December 22, 2009

460 Santas

Santa Pub Crawl is a great LBS tradition - all students wear Santa costumes and hang around the city centre to share the Christmas spirit, party and have fun. Here are some pictures from this year's event:

- Accepted Admissions Almanac - GMAT Volume Hits Record High

- Accepted Admissions Almanac - GMAT Volume Hits Record High

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December 21, 2009

What is a students club at b-school?

We're back to Israel for a short vacation between the autumn and the spring semesters. It's really nice to be back, especially when we have two weddings to party on with family and friends :)

Before I started my MBA I had a very vague clue about what is a students club at a business school. People talk about them so much, but not many truly know what stands behind it. I'll try to solve this riddle for you, in case you are interested. One small disclaimer - I will describer the way clubs are ran at LBS, assuming that it's not much different from other top business schools.

The whole administration of the communication is based on the LBS portal, where we have access to all information we need, like courses, career-services, room booking and discussion boards. The clubs are organised in form of discussion boards, so all you need to do to become an official member of a club is to sign up to the relevant discussion board. From this moment on, and until you cancel your subscription, you'll get every message posted on this board to your LBS e-mail.

On the other end of this discussion board is the executive committee elected every year. When we started our studies, we could apply for roles in these committees and this way become an influencing and active part of this club. The executive committee's role is to organise events, workshops and alert on relevant job posting. For example the Finance Club organises presentations of different banks and other financial institutes, visits to trading floors, workshops (for example: "Evaluation Workshop") and CV reviews by 2nd year students. The Consulting Club organises crack-a-case mock interviews to prepare you to the recruitment process, presentations by leading consulting companies and CV reviews.

I, for example, took the role of VP Marketing of the London Technology Summit that will take on February 19th, and is organised by the Technology Club. You can read all about it here.

There are two types of clubs: professional and social. You can find here the list of the clubs. I noticed that some are missing, like the Volunteering Club. But the list is long enough anyway ;)

For me the clubs, so far, have been an open door to explore different areas and cultures, even areas that I'm not necessarily wish to work in. It's another great opportunity to use the 2 years of your MBA to learn and to grow.

Good luck to all 2nd round applicants! ;)

December 13, 2009

Just another day in paradise

The term is now officially over for MBA2011 class and I have just finished my Economics home-exam. I can say with full confidence that it was a life changing period from the very first second. The challenge is to realise what's happening to you. In those four months, I feel that so much has happened. I live in a new country, met lots and lots of different/smart/driven/fun people, dream whole new different dreams (on the professional level of-course ;)), learnt new things (especially for career switchers like myself), eat different food and even wear new clothes once in a while - the locals call it a suit???!!

I was thinking of a way to pass to the readers of this blog the intensity of the programme and to reflect the eye opening experiences I've been through. So I decided to post my calendar for November 2009:

November 2009
It was a really crazy month... In case you ask what have I done in between the meetings scheduled above, I have an good answer: homework, homework, homework, exams preparations, CV rerere-write and job research.

What's next? Milk-round. This is that happy time of the year when first year MBAs officially start applying for summer internships. Good luck everyone! :)

November 14, 2009

I'm Bob the Sponge!

Honestly.. that's how I feel these days! The amount of data that goes through my brain and needs to be processed is enormous. It's not only the different cases and textbooks that we need to read before classes or for homework, but also the people we get to meet, the speakers that come to school to present their companies, the visits to different companies, newspapers, articles etc.

In a way MBA is like a time-machine. You go back to the time you had to decide on who you want to be when you'll grow up. But only this time, you have already something to refer to. Most of us come with successful careers and understand the importance of not only the reward, but also of the cultural fit, the potential growth and the exposure to new opportunities. But there's also one more thing I think we should consider.

I would like to use this post to present a
concept that I've been thinking about lately: "Excitement Management". In a sense, this is what we are doing when we make decisions related to our career or personal lives. This is what drives us to go to a trip to Kenya, try an ice-cream we've never tried before, buy a new suit, change position, change working place, and even write a blog ;).

I think that this is also an important tool for us to understand the way other people think and behave. This is especially important for managers who are responsible for working with their subordinates to shape their careers. In my experience as a manager, I found that managing the excitement of my team reinforced the motivation and created a better team work. By saying "managing the excitement" I don't imply turning the whole thing into a carnival, but rather to realize that once in a while every person needs his dose of excitement. Some people like big ones, some prefer small ones. So it has to be tailor-fitted or in other words: managed.

What do you think about this idea? Feel free to respond to this or any other post.

November 11, 2009

Linkedin Profile Enhancement In Less Than Three And A Half Minutes

Being visible, in my opinoin is very important for MBAs. I know that there are many concerns about the digital footprint and that by exposing yourself you can harm your image or limit your opportunities. But like a corporation, each and every one of us must run his own small PR department and another department for Marketing & Sales. Keeping your LinkedIn profile nice, professional and informative has more advantages than disadvantages:
- You are exposed to more opportunities
- You have the chance to tell your story to more people
- You might get an advice from a colleague that knows someone who knows someone who might be interested in a person like yourself.

Recently I found this nice article: Linkedin Profile Enhancement In Less Than Three And A Half Minutes. That explains really well how to get & use the LinkedIn profile button. You can use it not only on your blog/website, but also add it to your email signatures.

Enjoy! :)

October 16, 2009

A quicky :)


I know I know... haven't written for a long time... I do think about it all the time... what to write... and when I do get a good idea, I realize that maybe I shouldn't write about it, just to be on the safe side.

Anyway, we're having good time at LBS so far. Having finished our orientation courses, we're starting with the real stuff - all the finance, economics, accounting, strategy and organisational behaviour I've been waiting for. Most of the lecturers are great. I've been to a lecture or two in my life, and these is a different level. What I like the most is that the examples are up to date and every piece of theory is getting connected to the real world and real-life situations. Another very impressive aspect is the feedbacks. We get to provide feedback on the professors almost every session. And even more impressive is the fact that they actually listen to what we have to say and adapt heir methods. Sure there are boring parts, and the weather has an impact on the mood (November Blues they call it here), but with so much to do, you get over it really quick.

In the meanwhile, the local newspaper for Israelis got interested in the biggest ever bunch of bamba-eaters (probably the only Israeli national food). Have a look.

August 9, 2009

First things first - Getting a UK Student Visa

I apologize for not writing for long time. I have really good excuses! Since my last post I got to:

  1. Celebrate with my wife her acceptance to MBA at LBS! Yes, she's going to be my classmate :)
  2. Become a holder of a student visa (tier 4) to the United Kingdom
  3. Get married(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  4. Pack and leave our apartment in Haifa
  5. Enjoy a wonderful honeymoon at Costa-Rica and Guatemala
  6. Complete all pre-leaving tasks (I'll elaborate on that in one of the future posts)
  7. Quit my job at Intel and say goodbye to my colleagues
  8. Saying goodbye to my beloved 15 year old dog, who is now living with my parents
  9. Take a BMI plane to Heathrow
  10. Look for and find an apartment near the school.
see... told'ya - really good excuses! ;)

As I promised in my previous post I will dedicate this one to elaborate on the 'get a UK student visa' process. I will try not to miss anything, but it's been a while, so I might update the post if I recall any new details. As a general recommendation I suggest you to be super-ready when you come to the embassy to apply for a UK student visa. Flexibility is not a common phenomenon in these places, if you know what I mean. Some of the requirements need to be prepared couple months in advance (like financial state - see below).

Documents you'll need:
  • Passport - where your visa will be added. The passport must be valid for at least 2 years (the time of your studies)
  • 2 passport photos (35mm x 45mm) - DON'T smile!!! :D There is a very elaborated explanation on how the picture should look. One of the requirements is that the person doesn't smile.
  • Bank letter (this is what worked for me, but you can try the other options as explained on the official UK visa web site) - now this is a hard one, so get ready to sweat. The UK Border Agency want to see that you have enough funds to pay for the studies. Sounds trivial - guess what, it's not. You have to show that you have money to pay for the first year + 7200 GBP (~30,000 GBP). But you cannot just print your bank statement. You have to prove that you had the money for at least 28 days prior to application. As far as I understand, the logic behind this requirement is to prevent false bank statements - like moving the money from someone who has it to your account for a minute, then giving it back. They probably assume that if you have the money for enough time, it means that it really yours. In addition, the money must be held in cash or in a saving account (פק"מ) but not invested in stocks or something like that. Every bank in Israel should be able to provide you a bank letter in English. Make sure that all the small details are mentioned:
  • Your name
  • Your account number
  • The date of the letter
  • The financial institution’s name and logo
  • The funds held in your account
  • That there is enough money in the account to cover your tuition fees and living costs
  • Branch manager's signature
  • Official bank's stamp
  • Printed on official bank paper
Here is how my bank letter (approximately/wishfully) looks like:

23 April, 2009
Mr. Alex Tzukerman
Acc No. XXXXXXXX (if you want it to send me some money, just drop me an e-mail)
ID XXXXXXX

Dear Customer,

As per your request, we hereby confirm that the total balance of your accounts held with us, as of the date of this letter, shows an amount of 1,000,000 GBP (It's my blog - I can write here any number! ;)) in cash to your credit since 14/01/2009).
  • Your visa letter - the school will send it to you in a week or two after you get admitted. In my case, because of the transition to the points-based-system in visa application, it took more time.
  • Original documents used to obtain your visa letter - I brought my original undergraduate degree certificate, original GMAT score letter, original transcripts and original TOEFL score letter.
  • Printout of your visa application form - This is the first form you should fill. At the end of the form you'll need to chose a date for your meeting at the embassy where you'll submit all your documents. Note that the slots there are only open for the next one-two months. Additional slots are added regularly.
  • Filled form called "PBS Appendix 8 General Student" - now this is a real headache, especially the 6.20 section where you need to state the sum of money you need for your studies. I filled there numbers only for the FIRST year - and it worked. If you have specific questions, I'm here to help.
  • Printout of the invitation to the embassy.
Things to remember:
  • Your passport will be taken away to prepare the visa. It means, that unless you have other passport, you will not be able to leave your country. So make sure there aren't any foreseeable trips planned during the month that comes after you submit the documents to the embassy. We could barely breath before my wife got her visa, because we had a honeymoon planed one month after her application day. Everything was OK eventually :)
  • Make a copy of EVERY document you submit, and make sure that the person who takes the document from you understands that you want the originals back.
  • Here's a link to a statistics on how long does it take to get a visa in different countries.
  • There are different types of students coming to study in the UK. MBA students are defined as "TIER 4 General Student".
  • No need to dress fancy. Jeans and T-Shirt worked for me and my wife :)
I got my visa about 2 weeks after I submitted the application, but as you can see in the statistics this is not always the case. Hope all the above helps, or at least doesn't do any damage ;). There are many other guides on the internet on that theme so you can do an intensive research on probably every aspect of the visa application process.

I will try to get back to a more frequent blogging from now on, so.... see you soon! Oh... and good luck for those who start their 2010 MBA application.

May 6, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I think that the hardest and the most ignored factor of the journey to LBS for me is saying goodbye. I don't refer only to the literal aspect of pronouncing the word, but to changing the mindset and leaving behind family, good friends, career, my natural environment and of course the life as I knew it up until now.

Last week I informed my team officially about the expected leaving. I still don't know how they and people around me at work will perceive it, but for me it was a really sad moment. A friend of mine says that I don't even realize that in a couple of months my future wife and I will be living a whole different life. Far far away from Israel. I think he is right...

You know, the moment that was the most significant in this transformation up until now was applying for visa to the UK, which is a very delicate process, and I will elaborate on it in my next post. Strangely, the bureaucracy around the whole process assists in repressing the actual outcomes, but that's probably part of the game.

As for leaving a working place with dignity, especially a place where I enjoyed working very much, and where I had the opportunity to sharpen my leadership experience and agenda, it is twice as hard. On one hand, you are thinking all the time about the exciting adventures waiting for you and how to make the immigration smoother. On the other, you want to make sure that the process is smooth for the team and the colleagues but feel tired after 4 years of hard work under pressure. This is very complex situation. 'Leaving a Legacy' is a phrase that I think about a lot lately.

April 2, 2009

George vs. George

The statistics show that some people really take the time to read what I have to say, which is a great deal of satisfactory for me, and I want to thank you for that. I also wish to have some feedback (which I'll screen in case I don't like it :)) and areas on which you want me to elaborate on.

I want to dedicate this post to explain the line of reasoning that has led me to prefer the London Business School over 3 other American business school I've been offered a place at. Please be VERY careful with making an analogy between the considerations that I had with those you have (see... now you can't sue me :)).

Let me first summarize my considerations, and then I'll elaborate on every item:

  1. Ranking
  2. Exposure to the world
  3. Life in an exciting city
  4. London's role as a key financial & business hub
  5. Visa considerations
  6. Proximity to family in UK
  7. Proximity to family in Israel
  8. Gut feeling
Now that we have the list organized by priorities, I'll try to explain my point of view on every item in it:
  1. Ranking - I admit. The ranking is very important for me. You can say that I'm primitive or shallow, or any other accusation. However in my opinion, if the schools can rank their applicants (by GMAT score, years of experience, ...) the applicants should do the same. Numbers do matter. I'm not saying that this is the only factor, but I do say that it is a VERY important one. The problem is - there are just too many ranking charts, and each of these claims something else. So how could I decide? I looked for overall consistency - which means that there's a consensus over the school's rank. Here's the ranking summary of LBS (cited from Wikipedia)
    • Joint 1st in the latest Financial Times Global MBA rankings (2009). The program shares this ranking with The Wharton School82 of the University of Pennsylvania83.
    • 3rd in the international ranking by The Wall Street Journal84 (2007)85
    • 5th (outside the United States) by BusinessWeek (2008); It is the only MBA programme to have been ranked in the top five in every BW international ranking.86
    • 2nd (for two year programs outside the United States) by Forbes (in 2007)87
    • 3rd in the latest Best Global MBAs published by CNN Expansion88 (2008)89
    • 9th by the most recent (2008) Economist Intelligence Unit rankings
    I translated this consistency into the following insight: There's a wide consensus about LBS's place among the top 10 business schools. None of the other options I had offered this kind of consistency.
  2. Exposure the the world - As I said in my first posts, and as the name of this blog implies, I look for a true international experience. What I mean is that I want to make sure I'm not leaving one bubble in favor of another. All US schools work hard to offer international experience and attract many international students. However, as I see it, the dominating mindset remains American. There's a big difference between being in a class where 15-20 percents of your peers going through the same absorptions difficulties as you do, and a class where 90% are outsiders just like you are (including the faculty members). My family and I came to Israel 20 years ago from the former Soviet Union. This experience has taught me that immigration is a cultural shock, and you'd better go through this shock with as many friends as possible. And there's one more point I want to mention about exposure to the world. If you see yourself as a future leader making an impact on people's lives, especially on the international level - you'd better do your homework getting to know as many as possible cultures, styles and attitudes. An empathy is the core skill of every leader, and it is based solely on the personal experience.
  3. Life in an exciting city - I think that the 2 years of my MBA should also be exciting outside school. I really think that this is part of this bundle called top-notch MBA. Living in London seemed to me as the most exciting offer I had. This is a really very personal consideration, especially for candidates with families. I see life in a city like London a lesson by itself - a 2yr cultural festival.
  4. London's role as a key financial & business hub - Maybe I don't know enough about the interaction between business schools and recruiters, but it seems to me that 'the closer the better'. In the last 10 years London become a crucial financial & business hub, therefore the amount of options for personal development and impact is very high in this city. Of course we live in the 21st century where you can be everywhere through the cyberspace & other communication means - but there's no substitute for the real face-to-face presence when it comes to recruitment & leadership.
  5. Visa considerations - The visa related laws in the UK are much more subtle than those in the UK. Many applicants/admits have US citizenship/green-card, so they have other considerations, but for me this aspect is very important, especially in the current financial crisis. First of all your partner gets an almost automatic work permit, so there's no need to beg for J1 visa. Secondly, students may work up to 20 hours per week, which can help finance your MBA. Third, you can get a work visa without having a sponsor (which is attractive for both the employee and the employer). Then after 5 years, you can apply for "Indefinite leave to remain for a work permit".
  6. Proximity to family in UK - We (my future wife and I) have family in the UK (near London), which will make our stay much easier and warm. I've never thought that this would be a consideration - but you learn new things as you grow.
  7. Proximity to family in Israel - 9 hours door to door is an amazing advantage both financially and personally. Your friends and family will probably want to visit you here and there, so it will ease the trip for them too.
  8. Gut feeling - At the end of the day, all considerations mean nothing if you don't believe in your decisions. I have a very strong feeling about London Business School and plenty of excitement.
I didn't refer here to all the educational and cultural differences between US and Europe because I think that both are very interesting environments to leave in. I wish I could enjoy both somehow (maybe through an exchange program). If you are interested in reading material about these topics try googling: europe vs us mba.

March 24, 2009

Do your research??? (or - How to choose b-School)

I'm sorry for not being consistent with my posting frequency, but let me assure you that I've been pondering about this one for a long time. I want to dedicate this post to discuss the way I chose where to apply and provide some personal philosophy for making this VERY important decision. I think I've heard the somewhat annoying phrase 'Do your research' too many times when deciding on where to apply. Here's a typical transcript of a talk I had with an expert (alumnus/admission officer/...):

I: "I really cannot decide which school is better for me: X or Y. All the top 10 business schools, even all the top 20 look very attractive. It's like choosing between 'great' and 'excellent'."

Expert: "Well.... you know... you should do your research."

I: "Oh... I see..." (nod nod nod)

As you can see... the situation here is difficult. Let me try to translate the expert's advice for you: "Look... I really don't know.... this is like asking which color do you like". I admit that I've never liked the term 'Do your research' because it is very confusing and unclear- maybe because I come from the technical world where research is a very structured process of experiments and analyses. I think that what they really mean to say is: "Once you have enough information and really deep understanding of what the school has to offer for you, combined with deep understanding of your future career path and your chances to get admitted - you'll know". I really believe that all the top 20 schools are TERRIFIC schools and you cannot go wrong with any of these. On my visit to the US two years ago I've been to 5 top-notch schools and they all looked to me like heaven. I remember thinking to myself: "How do 'they' want me to choose between all these???". However there is, I believe, a method to choose the schools you should apply to. It looks a bit like choosing a career (something I learned on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course - which is very recommended BTW). Here's the diagram of career choice translated to the MBA world:
I'll explain:
  • Business schools that can take you to wherever you want - are those schools that have the profile that is highly correlated with your future goals. You'll hear many times that every school can take you anywhere - this is absolutely TRUE, but some of them can make it easier for you. For example, if you are into technology, and you have no previous experience in this area, you should choose schools that have more technology oriented profile. Like in every other aspect of life - the key to success is the correct balance.
  • Business schools that you you are passionate about - are those schools that you would be proud to carry its name on your CV. The psychology has a very important role here, and I definitely suggest listening to your inner voice / your gut feeling. Making decisions with high confidence, I think, makes these decisions smarter ones - because you'll be more dedicated to what you've decided, thus achieving higher satisfactory. For me, schools that I'm passionate about are those schools that even if I could get the post MBA job without an MBA, I would still choose to invest two years of my life in the MBA experience that these schools offer to their students.
  • Business schools that you have good chances to be accepted to - what I'm saying here is - acknowledge the reality. Make sure you know at least approximately what is your 'market value'. Choosing the schools for applying to is all about risk management, because you have limited resources (time/money/energy/patience/...) and high level of competence. This is probably the hardest part, because most us don't know how the business schools see them, and how they evaluate our leadership experience against our GMAT (for example). My advice here is: LISTEN to the responses of people you bump into on MBA fairs, schools' receptions, school visits and other MBA related gatherings when they hear your story. On one of the MBA fairs I decided to observe how admissions reps of the different schools responded when I showed them my CV - these responses gave me some sense on how the same people that will evaluate my application see me. In addition, talk with as much as possible candidates from the same background to hear their story, so that you have some kind of reference. Try not to over-estimate yourself but definitely avoid underestimating.
After you've shortlisted the schools where you want to apply, you'll have to be more methodical in making the final list. You should 'spread your risk' and not put 'all the eggs in one basket'. In my case, for example, I applied to 5 schools (and got accepted to 4). My guideline was that: 'I must have high confidence that I get into at least one of the schools'. So I chose schools with 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% of being able to get accepted to, according to my own estimation.

Managing your application process, is one of the most important lessons you'll learn on your way to the future leadership opportunities. It is a hard process, and it takes a lot of passion and endurance.

March 11, 2009

The 'prestige' pill

Lately I've been wondering about the amount of deeds we do in the name of prestige. Specifically, what weight did the prestige had on my decision to choose the top-notch MBA path. To be absolutely honest - the prestige was important for me. The glamor, the suits, the power and all the rest of the 'sweets' are very tempting, and I think that in times we wrap it up in big 'leadership & vision' words. But... Is it that bad? I mean... if it wasn't for the prestige chasing, where would we be? Would we ever had the chance to see great leaders come and go? How many of the Nobel laureates and famous artists enrich the world with their great minds and talents if it wasn't for the 'prestige' reward?

One of my friends said that 'the prestige should be a pleasant side-effect, rather than the mission'. I totally agree with this statement. When I started my journey towards a top-notch MBA (in 2007), the financial atmosphere was intoxicating. People I've met in business schools I've visited in had the 'I'm going to be rich' look and everything was pretty promising. However, since then, the financial atmosphere has been 'slightly' changed - and I find it very positive in the sense of 'prestige chasing', at least for me. Today the main consideration is the studies, the exposure to the world and building myself as an expert in the business world. Of course the 'prestige' is still there - but in a more adequate dosage.

February 21, 2009

MBA?

When I decided to pursue an MBA, I was on a promising way to a pretty safe career path at Intel. On the other side, my intuition implied that I will not be able to achieve my career goals to lead large scale processes and companies by just walking on that safe path. In addition, I felt that without a meaningful business knowledge, experience and skills I will forever carry the 'techie' tag. And, since I believe that highly talented people will follow a leader or a manager only if they can trust him or her, I chose to build myself into such concept. As an employee this is very important for me. I need to know that the managers above me make wise decisions and 'did their homework' to be able to take these decisions.

Back in my army time I heard from a friend that there were Israelis who studied MBA abroad, but it was like a science fiction for me. Especially from the financial perspective. Raised in pretty 'unsafe' neighborhood, I just couldn't believe that I will ever be able to take such step. It all started ~3 years ago when I heard that a colleague of mine is going to the US to study MBA. I was absolutely amazed that my dream is within a feasible reach and was ready to do whatever it takes to get there.

Let's go down to the basics. What is MBA? According to the
Wikipedia: "The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a master's degree in business administration, which attracts people from a wide range of academic disciplines. The MBA designation originated in the United States, emerging from the late 19th century as the country industrialized and companies sought out scientific approaches to management. The MBA degree has since achieved worldwide recognition." But.... besides reading the formal definition and brochures, I like the following approach, and I think it works for every career choice in life. Look at the people who choose similar path. Do you admire them? Do you like their approach to life? Will you 'bet' on their success? Will you enjoy just hanging around with these guys? If the answer is yes, then you are probably one of them (whatever 'them' refers to).

I read about the people in the top MBA schools, and discovered that these programs are a must-go-through milestone for those who see themselves as people who wish to bring a true change to the way the world looks.
So how about YOU? Are you ready to take the challenge? Pause your career progress, take huge loans and live far away from your family to become an MBA grad? I like to think that these hurdles by themselves do most of the screening work for the admission officers. When you start this process, make sure that you know what you are getting into, and that you are ready to make the 'sacrifices'.

Now, don't get me wrong... I truly believe that a person can reach all his/her goals without an MBA, and there are great example for paradigm-shift leaders who don't have business education - the question is what's the right way for you. What path will give you the feeling that you are doing the right thing? I think this is very much like Dumbo's 'magic' feather :)

February 7, 2009

Revolutionary Road

My soul-mate (future wife) and I have recently watched the movie 'Revolutionary Road'. It is the story about a young American family in suburban 1950’s Connecticut, and how their life together inexorably falls apart. April and Frank Wheeler have always seen themselves as better than their provincial neighbors. They had big plans for their future and for getting out of their ordinary life, but the reality had other plans for them.

I really recommend you to take the time to see this great movie, but this is not the reason I'm mentioning it. The picture on the left is the cover of the book according to which the movie had been made. I didn't see it before I went to the cinema, but throughout the whole film I kept thinking that the Wheelers are trying to escape their bubble. This story (and the 'Truman Show' film I mentioned earlier) are all based on the famous 'Cave Allegory' related to Plato.

Many times I made an analogy in my head between this allegory and the MBA. But through the process of getting there, which lasted approximately two years, I understood that this is absolutely the not the case. Let me be super clear here - an offer from a respectable b-school is not a guarantee for a better or more fulfilling life. If you are considering an MBA you are probably in a good position in your career, and I bet you thought the same before you got there about where you are now (did I get you confused??? :) ). I think that the recent financial crisis (a.k.a 'The Credit Crunch') emphasizes it even more. Many grads can't get a decent offer and have to "re-consider" their future path. The MBA, as my friend at one of the very highly ranked MBA programs said, is not a "free-pass ticket". If you are in the middle of the process, the best analogy to explain it is the GMAT. 780 will not bring you to your dream school. Moreover, you should be very careful not to be blinded by the (REALLY HUGE) success, but rather work even harder on your strategy and essays.

The lesson I learned from the 'Revolutionary Road' film is that at any point in your life, whether you are on your way to achieve your goals and make your dreams happen - remain 'down-to-earth' and flexible. It's a great honor to be able to take the revolutionary road to the MBA, especially if you are a career switcher, but it is also a great risk that will require courage, endurance and people to rely on. Have a safe 'trip'!

February 6, 2009

Ice breaker

Whether you only considering an MBA, in the middle of the process, after the process or just want to know what a person goes through in order to get into a top business school, I suggest you to enjoy the following very funny (IMHO) passage (all rights reserved to whoever wrote this brilliant piece of text!):

I'm attempting to summarize what most of us have gone through or will be going through in our path to B-school. I was partially motivated by several other posts within the forum (which I thank for) and partially on self experience (though the characters in this story are fictional, etc., you know the drill). School names are used as examples and by no means I intend to mock any organization or person, this is just an attempt at summarizing, in a humorous way, this rocky personal journey.


i.Introduction

Let's say you are 2 or 3 years out of college and the thought of an MBA starts lingering in your mind. Either you've heard some stories of former colleagues going for it and are curious about it or you think the name sounds cool.

You can talk to MBA alumni (if you have access to them) to start your research, or maybe to some friends. But this initial conversations can be biased (name 1 alumni who "officially" thinks his/her school sucked and you'll get a bonus!) for all you know.

So you decide you need some "objective data" to continue your research and you go pick up the latest issue of US news/ B-week, or whichever one is available at newsstands. You browse through their pages and start wondering:


1st phase (the MBA honeymoon):

- Wait, wasn't Kellogg a cereal brand?

- What's with the GMAT scores? why 700? over 1000? that's weird. What's GMAT btw?

- Ah, finally, I know Yale, I know Harvard, I know Stanford, MIT and UCLA. But where's Princeton? And Brown?

- I like International Business, so as per these rankings I should better be attending Thunderbird. But why are the starting salaries from there so much lower than from other schools?

- I loved Miami when I visited on spring break. Lemme see what their school's like.


2nd phase (Delussional optimism):

- I'm a wise person, so GMAT shouldn't be a problem for me. Maybe I'll take one of these intensive 1-week courses and go for it! Why would anybody spend months studying? That doesn't make any sense. I mean it's high school level math and English for crying out loud. Heck, I can speak English, I've taken Calculus classes.

- I'm a clear admit at HBS, plus I'll get a full scholarship. After all I'll get a top GMAT, I do speak four languages and have made steady progress at work so far.


3rd phase (Depression while taming the beast):

- GMAT sucks. My friends no longer talk to me. My girlfriend broke up with me and spending 150k for an MBA doesn't make much sense to me anymore (nor does it make sense to my family, my former friends nor my girlfriend). Do I really, really want to do this? Otherwise I could go back to having a life right now.

- Ok, so I'm headed for a 600 score, if I'm lucky. Let's see what that would do for me. Hmm, I'd better score at least 650. Wait, 650 ain't that bad! Oh boy, I'd kill for a 650.

- "So Johnny (an acquaintance of yours), how did your GMAT go?"

Johnny: "Oh man, I'm so depressed. I bombed my 7th attempt. I just can't get past 550. I'm about giving up"

You: "Crap, Johnny, after all the effort you've put into this, I can't believe what you are telling me. I mean, I'm still a zillion hours away from your study record to date. By the way, I'll better be heading home and attack those SCs again!"

- (at 4am in the morning on a working day): I suck, I suck, I suck! I can't believe the silly mistakes I'm making. Sigh, I wish I'd remember more about Statistics...


4th phase (post GMAT preliminary research)

- Ok, so I got a pretty decent GMAT. Now let me write sth and send my app right away so we can finally bring this "I'll pretend I read your app." game to an end. Let's check the instructions.

1st question) What matters most to you an why? [3 to 5 pages]

Hmm. Maybe I'll leave this one for tomorrow. Or let me brainstorm and write a shortlist:

1st shortlist (prior to any research):

a) Money.

b) Success.

c) Beer.

d) Getting my ticket stamped to land an IB job.

2nd shortlist (after some research):

a) Being mother Theresa.

b) Saving humanity.

c) Saving the environment.

d) "Changing the world".

- I'll apply to 147 schools. That way, I'd maximize my chances of getting a scholarship.

- What's with the letter of recommendation? Should I tell my boss about my plans? It looks like the point of no return to me.


5th phase (applying, AKA the emotional roller-coaster)

[staring at essay#1 version # 84]: This sucks! I can't believe how boring I sound. I should re-start from scratch!

- I should write about the snooker tournament I won when I was 16. That'd be original, plus I can spin it to show how I used my leadership, analytical and teamwork skills.

- Beh, I can apply in Round 2 as well.

- Crap! my recommenders haven't even accessed the website yet and it's only 2 days left! I'll send them "friendly reminder #27". No, wait, I sent #26 just 5 minutes ago. Maybe I'll wait another half hour.

- Wait, was Kellogg's deadline on the 5th? Or was that MIT? Maybe I should drop Wharton. I can't make deadlines on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th. OK, I'll just drop Wharton from my list and have it as "fresh" backup for next year just in case.

- I wish I had applied to more schools in Round 1. Look at all these people getting interviews and admits!


6th phase (post application blues)

- Shoot, I won't get in anywhere. I mean look at the profiles of applicants! I should retake GMAT. My 700 is not enough. I should aim for 790+.

- Crap! Yale dinged me without interview! Ohmigod! If they did it, ANYONE can do it! THEY COULD ALL DO IT!

- I have an idea! I'll check which schools have rolling admissions and apply to those. I still have time!

- Suddenly University of Phoenix Online doesn't sound that bad.

- Why? Why? Why didn't apply to more backups? Why did I have to shake my interviewer's hand so firmly? Why didn't I coach my recommenders more thoroughly? I wonder what they've written. Probably nothing good. I wish I had submitted my app. a day earlier, that way I would have looked as a well organized person. I read that Kellogg dings all applicants above 28 years old who haven't made directors positions. Wait, is that a typo on my MIT essays? That's one school less, buddy. I'm soo doomed.


7th phase (endless joy)

- Hell yeah! I've made it! I've been admitted [dream school X] next year! I rule! I can't wait to get recruited by [dream employer]. When is admitted students weekend?

- 2nd admit! I rule!

- Should I go to [School X] with a 7k scholarship or to [School Y] with a 25 k scholarship?

- Work? What's work? Ah, right, that thing I'm supposed to be doing daily on weekdays from 9 to 5...

- I wonder whether spending this 150k makes sense after all...

- I'm so gonna get grilled at B-school! What if I mess up? I'd better start brushing up on some skills.


Hope you enjoy, and feel free to propose edits or add-ons. After all, we're all together in this journey!

Cheers. L.

February 5, 2009

Naming it

This post will be dedicated to the name I chose for my blog. Believe it or not, but the term 'bubble' came up many times on several of my interviews to business schools (on which I will elaborate later) while answering the question 'why MBA?' and 'why an international MBA?'. My answer was that for me, getting a top business school means not only acquiring top-notch business education and wide network of future leaders, but also 'open my eyes' to the possibilities that are out there... outside the 'bubble'.

Remember the 'Truman Show' film? Sometimes I feel that Israel is in a way a bubble. I'm not referring to the conspiracy of being watched, but to the state of mind of limited areas for development and very strict thinking patterns that the Israeli's share. Don't get me wrong here. I love the life here, the friendly people, the Jewish vs. Israeli mixture of traditions and the perceptions of what is wrong and what is right. However, when it comes to personal development and achieving one's dreams - this is, in a way, a bubble.

At least in the world I live, 90% of the people work in high-tech. All the rest are either going to work in high-tech or wish they had worked in high-tech. In my opinion this is pretty sad phenomenon. Not that the high-tech world isn't fascinating enough, but on the wider scale I would love to see more variety of perspectives. So I've decided to leave my terrific job at Intel's WiFi department to try to pinch-the-bubble.

Why not pop-the-bubble? Well... first of all that name is taken, but anyway the current name is the original one I was thinking about. The reason I prefer this one is that bubble is not always a bad thing. It is also a protective shield. Speaking philosophically, moving to London won't make that bubble pop. Attached to the Israeli culture and life with all my heart, I will probably carry it with me everywhere I go. Like an astronaut! I will just have to work on reducing its thickness and opening myself to the 'final frontier' a.k.a. the globe.

February 4, 2009

Time to Start

The concept of blogging is still a mystery to me, but having read many very helpful blogs, I've decided to start my own journey to explore this world of new expression methods. The bottom line in deciding to blog was a sentence I read in one of the other blogs. The person there explained that blogging for him is a method to organize his thoughts and to rethink from new perspective the subjects of his posts. Without any doubt the cyberspace exposure is not a very easy barrier to overcome. However, I'm ready to take the challenge.

Getting into the MBA program of LBS was the main trigger for me to start blogging. I always wanted to share the thoughts, considerations and ways to overcome obstacles with future applicants and people who consider top MBA program. My main topics would be MBA related, starting from the very beginning of the idea, the preparations and of course life in London (YEAHHHHH!!!!). If you find any of my posts interesting but would like me to elaborate - I would be more than glad to assist (and to know that someone really reads my ... thoughts ;)). On the other hand, if you find a post that is offensive and wish me to remove it or re-edit it - that's absolutely acceptable!