You can’t study business disciplines separately anymore. Want to become a brand manager? You’d better know as much about P&L as the Four P’s. That’s because employers are seeking hires who understand how the whole picture fits together. In an intersecting world – where competencies are currency and cohesion is compulsory – you need to know how every decision resounds with sales, finance, operations, and personnel. More important, you must practice how to influence outcomes in such conditions.
That’s the thinking behind the first semester at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Forget bouncing from a Data and Decisions class to Leadership 101. In Kelley’s full-time MBA program, students study an integrated core, a singular course involving team teaching and group projects where students can experience how the various disciples come together and complement each other. Mixing the theoretical with the hands-on, the core even closes with a case competition where student teams partner with employers on live projects. In other words, the core simulates exactly what students will face in their internship – and their careers beyond.
Indeed, the Kelley core is an all-consuming, high stakes approach, with students receiving just one grade for a semester of work. “It is an exercise in prioritization,” states Ray Luther, Kelley’s executive director of MBA Programs, in an interview with Poets&Quants. “It’s a very intense experience, with no shortage of reading and teamwork and sound academic foundations and fundamentals. So students have to prioritize how they work through that. We have a very high success rate in the core. And it’s one of those things that we judge success by: What’s the impact they can have in actually applying this business fundamental knowledge and language together – which we see throughout the rest of the program, both in [terms of] future courses that they end up taking or consulting projects they work on. The core is such a great foundation for everything that we do.”
Indeed, silos are anathema to the Kelley experience. Instead, the curriculum and culture are geared towards developing a well-rounded skill set and perspective – not to mention a thick skin. If you hope to glide through, cloistered and comfortable, Kelley is probably not the school for you. Here, students are expected to be engaged and involved, ever ready for a strong dose of coaching and peer feedback. Think of it as career bootcamp – with a smile instead of a snarl. And this fresh yet rigorous approach – coupled with a deeply supportive community – may be one reason why Kelley has attracted such an eclectic 2017 Class.
How unique are they? Before arriving in Bloomington, Wayne Chou was a business news editor for China Daily. Nicole Pechanec studied engineering and architectural design at Stanford – before becoming an associate producer at NBC Sports. And Wayne Shen earned a master’s degree in music from the New England Conservatory of Music – which eventually led him to manage the financial and operations sides of a music education consortium. Overall, you’ll find practitioners from Intel, Coca-Cola, Cigna, Abbott, and Deloitte Consulting – among many others – in this 187 member fall class.
The 2017 Class also brings strong credentials to the table. There were 1,471 applications for the incoming class, up 239 applications from the previous class. Due to this increased popularity, Kelley’s acceptance rate fell from 33.1% to 29% (with the class increasing by just one member over the previous year). At the same time, the incoming class’ median GMAT rose from 668 to 680 over the 2016 Class, with GMAT scores falling between 600 and 730 in the mid-80% range. The class also averaged a 3.36 undergraduate GPA, with averages ranging from 2.9-3.81 (again, in the mid-80%). The class also features a strong mix of poets and quants. Undergraduate business majors comprise 28% of the class, followed closely by engineering (25%), economics (13%), social sciences (11%), humanities (10%), computer sciences (5%), and hard sciences (4%) majors.
Go to next page to access student profiles of this year’s incoming class.