Most schools will claim that rankings don’t matter. That is, until they have a great year!
2016 was that kind of year for the Warwick Business School. Ranked 46th globally by the Financial Times and 22nd among international MBA programs by Bloomberg Businessweek, the program exploded in October’s Economist ranking, placing 20th in the world. More important, Warwick finished ahead of esteemed UK cousins like the London Business School, Oxford, and Cambridge.
That’s just The Economist, critics will swipe. True, they are traditionally the most volatile and quirky ranking of them all. However, it’s why Warwick cracked the top 20 that should put everyone on notice. For one, the program ranked second in the world on faculty quality, a mixture of a low faculty-to-student ratio, a high number of faculty holding Ph.D.s, and lofty faculty ratings from students themselves. Based on student surveys, the program also ranked 6th globally in educational experience and 7th for delivering a superior personal development and educational experience. Even more, students were enthralled with the Warwick’s career services, which received the fourth-highest scores of any MBA program.
What’s behind Warwick’s success? James Moody, a University of Liverpool grad and project manager who started the full-time MBA program in September, points to the “diversity of content, the opportunity to take part in international initiatives and the fantastic support of the Careers and Corporate Relations teams.” Chile’s Francisco Del Rio, who joins Moody as part of the Class of 2017, also touts the program’s “soft skills development, career guidance, and a hands-on approach” since his arrival.
However, there is another not-so-secret reason why Warwick continues to make strides: the network. Based on school-supplied data, the program ranked 7th in both the breadth of the alumni network and the international character of school’s alumni according to The Economist. Even more, the program placed 4th in potential to network, another combination of quantitative (the ratio of alumni-to-students and the number of overseas alumni chapters) and qualitative measures (High ratings of alumni from the student survey). For Naveen Chilakamarri, who spent 13 years climbing the ranks of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the Warwick network led him to make the 17,025 kilometer trek from Sydney to Warwick. “While my motivation for enrolling in the WBS MBA is to obtain a competitive advantage,” he explains, “I was very much drawn by the rich Warwick network of 37,000 alumni spread over 140 countries which provides me the opportunity to tap into this network to leverage for my own career advantage and to truly broaden my business skills and knowledge base.”
“Broaden” is a key word at the Warwick Business School, an academically-driven and interdisciplinary one-year MBA program with a global outlook and a penchant for experiential learning. A two hour drive from London in the peaceful English countryside, the program is renowned for leadership development and unorthodox methods for pushing student outside their comfort zones, such as going barefoot, donning masks, and acting out case studies in one class.
That shouldn’t faze the 2017 Class, a class of globe-trotting voyagers who aren’t afraid to try new things and live life on their terms. Del Rio, who has already worked as a CFO for a hard goods firm, describes himself as someone who is “driven by ideas that improve people’s lives creatively” and “a finance manager with an entrepreneurial spirit.” Moody, a lover of sports, travel and the outdoors, is “driven by curiosity and unrivalled inquisitiveness.” He might have an alter ego in Max Weiland, “an adventurer at heart with a passion for languages and exploring new, different cultures.”
That independent spirit also manifests itself in their lives and interests. Australia’s Ralph Abou-Mrad, who comes to B-school from the hospitality and airline industries, has visited 72 cities in 41 countries in 6 continents. Oh … and he does marathons to raise money for charities in his spare time. Deloitte alum Ashima Goyal is a professional dance choreographer. Sarah Farnham ought to appear in a Chik-fil-A commercial after keeping a pet cow. And Moody was part of a team that holds a world record for rolling the world’s largest Gimbap (basically a Korean tortilla held together with seaweed).
While “broad” may describe the MBA curriculum, the label could equally be applied to the incoming class’ professional experiences. Karen Barker, director of recruitment at the school, is happy to click off just how diverse the class is. “Alongside the wide and varied business experience, we have students who have worked to boost employment skills for women and girls in deprived areas of Delhi; another who spearheaded a funding campaign for cancer treatment at a hospital; one who developed Abu Dhabi’s sustainability agenda and one MBA who has organised fashion shows and boosted his team’s morale by setting up a company band; plus a trained clinical psychologist and an Argentinian film critic.”
The class certainly boasts some great stories. At Jaguar Land Rover, Farnham was responsible for winning and managing a visit from the Prime Minister of India in 2014. You could call Chilakamarri a turnaround artist. He earned his bank’s coveted CEO Award after turning a “disengaged project team” into a driving force behind a complex, high profile initiative that saved his employers millions of dollars in credit card fraud. You’ll find a similar story with Moody, who was entrusted to manage a series of large, high profile freight projects early in his career. His reward? He was named the ‘Young Freight Forwarder of the Year’ by a global freight association.
Warwick could be labeled as a small and intimate MBA program. During the 2015-2016 cycle, it received 172 applications and ultimately enrolled 76 students. The class boasted an average GMAT of 647 (660 median), with international and female students comprising 84% and 24% of the class respectively. Before entering business school, the largest bloc of students worked in finance (17%), followed by consulting (16%), petroleum and energy (12%), manufacturing (11%), and marketing and sales (9%).