CentreCourt Draws Hundreds To SF

centrecourt mba festival

Deans from five leading business schools speak on a panel with P&Q Editor-in-Chief John Byrne at the CentreCourt MBA Conference in San Francisco on June 24, 2017. Photo by Nathan Allen

Hundreds of potential MBA applicants descended on the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco’s South of Market district Saturday (June 24) for face time with deans and admissions directors from some of the world’s leading business schools. Part of the third installment of the CentreCourt MBA Festival (Poets&Quants is a co-host to the festival), future MBA hopefuls spent the entire day trying to woo and being wooed by representatives from participating schools. The general theme: Now’s the time for the MBA.

“We’ve been around 117 years and we’ve innovated along the way. There is no better time to get an MBA than right now, actually,” Matthew Slaughter, the dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business announced to the crowd early on in the day. Slaughter was flanked by his colleagues from Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “I think it’s (the MBA degree) more valuable than it has ever been,” echoed Rich Lyons, dean of the Haas School.

And so the stage was set. The deans spoke of the latest innovations and changes at their respective schools. From Kenan-Flagler’s newfangled virtual reality simulation that charges full-time MBAs to start a health device business in Cameroon to Cornell’s $400 million investment in prime New York City real estate for its Tech NYC program, the deans took turns trading innovation blows.

After a panel focused on MBAs entering the tech sector, MBA admissions directors picked up where the deans left off. Admissions directors from INSEAD, the UT-Austin McCombs School of Business, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and Chicago’s Booth School of Business spoke about topics ranging from the importance of specifics in an application, to each school’s approach to the application, to the average GMAT score for Stanford’s incoming class. The day concluded with a “meet and greet” time for participants and admissions officials from dozens of schools.

Below is a photo essay with key quotes from the day. To view each panel and specific admissions interviews, check out the Poets&Quants Facebook page.

centrecourt mba festival

Poets&Quants Editor-in-Chief John A. Byrne (left) leads a panel discussion of deans from leading business schools. Pictured from left to right are Scott DeRue (Michigan Ross), Matthew Slaughter (Dartmouth Tuck), Rohit Verma (Cornell Johnson), Doug Shackelford (North Carolina Kenan-Flagler), and Rich Lyons (Berkeley-Haas). Photo by Nathan Allen

The participating deans spoke of increases in post-MBA average salaries, increases in applications, and deepening relationships with employers as proof of the current market-value of the MBA. “At the top schools, it’s like most talent markets. It’s a star market and things are looking good,” Lyons said.

“I think what’s remarkable is we just see the number of companies who are deepening their recruiting relationships with us and the new companies that are coming in,” Michigan Ross Dean Scott DeRue added.

centrecourt mba festival

Participants outside of the CentreCourt MBA Festival. Photo by Nathan Allen

Knowing the room was filled with nearly 200 potential elite applicants, the deans and admissions officers didn’t hesitate to sing the praises of their MBA programs. Rohit Verma, the dean of external relations at Cornell Johnson, touted the Cornell NYC Tech center — which amounted to about $400 million to build — and Dean Matthew Slaughter lauded Tuck’s tech “basecamp” in the foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. “Tuck is a basecamp, not just for the rest of Dartmouth’s campus, but literally for the world of technology,” Slaughter said.

“We’re on a mission to re-invent the business school experience around experiential learning,” DeRue countered. “We want every student who walks through our doors to be able to start a real company, invest real money in real assets, and advise real companies on real issues. Last year we had 167 consulting projects in 25 countries. Over half of those 167 projects were outside of the United States.”

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