2014 Virtual Panel: Exploring European B-Schools

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2014 Virtual Panel: Exploring European B-Schools with IMD, London Business School and INSEAD

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Linda AbrahamLinda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I'm the founder of Accepted and the moderator of today's chat.

First, I want to welcome all applicants to the virtual panel today and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about the advantages of European Business School. It is critical to your decision making process and your admissions chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask our expert panel about these top MBA programs and the benefits an International MBA offers.

I also want to give a very special welcome and thanks to our panel, Lisa Piguet, IMD Associate Director MBA Admissions and Marketing, Pejay Belland, INSEAD's Director of Marketing Admissions and finance, and Oliver Ashby, Senior Recruitment and Admissions Manager at London Business School. Thanks to you all for coming.

I'm going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question, and that is, Oli, Pejay and Lisa, let's start with Oli. What's new at your respective program?

Oliver AshbyOliver Ashby: Thank you Linda. Hi, my name is Oli Ashby and I am head of admissions for the full time MBA at London Business School. In terms of the MBA, we have moderate-sized programs of around 400 and the key highlights, we have all kinds of flexibility options so you can finish in 15 to 18, or 21 months. Some of the major developments over the last couple of years and in certainly recent years, we now have a global business experience so most of our students will spend a week abroad working with faculty at one of five different locations. So to give you an example we're about to do one in Johannesburg where the students spend a week working with professors in strategy and entrepreneurship with local businesses, small businesses in a township in Alexandra. Additionally, in terms of the intake we have three stages left remaining this year. The one coming straight up is on the third of January.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Pejay?

Pejay BellandPejay Belland: Hi everybody, glad to be here this evening. So INSEAD obviously has a couple of campuses. We have a campus in France and a campus in Singapore which are parts of the MBA experience. What's new over the last few years, for those of you who are not aware, we also have a campus actually in Abu Dhabi. We don’t run the MBA program directly from Abu Dhabi. However this year, we've introduced what we call our Abu Dhabi module where students have an opportunity to actually go to the campus, a limited number of students to work with local companies and to culminate in a career fair over there. So that's pretty new, leveraging our presence in that particular region. Coming up for some of the class, we also have a new exchange program with students in China. So I think those are two of the new additions to the MBA program. Otherwise, you can still exchange between Singapore and Fontainebleau.

Linda Abraham: Great, and Lisa for IMD?

Lisa PiguetLisa Piguet: Sure. We're following those too. It's a little bit hard because we're a little bit different. I should say we're a lot different. First of all we're very small. So Oli said they have 400 I think. Pejay, you guys have a thousand.

Pejay Belland: We do.

Lisa Piguet: We have 90 in the program each year so we have one intake that starts in January. We have 90 MBAs. It's a general management MBA program that's highly focused on leadership and personal development. So first of all, leadership is really the red thread that runs through the entire program. It's an 11-month program and you literally get 11 months of leadership. So for example, you get 20 sessions with a licensed psychoanalyst. Technically, that is an elective but about 95% of the students actually take advantage of it. One of the other key differentiators is we're highly focused on industry. So about 80% of the students when they graduate go work in industrial-type companies. That's obviously a big word, but they go work in the farm industry, IT, different kinds of companies like that, manufacturing, where a lot of MBA programs put a lot of people into consulting and financial services. So that's a big difference with IMD.

We basically have one campus, but we actually have MBAs going all over the world all the time via the projects that we do. So we have an eight-week consulting project for example where they spend time then maybe six weeks in Dubai or six weeks in Sao Paolo. They actually get to choose the project and then they work down there for whoever they want. They have another project where they work. It's kind of like a more, like an NGO-type project where they spend time at Johannesburg or they may end up in Istanbul for example. It really depends on what they choose. So that's kind of a differentiator. We have a new program director. So Linda you asked what's new. We have a new guy coming in taking over the program so it's kind of like the US president election that's happening. He's taking over in January.

Linda Abraham: Not for a few years. Give us a break, okay?

Lisa Piguet: So he'll be here for four years. He starts in January -- he's German. His name is Ralf Boscheck. He's been in IMD. He's been a professor in the MBA program and teaching exec ed obviously because at IMD they have to do both. But he's been teaching in IMD for about 23 years. He's the youngest professor ever hired at IMD. He teaches Economics. So we're very excited to have him because he's just full of ideas. The man has more energy than any person should be allowed to have. He's 54 and he has four-year old twins so you can imagine. Yes, he has to have energy. So we're very excited to have him coming aboard. So we're looking forward to the new up-and-coming things he's actually implementing into the program.

Linda Abraham: Now, Lisa you mentioned where most of your graduates go. You said that 80% of your grads go into industry. Oli and Pejay, could you tell us what is the biggest industry, if you will, or recruiting segments for your grads?

Pejay Belland: Sure. You can break it down broadly into three broad factors. If we look at our 2012 graduate placement results, we have 41% going into consulting. Finance is down quite considerably to 14% and then all of the rest of them which, is 45% go into, we think corporate because obviously all of the different industries, etc. plus entrepreneurship so that’s what that means. So that's sort of a high-level view about where they're going. And then I think the other thing to mention as well is that they also go all over the world so 63 different countries for our 2012 graduates.

Linda Abraham: The graduates went to 63 different countries or they came from?

Pejay Belland: No, they went to 63 different countries. They're broken down into those three sort of broad items and then in 63 different countries, absolutely. I'm very happy to give many more details if you'd like.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. And Oli?

Oliver Ashby: Hello, yes. So basically we have kind of a split. That kind of varies a little bit year to year. But largely we expect around a third of our students to go into top-tier management consulting, so McKinsey, Bain, BCG. The location is somewhat variable though many will work in London afterwards. Actually that is really true. Most of our students will expect to work in London post graduation, about 70% will. Then afterwards they might move out in the kind of three to five year period. Then we still have a relatively significant amount, around 20% to 30% depending on the year, going into financial service in different areas, both brackets, brokerage and investment banking being popular though probably somewhat diminishing.

We also have a number of individuals going into the private equity and venture capital space, as well as buy-side finance. The rest of our students generally go into large industry firms or are going into the kind of entrepreneurship areas. They may be starting up their own business. But in terms of the, what we would call, industry, it really covers everything. So we have a large amount of pharmaceutical players, say big oil and gas companies and really big media companies that have become much more prevalent recently, like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, but really anything in the finance or consulting space.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. Okay, thank you. Now, let's go back to the applicants' questions. Rachel asked a very interesting question. She says, INSEAD offers a 10-month MBA course. I think IMD is also somewhere like 10 months to a year and London Business School offers 15 months, 18 months, 21 months. How is the short-term course beneficial over a full two-year degree course? Is every aspect of the complete course, and by that I believe she means two-year course, covered extensively in the short period? Lisa, do you want to take that one?

Lisa Piguet: Sure. Pejay, Oli and I are on panels all the time and we get this question often so we're probably good at answering this. The thing is, is that I come from the American system so I'm very familiar with the two-year system. My feeling is this, is that because I'm used to the two-year system. But I think that once you reach a certain age and when I say certain age, obviously you have to define what's right for you, but I say 25 or 26. Once you have three, four years of work experience, I really don’t think a two-year program is really necessary anymore. As long as you go to a good school with a good career services team and I'll tell you why I say that in a moment.

I think if you go to one of the top schools, you can still put a two-year MBA into one year and that's what - I know all of you guys are a little bit different, but INSEAD and IMD, we do that by just making it more intense. So we basically take as many - at least at IMD, we take as many teaching hours than Harvard has and we put it into 11 months with the two-year programs. A lot of people think that two-year programs are better because of the internships that you have and there is one down side is that, I would say that you lose the chance for reflection and more of a crash course, 11-month or 10-month program because it is more intense. But it's less time out of work so the opportunity costs are very, very different.

And if you go to a top school you actually still can get as good a job, if not better out of there. So for example in our 2012 class, 99% of the class - remember our average age is 31, 99% of the class changed industry, geography, or function without an internship. So when you think about the internship you say, "Mm, what really is the advantage of an internship?" So we look at our consulting project as kind of taking the place of an internship, but it's not really deemed as a formal internship. So I really think that once you surpass a certain age, I really don’t necessarily think that a two-year program is really necessary anymore. If you've got the time and the money to actually spend on it, well maybe it's better because you obviously can take more electives. You can explore a little bit more. But if you really don’t have the time nor do you really have the money to spend on it, I honestly really don’t think it's necessary.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Oli or Pejay, do you want to add to that?

Pejay Belland: Well, Lisa's just said that beautifully. I fully agree. I would just say that there is one difference on the INSEAD side when we talk about internships because we have two intakes. And so there is an opportunity if you want to but again, it's not mandatory at all and it's a very short period of time. But if you do get into our January class which graduates in December, then you do have a summer break, whereas if you commence the September class, then it goes right away through with no opportunity for an internship. But I fully agree with Lisa's perspective.

Linda Abraham: Oli, do you have anything to add to that one?

Oliver Ashby: No. That sounds absolutely right to me. I guess it really comes down to a personal choice about what best fits your circumstances and your aspirations.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay, we have a question here from Jessica. She writes that she has read conflicting reports about the job market for international students post graduation. Considering what the job market looks like today, particularly in London, I guess that's her main interest, but I'd like to address this question to each of you, concerning graduates of your school. What does the post-job market look like for students who want to stay or work in Europe post graduation and are you helping students secure a position?

Oliver Ashby: Sure. For me I think the important thing is no business school can get anybody a job. They are the top schools and I think certainly like London Business School, IMD and INSEAD are going to be able to offer a tremendous amount of support from the career service's point of view. But a lot of it comes down to a kind of personal understanding, working with the career service as a team and really developing your skills.

In terms of the job market, I think my view is I'm working closely with our career services team, for me there is a decent buoyant job market in all of Europe and the UK. I think to be honest, if you ask my personal opinion, the traditional financial recruitment for MBA programs is in terminal decline. I don’t view it that strongly. I don’t think that both brackets, investment banks, are going to be particularly recruiting from MBA programs in 10 years. I think that place will be taken up by other areas and at the moment, I see it happening in industry. I do think there is a role of finance. I think it's going to be coming probably more from the middle offices and banks will recruit from there and also other areas like buy-side finance that are fairly buoyant at the moment.

But in terms of geography, it’s one of those things. We talk with career services a lot and I'm a big believer in this is, is that you know nothing is impossible obviously, but it tends to help if you're looking to make one significant shift rather than like two or three. If you try and change radically what you're doing and also the location at the same time, it makes things more difficult. And so my advice would be people to look at kind of somewhat a sensible shift, but also try and do some research into the roles that they're looking for and just see if they think that realistically that's possible based on kind of what the profiles they've seen going to top business schools and do that. It's my personal advice from my perspective.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. And Pejay?

Pejay Belland: I think if we're talking very specifically about Western Europe, I think we do need to be quite realistic. INSEAD attracts people from all over the world, around about 80 plus nationalities and they're obviously - there have been or there still are challenges with regards to visa and immigration laws, etc. If I can give you some recent - because again from 2012 class in Western Europe we actually went down from 41% in 2011 to 34% in 2012. Again, that was probably reflected by the finance sector itself but also by tougher immigration rules.

Now having said that again, I think it very much depends on the company that you're targeting. I know that like London Business School and like IMD, we work with a lot of different companies, a lot of big companies. And if you are the right profile then obviously those companies would help you with these immigration challenges if they really want you to come and work with them. I fully agree with Oli that we do say, INSEAD for example about 85% of our graduates actually do make this three-dimensional change which is location, function, and sector. But it is I think very sound advice to be a little bit realistic and to perhaps go through one dimension to really start your career on graduation.

Linda Abraham: Following up on this point, I'm looking at the questions being posted and there are several, specifically questioning the ability for the 10- or 12-month program or the short program without an internship to facilitate career change. So I don’t know.

Lisa Piguet: It's a very common question Linda.

Linda Abraham: Oh, I'm sure it is. Just address that one head on.

Lisa Piguet: Yes, the thing is, is that, I've been in IMD 10 years and Pejay I think you've been at INSEAD about the same amount of time.

Pejay Belland: A long time.

Lisa Piguet: It's really not an issue. Our placement rates are as high as any American school in a two-year program. The thing is, is that the people - what we really encourage our graduates to do is to be clear on what they do. I basically will agree with Oli and Pejay, that they have to have kind of a clear idea of what they want to do. Going to a school with a good career services team is helpful, but it's still up to you as the candidate to actually really do a lot of your own work and your search.

But the thing is, is that you really truly don’t need the internship. You really don’t. Companies will take you without an internship and like I said, the proof is here at IMD; 99% last year of the 2012 class changed industry, geography or function without an internship. It's proof that they don’t need it and it’s that way every year here. Pejay and I keep using the 2012 stats because those are the latest stats we have because our 2013 classes aren’t through yet. But those are the numbers that we can use right now and it's proof that in last year with a tough market that you don’t need an internship or a long internship to actually make those moves, if you have some good guidance, if you know where you want to go.

And if I can just add about the European thing, we're really lucky in Switzerland that a lot of students end up staying in Switzerland because we have so many multinational headquarters here and the company still will sponsor their visas. So at IMD, we can help them with that. The company still sponsors them, but we haven't seen any numbers go down in terms of the numbers of people that actually stay in Europe. But we're like INSEAD and a little bit we have people go all over the world. Mainly if we look at people staying here, we have a lot of people in Switzerland, mainly in Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands if we want to look at Europe and the UK and then the rest basically go - we have a few go to the US and then after that it's Asia and Latin America.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Getting back to the US and again kind of building off your response. I asked previously where most people are located and there seems to be a lot in the US and a lot in India. So I'm wondering if each of you could address, obviously if somebody wants to leave the US and spend some time in Europe or leave India and spend some time in Europe, I'm assuming that your strongest ties are to local companies even if they are multinationals. But what if the applicant sees themselves ultimately wanting to return to their home country? Are your graduates able to do that?

Pejay Belland: I would answer most definitely yes. I think the fact that all three of us schools have an international perspective, the material that they will be learning while they're on the courses are fully international. As you've just said they have opportunities to work in different countries and certainly many of our applicants they already have worked outside of their home country before. But we certainly have a lot of examples of people who will go off to work in a different country on graduation but then will ultimately go back to their home country perhaps to create their own company or perhaps to work in the office of the multinational that they're working with. But yes, certainly, that happens all the time.

Oliver Ashby: I certainly agree with that, absolutely. To be honest, it depends on the country. Obviously, I do a lot of work in the States, so mostly I meet a lot of people that are wondering if they come to London Business School, a business school in Europe, are they still going to be able to get a job afterwards. A lot of it does come down in the States, I should say and a lot of it does come down to a bit of personal urgency. Realistically, a lot of business schools are going to be competing for a job. It's not going to be as easy to get a job necessarily if you want to call it that, in New York. But plenty actually do it. It's definitely possible and the thing with European schools is you can still get a job in the States for example.

I think in the States there's a bit of an outlier in the sense of there's so many strong local players. For example in London Business School, I'm speaking for myself, it isn’t going to be as quite -there's not going to be as many alumni in places like New York or Washington for example or California. But plenty of people make the shift. In terms of other countries and family business and looking for jobs and kind of, we have a little family business and people go back to their countries for example. But also a lot of people who will specifically look for jobs and kind of growth in certain markets that we’ve experienced in areas like Latin America and Asia.

For me there's a huge appetite for wanting to go and work in these jobs straight off graduation. I don’t think you're on back in any sense in that regard as well, I think.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Thank you very much. Lisa, did I get your input on this also?

Lisa Piguet: No, but the thing is I don’t really have much to add. It's the same as the rest of them.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Then let's move on to some other questions that have been asked. One applicant asked a very good question, so I'm going to post it. Does not having international experience count as a red flag for any of your schools? Would working with international clients, but from your home country be considered international experience?

Pejay Belland: Obviously it's part of the application process. We do look at international experience which adds to the diversity in the classroom and in the experience itself. But absolutely, if a candidate hasn’t actually had any exposure by living outside of their home country, but they have worked with international clients, then that absolutely does count towards international experience, of course. Whether you're in your home country or whether you're in a different country, working with somebody outside of your home country will count towards a very different cultural experience and adapting your style and learning about the different cultures that you're working with.

Lisa Piguet: Yes, it's the same for us. We call that international outlook. We know that there are certain nationalities out there and certain people, the US being one of them, I used to be there— a lot of people don’t move outside of their home country necessarily, but they're working for huge multinationals and they're working outside on a daily basis with these people all over the world. So that's what we call international outlook. That just needs to come out loud and clear on your application.

Linda Abraham: Do you have anything to add to that one?

Oliver Ashby: No. I'll just say on a kind of side note that I think the interesting thing is, and I think this is true of all the schools, as these guys are already saying about international outlook, is what's really good, if you've got the not-so-much international exposure in your application, you really highlight some of the things about the school that you can really bring out in terms of what you're looking for in the business school, particularly areas around the internationality factor. Say for example at our school, our college, you get out of 10 case studies in a class, 8 will be international, whereas in American schools you'd find that probably 80% of them are going to be international.

Linda Abraham: Right. Those numbers are very different at your schools than a typical - or even the higher-ranked American schools. Ok, Alexandra asks, how much prior people management experience is ideal to extract the most from the program? When is the best time in a career to take on an MBA program? Lisa, why don’t you start with that one?

Lisa Piguet: Very, very good question, Alexandra. It's a very good question because a lot of people think that you should do an MBA right after undergrad and just get it over with. And the thing is that I really think that's false because I think that getting some good work experience first will help you as a person be able to give more in the program and receive a lot more information. I really think having honestly four or five years of solid work experience under your belt first prior to taking an MBA is probably the best thing to do because it will really help you be able to understand the issues that your classmates are talking about. You'll get so much more out of the program and I'll give you a prime example.

When I graduated from university, the company - I worked for a huge multinational in the US and they put me in an executive MBA program at the age of 24. I was the only female in the whole thing and I was with 45-year-old men. And I could not add anything and I was miserable. Of course they were miserable having me in there and it was just the worst experience ever. But in retrospect, it was actually a really good experience because now I can talk about it and tell people what a bad experience it was and really tell people that I didn’t learn anything.

I wished I had waited three, four, five years before doing it because then I could have really gotten a lot more out of it. So I think having really valuable work experience is really necessary in order to get the best out of an MBA program. So you have to be the judge for yourself what's really valuable. None of us can really tell you, "Oh it's three years or it's four years or it's five years.” Most European schools are slightly older. I think IMD is 31. I would say the average age in Europe is anywhere from 27 to probably 31 to where slightly older than probably some of the American schools and we do require a little bit more work experience. But I do think it's actually worthwhile to have it and I think their conservations are much richer in the study groups than if you have a couple years of work experience.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Just anecdotally, to add my own experience, in the dark ages when I got my MBA, I had one year of work experience. That time that was pretty typical and I think I would have benefited much more from the program if I had three - I don’t know if it was four or five but if I had more experience. I felt for a long time that it's going to cost you two years of time, it's going to cost you tuition. Yes, your opportunity cost will be slightly higher as you advance in your career, so don’t wait too long. But I think that if you have several years of work experience, whether the American minimum typically is two or three years, so the European minimum is a little bit higher. Obviously you need to be competitive at the schools you're applying to. But I think for your benefit applicants, you'll get much more out of the program if you have a little bit more work experience or some work experience rather than going right after college or a year or two after college.

Pejay Belland: I was just going to say if I could add something to that as well. I do think that also - because all three schools have shorter programs, having that work experience is really important because it gives you the maturity to actually be able to handle the intensity of our programs and that's very important too.

Lisa Piguet: I agree, Pejay. That's a really good point.

Oliver Ashby: Yes, just really quickly. I would say the one, the really important thing is experience. You look at these top schools like IMD, INSEAD, London Business School and also the top US schools, there’s only a finite number of really rock star, world-class faculty and they all geared up their entire research, everything that builds around the whole teaching style, is around having a classroom where you basically build on people’s experience so they take your experience in the classroom. And especially in these European schools, we have lot of experience in the classroom from all over the world from different jobs. They really draw that in and that’s what they’re building and teaching out of. They’re not just standing there lecturing you on their research.

And so you really need that in the classroom. You really need to be able to give your stories because most of this faculty will be looking for like models as well on what you can contribute to the program. So that style of teaching experience is absolutely integral to it.

Linda Abraham: Right.

Pejay Belland: Yes, agree, absolutely.

Linda Abraham: Okay. All right next question is from Mikhel. Do you evaluate each application individually or do you group people from similar backgrounds, demographics, regions, of the same professional backgrounds also?

Oliver Ashby: Yes, that is a tricky one and one we often get asked. I don’t think that we necessarily go and approach it that way. When we get an application, we look at an application. We don’t weigh up against the others. Now invariably, let’s be honest, out of a series - the amount of applications we get there will be some from similar backgrounds and as a result it might be within that particular cohort, slightly more competitive. You have a certain type of experience and that’s simply because we need to make sure the class adds value to everyone. But I would say in that regard, then you need to be aware of what your strengths are, really play to those strengths, really make sure you differentiate yourself.

And I think that’s true with any application whether you’re a consultant, a banker, whether you’re a doctor, is that - I see a lot of applications from people who are from very unique backgrounds that aren’t able to really show how strong an application they are because they haven’t addressed some of the core issues. So I would avoid being too trapped by that kind of idea that business schools are so obsessed by having a certain number of individuals because I think, actually, it comes down to the quality much, much more than anything else.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Lisa?

Lisa Piguet: I would agree with Oli. We don’t get as many applications as London Business School or INSEAD does. It boils down to the quality. We do look at each application as really, each of you really is an individual to us. We look at all different kinds of aspects on the application but it’s very - Yes, quality is really, really important. Please don’t plagiarize. It’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue day by day. And Linda, please help them with that.

Linda Abraham: We do, we do.

Lisa Piguet: I’m sure you do.

Linda Abraham: I can tell you some stories offline, but we do.

Lisa Piguet: Please everyone listen to her. Don’t plagiarize. We all have programs now that check that stuff. And so anyway, the quality is really, really key.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Pejay, did you want to add anything to that?

Pejay Belland: No, the same thing. We look definitely at every application individually and each applicant has a very different and new profile.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Now Amit asks - and you all have full-time MBA and executive MBA programs. I know some of you have other programs too. But Amit asks specifically, what is the threshold years of experience beyond which one should consider an EMBA over a full-time MBA? And is it that simple a definition of? That’s my addition.

Oliver Ashby: That's a pretty good question, actually. I’d say no for me again. Actually, often it is the only thing people look at, but it’s not. And the reason it’s not is because - and I want to speak for London Business School here rather than the other schools because I know there’s going to be a slight difference school to school. But for us, I think, it’s quite tricky for some of our executive MBA students to make radical career changes. So you say you got 12, 15 years of work experience and all of a sudden you want to become a management consultant, a scenario that I worked in a lot. I think that’s a really difficult move to make, so there’s a number of other factors that you need to consider.

Also we take people with five years work experience into the executive mba, and if it’s really, really good and quite managerial. However, I would argue that various individuals may be better off waiting a little bit longer to get to, kind of, 8, 9, 10 years at least in order to get the full value out of the program. And I think that’s quite specific to LBS because I don’t want to speak for the other schools. So I'd be interested to hear what they have to say.

Linda Abraham: So for London Business School it really is a matter of, it’s much more a matter of what they want to do afterwards than the specific quantity of experience or am I misunderstanding you?

Oliver Ashby: Yes. Sorry, no. The years of experience are obviously important but I think sometimes - and that is probably the essential thing, yes. I think sometimes my concern is that it’s the only thing that’s considered and that shouldn’t be by candidates. You should be considering what you want to get out of it, why you are in your organization, what you want to do afterwards, rather than just the amount of experience you have.

Linda Abraham: Can you give some guidelines in terms of amounts of experience or are you comfortable doing that?

Oliver Ashby: Yes, sure. It’s a tricky one because we will obviously accept people that are really good with five years experience. Now personally, I think you’d be better off 8, 9, 10 years experience, for the EMBA. And that’s the kind of area that we’re really looking for. So we won’t accept a lot of people with five years experience. And then I think the people that are getting the most out of it are in that kind of eight years upwards bracket then we’ll go right up to 20 years experience. It’s quite a big range there but that’s what I would be looking at.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Lisa?

Lisa Piguet: So at IMD, we’re a little bit different because if you look at the MBA, the full-time MBA, which is what I manage in Marketing and Admissions for the full-time MBA, we’re kind of in-between like the US two-year MBA and an executive MBA because our average age is 31. So it’s slightly older and seven years of work experience. So we’re kind of basically on the edge. We will accept people in the full-time with three years of full-time work experience, but no less. We do have people in the program with 10, 11, 12 years of experience. So they could technically go into like what Oli was just describing, London Business School's executive program. But these are people who actually want to switch careers and they can still do that in IMD’s full-time program.

Now the executive program in IMD is very separate from our full-time program. Their average age is 39 and occasionally they’ll take somebody younger but it’s not very often. And the reason being is that the executives in that program, their true executives, they get really annoyed when there’s somebody young in there who’s not really an executive. Because the conversations that they have in there are very executive-like conversations. And so when you have somebody in there who is not really at their same level, they don’t have the same respect for them.

And so the EMBA people, they’re very clear on who they’re going to accept into the program because it’s very important to the people actually that, that’s in that particular cohort, that the people are at the same level. And so like Oli said, you may have somebody with six or seven years experience who’s really been on the fast track and really gone up the ladder really, really fast and maybe at the same level as an executive with 15 years experience. It happens. It’s not very common. That person may be in the EMBA program. It’s not very common at IMD.

But I think the conversations are very different in an EMBA program versus a full-time program. And so for us, for the EMBA, it’s very important that the people be at a certain level for that reason and they’re not career switchers. They don’t switch careers. They may switch careers once they go back into their company, but that’s not the reason for doing the EMBA.

Linda Abraham: They’re really enhancing their careers.

Lisa Piguet: They’re really enhancing their careers, absolutely.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. And Pejay?

Pejay Belland: Yes. I agree with Lisa and with Oli. Basically, the average age for our EMBA participants is 37. So to Lisa’s point about the conversations taking place in class, very, very different. Definitely the same on our site, the EMBA participants are looking for something very different there. They’re not really looking for a career change. They’re really looking to evolve generally within their own company. So I think, you really need to consider very carefully where you are in your career and where you want to go from there. Bear in mind, obviously, with an EMBA you’re going to carry on working and what you learn in the classroom you’re going to be taking back and applying directly between modules to the work place. So it’s sort of a work in progress as well. So for me, it’s just a very different program.

Our average work experience is 12 years and in general, our participants have at least four years in the managerial positions. So, managing people at the director level, I would say.

Linda Abraham: So there really are some clear differences really here, both between the MBA and the EMBA and between your programs and how you set up the MBA and the EMBA.

Pejay Belland: Yes.

Linda Abraham: Neil asks, this is another interesting question, what role does your current income play in the admission’s decision? Is there a minimum salary that you will look at for admissions? Pejay, you want to take that?

Pejay Belland: Sure. No, we do ask the salary information on the application form because if somebody’s done several jobs it gives us some idea of progression but then certainly, no minimum salary. Again, if you’ve got people coming in from all over the world, salary, it doesn’t really mean a thing from a comparative perspective. The only thing that I would say is that, of course, when you’re sort of putting together your finance plan from your own perspective, you need to really think about how you’re going to be financing the MBA. But from our perspective, it doesn’t play a role.

Linda Abraham: Anybody have anything different to add, different policies?

Lisa Piguet: No. I would just add to Pejay’s point, so Neil, minimum salary, no. Obviously, we’re rather expensive and we just want to make sure that, like Pejay said, that you kind of thought through your financing. So minimum salary isn’t - the salary itself isn’t such a big thing. We don’t really look at salary. With that being said, I know that there are certain schools out there that actually do look at salary mainly for ranking. So because there are certain rankings out there, one happens to be coming up very soon that actually really looks - they look at the percent salary increase. So they prefer to take people with lower salaries.

So IMD, however, is not one of those schools that actually looks at salary at all. So it doesn’t come into consideration except when it comes to your financial aid application. We just want to make sure that it all checks out. That’s the only time. But salary itself does not have anything to do with the admissions process.

Linda Abraham: Okay, fine. We are getting questions, several questions about scholarships and assistantship opportunities at your programs. Now I’m sure that each of you have at least one webpage devoted to that on your website, but if you could perhaps give us an overview. Are there scholarships or financial assistance available to non-EU citizens at your programs?

Oliver Ashby: We’ve got a whole page on one of the scholarships. Most of the scholarships we have are like a pure meritocracy so we just look at the applications once they’ve gone through interview and the best candidates get the scholarships. And we have a few regional ones, a few corporate ones but that’s pretty much the deal. In terms of other financial, and I say probably around about a quarter of our students will get a scholarship. And we tend to give smaller numbers, but more significant awards so they really make an impact. So we’re looking to give awards to around about the first year tuition fee amount, so about £30,000 is our kind of strategy with this.

And then on the other financial aid side, thanks to some wonderful innovation by glorious INSEAD alumni, we run - and I'm plugging here, Linda. But we have a similar loan schemes with what INSEAD have which is the Prodigy Loan Scheme which is a very effective loan scheme which you can be from anywhere. So non-EU, is available to borrow towards your tuition fees as well. It’s our main other area of financial support.

Lisa Piguet: The thing is we have our scholarship page. Everyone can look. We’re a little bit like what Oli said. We give fairly substantial scholarships. They’re not little, tiny scholarships here and there. So when we give a scholarship out, it makes a big difference. So it’s usually, yes, it can be up to 30% to 40% of the tuition, so fairly big but they’re essay based. If the program starts in January so they apply for scholarships the incoming year, the September before they come in. They’re essay based. We do have four merit scholarships that are given upon admissions.

And then we have our own loan program through IMD that’s backed by UBS and Credit Suisse, up to 65,000 Suisse Francs which is I think the Franc is equivalent to the US dollar right now. No cosigner needed and anybody can apply for it. If you are American, we will push you back to SallieMae, however. But with that being said, if you have special needs then you can talk to our financial aid people.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Did I get everybody on this question? Yes, I think I did. Yes, okay. Next question, from Patrick, do each of you - I guess you can just go in turn and answer this question, do you accept the GRE?

Pejay Belland: Yes, we do.

Lisa Piguet: Yes, we do but we prefer the GMAT.

Linda Abraham: Okay, fair enough. That’s good to know.

Lisa Piguet: We do accept it. We do but we prefer the GMAT just because we find that it’s more - it’s a better predictor of success in the MBA. But we do accept it.

Oliver Ashby: Yes, also we only accept the GMAT for the MBA program. And what I’d say is, if you do, I generally believe you do on all career and in top-tier management consulting. You need to take the GMAT.

Linda Abraham: Yes, true.

Lisa Piguet: Yes. And Oli, that’s actually a really good point because I was on another chat today with something else and somebody else asked that question. And I brought that point up, that if you want to do top-tier management consulting, they will ask for your GMAT score, not GRE.

Linda Abraham: They will have to take the GMAT.

Lisa Piguet: And I think that’s also true for investment banking and at least financial...and even some industrial-type companies, even like Google and some of those top-tier companies now are starting to ask for GMAT scores. Yes, so not GRE.

Linda Abraham: I didn’t know that.

Lisa Piguet: It’s because they’re getting so many applications. It’s one way of weeding people out. So it’s the GMAT that they’re wanting now.

Linda Abraham: And I would think that with the IR, the consulting firms, they’re going to start wanting it even more.

Lisa Piguet: Yes, exactly. Yes, that’s a good point, Oli. I forgot about that.

Pejay Belland: Yes, I agree.

Linda Abraham: Okay, we’re getting some questions. Sauri asks, what are the shortcomings of having two years local entrepreneurial experience? He doesn’t indicate if it’s just two years or two years after more corporate experience. But how do you each of your schools view either small business or entrepreneurial experience or family business experience as opposed to multinational or corporate experience?

Lisa Piguet: Sure. At IMD we only have 90 spots available each year. So we really do pride ourselves on diversity. So we do like those kinds of profiles. We have a huge family business group at IMD, not within the MBA program, but at IMD. So we like people that come from family businesses background. If you have an entrepreneurial background, you just need to make sure that everything comes out in the application. All the right things do come out. Obviously we would like three years of experience at IMD, so it’s just important that all of that actually comes out. But it’s okay, it’s fine to have that kind of a background.

Pejay Belland: Yes, I’m with Lisa on that, absolutely. We look for diversity. We have also a very thriving, dynamic Entrepreneurship Center here at INSEAD with a lot of research and the center provides a lot of help for budding entrepreneurs once they graduate here as well. I would say a very, very small business, yes, we would like as much detail as possible about what the business is. And potentially, I would say, something that we can perhaps go and check out as well. But we definitely encourage entrepreneurs to apply to the program.

Oliver Ashby: Very quickly, I think entrepreneurship, in our experience is brilliant. My advice to you is the CV needs to be really good, so what you won’t have, because you don’t have corporate experience because you won’t have the trappings of a corporate CV. So you really need to prove quantitatively and qualitatively what you’ve been doing, what value you're adding and what your actual role in it is. And if you founded it, particularly interesting for me is what kind of role you played in raising the financing, how you scaled the business, whether you hired anybody, all these kind of skills, quite interesting from an MBA perspective in my view.

Linda Abraham: Okay, this is going to be our last question and it’s about the GMAT. What kind of weight is given to the GMAT score when evaluating an application in comparison with work experience? And what is a good score for the top consulting firms?

Pejay Belland: Sure. So, obviously the GMAT is important amongst many of the criteria. So from INSEAD’s perspective we, sort of, look at four different criteria which are again on the website. I won't go into too much detail. But certainly the academic potential is measured by the GMAT, but also by your transcripts from undergraduate or from graduate school. And so we look at those when we look at your academic potential. I can give you the average, at INSEAD is 703 at the moment for the GMAT. That does not mean to say that people who have a low GMAT obviously don’t get any look-in during the application process.

Linda Abraham: Actually years ago I know INSEAD you also looked very closely at the separate scores and I think you wanted either a 70 or 78th percentile?

Pejay Belland: Absolutely, we do. We actually look at the verbal and the quant. And we’re looking at - well we encourage candidates to be aiming for around about 78th percentile. Again, I would like to make the comment though that that is one element amongst the many, many other elements. It’s basically one element and I’m sure IMD and LBS would agree that it is a good predictor of performance on any MBA program. But for INSEAD it really is one element amongst the four different criteria that we look at and that we weigh them equally.

Lisa Piguet: The exact same thing as Pejay said. It’s one element that we look at and we really take into consideration so many other things. But obviously you have to have a high enough score to get in. And it doesn’t mean if you're not in the 78th percentile that we won’t take you. But yes, we do look at the GMATs quite closely. But if you have the lower scores - there are people in the program that have lower scores obviously than some of other people. But it is a predictor of success in business school. There’s no question about it.

Linda Abraham: And what about as a competitive score for the consulting firms?

Lisa Piguet: Well I know that certainly - IMD for example, the consulting firms that interview here, it’s all the same once you interview the other schools. I guess Oli you probably know better than that. I believe the cutoff is 670 or 680.

Oliver Ashby: Yes. I think most of the top-tier firms will interview on a 680. But I would advise you probably don’t, if you can help it, want to go in the entry level. So I’d say you want to be looking at 700 plus score.

Linda Abraham: Yes, that’s a number I’d heard. But I’m working at your end of the process, not the other.

Lisa Piguet: Yes, the minimum is like 670, 680. I think people get into the top-tier firms with lower scores. I have seen it.

Oliver Ashby: Yes, that is true.

Lisa Piguet: But it’s rare, it’s rare.

Linda Abraham: All right, okay. Oli, did you have anything you wanted to add on the GMAT?

Oliver Ashby: No. I think that was well covered, Yes.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Then Oli, Pejay and Lisa I really want to thank you all for participating today and thanks to the applicants who’ve joined us, who've shared their great questions. But again, special thanks to the people who have been answering the questions and taking their time in sharing their insight.

If you have any question for the panelists today, please email London Business School, INSEAD or IMD for more information.

We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A's and admission events. Coming up next, we have:

Visit our event schedule page for our full list of upcoming events and details, or to register. You can also subscribe to our events list by clicking reminders on our event schedule page.

Finally, good luck with your applications. Oli, Pejay and Lisa, thank you so much once again.

Oliver Ashby: Thank you.

Lisa Piguet: Thanks, Linda.

Pejay Belland: Thanks very much.

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