Harvard | Mr. Captain Mishra
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Certain Government Guy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Ms. Eyebrows Say It All
GRE 299, GPA 8.2/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Hopeful B School Investment Analyst
GRE 334, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Stuck Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Mechanical Engineer W/ CFA Level 2
GMAT 760, GPA 3.83/4.0 WES Conversion
Wharton | Mr. Asset Manager – Research Associate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Community Involvement
GMAT 600, GPA 3.2
Chicago Booth | Mr. International Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. South East Asian Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. Hollywood To Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Ms. Investor To Fintech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Structural Engineer
GMAT 680, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Anxious One
GRE 323, GPA 3.85
Ross | Mr. Saudi Engineer
GRE 312, GPA 3.48
Harvard | Ms. Consumer Sustainability
GMAT 740, GPA 3.95
Columbia | Ms. Retail Queen
GRE 322, GPA 3.6
Tuck | Ms. Confused One
GMAT 740, GPA 7.3/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Health Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Regulator To Private
GMAT 700, GPA 2.0
Harvard | Mr. Air Force Seeking Feedback
GRE 329, GPA 3.2
MIT Sloan | Mr. Spaniard
GMAT 710, GPA 7 out of 10 (top 15%)
Harvard | Ms. Marketing Family Business
GMAT 750- first try so might retake for a higher score (aiming for 780), GPA Lower Second Class Honors (around 3.0)
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred MBA Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Colombian Sales Leader
GMAT 610, GPA 2.78
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Family Business Turned Consultant
GMAT 640, GPA 3.0

Meet The Fashion-Forward MBAs

Models walk on fashion show runway.

Italian student Alessandra Basso has “fashion in her DNA.” So after a six-year career in communications and marketing for architecture and interior design firms, she set her sights on breaking into high-end apparel. But rather than signing up for design school or a textiles degree, she enrolled in London Business School in September 2012.

From luxury retail MBA concentrations to internships with high-street brands, a growing number of MBA students like Basso are leveraging a business degree to launch fashion-focused careers. And the market is ready for them. In 2013, the number of MBA jobs in retail jumped 28%, according to a survey by QS TopMBA.com. It should come as no surprise that a business degree is gaining popularity in a global apparel industry valued at $1.7 trillion in 2011. The U.S. fashion industry alone reported $284 billion in retail sales in 2012. It doesn’t take an MBA to know that’s big business.

Alessandra Basso is a London Business School MBA

Alessandra Basso is a London Business School MBA

Business schools have met rising demand among both students and employers with programs, clubs, and concentrations. Paris’ International Institute of Management and Kent State University’s College of Business Administration offer fashion concentrations in their MBA programs. Others, such as London Business School (LBS) and New York University’s Stern School of Business run luxury retail MBA programs, which feed graduates to employers such as Chanel, Coach, and Cole Haan.

LBS launched its Luxury Management Program last October. The application-only initiative pairs students with mentor executives and hosts lectures by industry heavyweights ranging from Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, to Jonathan Ackeroyd, president and CEO of Alexander McQueen. The program received some 100 applications in its first year and accepted 12 students – the school plans to gradually add more spots over the next few years, according to Gareth Howells, executive director of MBA programs at LBS.

While some designers may balk at the idea of boiling their creative work down to a commercial enterprise, understanding the nuts and bolts of business is essential, Howells says. “In the fashion and luxury industries, a lot of people don’t look at them as businesses, when in reality there are a lot of similarities – it’s about brand, marketing, entrepreneurial spirit, strategy, product design, innovation, and creativity,” he adds. “Sometimes creatives think that business is a dirty word and that the business side may stifle their creativity, but you can keep artistic integrity intact and still have a viable business.”

Basso agrees. During her MBA studies she co-authored a report that investigated strategies for up-and-coming designers to successfully commercialize their businesses. She and her fellow researchers found that “the coexistence of creativity and business” are essential to a thriving fashion brand.

The researchers also advise designers to find a business-savvy partner. Here’s where MBAs fit in, according to Basso. “MBAs can contribute to a fashion business by enabling an environment where creativity is rewarded and where designers are encouraged to take risks while providing the proper business boundaries to monetize creativity and ensure commercial success to it,” she says. In other words, rather than straight-jacketing a designer’s creative impulses, MBAs can keep them on track and in the black.

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