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Cambridge Judge Business School: ‘Go Out & Do Something Extraordinary’

University of Cambridge Judge Business School

University of Cambridge Judge Business School

MBA APPLICATIONS UP 13% IN THE PAST YEAR WHILE ENROLLMENT IS RELATIVELY STABLE

While arch-rival Oxford University is increasing the size of its full-time MBA program by a third, Loch wants to keep Judge’s annual student intake relatively stable—even in light of the approval of a £32 million expansion in facilities which began last month. The MBA class for 2015-2016 is expected to be 160 students, up modestly from the 145 students in the class of 2014-2015, when the average GMAT score was 680. Applications for the MBA program have increased by 13% compared over last year.

“We are not trying to grow the program, in contrast to some other business schools,” he says firmly. “We are trying to make it matter as much as possible. So we are investing in the quality of the students and the program. It is a small program so people get a lot of personal attention. It’s a program which I say to students when they arrive, ‘Come here to be ready to open your mind up to something you couldn’t even imagine. You will meet people from philosophy, physics, and history. They become part of a network which is really designed to open their minds.”

Like MBA students at Oxford University, Judge students are assigned to live in several of the 31 residential colleges that make up Cambridge so they collide with non-business types on a regular basis. “They go to events and parties and just can’t help running into people from other departments who express views that are sometimes surprising and sometimes grating,” adds Loch. “You are pushed into engaging in this. It’s all very connected and within 500 yards of the business school we have three colleges.

BUILT INTO THE JUDGE PROGRAM: PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE

“A college is residential but also the students have tutors who do pastoral care. So somebody pays attention to them. We try to do that here, but it’s also done at the college level. MBA students are spread over a handful of the colleges so they are not all sitting in one college where there would be a repetition of the business school. In each college they are a minority.”

While MBA students can take a limited number of courses from other parts of the university, it’s relatively common for the business school to bring in lecturers from economics, criminology, and law to give lectures. The same is true at Oxford. Asked about the differences between the MBA programs at Oxford and Cambridge, Loch says “their program is a little bit bigger. They are trying to embed a business school within a wider university. There are more opportunities to do real stuff here in entrepreneurship. We really have built into our program practical experience: A consulting project within the first trimester with a startup; then five weeks with a company in the second trimester with an established company. Both are mandatory.” In fact, students have four opportunities for practical projects.

Loch says within the intellectual environment that is Cambridge–a picture-perfect town in the English countryside just 45 minutes from London by train–there was “a certain suspicion about business” some 20 years ago. “You still hear some references to this when you talk to people socially, but we have support from the administration and it understands that it needs to have a good business school. They want a research active business school, and I think they are right to want that. But we have the hostility to a business school behind us. Part of that is integration. There is enough interaction. Whenever you don’t have enough, that directly causes suspicion.”

‘THE MARKET SAYS THAT ONE-YEAR MBAS ARE ACCEPTED BY EMPLOYERS AS FULL-FLEDGED MBAS’

In any case, this is an intense program. The school’s MBA curriculum kicks off in September with students graduating a year later. The twelve months are divided into three 14-week terms. Loch believes Judge’s accelerated MBA offers great value over the more traditional two-year programs. “The market says that MBAs with a one-year program are accepted by employers as full-fledged MBAs,” he says. “Students who are under pressure from that quicker schedule we take by the hand and lead them. It’s a small number who don’t make it.”

Judge’s latest employment report proves Loch’s point. MBA students in the latest graduating class left jobs that on average paid them compensation packages of $81,702. They ultimately used their MBA degrees to land jobs that paid packages that averaged $152,487, an 86.6% increase after a ten-month program. About 95% of the class had job offers within three months of graduation, while 89% were employed at that mark. This past year the top employers of Judge MBAs were Google, A.T. Kearney, Ernst & Young, Fung Group, Infosys, and Schlumberger Business Consulting.

Obviously absent from the top employer list are such elite mainstream MBA recruiters as McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan/Chase, Amazon, and Apple. Some of them, says Loch, recruit at Judge but are not among the leading employers of Judge graduates. “All the banks in London come here to recruit and the McKinseys, Bains and A.T. Kearney,” he says. “Many people go into lots of different industries, and we have a contingent of people who are going into the non-profit sector as well. That is a good thing.”