Alumni Voices: MBA

Alumni Voices: MBA

As part of the QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2019 and the QS Business Masters Rankings 2019, we spoke to thousands of graduates worldwide about their business school programs and experiences.

Below, we hear from five students who are recent MBA graduates from some of the best business schools in the world, who tell us about the highs and lows of their experience as well as providing helpful advice for future applicants.

 

Kaoru Nishinakagawa graduated from the MBA program at the Australian Graduate School of Management in 2017. Originally from Japan, she is now living and working in Australia as co-founder and COO of innovative consulting company Innovation Dojo.

Kaoru NishinakagawaHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

The global ranking, reputation in the industry, location, and number of students in a cohort. AGSM is a top MBA school in Australia as well as highly ranked in the global rankings. The campus is only 20 minutes away from the beautiful beach, and 30 minutes from the city center. The average number of students in a cohort is around 60, which allows full-time students to develop a very intimate fellowship and make life-time friends.    

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

I received very warm and dedicated support from the school throughout the program. They provided the students various opportunities to engage with the industry, such as consulting projects, visiting companies, and speaker events. It was easy to access to the Dean and directors of the school and discuss how to improve the community, the curriculum and the other activities. 

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

Gap discovery and problem-solving skills, which led me to co-found a company to solve problems through innovation by bringing entrepreneurs, corporates, and government together. The comprehensive programs plus the various activities at AGSM gave me the skills and confidence to become an advocate of creative problem solving.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

Non-monetary ROI is very high as I gained tools and confidence to transform my life to become an entrepreneur through developing analytical thinking, creativity, and better communication skills. I am really happy with the outcome and hoping to gain good monetary ROI in next couple of years by growing my own business.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

I would have done more internships during the program to gain further experience outside the curriculum.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Be open minded and be unique. There are so many smart people out there, but nobody excels in everything. It is important for you to bring something different and valuable to the school and the cohort in order to be admitted and to feel valued as a member of the community.

 

Umair Abbas graduated from the MBA program WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management  in 2017. Originally from Pakistan, he is now living and working in the UK for Amazon as a strategic supply chain manager.

Umair AbbasHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

I decided to come to Europe for my master’s degree and I found the schools in Germany had a good reputation, and at the time the German economy was the strongest amongst other countries with good business schools. Also, the fees were much less expensive in German schools than others I looked at which played an important role in deciding to pursue my degree at WHU.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

I would mention here two particular experiences here I had during my graduate school.

Firstly, the leadership challenge at the very beginning of the program. It lasted for five days and allowed us to experience and practice the essence of leadership and team management, for a noble fundraising cause: the ‘Save the Children’ organization.

Secondly, the three international modules that looked into three of the most important economies of the world, China, India and the USA, through top regional business schools and local firms.

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

Leadership, teamwork and time management are three top most important skills I learnt from the program.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

I am really satisfied with the return on investment as I don't have to repay the massive loans to support my tuition fees as compared to other top-tier business schools with hefty fees.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Prepare well to achieve a good GMAT score, set out your best past professional experience in your resume and practice for a good interview with real examples from past experiences where you have demonstrated strong leadership, teamwork and value addition to the business.

 

Marta Spohr graduated from the MBA program at IE Business School in 2017. Originally from Brazil, she is now living and working in France for food and beverage company Danone as a Quality Superiority & Food Safety Senior Manager.

Marta SpohrHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

I decided on IE Business School based on the main focus of the course (innovation and entrepreneurship) and for the experience I would have with a high diversity of nationalities and backgrounds. The fact that it was one-year program and was located in Europe were also important criteria.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

The quality of the laboratory period was a highlight. We had a full immersion in technology and in design thinking. We had full support from Microsoft and from a consulting company (the Cocktail).

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

The focus on customer experience and understanding strategy much better.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

I went back to my previous company and I have been promoted to the most senior level of manager where normally my colleagues have 10+ years more experience than me. I succeeded in the geographic change, and I’m now working in Paris, which was my mid-term career goal and one of the reasons I chose to do the MBA in Europe.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

I think I would have taken part in the venture lab for developing an entrepreneurial project to expand my knowledge in this area even further.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Think about your career path, your strengths and development areas, as well as where you want to go and your major goal in doing an MBA before you begin writing the application essays.

 

Nadia Hefer graduated from the MBA program at Audencia Business School in 2017. She is now living and working in her home country of South Africa as Creative Instructional Design Consultant for wine and spirits company Optimum Learning Technologies.

Nadia HeferHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

I wanted to study in France and narrowed down the schools based on curriculum, accreditation, ranking and reputation. Audencia Business School were at a ‘Study in Europe Fair’ in South Africa, where I initially met the recruitment team.  The team was very knowledgeable about the school, program and living in France. 

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

The career service and development team were an unexpected highlight. We were continuously mentored by the career service's team and are still welcome to make contact to ask for advice and guidance. 

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

The academic foundation was solid and very valuable; however, the problem-solving skill set has been the most valuable take-away from the program.  This allows me to analyze a situation, develop an action plan, execute the solution and measure the results. 

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

In the short term, I have already noted an increase in my general business knowledge and savvy.  I am able to engage in business on a higher level and gain more income.  I am confident that this positive mindset change will continue to create a return on investment for many years to come.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

We had a few options for exchange programs, which were fantastic.  A group trip for the entire class to a different country would have added to the overall experience.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Reach out to the alumni network to ask for advice and viewpoints on their experiences.  The recruitment staff are a fantastic resource and will provide all the info you need.  It is helpful to create a comparative list on checkpoints that are important to you, in order make the decision process easier. 

 

Maria Corazon Pia graduated from the MBA program at Monash University in 2017. She is now living and working in her home country of the Philippines as a senior director of site operations at business process outsourcing firm Sykes Enterprises.

Maria Corazon PiaHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

I considered four factors when I chose Monash University as my post-graduate study destination. Firstly, I looked at their curriculum and opportunities for internships, and found Monash’s curriculum innovative and their overseas study program interesting. Secondly, I looked at their ranking and accreditation, and found that Monash’s reputation is consistently among the top 5 in Australia. Thirdly, I liked their class diversity, Monash has a good mix of students with diverse nationalities, work/industry backgrounds and experience. Finally, I considered their tuition fees to see if the cost of my education would be within budget considering the factors above.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

The best part of my graduate school experience was the overseas study programs I attended in Germany (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) and China (Doing Business in China).  I found the programs insightful and innovative.  The exposure and experiences I gained contributed to both my professional and personal goals. I also liked the quality of the discussions from my cohorts and professors.

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

Some of the most valuable skills I gained from MBA were my expanded worldview, critical thinking skills and negotiation skills which I'm able to utilize personally and professionally.  My negotiation skills have proven useful in negotiating a better salary and compensation package post-MBA as I gained more confidence in claiming a portion of the value I also created for my current organization. I am also able to use my negotiation skills in commercial terms in discussion with my clients and use my global experience in connecting with others.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

Calculating the ROI of my MBA (factoring opportunity cost, salary, fees and cost of living in Australia), the return was fairly modest as I was already earning quite ‘well’ pre-MBA (higher than the median salary of Australians in 2016 and 2017).  I still received a salary uplift (38%) post-MBA with ROI of a little over four years.  When I decided to pursue an MBA, I was looking for international opportunities which I got from pursuing an MBA in Australia and having the opportunity to work (albeit part-time) in our Australia office.  I see my experience as investing in a global adventure of a lifetime.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

I wish I had spent more time on extra-curricular activities with the cohort within and outside of the MBA to grow my network.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Define and design your personal brand by creating an authentic narrative (personal and professional background, values, nationality, age, interests or aspirations) to add a unique dimension to the MBA program and your cohort.

Written by Julia Gilmore

Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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