Category Archives: Business school

MBA. Part3. Preparation for the tests

Basically there two tests – GMAT and TOEFL. There is nothing hard with the TOEFL. Just buy the official guide. Crack it and you are ready. GMAT is another pair of shoes! Allocate at least 6 months to get ready. Although my advice not less then 12! I heard some crazy stories that it took some people two years to pass the test. I could not believe that. I was sure I was smart enough to pass it in three months. I was so wrong!!! Yes, it’s too complicated. GMAT will take a lot of time and efforts. GMAT is hell! It will swallow you. It will destroy your free time completely. Just be ready to devote much efforts to it. My list of important things to do to get ready for the GMAT prep:
1) sign up for GMAT basics course in your city – this will give you a basic idea of what this is. Usually such courses are 4-8 week long. I went to MBA Strategy courses in Kiev http://www.mbastrategy.ua They are excellent experts in preparation and admission consulting. If you are in Ukraine or Russia, I highly recommend to call these guys.
2) after you pass the group course, you will understand your weaknesses. The next step would be to work individually. Buy the full set of official guide books – latest edition. I also bought Kaplan books and used Manhattan GMAT – 8 books set. Read the books and do the assignments. My weak point was critical reasoning. That’s why I also read GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible.
3) if you have some troubles with understanding some concepts while you do the individual study plan, you should take the Skype-classes with a consultant and address the questions
4) sign up for online service like GoGMAT. Download an iOS app with a thousand prep questions and answer explanations. Online platform is a very good option to track your success.

There is no single answer to the question of what’s the best way to beat GMAT. The test was designed by very smart people. The test is changing and constantly evolving. You should start the journey and find your own way to pass it. You need a lot of patience and do not give up!

MBA. Part2. Schools

The choice of school is extremely important for any MBA program.

I would recommend to pay attention to the following factors:
1) school rankings – there is a number of the – Wall Steer Journal, Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes to name a few. They differ in methodology and show sometimes contradictory data. But you ought to study them
2) geography – The easiest option is to attend a local school, maybe evening lasses or something. I do not recommend this option unless you live in Silicon Valley or Boston and you local school is Stanford GSB or HBS. However, a lot of people go to local schools. So the most wise decision is to change geography and go somewhere else. There are some strong and reputed schools in Europe like Insead, London School of a Business, IMD, IE, maybe some more. All the rest are at least second tier school.
3) program duration – the best option is two-year classic full-time program. But there some red flags here. This is the best option when you are single, under 30, want to change the three domains of you future: function, industry, geography. I should warn you – in no case this is a success factor. Neither business school guarantees you a jib after graduation. You can be lucky to get into the program(element if luck is always present), but you should work hard all the time, under constant pressure. I chose one-year full-time, accelerated program. It was tough, but I am glad I did that. I am married, I have a daughter and I was 29 when I graduated.

I would recommend the following while choosing the school:
1) do a deep research of the rankings and choose the 10-20 short-list
2) study the business schools web-sites. They are usually big portals with a lot of information.
3) find alumni in your circles and approach them with an informational interview request. You can even find some people whom you do not know on LinkedIn and ask for the same. It is considered a good practice and refusal is very unwelcomed in this community. Every worthy MBA graduate should find time to talk to potential students.
4) visit an MBA fair that is held every year at least once in many big cities
5) find a good GMAT tutor or sign up to online and offline courses

I recommend to apply to at least five schools not less. You can have one or two schools of your dream, but do not limit your choice just to them. Be clever enough not to underestimate the risks and odds of not bring accepted. But you should have some schools with which you will feel chemistry and magic traction.

Study hard and get ready!

What am I going to blog about?

I should have written this post long ago. But it happened so that I decided to postpone it and leave it for later. This post should give a general understanding of what I am going to write about in future. A kind of a short summary of my interests. This blog was intended to be a pure business blog. I will cover the most acute business practices and will touch what I like and don’t like. I am passionate about best business practices and implementation of innovations into regular business operations. I am a software geek. I adore all sorts of CRM, ERP systems and all their constituents. I truly believe that software is eating the world and present day business has no right to neglect it. Either you keep your hand on business pulse, or fail. I spent a year in Silicon Valley talking to a lot of people from IT/technology companies, various entrepreneurs, etc. That year gave me an understanding of new business dimension. In terms of development they are far many years ahead of us. If you want to feel the pace and breath of innovation, you should go yo Silicon Valley. If you want to give an impulse to your child and to open future career possibilities, your children should go to Stanford, the cradle of entrepreneurial spirit.

During my MBA I gad a chance to dive into the world of innovations. I had consulting academic projects at PayPal and IBM. I was lucky to work with Shahid Khan from Ebay/PayPal, Jim Spohrer from IBM and Yassi Moghaddam from ISSIP. That experience formed my future vision. I became a service innovation addict. Service thinking was an inspiration for me and gave me understanding of where we should go and which projects to start. Later in my posts I will cover deeper the service thinking ideas and how they are applicable to the business community.

Service thinking – first steps in Silicon Valley

I first got exposed to service science while at Hult on my MBA program. Brilliant professors and just cool guys Jeff Saperstein and Hunter Hastings were those visionary guys who brought the subject to the business school. They gathered together the best minds from our MBA class. It was truly diverse multicultural and multiexperience community. We firsts learnt the basics: the six principles of service thinking which laid the foundation of Hunter’s and Jeff’s future book. The six principles are: 1) co-creation of value, 2) service systems, 3) componentised business architecture, 4) global-mobile-social, or Glo-Mo-So as we used to call it, 5) Run-Transform-Innovate, 6) multisided metrics. Later on the seventh principles was added to the framework: service=experience.

Having spent four weeks learning the basics we moved to practice. We were split into teams and assigned to different companies and different mentors. We worked for IBM, Cisco, SAP and ISSIP. Some of us worked on gamification, some on Watson initiative, others on social collaboration platforms. My team worked with a brilliant scientist, service champion and business expert Jim Spohrer. Jim was the guy who started his day answering emails somewhere at 5am or even earlier. Interestingly, being so busy he always had time to tweet something, answer emails, Skype calls and even in-person meetings. This project was a c0-creation of value at its best. We were able to utilise the best frameworks   to answer the most beneficial solution to the problem.

Our project with service innovation principles ended with a Hackathon at IBM Innovation Center in Santa Clara were we met a lot of IBMers who shared their experiences and ideas with us. An unforgettable and great experience!

MBA experience. Part 1. Idea and preparation

What is all this hassle about? Do you need an MBA? When do you need an MBA? Which country, school, and many, many more questions one will ask. I myself went throughout this journey. It took me more than two years to complete: 1 year of preparations and 1 year of full-time program. My recommendation is certainly yes! Its worth the shot. No matter the school, no matter the country, you should go for it. I will recall my personal experience and share my story. I decided to split this into several separate posts.

The first one will be the initiation – how I came to that crazy idea. My story is a long one. To cut the long story shot, I once got bored at my previous job. Not that I am a lazy bone, but my boss decided to go out of real estate development business, sell his assets and disappear(a very common approach and way of thinking in Ukraine and many other ex-Soviet countries). My beloved wife Hanna first recommended, then insisted that I go and study further. The same happened when I was finishing my BBA – I was so busy with my business that it took me 7 years to graduate, unlike my group mates, who graduated 3 years before me. And my wife was the driver in this decision. Same with an MBA – Hanna told me to try my luck with local schools in Ukraine. I made a research, talked to many people and then suddenly a crazy idea appeared – I decided to quit my job and go abroad.

I surely kept that decision in secret from everyone. Just my wife was aware of it as she observed me spending hours studying and cracking GMAT. GMAT was a nightmare! I could not even imagine how weird and strange this could be. I downloaded tons of tests, books, prep materials. I signed up for GMAT courses. I bought latest edition of Manhattan prep and Kaplan books. I even had an iPhone app with more than a 1000 questions. My best advice would be – schedule at least 6 months just for GMAT. I didn’t have that time. I was torn between my job, my family, a lot of problems and a bright idea to get an MBA. Not the best combination, frankly speaking. Anyway, I took GMAT three time – once every month(the first test after 6 weeks of prep, which was vey stupid idea). After got tired of GMAT after 3rd attempt. My best score was 630 and couldn’t proceed further with preparation. I decided to stop and move further.

In my next post I will explore the issue of business school research, essay writing and many more.