Wharton 2006 MBA Admissions Chat with Thomas Caleel

2005 General Management/Op MBA Recruiter Chat with Alcoa & DuPont

Please feel free to let us know if you would like to be informed of future chats by sending e-mail to chat@accepted.com. We would also be interested in knowing if you would prefer a different format or different topics.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:44:13 AM)
Accepted.com and the Michigan Ross School of Business, represented by Al Cotrone, Director of the Office of Career Development, would like to welcome all of you to this online chat, "Talent Seekers Speak: Why We Value the MBA." We want to extend special thanks to the very busy recruiters who have joined us today:

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:44:24 AM)
David Karpelowitz of Alcoa and Jonathon Alloy of DuPont.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:46:05 AM)
Once again welcome and thank you for joining us.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:46:12 AM)
Thank you for having us.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:46:34 AM)
Jonathan and David: What qualities do you value in MBA grads?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:47:04 AM)
Leadership, ability to create change through people, analytics.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:47:46 AM)
Looks like Jonathan was disconnected. I hope he will rejoin in a minute.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:48:02 AM)
How can applicants demonstrate these qualities? How do you see these qualities in job candidates?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:49:15 AM)
Candidates should have a polished story that talks to these points. I believe a common mistake people make in recruiting is not clearly thinking through what it takes to create change and how they have done so in the past.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:49:55 AM)
Business schools have been criticized for being too academic and producing graduates who are not really ready to start working. Do you agree or disagree and why?

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:50:12 AM)
Yeah! Jonathan is back.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:50:23 AM)
The question for you and David: Business schools have been criticized for being too academic and producing graduates who are not really ready to start working. Do you agree or disagree and why?

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 11:50:44 AM)
Good afternoon, or morning or night as the case may be.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:51:39 AM)
Disagree. I have found that MBA's are very able to begin work, but they are not always ready for the most senior positions in a company. They add value from day one however.

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 11:52:16 AM)
You have to know both sides -- the academic (theory and tools) and the practical (hands-on application). Look for a school that lets you get outside the classroom and work in structured company/nonprofit environments while in the program.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:52:21 AM)
Others have criticized b-schools for being too much like trade schools and not supplying graduates with an intellectually rigorous analytical framework. Do you agree or disagree and why?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:53:18 AM)
I think the top programs do a great job of introducing framework. But, I echo Jonathon and add that the candidate creates their experience. B-school won't make you a star. You do that yourself.

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 11:53:23 AM)
I'm two years out of school and regularly apply the intellectual and analytical frameworks I learned at Michigan -- and I see CEO-level executives apply them as well -- everything from NPV to 4P's to Porter's Forces, etc.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:53:26 AM)
What can MBA applicants do before and during their business school studies to make themselves more valuable to firms when they graduate, especially when interested in general management or operations?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:55:07 AM)
Focus early. Understand what it is about GM that attracts you. A common mistake is to ask for P&L in an interview, but not articulate what it is about P&L that you desire. Demonstrate your desire to work with teams through your leadership activities at B-school.

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 11:55:41 AM)
They need to critically evaluate their skills and gaps, and work hard to fill the gaps. Take on internships, coops, club activities, special projects, community consulting engagements -- if you want to be in a management role, you definitely need to be able to work with people. That's vital.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 11:55:44 AM)
Many top schools are now encouraging early-career applicants to apply and attend business school even if they lack at least two years of full-time experience. What do you think of this trend? Are years of full-time experience important to you in recruiting?

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 11:56:57 AM)
My experience was in a top-10 program, so speaking from that, I think that to get the most value for yourself and to provide value to your classmates, you need at least 3-5 years work experience. You're co-creating your MBA experience and you need to have a solid base of work-life to do that well. In terms of recruiting, at DuPont we look for 5 years of work experience pre-MBA for consideration for our Marketing Leadership Development Program (MLDP.)

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:57:03 AM)
The trend seems to reflect what companies are asking for. That being said, experience counts when looking for work.

Ed (Sep 21, 2005 11:57:13 AM)
How will someone interested in operations management benefit from an MBA?

new2bergen (Sep 21, 2005 11:58:49 AM)
Jonathan: Does DuPont hire internationals to the MLDP?

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 11:59:03 AM)
Ed, management is the key word -- you must be able to work cooperatively with people and be able to articulate cross-functionally what needs to be done from a holistic business-level perspective. That's a lot of buzzwords, but it boils down to, you need to know the finance and marketing and sales and HR implications of an operations decision. Sometimes - and I've seen this for real at DuPont - you need to sub optimize one function, like operations, because it maximizes the business as a whole.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 11:59:10 AM)
At Alcoa, operations are critical, but finding managers capable of linking operations to business functions, like marketing, can be difficult. It takes a special ability to see systems and generate teamwork outside of your function. The MBA definitely helps there. It also says that you understand business - not just engineering.

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 11:59:13 AM)
Ed, several programs have operations/manufacturing type programs. Being able to combine real world experience with theoretical concepts is really what the MBA is all about anyway, and nowhere is this more evident than in an operations type program. The Tauber Manufacturing Institute is one such program that you should look into.

NW (Sep 21, 2005 11:59:32 AM)
In your opinion, does the school from which a student obtains his or her MBA matter?

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 11:59:45 AM)
New2Bergen - Yes, we hire without regard to citizenship. That said, for permanent placement, we locate people in their home countries.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 12:00:21 PM)
Yes, going to a top business school opens doors. That being said, it is not the most important piece - you and I have seen many successful individuals from smaller programs succeed as well.

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 12:00:59 PM)
NW: Absolutely, from at least three perspectives -- the companies that recruit, the peers you'll interact with, and the perspective and opportunities you'll have at the school. Yes, your choice of school matters, but its not about rankings - its about how well you mesh with the students. who will be your friends and colleagues, how well you want to approach the companies that recruit at that school, and how much you want to work in the geographic region that school serves.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 12:01:22 PM)
What and how much is the ideal pre-MBA experience for someone applying to your firm and interested in general management?

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 12:01:31 PM)
NW, it's as much the school and its style and methods as it is the people at the school. The two are somewhat interchangeable, but in the big picture, it's all about your overall experience. Generally speaking you will be able to eventually secure employment at many places, but look for a program that lets you combine your personal plans for the future with the specifics of that program and its approach to education and then check to see where the alumni of that program are so that you can have introductions to future employers....like DuPont and Alcoa! :)

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 12:03:35 PM)
Alcoa looks for folks with more than five years of experience, but it isn't the only factor. Demonstrating leadership and management potential is far more important. Alcoa is investing in its future when you are hired into the Strategic Leadership Development Program.

JohnW (Sep 21, 2005 12:03:54 PM)
How would you rate a candidate who has about five years experience managing a small family business (as I have) versus a non-manager with experience with a large corporation. Would I be at a disadvantage?

Johnny (Sep 21, 2005 12:04:20 PM)
Al: Some evening MBA students that I talked to are not sure what to focus on, it's late when all the core courses are over. It's also hard to do internship for part time MBA since they have a full time job. Some are stuck with the old job after graduation. This makes a career switch very hard. Any good ideas?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 12:05:16 PM)
John, absolutely not. The critical question is WHAT you did not WHERE you did it. However, speaking from personal experience, you will need an extra step - explaining your company and your role is much easier when the company name is known. Just understand that and you can craft your story accordingly.

Vinod (Sep 21, 2005 12:05:37 PM)
Would someone with 15+ years of experience be considered if the required traits are present?

benbenr (Sep 21, 2005 12:07:40 PM)
Does going to a one year or two year MBA program make any difference?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 12:07:50 PM)
Vinod, I would think so, but you might not want a rotational program. 15-years is a lot of time and you might be more developed - ready for a more senior role. Rotational Programs are generally geared toward building talent. The roles can be substantial, but 15 years is significantly more than the typical MBA applicant. You might be best served by off-campus recruiting.

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 12:08:02 PM)
Johnny, the key is early focus. Considering what you enjoy doing and the environment that you enjoy working in well in advance can help students to capitalize on the opportunities that arise during the course of an MBA program. Students are rarely prepared for how quickly school, recruiting and social life conspire to fill up your schedule. So considering very early why you are seeking the MBA and then focusing on the career you wish to pursue can avoid the situation that you describe.

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 12:08:22 PM)
No, someone from a small firm with solid experience would, I think, have an advantage over someone without managerial experience.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 12:08:44 PM)
What are your company's hiring plans?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 12:09:06 PM)
The length of the MBA is less of an issue. But consider what companies recruit at each of the programs and for what roles. That will be a guide for whether or not the school matches your needs.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 12:09:32 PM)
Linda, Alcoa is aggressively pursuing talent. We are building the pipeline for future leaders.

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 12:09:45 PM)
At DuPont we're looking for MBAs in marketing to join our Marketing Leadership Development Program, on a global basis, for full-time and internship positions. It's a three-year program that gets you exposure to senior executives and front-line marketing.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 12:09:51 PM)
Thanks again to Jonathan and David and to all of you for your participation. Last but not least, I want to acknowledge the critical role played by the Michigan Ross staff. Thank you for your vital help in putting this event together. And congratulations on your WSJ ranking!

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 12:10:00 PM)
Applicants, if you would like more information about Michigan Ross' top-ranked program (#2 in the WSJ recruiter survey this year!), please visit http://www.bus.umich.edu/Admissions/

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 12:10:23 PM)
Thanks, Linda - and good luck everyone!

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 12:10:36 PM)
Thank you and good luck. Enjoy B-school!

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 12:10:48 PM)
Thanks for having us, Linda, and for setting this up, Al.

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 12:10:49 PM)
Best of luck to everyone with admissions!

madoo (Sep 21, 2005 12:11:59 PM)
Linda, that was extremely useful! Thanks !

maggie (Sep 21, 2005 12:12:01 PM)
Last question; I am going to apply for Business school but I only have a full-time internship experience in Siemens, where I was involved with a big project in its headquarter-Munich. Generally specking, it is successful. So I want ask: Will you value a good internship experience when considering an application? Will it make up for lack of work experience.

Ejeh (Sep 21, 2005 12:12:02 PM)
Thanks all!

Jonathan-Alloy-DuPont (Sep 21, 2005 12:13:01 PM)
Maggie -- It counts as working experience.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 12:21:28 PM)
Thank you again for participating and for your feedback. Good luck with your applications!