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!