The Decision

Don´t worry, I am not LeBron James, and this is not a special TV show in which I´ll waste your time for 2 hours before sharing what I am going to do next. So here we go:

I have decided to become a member of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth MBA Class of 2017.

That´s it. It is settled.

It has not been easy and I have taken my time. MIT Sloan, the other remaining contender, is an amazing school (like I need to point that out, right?), and the conversations I´ve had with current students and alumni have not make it any easier for me, as with every conversation I wanted more and more to go there. How couldn´t I? The opportunities are amazing and it´s Boston! And then there is the weight those three letters carry when put together: M-I-T.

“Why Tuck then?”

As I metioned on my last post, and considering my goals ,both schools are mostly on par, and both foster strong and collaborative communities; so it would come down to style points.

Tuck has one of the most loyal, engaging and supportive alumni network, if not the most, and it showed. And that was key for me to make this decision. Indeed, after been admitted, Tuck was by far the school from which I received the most mails or calls: alumni, current students, my interviewer… even the Director of the Healthcare Initiative contacted me to congratulate me and offered to talk about healthcare-related oportunities at Tuck. They showed love, and I was not even a Tuckie yet.

Besides, I like Hanover and its rural setting. Okay, Boston is mindblowing and I love ig citites; but I also think, already coming from a big city, Hanover can provide a different experience, that of a true American college campus and it can also be a friendlier environment (and make for an easier transition) if my girlfriend ends up coming with me.

And then, there is the quite generous scholarship Tuck has offered. While this is not a decision that can be made only thinking about money, getting an MBA is expensive and requires a big effort, even more so when you are coming from Europe. Therefore it would be foolish not to consider a scholarship as a key factor.

I am aware that Sloan would provide me with a great community experience, an amazing and broader alumni network, just as many job opportunites, and even a more powerful brand wordlwide thanks to MIT (I would say both Sloan or Tuck names are not that very well known outside the MBA or business circles). I could have picked Sloan easily and be just as happy. But, beyond the reasons I have mentioned, I also went with my gut, and my gut was saying Tuck.

But we are just at the beginning of the road.

I´ll keep you posted.

Have a great week!

P.S. In a not so related topic… Patriots are Super Bowl Champions again!! It was about time…

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The calm before the storm

It´s been a while since my last post. But this has been a very busy month, and it seems is going to remain that way for a little longer.

I haven´t had much time lately to think about my next MBA-related step, that being to decide to which schools I want to apply. I think I am almost done with it: there are 3 schools to which I am sure I will apply. The thing is I would like to select other three to complete the 6-pack, and that will reqire a little more research, work or meditation on my part.

I have taken the opportunity to talk, by phone or mail, with several current students in the last few weeks and they have been nice enough to share their thoughts on and experiences in different US business schools, thus helping me get a better idea of the differences between them, and how I would fit in in every one of them. This has helped me narrow my possible choices for those 3 remaining spots to 5 schools (too many). But I am sure the decision will be tough, because all of them appeal to me in some way. It will all depend on to which factor I will put more value on: pure fit, location or how well (or better) connected that school is to my intended industry. Of course, it does not mean that I will, in fact, apply to 6 schools in the end, but that I´d like to have 6 schools as my possible options.

I know people who since the very beginning know the schools they would like to apply to. Like a friend of mine only applying to schools in California because that is where he wants to live in the future. I know that I want a social and close community (as I have stated in many post already), but I am not that worried about the exact location or by the fact that the school can be based in a small town or in a big city. As long as I think that one school can help me fulfill my goals, I will consider it; and that is making the process a little harder and longer for me. But it is also helping me to get to know more schools better.

So far the schools that have made it to the finish line are Tuck, Fuqua and Haas. All of them have small classes with close and collaborative communities and in which healthcare is kind of important. Of course the latter is not as much big in Tuck as it is in the other two, but after visiting and talking with students interested in the field, I would say it is one of the schools that, not having an specific certification, it has strong ties with the industry. Of the ones remaining in the hunt the hardest one to dismiss would be Stanford, because it has always been a dream university for me, but I´ll have to consider the slim chances of admission, if only from a statistical standpoint. Although “if 400 get in every year, why can´t I be one of them?” has always been my type of approach.

In any case, with GMAT and TOEFL done and my goals defined, this is the last step I must take before the applications are opened in a couple months, more or less, so I can afford to linger a little bit longer on the decision. But once it is decided the time will come, at last, for me to sart drafting esays, with one eye on fall deadlines, and with all the stress that comes with it. I have to say that, after almost a year since I started to think about the GMAT, I am really looking forward to starting my first application, although I know it is going to be a daunting and exhausting process.

Nobody said it would be easy.

 

Visiting Tuck School of Business

What a couple of amazing days!

At the end of my “trip” to the US I got to visit Hanover, NH and Tuck School of Business at Darmouth. On sunday march 2nd I jumped into the Vermonter train at Union Station in New Haven, excited, for I was just 5 hours away of one of the moments I had been waiting for: my first official visit to one of the top b-schools in the US. And one of my favourites no less. Good news was the train had wi-fi available, therefore I could refresh my knowledge about Tuck revisiting the website and thinking about possible questions to ask during my visit. Besides, I was enjoying the sights from my window, with the frozen Connecticut river by my side along the way (we don´t see frozen rivers in Madrid that often, I have to say). So, in the end, it resulted a very pleasant trip.

I arrived right on time to White River Junction, VT, where one of the Spanish students at Tuck was waiting to take me to the house of another one of them , where I would be staying for my visit and where all the Spaniards where gathered to celebrate my arrival. That first night we spent it talking about their experiences on their first 6 months at the school (full of anecdotes and fun facts) and also about myself, my backgorund and why I like Tuck… among other less-business-school-related topics, of course , while having some beer . We also had time to watch the Oscars for a little bit.

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Tuck main entrance

The following day was the “Big Day”. I woke up just in time and walked to the school. I arrived a little early to the Admissions Office, therefore I took the opportunity to say hello and talk with Gelsey, who had arranged the visit for me. After a few minutes, one of the Spanish tuckies came to take me to his Coprporate Finance class (with also Spanish professor Diego García). It was my first experience in a case-method class, and I have to say that I liked it: the case was interesting, I had no problem following the class, and I liked how the students were eager to contribute. The hour and a half went by flying.

Once the class had finished, all the visitors (all in their suits except for me and another Argentinian guy, since they were also interviewing) grabbed a sandwitch and had a 30 minute luch/conversation with a couple of 2nd-years. And right after, I headed back to Admissions to meet one of my hosts, who had offered me the possibility to talk to (and arranged a meeting with) a classmate of his who is pursuing a career in healthcare (as you may know, my intended path also). So I skipped the “official” tour organized by the school (I would have a private one afterwards), and instead spent more than half and hour at the amazing Stell Hall talking with an MD/MBA student from New England about healthcare at Tuck: courses, clubs, activities, recruiting…

Although every part of my visit was useful, enriching and fun, this was one of the most valuable ones, since I got to talk to someone who is already where I precisely want to be a couple of years from now and who shares my same iterests. I received worthly insight and specific advice on how to address school selection, recruiting, how to prioritize… I really appreciated this student taking the time to talk to me in such a busy week for all of them just because a classmate asked him.

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Stell Hall at Tuck

Before I attended my second class of the day, there was enough time to a private and very detailed tour around Tuck facilities. To put it simple:  they are jawdropping. I assume all top business schools have great facilities of similar quality, but surely these are among the best. I can definitely see myself studying there… I loved the main halls of both Achtmeyer and Whittemore dorms.

At 3 p.m. I attended my second-class of the day. Again, this was not part of my “official visit”, but Spanish tuckies had insisted I should attend as many classes as I could. So one of the 2nd-year tuckies took me to Richard D´Aveni´s Strategy class. Before the class started, I was able to talk to prof. D´Aveni for a while, mostly about his trips around Spain, and what I though about the school so far. During the class they dicussed the situation in Ukraine (there was a Ukrainian student present, so she provided very valuable insight on the matter) and the second half oh the class was an analysis of the movie “The Godfather” from a strategic point of view. As you imagine this class was very different from what I am used to, so I enjoyed every minute of it. I did not want it to finish. But it did, and I was just sad that my visit was coming to an end and that I would not be able to sit the next day for the end of the analysis.

I allowed the tuckies to actually spend some time studying, and went for a walk around Hanover with a TP´15, visiting Baker library, the lake or Sachem. Afterwards, we both met with the gang and professor García for dinner, and then had a couple of beers at Murphy´s (a.k.a. Tuck bar), that was already full of tuckies. I was told that it does not matter when you go to Murphy´s, you will always find a classmate there. I really appreciate them wanting to show me a little bit of everything, even if they all had papers and exams that were due to be delivered on the following days.

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The meeting point

After one and a half great days, my visit was over and, with sadness, mixed with excitement from what I had learned, I jumped on the Vermonter next morning to get back to New Haven.

What I have learned

Of course, the purpose of a visit is to get a glimpse of what your life could look like should you be accepted to that school and schould you choose to actually attend. To get to answer to the “why this school?” question. In that regard,visiting is specially important when you are considering Tuck. Why? Because of its unique location, which is also one of the reasons behind its very close and collaborative community.

Tuck is an 11,000 inhabitant town some 2 hours away from “civilization”, so to speak; therefore if you are used to living in a big metropolis, you might find it difficult to adjust to life at Hanover, so it is in your best interrest to visit and see it for youself. Then again, MBA life is a bit different: you spent almost all your time at the school, with classes, asignments, recruiting…. and afterwards you have more than 200 classmates to do something with, although that “something” might be a little different that what it could be in, for example, San Francisco. The visist helped me confirm that I wouldn´t have a problem living in a small town for two years. As I said, it is a very unique experience and, although I love big cities, after living in Madrid for 10 years, I see it as an opportunity to have a different experience. Chances are, in any case, after Bschool I go back to a big city.

I also experienced the close community Tuck is so proud of. The Spanish students (and TP), as I have commented all this post long, made sure I had the best of times while in Hanover: they opened their homes, took the trouble to arrange meetings or classes I might find valuable and interesting  without me even asking, and they took the time to be with me and show me around, even when they had exams and papers to prepare during their finals week. All the other students I met were just as nice, and just as helpful, and the professors whose classes I visited took the time to talk to me and were interested in my impressions of the school (one of them even joined us for dinner). So, from my experience, it is true: it is a close and helpful community.

In the end, it was a great experience and completely worthwile. I will definitely apply to Tuck.

P.S. They only thing I did not like is that I did not have the time to visit more schools, although I payed an unnofficial visit to Stern.

Business Schools Playoffs

I have been able to do some research and some deep thinking lately and I´ve managed to start shortening my target schools list (not that much actually). Thus I can provide a brief glimpse of what the Race to Round 1 Fall ´14 looks like right now. A few words on every contender.

Top seeds:

Tuck: Okay, this cannot come as a surprise. It was one of the first schools I looked into and very soon I felt for it. I love its location: having lived in Madrid for 10 years now, I believe that this kind of change (moving to an 11,000 people town) could make the experience a really different one and be real immersion experience into the MBA life. Plus, it has a great Healthcare Initiative program and doesn´t do bad in healthcare recruiting. I also want to play hockey by the way. I will be visiting in march (yeah!)

Kellogg: although its class size is not exactly small, it is located in a small town and is also a very social school  (with the advantage of being so close to such an amazing city as Chicago). It is famous for its close community and strong alumni network, just as Tuck. It has a very strong Healthcare Enterprise Management major that fits in very well with my goal of entering the pharma/biotech industry.

Fuqua: I would be proud of being part of Duke University, having been a fan of basketball and the Blue Devils all my life. Also, Fuqua is yet another example of a very strong community. Besides, it is the school that sends the greatest percentage of its students into healthcare with its Health Sector Management certificate. Furthermore, I am very interested in Peter Ubel´s class about Marketing and Public Policy.

In the hunt:

Stanford: A Harvard-like brandname. It has a smallish class and its located in the Bay Area, where many Biotech/Pharma companies are hearquartered. Besides, sunny California looks appealing: this maybe one of the few top schools where winters are not so hard. Plus: It would be great to be able to attend Stanford Cardinal football team games. Probably will move up to secure its position in the Round 1, but you never know.

Haas: Also in the Bay Area, with a small class, and with a double degree MBA/MPH program that takes only 2,5 years to complete. Probably one of the best schools/universities regarding healthcare. It is also a very social school. Nothing is actually keeping me from moving it to a top seed.

Anderson: At first, I wasn´t that much into UCLA Anderson and L.A. but when I met alumni and recent graduates they changed my mind in how I saw both L.A and the program, and made me realize what a great and close community they are. The only things that make me hesitate are the fact that it seems to be a little more local than other schools (although many of the spanish alumni had made their way back just after graduation…so much for local) and that, despite having created some specializations, as one of the recent graduates told me, healthcare was not that strong just yet.

Booth: I love the freedom Booth gives its students to select their destiny. As one Adcom put it in a recent event: ´if you are to become a business leader you should be capable of making your own decisions regarding how to shape your MBA experience´ (something like that). Chicago is a great city, with many recruiting oportunities, and although it is not a small class, almost all students live in three buildings that are close to each other thus creating the sense of a tight community. It has low recruiting numbers in the healthcare industry but a current student told me that it only means that a little more work by the student is required and every major employer in the field comes to visit the school as expected.

Wharton: Another top 5 school and with a shiny Healhcare Management major: it sends a pretty high number of its graduates (considering industry standards) into healthcare, and that is the main reason it is “up” here. It is famous for its focus in finance and it seems to be a little more competitive community than others in this list; although a student I have met said the latter wasn´t really true and that is not as finance-focused as it may seem. I don´t really like the fact that the class is like 800 students big.

Looking for a Wild Card spot:

There are some schools I haven ruled out nor moved up because I still need to do more research about them. Depending on how it develops one or two of them might climb up a few positions.

Darden, Sloan, Tepper, Yale SOM, Johnson

I will be visiting Yale (and maybe Sloan) in february, that will definitely help me make a decision.

Ruled out:

HBS: I know it is not usual to see Harvard out so soon. I think there is not another single school as well known (I think even some tribesmen from some lost island on the Pacific ocean might actually know the name), a brand name anyone would like to add to his resume, with alumni as CEOs, founders or boardmembers of many of the Fortune 500 companies. Those are powerfull reasons to go HBS all the way. But I just don´t think it´s for me. I strongly prefer a smaller class, I think it would foster a closer community and deeper relationships with both students and faculty, and isn´t that a big part of what all this is about? Also, I would rather have a wider variety of class-teaching methods.

CBS: Wouldn´t it be great to spend two years in NYC? It is, in fact, one of the most popular schools among Spaniards,  but I have to say that from the very beginning I knew I won´t apply to Columbia. Besides, from what I have learned talking to current students, its community is not as close as in other schools, with students living all around the city. It would be a great choice if I had a clear focus in finance, which I have not.

Of course, the BS Playoffs are on a very early stage yet. My intention is to select 5 or 6 to apply next year in Rounds 1 and 2, although depending on how it goes, that number could grow or decrease a bit.

Stay tunned to see how the playoffs develop. Looks like March Madness is on its way.

Meeting Tuck students

Today I attended an event hosted by Tuck students here in Madrid.

It was the first Tuck event I ever attended, and I was kind of excited about it since, as I have stated in this blog, it is one of my favourite schools so far. That fact did not change at all after last night. In fact, my opinons were reinforced by what I could learn from T´15 MBA candidates.

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Tuck School of Business

The event consisted of the usual presentation followed by a relaxed chat while having some drinks. The curious thing about this event is that, being december 20th, most people in Madrid had already left for their vacation destinations, and therefore, not many of us were present at the event, which lead to a great student:attendee ratio and gave us the oportunity to further engage with the hosts. In fact, I arrived quite early, and that gave me the oportunity to have the tuckies all for myself for a while to ask questions/opinons and share with them my experience, interests…

The presentation was an indepth summary of the many things I already knew about Tuck: a unique location, small class, close community, ,general mangement foundations, hockey, outdoors activities… and others I didn´t (or not that much) such as how is the recruiting process organized or how easy is to engage with the faculty. A great experience. It was a great presentation, and all the information provided was very helpful and conviced us that we were right to have Tuck as one of our top choices. But as I said in previous ocasions, students are the biggest asset a school has in order to make a good impresion in a prospect applicant, at least in these types of events.

All the tuckies present were amazing. During the presentation they made great efforts to make clear the point that Tuck is a close, tigh-knit community, and that has one of the strongest alumni networks, maybe the strongest one in terms of how easy is to engage with the alumni and how helpful they are. They were very emphatic about it. And the students present were the living proof of their own words: when I stated my interest in visiting the school in the next month, they were quick to offer me transportation, their homes to stay…

Another curious fact about this event: there were a couple of partners present with their respective childs. I´ve never seen it in any other event and that gave me oportunity to talk to them regarding the life of a significant other during those two years, and learn a little more about the activities organized by the Partners Club, and how they were having a great time. This was very interesting since it is very likely that, in case I am admitted, I would be moving to the US with my girlfriend.

Of course, Tuck is a very unique school, located in Hanover, NH, a 11,000 inhabitants town, where all you breath is MBA. There is no distraction from the program as a whole; is like an intensive MBA experience, and what I saw today only made that point clearer. So maybe it is not for everyone: if you don´t like to be isolated, if you get tired of being around the same people all the time, if you do not like outdoors living… It depends on each person.

In the end, another great experience. If two hours can be this interesting, what can we expect of two years at business school?

Happy Holidays everyone!!

Shortlisting schools

I´ve been trying to start (or finish) selecting the schools to which I will apply next year for some time now, but it has been a more difficult task than I thought, mostly because it requires time and some deep research and time is what I haven´t had lately. So now it has come the time when I have to start, at least, crossing out some of the schools from my list in order to leave just the 4-6 I will end up applying to.

Thankfully, I did some of my homewrok last fall, as I tried to gather information on each school and, of course, attended as many school events as I could to get in touch with students and alumni (as a regular reader of this blog may know). Those events are a great opportunity to get some insight you won´t get anywhere else and that will be crucial if you want to successfully answer that “Why this school?” question (a point I made clear in this previous post). And, in fact, some of the schools are/remain in my list because of what I learnt in those evenings.

My next step, as I always try to reach further, will be to go visit some of the campuses. I think of it as a great chance to feel and experience the school´s enviroment and get a glance of what it could be like to study there. With that in mind, and since I will most likely spend next february in the US, I want to take the opportunity to visit some of those schools in which I am interested. Of course, I won´t have that much time to spare, but I hope I can get the time to visit at least a couple of them, even if only the closest ones. Therefore, I have already contacted some of them to check that possibility.

It is fair to say, in the end, that there are many oportunities to get to know each MBA program and a lot of information available to help you decide, but it is up to you how to use it. You have to know what is more important to you regardgin the MBA experience, what are you looking for in a busines school, in a MBA program and in a community, so you can use all that information, data, “fun facts”… about each school to your benefit.

In that regard, I have thought of some initial considerations to try to define what kind of school I would fit in best:

– I like a small class better. One of the main goals of doing an MBA is to get to know new people, from both a personal and a professional point of view. I guess a small class gives you a better opportunity to get to know all your classmates better and bond with them establishing durable relationships. A close community. Of course a bigger class exposes you to a broader spectrum of people, one could say.

– I don´t mind small town or big city. True, I love big cities. But it is also true that those two years will be a very unique experience and I feel it could be an even greater and more unique one in a not-so-big town where all you breathe is “MBA experience”. In fact, one of my fovourite schools so far, Tuck, is located in a town with some 11,000 inhabitants. There is no doubt I would love to be spend 2 years in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, too.

– Rankings are another tool but are not law. I won´t pick my schools based solely or mostly on rankings. Location, intended industy/job function, school´s phylosophy… are important things to consider that could make a school with a lower ranking a better choice. Of course I intend to apply to some of the best schools in the US but, among some of them, differences can be subttle regarding some key aspects and those are to which I´ll have to pay attention in order to pick.

– All roads lead to Rome. An MBA degree of any of the top business schools can lead you to your intended job in most cases. That is something I believe after meeting students and alumni from very different schools. Of course, some of them lead you more directly than others to certain goals and with a not-so-big effort. That all roads lead to Rome does not mean that they have the same length. Definitely something to keep in mind.

Those are some very general facts that will serve as a starting point to my process. But I have already been warned by some alumni: my ideas will most likely change to a certain extent as the process evolves, and the school(s) which I might end up selecting as targets could not be the same one that currently holds the(s) top seed(s).

I´m curious to see how it ends.

P.S. : This blog has recently reached the mark of 1,000 visits. So thank you all for reading and making me keep sharing.

Researching schools

Now that I have finished with my MSc final project and given the fact that I won´t be at full throttle with GMAT until mid-august, I have now the time to really get started with Business Schools research.

Choosing a school where to apply is not as easy as it sounds, many factors come into consideration: location, curriculum, enviroment, school´s phylosophy, class size, intended industry…  The weight of each of those factors depends on the applicant´s interests and will determine which schools a candidate ends up applying to.

As for me, I am certain that I want a two-year program, since I think it suits better my career-changing plans, and that I would like to enter a top US school (given the fact that I´m going to spend so much time and put so much effort into it, let´s shoot for the stars). There are great schools here in Europe too, but I think it would be a more complete and challenging experience if I pack my back and cross the pond. But those are my only certainties for the moment, since many schools are appealing, and every top school has unique characteristics: Tuck´s location and phylosophy, Booth´s momentum and flexibility, Standford´s entreprenurial enviroment…I could go on with every school.

The amount of work ahead is daunting, so my first step will be to create/design a spreadsheet to resume each school´s characteristics and relate them to my interests and goals. Of course I have already signed up to some school-hosted events taking place in Madrid in the next few months, as a coffee chat this fridaywith some Booth students or the ones hosted by AdComs of Booth, Tuck or Haas next fall among others. Those are the best oportunities to get to know what people that “have been there” might have to say and to actually meet some of the people who are going to decide on your application.

It´s a ton of work, but I still have time until fall 2014, the sooner the better.