, then I would say, it is actually a good time to be doing an MBA with a top school in Spain. Why? There are a number of good reasons:

  • Spain is learning each day from its experience, its “path dependency” as we like to call it in our strategy class. So, these learnings are brought to the classroom, both by our professors as well as our Spanish classmates. Jorge and Laura in our class are very concerned and brought some great insights into class discussions. We debated how things can improve, how such crises can be avoided and critiqued whether the steps that government is taking are enough, etc. At any other time and day, these valuable lessons would be lost on us, as we gloated in the glory of progress.
  • Considering that we are just emerging from a global recession, the quality of students in your class, and consequently, the competition for admission are both likely to be high. But the end result, if you get in, is that you are going to learn from the best of breed in your class!
  • Unlike in US schools, which are cutting down spending, boosting fees, etc.  IE Business School continues to invest through the downturn, expanding facilities, opening up new integration opportunities and improving its online collaboration tools.
  • Interest rates worldwide are quite low now, so you are probably in a good shape to borrow for tuition 😉
  • You are helping out Spanish economy by spending your tuition on a Spanish school. That’s gotta count towards your “asset” side in your goodwill (T) account!

Q12. I’ve read plenty of negative comments about IE in Business Week Exchange forums, e.g. it does not deserve the ranking, its quality of students is poor, it admits everyone? Didn’t these bother you?

A12. Well how can I respond to such a question? Take a great human like Angelina Jolie or Bill Gates or a great company such as Google or Apple, if you Google them for opinion, do you expect to find only glowing and good things being said about them? I guess not. Whenever someone or an institution is very famous, it is bound to be the target of some criticism and a lot of praise. So take it with a pinch of salt and decide for yourself on what to believe and what to debate or even ignore.

The very publication you mention, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, has awarded IE a top-10 ranking. Wall St Journal, The Economist and Financial Times have consistently awarded IE high honors. You can see it here in this blog, from so many authors from so many different nations and backgrounds talk high about IE in one voice. We are not drugged or hypnotized into saying these things.  But don’t take our word for it. Attend an IE event, talk to its personnel, visit the Campus or even try to find some videos on Youtube featuring Dean Santiago and then make an informed decision. I wish you luck and if you need a honest student opinion, you can always ask any of us.

Until next time, I’m signing off

पुन्हा भेटू

(Until we meet again, in Marathi, a 1300 yr old Indian language)


Ram Parasuraman
April 27, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students: The Sorting Hat!

Q7. Do you think that the GMBA option is working well for you as compared to IE’s other online programs like International Executive MBA? OR do the other programs offer something different or additional which is missing from the GMBA?

Answering this question in earnest could get me in trouble with my co-bloggers and cohorts from other programs. But let me take the chance. I say,  it all depends on what you are looking for. I reviewed both the formats and my profile could have fitted either program. In a way, I was like Harry Potter, under the sorting hat, wondering whether Slytherin or Gryffindor was the right house for me. Both programs have the same set of courses delivered in a slightly different mix of online vs presential events. But in the end, the GMBA was the only one I would consider at IE.  The IXEMBA was missing one key factor which I was looking for. It did not have weekly live sessions, this for me was the deal breaker.

The IXEMBA did have longer and more numerous presential events, but to me, it was not the same as weekly reinforcement. I wanted weekly live interaction with professors and classmates, not just as a way to keep in touch, but also to stay in syn’c and to “see” each other more regularly. An added benefit is, you learn via experience, on how to make effective online presentations. This is an increasingly sought after talent in today’s world of WebEx and Telepresence. You could argue that you can do the same via offline interactions, it is just that the GMBA suits my personality better.

Yes, by going in for the GMBA, I forfeited the opportunity to network with more experienced classmates in high profile, even C-level  positions. But I would be amongst the youngest in the IXEMBA, whereas in the GMBA, I would be smack down the middle of the age ranges. This was also another factor that influenced me toward the GMBA, as I could learn from people younger and older to me. As you can already see, it is no trivial decision and it involves a lot of personal circumstances. So, make your choice wisely and personalized to your situation.<p>

Q8. How does the GMBA stack up against its flagship International MBA program?

IMBA has younger applicants with lower experience, still more experience than equivalent US peers. They complete the program in 13 months, whereas we take 15. They spend a bit more time in their courses.  Students live in Madrid for the duration of the program, so they have live everyday access to their peers and can setup instant discussions for projects and case reports.

They form clubs, have access to IE facilities like its library, although we do have access to the virtual library and virtual IE communities as well. It is a comparison of Full time vs Part Time or Online, which is not a fair comparison. Obviously if you could do it, I would recommend you do a full time MBA over part time for the experience, the immersion and more complete and meaningful networking with peers. But if you are considering a part time program, IE’s GMBA and IEXMBA are both formidable options with the most rigorous curriculum and the most diversity you can find in a part time program.

Q9. What is your assessment of the Residential period(s)?

We have had one so far and it was nothing short of sensational! It was awesome meeting folks from 30 countries, getting to know each other, the program, the professors, IE, Madrid and much more. We had several short courses in Networking, Teamwork, Negotiation etc in addition to the first sessions of our first courses. We had a very busy week, but it was brilliant! Having this at the outset of the program was great! Relationships run deeper once you have put the “face to the name”. It is still the fondest period of my MBA. Just a Perfect Start!

Q10. You live close to the best MBA programs then why did you opt for IE?

I guess the reference is to University of California, Berkeley and Santa Clara University. Both are very reputed universities with long standing and well known programs. When I looked at the Candidate profile of UCBerkeley Haas school of business,  it did not have the diversity in terms of nationality or industry as my current class in IE. Most people attending the part time program in Haas seem to me as if they are from Silicon Valley or Northern California sponsored by their Tech company employers. So, there you go, it was regional and tech heavy. The amount I learn at IE had the potential to exceeds the amount I would learn at Haas part time, leave alone the time I need to take to attend class in Berkeley, find parking, etc.

Besides, two important and practical reasons: Duration of the Program and Costs, both were much lower with IE (1/3rd). So I saw a clearly better value going in for a Top 10 school with a reputed program. I do realize of course, that I am taking a risk with the lower Brand Equity and alumni reach of IE in the US. But hey, I am a believer and hopefully a trail blazer, being amongst the first GMBAs in the area!!

Wish me luck and I wish you luck!

Until next time, it is
(Goodbye in Malayalam, an ancient South Indian Language)


Ram Parasuraman
April 21, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students : The IE Value Proposition?

As admission season is heating up, more questions… and more common themes between the line of questioning… so I will have to accelerate the rate of these posts to avoid more repetition for all of us GMBA students who are busy preparing our presentations for the upcoming forums and videoconferences.

The two courses we are in right now are very intensive and are requiring more group thinking than ever before… so I’ll try to keep this going without affecting my professional commitments, IE group commitments and of course for whatever is left, family and daddy commitments 😉

Q4. What do think of the value of a European MBA as compared to the top US programs in US?

A4. They are different and one could argue that Euro MBAs are not as in depth as US programs. But I think this is misguided. The truth is that European MBAs have all the depth packed into a shorter time frame and for good reason. Euro MBA programs admit senior students, ones that have accumulated much more experience than peer schools in the US. Thus, the learning curve is shorter thanks to the experience, diversity and the synthesis within a packed schedule. Like Speed-Read, I hope this intensive speed learning also stays longer.

Q5. Do you think that the GMBA will also help you for your future career progress?

If I did not think it would help my progress, I probably would not be undertaking this massive financial, social and professional commitment of doing the MBA. An MBA is an MBA, it equips you will a toolbox full of tools that fine tune and shape various facets of your personality. Some courses change the way you look at corporate strategy while others will help you improve economic perspective for starting or running a business and yet others may hone your networking or negotiation skills. All MBAs do this, but it is you that take these tools and use them to your career. How you do it determines to a large extent where you go.

Q6. Is the rating by FT, Economist, WSJ, Forbes and Businessweek justified? Do you think that the ratings are for their International MBA and Economist is the only one rating the GMBA?

I did not specifically look for a GMBA ranking as much as I did for an MBA ranking of the school. At the end of the day, it is only the method of delivery that is different. The degree certificate you get and the knowledge you gain should not be materially different. Online MBA format is still new and rankings have not taken this into serious consideration. So far, I only have good things to say about IE. I have not attended another MBA program, so it is tough for me to evaluate the rankings. But in conversations I have had with peer MBA students from some of the best MBA programs in the US, without risking self-aggrandizement, I can only say that my learning has been well on par with theirs in comparable courses.

Well, that’s it from me for today.. gotta head back to our presentation about an exciting topic on Social Networks. Catch you at the other end of the presentation. Until then, do keep your questions coming, either via email or better still, via the comments here.

नमस्कार!

Namaskar — Goodbye in the Indian National Language, Hindi


Ram Parasuraman
April 18, 2010
GMBA Q&A with Prospective Students

Hi there!

Lately it seems that the demand for IE’s GMBA is booming! It is humbling that this blog has been atleast an iota of inspiration of some students to explore IE’s quality offerings a bit deeper. Congratulations to my fellow bloggers, who I have to compliment are doing an excellent job!

Most of us are approaching our MBA posts in the present tense, Pablo and Veronique are approaching it in Past tense, I will go into the future tense for a bit.

I have been getting a lot of inquiries from prospective students who often are very curious about this MBA and they have a lot of good questions. So, I will try to post my replies to their questions which I sent via email right here… My dear colleagues, whether you are authors or readers, please weigh in with your thoughts and enrich this blog with yr comments. This will be an ongoing series and hopefully we can build it up to the point that IE can just refer prospective students to this blog to get their questions answered.. So here goes…

The first two questions and my personal opinions… it may be a bit US centric since the asker of these questions lives in the US, where IE GMBA is not as well known as local programs..

Q1. What is your overall assessment of the GMBA and your satisfaction level? Did you make the right decision to join IE?

A1. My overall assessment so far is excellent. It exceeded my expectations for an Online program. No doubts about it. I believe I absolutely made the right choice. For me, I was not enthused by the Online programs in the US even in otherwise well ranked schools like Indiana Kelley, UF Gough, ASU WP Carey, all of which offer Online MBAs. In these programs, I did not get a good feel for the staff that taught in these programs. In IE, the pool of staff for the Global MBA consists of top notch professors who take a very practical approach including the most recent industry examples, such as the financial credit crunch of 2008.

Q2. Do you think that the hefty (in my humble opinion) price tag is justified?

A2. I think this MBA is actually cheaper than most US MBA programs. So, yes price tag is justified for a renowned triple Accredited (AMBIS, EQUIS, AACSB) MBA degree.

Q3. Is the program offering the value you were looking for? (For example, if you were looking for strategic management skills are those being provided to you?)

A3. Yes, for sure. It is a well rounded program that offers good insight into Marketing, Strategy and Finance. But its specialty is entrepreneurship, which is well evident from the get go.

More Q&A coming soon… Until then, Take Care!

Copying Afueri’s cultural style 😉

வணக்கம் (Vanakkam) — Bye in Tamil, an ancient Indian language!


 
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