UCLA’s Anderson School Morphs Into A Super Friendly Tech Hub

UCLA's Anderson Graduate School of Management

UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management

When Dan Reiss and Robert Fagnani were applying to business schools two years ago, their backgrounds suggested they would stay on the East Coast.

After all, Reiss was a native of Philadelphia who majored in drama at New York University. He had been working in New York City for an investment management firm. Born and raised in New Jersey, Fagnani had gone to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and spent the past four years at Morgan Stanley in New York.

Ultimately, the pair went west, accepting invites from UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management. Reiss turned down Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business to come to sun-bleached Los Angeles, while Fagnani passed on the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to enroll at Anderson, currently ranked 14th best by Poets&Quants.

‘PEOPLE HERE AREN’T AFRAID TO START WITH A BLANK CANVAS’

Why turn down higher ranked schools to go to UCLA? For both MBA students, a lot of the appeal came down to culture. “There’s a very different way that people think on the West Coast,” says Reiss, who also saw appeal at how technology was was so preeminent in the West and infiltrating every facet of life. “People aren’t afraid to start with a blank canvas and rethink everything. I like that lifestyle. If I had went to Tuck, I would have never left the North East.”

Fagnani, 28, agrees. “The more I looked at programs, the more I realized that the infrastructure, the classes and the opportunities are roughly the same at the top schools,” he says. “The biggest variable is the culture. I felt this was the place I would fit in and thrive. There is this spectrum on the larding environment where one is more team-based and one is more academic. Anderson is far on the team-based collaborative scale as far as culture goes with Tuck and Kellogg. Booth is more on the academic side. I felt a little bit more at home here.”

He’s not alone. Student opinion surveys show increasing levels of high satisfaction at UCLA’s Anderson School which has gone through something of a major transformation in recent years, becoming more closely tied into the tech boom both here and in Silicon Valley and Seattle. The upshot: Applications last year soared by 32%, while the average GMAT for the overall applicant pool was up five points to 688, swayed in part by the greater tech focus. Those extra apps drove the school’s acceptance rate down to 18%, from 22% a year earlier, while the average GMAT for the new class hit a record 715, up from 706.

‘I DON’T CARE IF YOU HAVE THE H WORD ON YOUR DIPLOMA’

“This class is phenomenal,” boasts Rob Weiller, associate dean of admissions for the MBA program. “The second years are in awe of the new class. More importantly, though, they are still the same kinds of people. We haven’t sacrificed our supportive culture. There is just a world of opportunity out there and our career center is plugged into those opportunities. It is way more difficult to do that from the East Coast. I don’t care if you have the H word on your diploma.”

At 26.5% of the Class of 2014, technology is the top hiring industry of Anderson graduates and has been for the past three years. The percentage going into tech from UCLA has more than doubled in the past four years, eclipsing the 20.4% who took finance jobs and the 14.2% of Anderson MBAs who went into consulting (see major employers of Anderson MBAs).

This year, in fact, at least 15 students went to work at Google, while Amazon and Microsoft each hired 10 or more MBAs, and Adobe Systems, Amgen, Apple, Ebay, Symantec, and Vmware each employed between five and nine Anderson graduates. School officials, moreover, believe that tech has morphed with L.A.’s traditional strengths as an entertainment and media mecca to give birth to a host of new startups and tech firms in Silicon Beach, a three-mile stretch of sand between Venice and Santa Monica. More than 500 startups and tech giants inhabit the place, ranging from Snapchat to online video service Hulu, along with an expansive L.A. office for Google.

“The school has pivoted fairly quickly to become much more of a technology school than when I first came here,” says Mark Garmaise, a finance professor who joined UCLA in 2001 after a stint at Chicago Booth. “Our major new push is going towards analytics and technology. We have great data analytics courses and classes where students are working with Google and doing real-time problem-solving.”

A UNIQUE COURSE: THE GOOGLE CLASS PAIRS A PROF WITH A GOOGLE EXEC

Dubbed “The Google Class” by students, the course is unique and symbolic of how Anderson, once more of a finance and quant haven, is transforming itself into a pathway into tech. Anderson partnered with Google to develop the course which is officially called “Digital Marketing Strategy” and was first offered on a trial basis this past fall. Co-taught by marketing professor Sanjay Sood and a Google executive, the course provides students with a broad overview of Google’s approach to marketing focused on four key areas: insights, measurement, storytelling and brand. “We reinvented the class to be more industry relevant,” says Karen Williams, executive director for the school’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment & Sports. “There are Google cases and projects with Google executives. All the top schools are being challenged to bridge the thinking with the doing. It is a model we are talking with another company about and have two more firms on our target list.”

Where Anderson MBAs Go To Work

 

Industry20142013
Technology26.5%26.2%
Financial Services 20.2%20.4%
Consulting14.8%14.2%
Consumer Products11.7%12.7%
Entertainment/Media7.4%8.5%
Healthcare/Pharma3.5%6.2%
Real Estate3.5%4.6%
Energy/Transportation3.5%1.2%
Non-Profit/Public Sector1.6%1.5%
Retail——–1.5%

Source: UCLA Anderson School

  • reissandfagnanirule!

    Fagnani and Reiss are so cool! I want to be just like them! Yay!

  • AndersonMBA2016

    Anderson pays current students to post on Poets and Quants and the GMAT Club. Maybe not the best school, but at least they’re good at “marketing” 😛

  • AndersonIsNotUnderrated

    most major rankings do not think Anderson is underrated….

  • ToBeOrNot

    Is Rotman’s 2014 report out?

  • mba1988

    If Anderson was so obsessed with rankings, then why did its ranking drop from 14 to 16 in the latest US News Rankings?

  • MistaButters

    By the way, on that article it seems like Kellogg’s “% of Gross Tuition” is incorrect. Considering Kellogg gives out less scholarship dollars than Anderson, has a higher tuition than Anderson, and has significantly more students than Anderson, it would only make sense that the percentage of gross tuition would be significantly lower than Anderson.

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for weighing in with that insight. It will be very helpful to appliance out there.

  • UCLA 2nd Year

    From a current 2nd year student, heres the deal:

    I have almost always gotten into the classes that I wanted, especially the most popular ones. There are exceptions to this of course, but on the average I was never “stuck taking classes I had no interest in”.

    How it works is that there is a bidding system where each quarter you are given a certain amount of points to bid for all of your classes. There are also 4 rounds to the bidding system, where enroll in 1 class per round. During your first year, you have accumulated less points and can only bid in later rounds, so, yes, it can be difficult to get into the most popular classes if you are not willing to bet the farm on a popular class as a first year. However, during your second year you have accumulated many points, bid in earlier rounds and can use those to get into whatever class you want. In addition, this system is also in place to allow second years to have first pick because they will not have another opportunity to take these classes. Common sense, right?

    One could think that this means you “will not get into any popular classes in your first year”, but that is also not true. There is a wonderful invention called a waitlist in all of these classes and typically professors will let many people in off the waitlist, depending on the professor. I was #11 on the waitlist in a negotiations class this quarter and the professor announced that he would let almost the entire waitlist in. I was also in the most popular real estate class last quarter as #12 on the waitlist and was let in by the professor. And if the professor is not budging on the waitlist, then simply use what you learned in negotiations to force yourself into the class (or at least that’s what I did…that class is amazing). If all else fails, you can always audit any class, not for credit, but simply to gain the skills or knowledge. Lastly, due to our LA location, there are always new classes that pop-up with adjunct professors (CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Consulting Partners, etc.), so I would say that typically there are more than 3-5 “popular” classes per quarter and the points are spread a bit more evenly than you would think and you don’t need to bet all of your points to get into the class you want, generally.

    All in all, yes it can be difficult, but there are plenty of avenues for you to get what you want, whether by letting it happen or by making it happen. You’ll learn this lesson through the recruiting process as well. Hope this helps and hope to see you on campus next year.

  • FEMBA Alum

    As an Alum: I think the key to understanding Anderson students lies, at least for FEMBA students, is their IMMENSE appetite for risk. There are social rewards to doing crazy things for ones career, such as starting a new business, taking an unpaid internship, or quitting a perfectly good job to explore new things in non-traditional ways. Risk taking is revered as “bad-ass,” even when it fails miserably. That’s the difference.

  • Myron

    John,

    Thanks for the link. Much appreciated

  • JohnAByrne

    Myron,

    We recently published an extensive report on MBA fellowships and had interviewed UCLA officials for several of our stories. Here’s how Anderson compares with other leading business schools:

    http://poetsandquants.com/2014/11/20/mba-scholarships-at-top-business-schools/

  • Myron

    Thanks for sharing your first hand experience. This is interesting that Anderson’s move from public to private funding has led to more flexibility in fund raising and thereby supply of more fellowships. Have you seen a clear rise in fellowships (numbers and average $)? Any favourite courses and are profs accessible?

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for weighing in with your observations. I’m sure our readers will find them very helpful.

  • AndersonMBA2016

    Current Anderson 1st year student here, going into Marketing (either Consumer or Tech – fortunately I’m able to recruit for both at Anderson!)
    -I agree that Anderson is going places. I’m extremely happy with the direction the school is taking – the revamped application (easier to apply = more applicants), giving more fellowships to attract top talent away from other schools (myself included), and making the school Privatized (which means higher fundraising, which means more fellowships, which means more top talent).
    -I don’t think there’s an “obsession” on rankings, but they are discussed, and rightfully so. Rankings are a reality, and one that has a big impact on any school, both in who chooses to apply/attend, as well as which companies recruit on campus, and the ultimate value of your degree.
    -Yes, there are some flaws at the school (for example, I think we need to move off the quarter system), but there are flaws at any school!
    -My favorite thing: the people/ the collaborative culture – everyone is super nice and down to earth, and super smart/accomplished. For example, after interviews, people will share the interview questions with other people who are interviewing – even though we are direct competitors to one another

  • mba2015

    Interesting article, but UCLA was more of a safety school for me.

  • uclaadmit

    Current students tell me that it is hard to enroll in the 3 to 5 popular classes and many times students are stuck taking classes that they have no interest in.

  • murica

    well yeah…. silicon valley is 40 min away..

  • Myron

    UCLA earns marks for repositioning its MBA program to high growth technology and opening up new opportunities for students. I remember older articles from 8 years ago when journalists wondered why UCLA underachieved in rankings. UCLA is going places, the administration did a good job. Thanks John for covering a West Coast B-School and looking at recruiters and courses.

  • a3

    My friends is at UCLA and I know for a fact that UCLA did not send 15+ people to work at Google

  • guest22

    “Record 43% Of Haas MBAs Go Into Tech”

  • Guest22

    I wish those who post like this could go a bit more into detail. How does a school that sends over a quarter of its students into tech give you fewer opportunities than other business schools?

    Based on the internship data someone posted below, 17% of internships were in Tech for the class of 2015. 30 people interned at Amazon, Google, Apple, Ebay, Microsoft.

    Is it the function you want that isn’t available?

  • mba

    how did Anderson accept someone that can’t even spell the name of the school correctly?

  • guest123

    I too am a student at Anderson. I’m not miserable but not happy either. I have way fewer opportunities in tech when compared to my friends at other business schools.

  • Anderson15

    I’m a first year student and can help ballpark for you. I know last year about 30 students had IB internships. I’m not sure how many applied for these jobs, but I do know that this year about 35 of us are actively recruiting for IB. In other words, the vast majority of people who want to work in IB end up landing a position. And just from my personal experience with IB recruitment so far this year, I can say that Anderson has a very strong and close network of alumni bankers in LA, SF and NYC.

  • JohnAByrne

    The 2014 report is not out yet. The data in the story was provided to us as part of our reporting.

  • Mike

    John,
    Can you post a link to 2014 Ucla employment report? Only see 2013

  • Mike

    Can a current Anderson student tell me what percent of students interested in getting an IB internship were able to do so?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe if you spelled things like “Anderson” correctly, you would get those opportunities.

  • Anderson Alum

    Great article. UCLA Anderson is an underrated school.

  • MBAPicking

    Can you elaborate on this?

  • AndersonMBA

    Anderson is ok, but would not recommend anyone forgo Booth or Tuck to attend Anderson. Anderson is obsessed with its rankings and many professors are visibly frustrated with Dean Olian’s strategic direction for the school

  • UCLAMBA

    This is spot on. Coming to Anderson has been an incredible experience!

  • UCLAAndesronAMR

    I am currently a student at UCLA Anderson and I am miserable. The are very few job opportunities to speak of and the placement statistics are completely wrong.

  • MBAreapplicant84

    Great article! I may be biased, but I have loved my time at Anderson so far.

  • AH

    Not to mention closing the gap with Haas.
    “larding” should be “learning”