“Naturally, given my line of work, my MBA experience changed my career. While I started my post-MBA career in a more traditional strategy role, the MBA was so tranformational for me that as soon as I enrolled, I began helping my friends with their applications so they, too, could have this valuable opportunity. 13 years later, helping others enjoy the tranformative experience of the MBA has become my life’s passion”. Interview with Scott Edimburgh, Founder, Personal MBA Coach
According to your experience, what is the value of studying an MBA?
While today, business school might be a great place to escape the challenging economy, there are countless benefits of earning an MBA. The most obvious, of course, is the technical knowledge you will gain. In addition to traditional courses in fields such as finance, accounting and marketing, nearly all MBA programs offer specialized courses covering a variety of industries and functional areas. Whether you are planning to go into finance, real estate, marketing or healthcare, you will have the chance to learn the fundamentals from industry experts.
Equally as important as these technical skills are the “soft” skills you can gain during an MBA. Both inside and outside of the classroom, MBA programs place a strong emphasis on skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication, all crucial skills for future leaders. In addition, the countless volunteer and travel programs offer students further opportunities to stretch themselves personally and professionally.
The business school classroom also provides students the chance to take a risk in an open and trusting environment. Often students enter business school with one goal, but use this unique and safe environment to try classes or programs in other fields. In many cases, this leads students down an unexpected path as they find a field that is a better fit.
Finally, business schools provide students with great networking opportunities, both while on campus and beyond. In addition to learning from peers in the classroom, students find alumni to be invaluable resources as they seek their first jobs. Alumni can not only provide crucial insider knowledge, but they often help fellow alums secure roles in their companies. MBA graduates will then continue to rely upon this network throughout their careers for partners, mentors or even investors.
You are an advisor to MBA candidates. What is the main challenge that a professional has to being admitted to a business school?
The main challenge that we help clients tackle is figuring out how to truly tell their stories. Developing the personal story may be the hardest and the most important part of the application. This story should be compelling and somewhat unique. MBA admissions directors see countless similar profiles each year, particularly for students who work in overrepresented industries or who come from overrepresented demographics. Personal MBA Coach helps candidates to stand out and clearly articulate the value they will add on campus. Because we have former M7 admissions directors on the team, we can help applicants think of exactly how to differentiate themselves.
We advise candidates to start this process months, if not years, in advance to develop a story that is focused, logical and unique. When I meet with a new candidate, I start by asking a lot of questions. We talk about everything the applicant has done, often starting from childhood. I advise you to start with a similar process.
Make a list of everything you have done in your life and take the time to write it all down. Think carefully about the decisions you have made, activities you enjoy and most importantly, why you made those choices. Think about your future goals. What do you want to do after you earn your MBA and again, why? Next, look for a theme! What single idea ties all this together? This is the hard part, so give it time.
What is the profile of an MBA candidate?
There is no one profile of an MBA candidate. Each year we work with more “typical” candidates, including management consultants, investment bankers and private equity professionals. However, we also have clients who are opera singers, musicians, nonprofit leaders, teachers, marketing professionals, restaurateurs, physicians, family business professionals and the list goes on. Strong business and leadership skills can be an asset in any industry as supported by the diversity of MBA applicants.
Many MBA candidates have postponed applying to business school because of COVID-19. What do you recommend to them? Keep waiting or start studying today?
Last week I attended the annual Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) conference with admissions directors and deans from all of the top global schools. After moderating many panels and having some in depth conversations, I can say that there has never been a better time than now to attend business school. Companies are changing, industries are changing, countries are changing. To be able to study amid all of these changes and come out the other side equipped to solve global problems is incredible. I studied at Wharton during the last recession and it was a great time. We are seeing applications rise and it is no surprise.
After completing the MBA studies, what comes next?
That answer is up to the applicant. The fields that MBA graduates enter are as diverse as the fields they worked in prior to business school. There are certain careers where MBA graduates feed into common roles – for example, consulting firms start MBA graduates in a “class” of their peers. Other firms have leadership development programs for recent graduates. In general, however, there are countless roles a graduate can fill. MBA programs have an entire career services department dedicated to helping graduates find their ideal jobs.
What was the greatest impact of the MBA program on your professional and personal life?
Naturally, given my line of work, my MBA experience changed my career. While I started my post-MBA career in a more traditional strategy role, the MBA was so tranformational for me that as soon as I enrolled, I began helping my friends with their applications so they, too, could have this valuable opportunity. 13 years later, helping others enjoy the tranformative experience of the MBA has become my life’s passion.
Tactically, at Wharton I learned to think more strategically and to develop stronger presentations. I also expanded my negotiation and decision making skills and became an overall better leader. Leadership is tough and while I am still learning now, a lot of the skills that have helped me succeed today, I developed at Wharton.
Personally, I now have friends (even very close friends) from around the world. While you meet a lot of people and develop great friends as an undergraduate, everyone is still somewhat immature. Business school is a great time to develop lasting relationships. I still cherish and leverage these relationships today, using many of my peers as sounding boards, both personally and professionally. Plus, the opportunity to attend global weddings (once they are allowed to happen) is not a bad perk, either.
The Importance of Studying an MBA