IE Business School Online Masters
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
January 4, 2010
In-Forumal Learning

Happy New Year 2010!

Let me take the pleasure of welcoming you all to this blog this new year! We at the Global MBA class of 2010 are back after enjoying a restful break. Yes, some of us were missing classes and forums, but for sure we’re going to be immersed full time into this throughout this year, so for me, it could wait until Jan 4th 😉 Some homeworks, assignments, presentations and even casitos are due this week and slowly but surely we are heading back to the books.

This was the first break since our program began and only first of two significant two breaks we enjoy during the program. It gave me a good chance to reflect on the time that has been, how I have managed my time, work-study-life balance (if there is one) and if there are ways  I can change or improve things this new year. Sure enough, lots of resolutions emerged and the top one from there was time management, especially on the asynchronous portion of the program, that is the discussion forums.

Now discussion forums at first glance don’t immediately make sense when you consider that emails, web forums and the like are quite informal, haphazard and irregular as such. But IE brings in some good deal of structure to this format and uses it quite well to enhance learning throughout the week in between online lectures. Forums are an integral part of the course and this makes it very different from other face to face MBA programs.

For one, you have assigned readings and need to be prepared well before the forum begins;  and second, you have continuous access to your professor and classmates as though they were your colleagues at work, who sit right across from you, but send email. Only here, they are almost always helpful 😉 Now which full time or Part time MBA guarantees that you get atleast 4-5 opportunities to speak in each class and the ability to converse with your professors each day in the week?

The forums are moderated continuously not just by the professors, who facilitate the learning, but also by students who read and respond to other posts. Each week in the forums, we discuss a specific concept, which keys off from a HBS or IE Case Study. The professor asks leading questions, which the class responds to, bringing in their global and industrial diversity. Unlike in a real class, where the time between the professor posing a question and the first answer coming up is a few seconds, here, you can take even an hour to think about the issue raised, t o process the information and to relate to your own experience, how you have dealt with an issue of this kind in the past. Then even as you are typing, a classmate posted his or her view on the subject and that makes you think differently and add a different angle. In class, I am sure 5 or 6 of us would raise our hand and one of us gets to speak what all of us wanted to say. Have you been there?

We are there too… there is the Hermoine from Harry Potter who always answers first and the Ron who never wants to answer and everyone in between. But the thing is, there is no Professor Flitwick who just rewards points and moves on after the question is answered and certainly no Professor Snape, who deducts points for answering out of turn or a Prof Trewalney who does not even listen to your answer 😉 Here, each professor we have had so far, takes the time to read each response, address us directly and indicate the key learnings for each question posed. There are no strict right or wrong answers like we see in most cases in life. Some professors even take the time to post multiple PDF files with contributions from us, from them and from useful sources and articles from around the web. I am a strong believer that all this strongly enhances discussions. For instance, when we are working on a Marketing case, it helps immensely to look at different examples of advertising or positioning products from Youtube.  How many times would a professor teaching live in a classroom like it if you tell her that you are browsing Youtube for good examples to share with class?

The fun part of the forum is that it is always on! Just as it is getting time for me to get to bed after reading the last few unread posts in the forum and then add my own, there’s my classmate in Europe that has just woken up to read the messages posted from the Western and Far Eastern hemispheres. Similarly, when she winds up for the night, folks in Japan and Singapore are having their morning Coffee while reading the forums. The forum addiction that many of my colleagues have spoken about in their posts is simply caused by the fun and amount of learning that is attained through this medium. I believe this is a very valuable mode of learning and if you are lucky to have  a class and teaching staff as good as I do, you’ll be always on your toes, pushed to do better, to think longer between posts and enrich the learning for one and all.  Most posts in our class are as good as reading an article in the newspaper or business journal. I would write more, but time to post my next entry into the Strategy forum, so I’ll see you later!

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