Interacting With The Alumni: An Important Step Before You Plan Your Admisision

If there’s one legacy which any school carries forward, it is its students. That’s one connect which keeps the old students bonded to each other; connect of being an alumni and walking the same legendary corridors.

Alumni of management schools assume crucial importance in the brand building and development of the schools. Many students excel in researches which guide theories across the globe; some head multinational corporations while others contribute to the development of management excellence wherever they work. Entrepreneurs move a foot ahead and deeply connect with their school network because that’s where the first corporate support system lies.

There are four primary reasons why as a management degree applicant, you need to interact, connect and network with the alumni of the school you’re looking to get into. Let’s have a look at each in detail.

The Specialization

Top management schools across the world work with a focus; the focus to deliver the best to their students. In the continued efforts to do the same, world class faculties, corporate developed curriculum and research initiatives are given primal importance. Over the years, schools gain specializations in particular fields. Sometimes it is because of their location, faculty or research development, these schools become known for those specializations. Alumni best suits to help you with this question. If am looking to make a career in retail brand building or corporate economics, or am focused on devising a technique to build analytics for VCs investment to return in start ups, it is very important that I look for the right school for these specializations. Alumni with help you with the teaching methodology, faculties and focus on specializations, which will help you make an informed choice.

The Industry Name

Come summer or winter, economic upheaval or a double digit growth, top management school students are always in a big demand to turn around the status of corporations affected by this volatility. And what build the brand name of these top institutes in the corporate sector? Their alumni. Before you plan to finalize the top institutes for admissions, apart from the rankings published by leading magazines and news corporations, it is vital that you take the first hand review of the stature the school holds in the corporate sector. And it is not always an overall good name that you should look for. Here again specializations can be guided.

Networking never fails

By far the most important reasoning of all is networking. Even in the worst case scenario that you’re not able to get a clear picture and details from the alumni, you get in their network. And networking with the right people at the right time in the corporate sector always pays off. Whether it is that PE funding that you may require when you plan to start up after school or the big fish you need to get for a deal to finalize, if you’re in a network, I won’t say it becomes a cake walk but it does become very helpful.

Entrepreneurial Kick off

Planning to start up your own venture after school? Connecting with the alumni can be your biggest blessing. There are three sub-factors in here:

Alumni and their network of top management schools work in a close knit circle of corporate membership where funding capabilities and readiness is available. The opportunity to strike a decent PE funding or even a recommendation becomes big and you can hit the nail on the head for your entrepreneurial dream.

Either you’re looking for an idea or have an idea; the well versed corporate alumni will always have a valuable suggestion or two for you. Whether it is about how to plan your product or service offering better or basically what you can start up with, alumni is the best source of critics, productive critics.

Co-Founders or Advisors
If you’re starting alone and you share your idea (on a lighter note: keeping the secret sauce recipe with you) with the alumni, you stand a good chance of getting co-founders or advisors on your board from the alumni of your school. Let’s call spade a spade, the well-heeled generally form the board and most of them at some point or the other have stepped into leading business schools.

All in all, the basic point is to connect, as it is helpful not only in career development and management but also personal management. When we as students pass off from management schools and step into the corporate world, then the realization of the unknown comes. The unknown facts of peer pressure, job performance, work-life balance amongst others slowly start seeping in. It is nothing out of this world and is a part of corporate grooming but nothing talks like experience. And again the alumni suit the laid criterion of how to deal with all said above.

Even if you forget the business school choice and work and focus only on your personal life, alumni can work as mentors for your personal development as well. Many sitting at the top of management ladders have mostly gone through what you might be going through right now.

So the next time you’re working on your management degree plan, do remember to do a detailed search on the alumni of the schools you’re aiming for. Search them on LinkedIn, alumni websites and even on Twitter. Try connecting with them and the bridge to your dream school will be much firmer than before.

Around the World for an MBA: Lyon, France

Studying in France’s ‘second’ city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon is a perfect setting of past meets present and working towards the future. Lyon is a major economic centre for banking and for chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. The city hosts a significant software industry with a deep focus on video games, and in recent years has witnessed a growing start up sector . Lyon also hosts the international headquarters of Interpol, Euronews and International Agency for Research on Cancer. After the economic powerhouse of France, Paris, Lyon is ranked second as an economic centre and convention centre. Lyon was ranked 8th globally and 2nd in France for innovation in 2011. It ranked 2nd in France and 38th globally in Mercer’s 2010 livability rankings.

The Business Sense in Lyon

The GDP of Lyon is 62 billion euro and the city is the second richest city after Paris. According to the ECER-Banque Populaire, Lyon is the 14th favorite city in the European Union with regards to the creation of companies and investments.

Many technology intensive industries like biotechnology, software development, game design, and internet services are also growing. Other important sectors include medical research and technology, non-profit institutions, and universities. The city is the headquarters of many companies like Euronews; Lyon Airports; BioMérieux; Sanofi Pasteur; LCL S.A.; Cegid Group; Boiron; Infogrames; Groupe SEB; Renault Trucks; Irisbus; LVL Medical, GL Events; Compagnie Nationale du Rhône; and intergovernmental agencies IARC, Interpol.

The Cultural Richness of Lyon

The Historic Site of Lyon was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. In its designation, UNESCO cited the “exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance.”

Lyonnaise cuisine is renowned. For several centuries Lyon has been known as the French capital of gastronomy. The city also plays hosts to many important musueums and parks like Parc de la Tête d’Or, the largest urban park in France and Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon, one of the largest art galleries in France.

Management School in Focus: EMLYON Business School


With triple accreditation: EQUIS by the EFMD, AMBA, and the AACSB, it belongs to the top 20 European Business Schools and to the top 10 Masters in Management worldwide according to the Financial Times. EMLYON Business School has come a long way since its establishment in 1872 and focusing on the development of entrepreneurial grey matter.
The school was created in 1872, nine years before HEC Paris. It is the fourth Business school in France created after ESCP Europe, École supérieure de commerce de Rouen and École de management de Normandie. The school recently opened its new campus in Shanghai.


EMLYON’s European Campus is just minutes away from the centre of Lyon, a major European city. Set in six hectares of woodland, it offers a combination of high quality educational facilities, recreational amenities and accommodation.

EMLYON’s Asian Campus is in China and is located within the complex of East China Normal University in Shanghai, just minutes from Zhongshan Park, one of Shanghai’s busiest commercial areas.


Financial Times: 9th MSc in Management in the world / 2nd MSc in Management for Entrepreneurship (Top 70 Masters in Management Programmes in the world, September 2012) – 3rd Executive MBA for Career Progress in the world (Top 100 EMBA Programmes in the world, October 2012)

The Economist: 3rd MBA in France, 17th MBA in Europe (The Top 100 MBA Programmes worldwide, October 2012)

Le Figaro: 3rd Business School in France (November 2012)

Courses Offered

International MBA
Executive MBA
IMM Global Executive MBA
PhD Programme
MSc in Management
European Master in Management
Programme I.D.E.A. (In French)
Global Entrepreneurship Program
MSc in Sports & Outdoor Industry Management
MSc in Luxury Management & Marketing


Finance & Banking Range Technology & Innovation Range Marketing, Management & International Range

Special Feature

EMLYON Incubator

The new generation EMLYON Incubator is well established within the regional, national and international innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem and plays a key role in building the confidence of young companies. From the very start of the entrepreneurial process, the Incubator offers entrepreneurs with innovative projects a solid structure of support, as well as putting them in contact with decision-makers and well-known entrepreneurs.

Premium: 500 jobs created and 25 innovative, high-potential companies in three areas : life sciences, biotechnology and medical devices; IT, telecommunications and new technologies; energy, environment and eco-design.

Espoir: 20 companies created by students or young graduates mainly in the Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) Sector.

Entrepreneurs in the City: 30 companies (in partnership with Sport in the City and EMLYON Business School) created by people in inner city areas.


In English
In French

The Art of Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

What’s the first impression of anyone you meet in-person? Dressing style, walking style, the way they talk or even the perfume they wear. That’s why it is called the first impression, as it is the introductory hit. The features of a personality which matters the most to you are the ones which make or break your first impression.

Now imagine meeting someone over a text communication. You haven’t yet delved into their background and other personal details. This is the first ‘breaking-the-ice’ scene. The only impressionable asset you possess is your writing. It does not only include the language and style but also the thought behind it.

Management degree admissions to most leading universities require candidates to send a cover letter with their applications. This is the first meeting of a potential student and the school. It is important to get the first act right in order to get the ball rolling for further steps. We look into five things which shape the art of writing the perfect cover letter:

Do not copy paste

Do not source letters of previous applicants or hunt them via discussion forums and change the name, date and college and send them. It is good to get an idea of how to write and what to include from other’s letters but remember to write your own cover letter. It is like using someone else’s definition to define your objective to get into the business school. Write afresh and write on your own.

Do not generalize

Every business school has their own course styles and specializations. Write your cover letter keeping in mind the school you’re applying to. If you’re interested to apply to a b-school where marketing analytics is a specialization and you’re using generic marketing interest and reason it for your admission, it is most likely they’re not going to find you befitting their criteria. Understand who they’re looking for and hit the nail on the head.

Be objective and do not brag

Actions speak louder than words. Work with this in mind and you’re going to write a crisp, believable and an objective cover letter. More than just saying what you’re interested in doing, showcase them cases of your interest in practical application. Example: A research which you have been doing about the most expensive paintings in the world for the last few years out of sheer interest is perfect even when you’re applying for a marketing specialization as the search is for the intent and not the industry or task. You can relate it to explaining how a painter can become a brand in an industry which defeats the notion of specialization. In a nutshell, showcase rather than just say.

Be grammatically correct

In a world where knowledge is available at the click of a button, reasoning language barriers as an excuse many not be the best idea. It is not only about the picture but the perfection of the picture. Run through various grammatical checks; see if your sentences are making sense together or if you have been too verbose somewhere and too tacit on an important criterion.

The last minute final checks

Please, please ensure you proofread your emails or snail mails before you send them out. It is always a good idea to get a second proof-reading from someone else. You get the chance once. Do not miss out because of an incorrect email subject or forgetting to attach your CV in the email. It happens, so please be sure.

It’s like a personal interview in text. Treat it like one, be relaxed and be sure. Most importantly, be yourself, do not fake or downplay. Good luck!

Case Study: Nike – The Super Brand

Ranked 24th on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list, No.4 in Top 20 Cool Brands by The Centre of Brand Analysis and No. 8 in Top Global Meaningful Brands Index by Havas Media, Nike is truly a powerful, global brand. The reach and stature that Nike has achieved is unchallengeable. A few weeks back Nike celebrated 25 years of the ‘Just Do It’ campaign, which along with the Nike ‘Swoosh’ are amongst the most recognized brand assets in the world.

We look in detail to what has gone into making this iconic brand.

A peek at Nike’s most popular advertisements.

The first reference to Just Do It.






There are brands and then there are cult brands. Nike has reached a stage in brand maturity where little can dent the way it touches sports enthusiasts everyday around the world. With a brand positioning which is premium and endorsers who are icons, Nike is inching closer to synonymize with sports excellence.

Around the World for an MBA: New York

The most populous city in United States and the Cultural Capital of the world, New York remains as the top destination of choice for most students.  As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. New
York City is home to notable private universities as Barnard College, Columbia University, Cooper Union, Fordham University, New York University, New York Institute of Technology, Pace University, and Yeshiva University.

New York


The Business Side of NYC

New York is a global hub of international business and commerce and is one of three “command centers” for the world economy (along with London and Tokyo). In 2012, New York City topped the first Global Economic Power Index, published by The Atlantic. The city is a major center for banking and finance, retailing, world trade, transportation, tourism, real estate, new media as well as traditional media, advertising, legal services, accountancy, insurance, theater, fashion, and the arts in the United States.

Many major corporations are headquartered in New York City, including 45 Fortune 500 companies.  New York is also unique among American cities for its large number of foreign corporations. One out of ten private sector jobs in the city is with a foreign company. This ability to attract foreign investment helped New York City top the FDI Magazine American Cities of the Future ranking for 2013.

In 2009, New York was voted the most attractive city for business and innovation in the world. It has the lowest crime rate among the 25 largest US cities, a good mass transit system, and over 2000 arts and cultural organizations. New York also impresses with more than 500 art galleries, and roughly 133 km² of public green spaces and beaches.

Despite high property prices, long commutes, and constant exposure to loud noise and throngs of people, there is indeed much to be said for living in the Big Apple.

The Entertainment Side of NYC

Many districts and landmarks in New York City have become well known to its approximately 50 million annual visitors. Times Square, regarded as “The Crossroads of the World”, is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections and a major center of the world’s entertainment industry. The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (including the Metropolitan Opera) and Broadway with its many theater and musical stages attract thousands every year.

Whether it´s exotic restaurants or traditional American diners, bars, night clubs, live music concerts – there is an abundant selection of all of the above available to people living in New York. Various festivals take place in different parts of the city throughout the year, and during the summer months. Lovers of outdoor performances can visit the Central Park Summer Stage for free plays and music.

Here is a great video on New York City which scrapes through the details of the most powerful city in the west. New York City

Management School in Focus: Columbia Business School


Columbia Business School (CBS) is the Business School of Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City. It is one of six Ivy League business schools, and its admission process is among the most selective of top business schools.

It is affiliated with 13 winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics including current professors Robert Mundell, Joseph Stiglitz and Edmund Phelps, more than any business school in the US.

Nearly 40 percent of the student body hails from outside the United States — representing 86 nations and speaking 94 languages — and the School maintains exchange programs with 25 leading graduate management institutions around the world.


In October 2010, Columbia Business School announced that alumnus Henry Kravis, the billionaire co-founder of private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts pledged $100 million to fund expansion of Columbia Business School, the largest gift in its history. In December 2012, Ronald Perlman also donated $100 million to the construction of the second business school building.


For 2012, national rankings of Columbia’s MBA program include #5 by Forbes, #14 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and #8 by U.S. News and World Report. In global rankings, Columbia was ranked #5 by The Economist and #5 (2013 ranking) and #4 among U.S. Schools by Financial Times. In 2011, the median starting base salary was $110,000, with a median $25,000 signing bonus and a median $37,000 of other guaranteed compensation. According to Forbes magazine, 90% of billionaires with MBAs who derived their fortunes from finance obtained their master’s degree from one of three schools: Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, or The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Courses Offered


Executive MBA

Doctoral Program

Master of Science in Marketing

Master of Science in Financial Economics

Master of Science in Leadership


Accounting, Decision Risk & Operations, Entrepreneurship, Finance and Economics, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Mgmt., HR Management, International Business, Management/Leadership, Marketing, Media, Private Equity, Real Estate, Social Enterprise, Value Investing

Special Feature

Columbia Social Enterprise Club

The aim of the members is to use business acumen to address social, economic, and environmental challenges.

•Connect students interested in social enterprise with each other, faculty, alumni, professionals, and organizations

•Enrich members’ understanding of industries, ideas and initiatives that create social impact

•Inspire students to become leaders who improve the world


How to Think like a Leader

From Barack Obama to Angela Merkel, Steve Jobs to Ratan Tata, leaders are people with substance. The vibes of confidence and never-say-die handling of scrutiny and pressure are virtues which set them apart from everyone in the crowd. Not by birth but by hard work and persistence, leaders are people we look up to and admire. The power and money comes later, their attitude makes them a leader. Their thoughts empower them and actions prove them a hard fought and seasoned leader.


Leader, the word in focus, has been controversial in the management world lately as organizations term managers rather than leaders. The former gives a more democratic feel to the way the teams work. Leader is defined as the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. Manager, on the other hand is a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company. The subtle difference lies in the way the action is conducted. It is often said

All managers are leaders but not all leaders are managers.

In an ideal situation, all leaders need not be managers; they need to just get the task done.

The basic question is how to think like a leader. There are five steps to it:

Think with Awareness

A leader needs to be constantly aware of things around. Know your competitors, be updated with the changes in tax laws, read about product technicalities and most importantly, be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your team. The more you know about them, the more it’ll help you plan better for any tasks or challenges. The thumb rule is to know, find and act.

Think Change

A leader needs to comprehend and work towards any change in the future. A successful leader reads the pulse of the customers and brings a change to the organization’s actions today to deliver excellence tomorrow. A leader works with the principle of the best delivery. If that requires a change, subtle or drastic, he/she will lead the team through it.

Think of Accountability

A leader is accountable for its team. Period. There are no two thoughts on the point that when a group succeeds the leader gets to wear the hat and when the group does not stand the task or breaks down, the leader is the first one in the line of fire. Think of it as your task first and give your best shot, it will help encourage your team to push its limits too.

Think about Cost

The leadership thought handles the buck of cost. The cost being spoken about is not just limited to finances but the cost of man hours, efforts and organization’s task to objective. Is the task unethical and demands compromising the morals of the organization? Are the man hours and efforts not recorded and hence, rewarded to? As a leader, it is your job to weigh the pros to cons and take an informed decision.

Being a leader is the first step to being a manager. Take initiative, be aware and perform with accountability. The path to being a successful leader starts from there.

MBA to Entrepreneurship: The Saddle

What does entrepreneurship really teach you? Apart from all the experience and the financial management, there’s an inert sense of corporate management that runs beneath every organization, a start up or an enterprise. When you’re a part of a greater organization, that sense can be instilled with the common experience that can be shared and discussed, tried and tested, because the shared experience has each other’s back. When you’re riding the entrepreneurial ship alone when you start, what happens then? Do you miss the saddle and fall because you did not find that inert management, or is it all over-hyped? Let’s decipher.

The inert sense of management being discussed here is the way an organization is managed, through its various phases and cycles. There are decisions to be taken, people to be hired and investors to be answered to. In the middle of all this, there’s the vision and mission of the entire energy. If this is not handled with sensitivity and objectivity, there’s a risk of the organization losing its path and toppling over in all the management areas, be it financial, marketing or strategy. It is this understanding that we call the inert sense of corporate management.

Now the debate has always been if this inert sense can be put together, packaged and delivered in business schools, because eventually, till the time you’re in the make or break real life situations, the anxiety can never be simulated or felt. It’s like preparing the horse for the final race and running the race. There is a big difference. And this difference is all that matters. Business schools can deliver the concept of management via case studies, internships, presentations and valued books, but do all these perfectly substitute the adrenaline rush of sitting in a conference room and discussing the next day’s $ 1.5 million planned marketing campaign roll-out. The argument comes down to finances, and it really isn’t wrong when it does. The risk of losing a rank or grade can never be compared to losing finances. Its learning in the former and experience in the latter. It’s the experience which eventually is the real-life and the learning is being doled out of experiences that others have undergone. Can that be enough? Is that why internships and on-the job projects are gaining primal importance? Well, let’s look on the other side before we jump to a conclusion.

Management schools have evolved with time and corporate maturity. They do not simply put together the term patterns and books for the students. It’s well-thought of and is close to industry. There’s a lot that goes into the ‘teaching’ and the faculty when a world-class business school is shaped. With corporate honchos as faculties to C-level internships, business schools are now no longer just the management churners but are management groomers today. In the path to entrepreneurship, there’s a lot that a business school can offer its students. The MBA-to-entrepreneur journey can be fulfilling because:

Learn to start working as a group early

The beauty of a business school lies in its resources. That does not mean the physical infrastructure but the capabilities and knowledge that the graduates come with. There’s freshness, eagerness to learn and a get-going spirit. Many corporate members who take a break for an MBA degree praise the back-to-school experience because it does not come with targets and pressures; it comes with an openness to experiment, to learn and to do with mistakes. This they feel gives a much needed creative and learning boost which might have faded during their working. When such interesting minds flock together, you get not only new ideas but a learning to think and work together.

Subjects are practical

With the multiple theories that a management student encounters during the course, there’s always one question that comes parallel, is this actually applicable in real life? Will I ever get to even refer to these theories during real business decisions? Not so surprisingly, the answer is yes, they do. From Accounting to Human Resource Management, the subjects are taught with a reality check. And the check is always in favor. Many decision makers have attributed their winning formulas to business school teachings.

Teachers come with an enriching experience

There’s no better teacher than experience. But there’s nobody better than an experienced teacher as well. And when industry shakes hands with academia, the formula just gets better. Faculties at leading business schools not only come with a valuable industry experience but also with rich research backgrounds. This helps not only in understanding what’s wrong and right (industry) but also in what can be done and has not been done till now (research). This is most helpful when you start up as it gives an insight in both understanding the new requirements of the industry and shaping the existing wheel better.

Shapes the way you think

Finally, the most important element that a business school gifts its students is a way to think. That is the basic reason management schools were born. There’s a need to understand and marriage ethical behavior, sustainable strategies and financial growth. This requires what most term as a genie formula but is actually the way a manger thinks. And it is this thinking which gets a holistic development in a business school. The whole here is management, really.

There is no one answer to the question that do entrepreneurs need MBA? Or do start ups need to hire MBAs? Well, nothing is right or wrong here but there’s a better standing always. And though MBA is not the primary requirement to build a strong entrepreneurial spirit , it definitely does help. It helps to give a thought in decision making, it helps to understand why employee performance levels might be going down, it helps to strategize in a more sustainable manner and most importantly, it helps to answer what is going right when an organization is performing great or what’s wrong during a flat performance? The answer in both the cases is indeed, management.

I’ll leave with an interesting TED talk video by Frank Peters on the Art of Entrepreneurship. It’s very interesting with great insights. Have a look.

TEDxFullerton – Frank Peters – The Art Of Entrepreneurship

How to prepare for the adcomm Online Video Interview process ?

How to prepare for the adcomm Online Video Interview process ?

A lot of MBA programs have started to use the online video-interview platform to assess MBA applicants. This means that even before you submit your application, you require to record your video responses to a few short questions. Generally, the system does allow you to try at least twice. So if you are not happy with your first set of answers, you can do a re-recording one more time.

With this technology, the adcomm tries to judge your personality and match it with your applications.

If you are stressed about this new exercise, don’t be, we have just the right suggestions for you.

Let’s take a look at how you can prepare for the adcom online video interview process :

1.) Prepare in advance and rehearse for the most basic questions:

i.) Why choose MBA program at our b-school ?
ii.) Why do you want to pursue an MBA?
iii.) Why is this the right time for you to pursue an MBA?
iv.) What are your career goals?
v.) Tell us about your achievements?

2.) Then comes the less stressful yet insightful questions

i.) What’s your favorite book?
ii.) What’s your favorite song?
iii.) Which place would you love to visit on a vacation?
Why ?

3.) Record and observe yourself multiple times until you are satisfied with your posture, voice, gestures and content.

4.) When the moment of truth arrives, just remember all your preparations and confidently fire away your answers. Remember, its just another opportunity to show why you are the best they can get for their MBA program.

Ask a question or share your online video interview experience in comments box below 🙂