They usually start with the sound of a few sprightly notes played on a piano, then the gentle striking of a tamborine. That has been the signature opening of a Poets&Quants video ever since we started recording them six years ago. Occasionally, we’ll mix it up, playfully starting a video series in New York with the Saturday Night Live intro or opening each of our entertaining series of videos with comedian and Dartmouth Tuck MBA Paul Ollinger with a hipper fingers-clicking bass line.
Either way, this year’s crop of P&Q videos reached a new level of professionalism. They ranged from deep on-campus dives of business schools, one-on-one interviews with deans, our ongoing series of handicapping sessions with HBSGuru.com founder Sandy Kreisberg, Q&As with a variety of MBA admission consultants, and our aforementioned comedic series with Ollinger, author of You Should Totally Get An MBA.
As the founder of Poets&Quants, one of my great joys is to travel across the country, drop in on one campus after another and interview students, administrators and alumni. This past year has brought me to all kinds of places, ranging from Lawrence, Kansas, and Bloomington, Indiana, to Eugene, Oregon, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. We go to the big brand schools, but we also visit plenty of hidden MBA gems that would allow many students to pursue and reach their professional dreams.
Our Top 10 favs of 2016?
Our latest video, filmed in the last month of the year, had our crew spend a day at Wharton’s San Francisco campus for a deep dive on the full semester program for its full-time MBA students. We had the chance to interview three current MBA students as well as program director Maria Halpern and explore what it was like to spend a quarter of the MBA experience in the Bay Area.
“This is a really unique experience,” says Maria Halpern, director of the program. “What it is really all about is giving students an opportunity to have an immersive learning experience, a very customized curriculum based in the hart of San Francisco. We want the learning experience to be really rich and we are investing in some of the best professors to be out there.”
The brainchild of Wharton’s Vice Dean Of Innovation Karl Ulrich, the program started as a pilot in the fall of 2012 on the school’s existing campus which play host to the West Coast version of its Executive MBA program. Exactly 65 students applied to head west that first year and all 65 got in. After three successful years in pilot mode, the school smartly made it a core offering in 2015. This past year, 130 students asked to be considered for the program in an application process that requires an essay and strong academic performance.
One of this year’s highlights was a visit to the University of Kansas’s new $70 million business school home to interview former B-School Dean and now University Provost Neeli Bendapudi. She is one of the most dynamic and passionate university leaders we’ve met in recent years, an introspective thinker who has brought new life to the undergraduate and graduate business offerings on campus. During our visit, we also interviewed three current MBA students as well as a pair of successful alums at Google and UMB Bank, and observed a professor teach an early class.
“I believe in the nobility of business where business is not a dirty word,” says Bendapudi. “You don’t have to be apologetic for being in it. A lot of places if you say you are in business, it’s as though you are hiding your horns somewhere. The alumni who have come out of here will never apologize for making a profit. Because if you don’t, you are not in business. That is part of your sustainability. But people here understand in their core that as you rise you help others rise. That is the ethos of this place. That is in the air we breathe here and I love that.”
To Bendapudi, the initials MBA don’t stand for a Master’s in Business Administration. It stands for a Mop-And-Bucket Attitude. “I want MBAs who don’t think they are too good to do what is needed,” she told us. “Okay, this is super corny but what I tell my students here is that I want them to have that mop-and-bucket attitude because that will set them apart.”
Why would we fly all the way to Bloomington, Indiana, to do a video on an online program? It’s because the Kelley Direct program is one of the very best online MBAs anyone could ever get–and because online students actually come to campus for a week-long series of networking and class sessions, including presentations to executives and entrepreneurs, called Kelley Connect.
For anyone considering an online MBA option, this is a must-see video. During our interviews with students, we address the pros and cons of an Internet program, how the Kelley School has incorporated core elements of a residential program into an online offering, and the quality of the faculty in online education.
We also interview Associate Dean Phillip T. Powell, a business school star himself for his enthusiastic and articulate leadership of the online program. If Powell can’t sell you on an online MBA program, no one can.