For Nataliya Mylovanova, getting an MBA was a professional challenge. Looking back on her time at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), the Ukrainian graduate reminisces on business school life, and how her MBA has helped her progress in her career.
"In the Ukraine, MBA programs are highly regarded," says Mylovanova. "Although probably not ubiquitously known because it was a comparatively new phenomenon until a few years ago."
Now many young Ukrainian professionals are eager to add an MBA degree to their carnets of diplomas and vast practical business knowledge and Mylovanova was one of them.
"Having received two degrees in my home country, I decided that an international MBA would be a good continuation of my education path," she says. "For me, getting an MBA was a professional challenge to further my career and to move it to new leadership levels."
Deciding to do an MBA degree is the first hurdle; choosing which business schools to apply to is the next. Mylovanova made a preliminary analysis of business schools and short-listed those which were of potential interest to her.
"I intended to make a career switch from the management role in the service industry to a management role in the manufacturing industry," she says. "In my opinion, the decision about which business school to choose, and how to choose it, is a very subjective process. In my case, there was a lot of media analysis, as well as personal contacts with the schools and peer opinions."
Mylovanova's final decision was to apply for the ESMT MBA program.
"When choosing an MBA program, I focused particularly on schools' curriculum content, faculty background, and career service support. ESMT's close connection with German companies and extensive mentorship programs were also important aspects in choice.
Next came funding.
"Financing an MBA is probably one of the most crucial issues to tackle when deciding on pursuing the degree and when choosing the school," says Mylovanova. "Scholarships are surely the best option, but they are an exception rather than the rule. Therefore, financing options, or school assistance in finding financing solutions, often becomes one of the school selection criteria.
"In any case, I would advise all candidates to start looking for financing as early as possible in their MBA quest. Considering some loans or financial assistance in your home country can be a very viable option."
These days almost all business schools offer scholarships or fellowships and although many of these awards are merit-based, scholarships for minorities or applicants from developing countries are becoming quite common. Mylovanova says she would advise anyone to try their best for a scholarship, but to always have a backup plan for financing, such as a bank loan, company financing or international student associations' loans.
It was a few years ago that Mylovanova graduated from ESMT with her MBA degree, but she can still recall the best and worst things of business school life.
"The best things are the challenge, the knowledge and the fun," she says. "The worst are: not much sleep, especially if you choose a one-year full-time MBA, little free time as one has to manage having some good times with classmates even during tedious study hours, and the uncertainty about post-MBA life."
In fact, Mylovanova recommends studying for an MBA wholeheartedly.
"An MBA gives a solid truly broad managerial feeling and business view. In my case, it was a great training in leadership," she says. "An MBA is definitely a very intensive synthesis and training in all related leadership skills."
The business school network that Mylovanova built up during her time at ESMT has also proved invaluable. Professionally, her network has helped her with "business discussions and career opportunities, both for myself and for the purpose of recruiting new talents for my company. It's also provided a great social network and friendship," she says.
Mylovanova participated in the QS World MBA Tour in Kiev twice. She says she found it very useful for establishing direct contact with business schools and eventually for making her final choice on where to study. "In fact, I think that, eventually, personal communication with admission teams was one of the crucial criteria in the final days of making my decision."