Prospective MBA Student : Interview with Anton Voronstov

Anton Vorotsov talks about why he chose the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

TopMBA.com talks to Anton Voronstov, a banker from Ukraine, about his decision to do an MBA, the application process and his career aspirations. 

Before embarking on his MBA, Anton Vorontsov ensured his application was the best it could be. The MBA candidate at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, talks with TopMBA.com about his career and what it’s like to be a part of the MBA Class of 2009.

What were you doing before your MBA?

I set the goal to get into a top business school rather early - shortly after the graduation from Kharkiv National University in Ukraine. At that time I was working in the international department of one of the local Ukrainian banks and was responsible for the management of correspondent accounts opened with foreign banks. In September 2002 I visited New York for a one week training seminar organised by Deutsche Bank. While I was there I visited the campuses of Yale and Columbia business schools to meet students. These meetings had an invaluable influence on my further development.

Within three months after my return from New York I moved to Kiev, the political and financial capital of Ukraine, and found a new job in international banking. Later, to strengthen my pre-MBA credentials, I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers Ukraine, where I experienced three challenging years of professional growth. Eventually, I was ready for the step that I had been planning for many years.

An MBA degree is a great opportunity to boost a career and become an international player. Although there are a number of success stories among my peers and friends in Ukraine, I am still fascinated by the global markets and career growth they might bring.

What research did you undertake in selecting your school?

The selection process was quite straightforward, the higher the ranking of a school, the better it is. My search focused on the US magic seven business schools.

I visited the QS World MBA Tour in Kiev in October 2006 and found it extremely useful. Although I had rather good knowledge about each business school I was applying to, meeting their representatives in person helped me significantly in writing application essays. It was a great chance to get a hint about the culture of a school and learn something which is not published on a school's website.

What were the main criteria in your selection?

Speaking about Chicago GSB, the main criteria I used in selecting this school was the ability it had to differentiate itself from others. It was the first business school which started making regular visits to Kiev, Ukraine with presentations of its executive MBA program. Although my goal was to apply to a full-time program, the opportunity to speak with EMBA students had a positive impact on my impression of the school.

How well do your think the MBA is regarded in your home country?

During the last five years MBAs have become a hot topic in Ukrainian 'white collar' circles. A number of local business schools have appeared which reflect the growing demand from middle and top management in theoretical backgrounds of doing business. Currently, there is a process of adjusting the quality of education from one side to the adequacy of expectations from another.

What was the main reason for you choosing to study abroad?

Overseas MBA programs have always been the priority for me. Mainly because of the key word 'international': international experience, career, and networking. The environment I am exposed to in an overseas MBA program is inevitably larger than in any local business school. In other words it is a question of where to sail - in the sea or in the ocean.

There are three applicants from Ukraine, including myself, that were admitted to Chicago GSB this year. I am sure that during our studies and outside classes we'll be able to support each other and work together as a team.

How do you balance the demands of study and home life?

This is a challenging topic. My wife and I decided that for the first year of my studies at Chicago GSB, she will stay in Ukraine, as I will be torn apart by studies, recruitment search and socializing events. When I was in the United States for an interview, I met several students that brought their families either after the first year of education or, at least, only after the winter session, when they received summer internship offers. Only a few of them decided to come with their families from the very beginning of their studies.

In general, my work/life balance has never been a topic for disputes. When I met my wife many years ago, I had already been in the process of preparation for an MBA, so my wife accepted it as an essential part of my character.

How does the school help with this?

I do hope that the second year at the business school will be somewhat more relaxed than the first one and the previous several years, when I was under big time pressure imposed by the work at PricewaterhouseCoopers and MBA preparations.

However, I have no illusion about post-graduation years. Maybe, I will have to work even harder than I did before. On the other hand, if I set the goal to retire before 40, I think there will be pretty decent chances to succeed.

How are you financing your studies?

Currently, the only option for me to finance my studies is the loan program offered by the school. To reduce the costs I am going to pay particular attention to any external sources of finance: scholarships, fellowships, grants.

Yet many students from top-tier programs I’ve spoken with told me that it is more prudent to look for a good job after the graduation than for the ways to optimise costs. “With a good job loan issues will be solved out naturally”, they say.

Did you apply for any scholarships? If so, which ones?

I am going to apply for scholarships starting this Fall, encouraged by the example of another Ukrainian Chicago GSB admit, who won a decent scholarship from the QS World MBA Tour. I am eager to test my chances in the scholarship search.

Have you already been, or do you intend to become an entrepreneur?

Most MBA students have an entrepreneurial mind. We leave our jobs with a stable income and take on financial burdens to make significant changes in our lives. This is risky, but new opportunities, contacts and experience might cover all the expenses.

I never thought I had an interest in entrepreneurship until I started my application process: there were so many things to do, people to meet, letters to write that my application became a mature business project. I felt like I was a businessman trying to push through a business idea and make things work.

So now, after the application has been successfully completed, I consider entrepreneurship an area I hadn’t paid too much attention to before. I will definitely make sure that classes on entrepreneurship are included in my curriculum at Chicago GSB, which pays enormous attention to developing flexibility in students and entrepreneurship state of mind.

Are there any well-known and/or successful entrepreneurs that are alumni of your school?

Kateryna Yushchenko, the first lady of Ukraine. Entrepreneurial skills allowed Ms Yushchenko, in addition to her government duties, to establish one of the most reputable Ukrainian charitable funds - Ukraine 3000. The fund focuses on charitable support to orphaned children, drawing public attention to major issues in history and culture and, on the top of that, determining Ukraine's role and place in the global community.

How much do you expect to earn on graduation?

The more the better, but statistics provided by Chicago GSB say that the average salary after graduation is US$100,000 which, notwithstanding the significance of this amount, nevertheless limits my plans for life. Speaking seriously, every dollar in excess of the average would show that I exceed expectations, every dollar less - that I need to revise my approach.

Currently, my draft plan is to continue a career in consulting, yet I keep my mind open to concentrate, if necessary, on a better and more promising option. The same applies to my location after graduation. I wouldn't mind if it is in Ukraine.

Written by QS Blogger
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