Is Yale The ‘Most Distinctively Global’ U.S. Business School?

Yale School of Management Dean Ted Snyder

Yale School of Management Dean Ted Snyder


To better leverage the international experience of those students with the full-time MBA cohort, Yale held a joint orientation for the first time this fall, intermingling the two groups to put a more international flavor into the boot camp sessions. Typically, MAM students find their way into business schools classes in the second-year electives. By including them in the orientation, Yale effectively had 54% of its incoming class of students from outside the U.S. (62 new MAM students and 37% of the incoming class of 323 full-time MBA students who were born outside the U.S.)

All told, the school welcomed students from 58 countries this fall, including Afghanistan, Bolivia, Ghana, Ireland, Israel, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, and Zimbabwe. “The community reflects the structure of a network and all the principles we associate with a network,” says Anjani Jain, senior associate dean of Yale’s MBA program. “The nature of the community is that it does not have a dominate cultural norm. It reflects an equality of perspective.”

Yet, some students apparently came away with a more nuanced view of the experience, both at orientation and in the elective coursework. Concedes Snyder: “One view is that these new MAM students have not had the core. ‘They are not Yale trained and there is friction in the class and a drag on our teams.’ Others have said, that ‘these students are the best and brightest from around the world. What a great resource they are.’”


The challenges were especially prevalent when MAM students joined MBAs in some of the second-year electives. “At some point there were some points of friction,” says Senior Associate Dean Jain. “Most of it came from language skills. There are students with less than perfect command of the English language and the practices with respect to career development are different and they are new. But we’re seeing that there also are friendships deeply embedded between the MAM students and the second-year MBAs.”

Jeffrey Adadevoh, an MAM student from Ghana, agrees. He voices enthusiasm for the mash up, noting that during orientation, the school created teams of eight students each, mixing both programs together. “The first assignment we did was together with the MBAs,” he says. “We had a global challenge and MAMs were put in groups with MBAs and had to develop an idea to solve a problem in the world. We came up with a mobile cloud technology that manages health records for developing countries which find it hard to keep track of those records.”

The MAM students, moreover, are different than the traditional international students who come to a top U.S. business school to study. Many of those MBAs are often more Western in their approach and focus. The joint orientation seemed to move the groups closer together. “The integration really started things off on a positive footing,” says Alexa Allen, a second-year MBA student who is president of SOM’s student government association. “The different ideas you hear change your way of thinking. Your classmates push you. Most of the MBAs would agree that it’s so positive to have access to the MAMs. They have this wealth of knowledge about their country cultures.”


Full-time MBA students also gain exposure to the network in other ways. Yale, which initially required a global experience in 2006, has put in place a broader, global studies requirement with greater options. An MBA can now fulfill the requirement by doing two of the global network weeks, a ten-day global enterprise course or the more traditional international travel course.

At least some deans are enthusiastic, saying the network has exceeded expectations. “We thought it was a good idea at first but how it was going to develop wasn’t mapped out,” says Ciaran O’hOgartalgh, dean of the University of College of Dublin’s Smurtfit Graduate Business School. “We wouldn’t have thought the SNOCs would be developed so quickly or the global network weeks. This is a much richer experience than expected.” Smurfit has hosted a network global week on “Digital Marketing: Understanding Opportunities and Devising Strategies.”

But not everything has been successful. “The network weeks have been a big hit,” says Snyder. “The SNOCs are emerging to be extremely positive. The cases are at best an incomplete with indications that they are a real challenge. We thought global cases would have been more featured in the portfolio. The subset we have done together are amazing but there is a school north of us which has a pretty strong franchise and faculty like the cases they use. It’s hard to penetrate. We had a good faculty week in the summer and we’ve shared some major events like the Geithner lectures,” he adds, referring to a series of three lectures by former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.


“But the student nodes are not self-activating so we need to do more there,” continues Snyder. “Students are busy. If you have a random selection of top students, their dance cards are pretty full.” As a result, the network provides a deep educational experience for only a minority of students at member schools. And some network schools simply lack the resources to be major contributors to the network or, in some cases, to even send students to the network weeks.

But as Synder’s hallway conversation with current applicants suggest, this is a work in progress. With an endowment of $725 million, only a quarter of Harvard Business School’s total, SOM lacks the deep resources to go head-t0-head with HBS, Stanford and Wharton. As Professor Morton quips, “At Harvard, they catch the leaves as they fall off the trees. The landscaping budget at HBS is higher than most business school’s educational budget.”

Yet, as word spreads about the unusual experiment in global business going on at Yale, more students keen on engaging in a true global business school are likely to show up and take more advantage of what SOM has put together. Already, Synder has achieved his goal of making SOM “the most distinctively global U.S. business school.”

Arguably, no U.S. school can boast a similar package of unique global offerings and SOM, given the halo of Yale University, can now offer a global experience that rivals London Business School and INSEAD. Key rankings are turning up for Snyder which will also help to bring the school to the attention of more people. For the first time in SOM’s history, the school seems on the verge of breaking out and into the truly elite category of business schools.


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