This week Personal MBA Coach’s founder, Scott Edinburgh, is attending the annual Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) conference. As a member of the AIGAC Board of Directors, Scott had the pleasure of meeting with admissions directors from top MBA programs including HBS, Stanford GSB, MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, UVA Darden, Berkeley Haas, Michigan Ross, Yale SOM, London Business School and others at our annual conference.
The conference gives Personal MBA Coach a great opportunity to catch up with top schools, find out what is on their minds, discuss top MBA application trends, learn about upcoming MBA essays and gain a sneak peek into the 2022-2023 MBA application season.
Though the AIGAC conference is still going on, Personal MBA Coach would like to share some takeaways from day one where admissions directors from a few top programs including Duke Fuqua, Berkeley Haas and UVA Darden discussed what is top of mind for their programs. These themes play a role both in how candidates are evaluated and in how curriculums are being updated.
Theme #1: The role of businesses in tackling key societal challenges is top of mind.
In the post-pandemic world, businesses (and business students) are expected to maximize societal value, not just company performance.
For example, Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison shared how Haas students are requesting classes and content that explores the role of business in improving the environment and expanding opportunities for everyone.
Similarly, Bill Boulding, Duke Fuqua Dean and J.B. Professor, discussed how businesses are expected to play a broader role in society than ever before.
Recognizing that the role of business in society is top of mind now for many schools (though for some schools such as Yale School of Management, this has been a key consideration for many years), Personal MBA Coach advises applicants to think through how they personally have contributed – not just to business performance but to driving societal value.
MBA Applicant Takeaways: While naturally not every applicant will have an example of this, as you brainstorm essay topics, keep this theme top of mind.
Theme #2: Technology continues to shape business education.
Over the last two years, business schools devoted considerable resources to increasing the use of technology in the classroom and bringing classes online, where needed. Now, that businesses are increasingly embracing technology and virtual work, admissions directors are tasked with identifying applicants who can help businesses tackle the next set of technology-related challenges: harnessing technology while maintaining humanity.
Duke Fuqua highlighted new elective content in the areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence along with its new core course on technology integration.
Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison also shared how graduate education is increasingly focused on how to embrace the digital transformation that was accelerated by the pandemic while maintaining company culture.
MBA Applicant Takeaways: Regardless of whether you aspire to work in the tech space, consider the role of technology in your future career and how you will address the broader societal issues of embracing technology and humanity simultaneously.
Theme #3: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion remains top of mind.
The role of DEI in business education was once again discussed with admissions directors at this year’s AIGAC conference.
Many programs highlighted curriculum changes that increase the focus on DEI. For example, Duke highlighted its new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion concentration that equips Fuqua students with the tools to create a diverse and inclusive workforce. Students will specifically develop a strong understanding of stereotyping and prejudice and learn business practices to support equitable hiring and promotion.
Based on Tuesday’s presentations, it is clear to Personal MBA Coach that DEI was once a specialized field of study, but it is now a prominent subject across top MBA programs and one that some business schools directly ask about in their MBA application. Personal MBA Coach would not be surprised to see more MBA essays focused on this topic in the coming cycles.
MBA Applicant Takeaways: While naturally not all applicants should write about DEI, this could be a great topic for many applicants, and Personal MBA Coach encourages all MBA hopefuls to consider how they have been inclusive throughout their careers.
Stay tuned for more takeaways from this year’s AIGAC conference including details on how to manage school interactions in the post-pandemic world.