Meet The IESE MBA Class of 2017

Karen Marian Crisostomo

Karen Marian Crisostomo

IESE Business School

Hometown: Manila, Philippines

Undergraduate School and Major: University of the Philippines, Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Company: L’Oreal:

1) Management Trainee

2) L’Oreal Luxury Division Product Manager for Shu Uemura

3) L’Oreal Luxury Division Product and Retail Manager for Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Guy Laroche Fragrances

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Some of the valuable lessons I learned about taking the GMAT are:

1) You have to know your “power hour”: Know yourself and determine when you can work best during the day so you can utilize your optimal time for preparations. You probably have a lot more to do other than the GMAT, so taking this into consideration will help you be more effective in terms of studying for the GMAT and in taking the actual exam.

2) You’ll know when you’re ready: One way to gauge how ready you are for the GMAT is that when you look at a question, you’d immediately have a good idea on how to go about it. When you’ve reached this point, you probably would have learned the logic applied to various question types. Otherwise, you may need more time, practice or possibly, a new study strategy.

3) Figure out the pacing that works best for you: Most GMAT books and blogs would typically advise you to spend 1.5 minutes to answer Verbal questions and 2 minutes to answer Quant questions.

Contrary to this, what worked for me is spending a little more time (i.e. instead of 2 minutes average for Quant, spend 2.5 minutes) in the first 1/3 of the section and in the last 1/3 because these are the more crucial parts.

In the first 1/3 of the section, your goal is to accumulate correct answers to increase your score from the onset. In the last 1/3 of the section, your aim is to secure that your score does not decrease and should steadily increase to reach your best possible score in the end. This means that, for the ‘middle’ 2/3s part of the section, you would need to decrease your time (i.e. instead of 2 minutes average for Quant, spend 1.5 minutes). This will also be your leeway for guessing and having fluctuating correct and wrong answers (assuming you have started well and you will also end well given more time in the beginning and in the end).

4) If you fail, it’s not the end of the world: Keep in mind that you should never cancel a bad score. You must own up to your score. It’s okay to take it again. This means that if you do well, the schools you apply to will surely see the improvement in your effort.

5) The GMAT exam is not the only element in your application: High GMAT scores will not always ensure acceptance and low GMAT scores will not always mean rejection. Always remember that there are other equally important components that you need to work on to exhibit your exceptional profile and to encapsulate MBA application objectives.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up to a list of target schools to which to apply? I had a two-step process in MBA school selection:

1) Check your compatibility with your desired schools: What are your personal objectives in doing an MBA? Does it fit the mission of the school and vice versa? This is important to consider because if the mission of the school is attuned with yours, then you will be able to make the most out of the experience. Get to know the school, not just through information that’s readily available online. Attend information sessions to meet the people that make up the community of the school. This will help you grasp the atmosphere and character of your desired school.

2) Streamline your options to fit your purpose for doing the MBA: In my experience, I researched about schools through various means – visiting the campus and attending information sessions and networking events. I met people from the schools and learned from their experiences. From these, I learned which school suited my purpose for doing the MBA. I ended up applying only to one school that is the school I will go to—IESE MBA.

Applying to an MBA is not just about submitting to a lot of schools and going into the best that you get. It will be a lifetime partnership with the community of the school. Spend ample time thinking of your purpose in doing the MBA and research well on the schools that best supports you to achieve that and only apply to those.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? MBA applications entailsa lot of requirements, but even with all these, don’t forget to check the big picture. What is your story? What message do you want to convey to the admissions committee? All of these must be clearly communicated in the various application requirements. The MBA application is not just completing a checklist of items describing your achievements. Keep in mind that it is not only how great you have been in where you were—generally, everyone applying for an MBA is a stellar candidate. Rather, it is more of what you want to do in the future and how will the particular school help you achieve that?

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? In choosing which MBA school to apply to, first, the school must be prestigious; it definitely must be among the top MBA schools in globally.

Second, it must have a great geographic location. I wanted to be in a city that had a different language from my own. I think being able to study another language is part of the cultural and learning experience of doing an MBA.

Third would be the duration of the program that, for me. needed to be two years. The first year is when you learn about yourself, you curate your dreams and you explore. The second year is when you make things happen. Being an expert in anything takes time. A year felt too short, while two years seemed just right.

Last – but the most important criteria – would be the adherence of the school’s mission to my purpose of doing the MBA.

I only applied to one school and it was part of the risk I took which was part of the learning experience of applying into an MBA school. To better explain my thought process in choosing to apply only to IESE, I hope this blog post serves as a good guide:

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Before I graduate, my goals are the following:

1) To clearly determine which career to shift to after the MBA where I will be able to succeed and to make a relevant change in my environment

2) To develop a more global mindset through the entire international experience I will have. It would be a big bonus to be fluent in another language.

3) To immerse in new experiences, to meet new people, to dream bigger every time!

I am confident that the school I will be going to will support all these objectives through proper guidance in choosing the right career path with a very hands-on career services team for the students, through a very diverse community, and through their mission of ensuring that their students create a positive impact through the work that I will engage in.

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