Harvard | Mr. Investment Banker
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Kenan-Flagler | Ms. Nonprofit Admin
GMAT 620, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Kellogg | Mr. Class President
GRE 319.5, GPA 3.76
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Military 2.0
GRE 310, GPA 2.3
Tepper | Mr. Tech Strategist
GRE 313, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Tuck | Mr. Metamorphosis
GRE 324, GPA 3.15
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
IMD | Mr. Future Large Corp
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Government Consultant
GMAT 600, GPA 3
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare VC
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
Yale | Ms. Social Impact
GMAT 680, GPA 3.83
Kellogg | Mr. 770 Dreamer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.77/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Agribusiness
GRE 308, GPA 3.04
Wharton | Ms. Healthcare Visionary
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tech Evangelist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
IESE | Mr. Future Brand Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 2.8
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.2
Wharton | Ms. PMP To MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.72
Harvard | Mr. British Tech 2+2
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Wharton | Ms. Future CEO
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. Unicorn Strategy
GMAT 740 (estimated), GPA 3.7
Columbia | Mr. MD
GMAT 630, GPA 3.24
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1

Choosing A Global MBA And Building Your International Skill Set

Preparing for a global MBA

Over the past 30 years, business schools around the world have worked tirelessly to “globalize.” What this actually means however, and how successful these efforts have been, remains unclear. So, in this age of increasing international interdependence, what does it really mean to offer a global MBA program or create a global business school and why should it matter to prospective MBA students?

Answering the second question is relatively simple. There is very little business done anywhere in the world today that isn’t influenced in some way by the international economy. Whether you are running a small farm in Iowa or a large financial institution in Hong Kong, you are affected every day by international markets and geopolitical events. In some sense, ALL business is now international business.

Therefore, anyone planning to build a career in business needs to have skills, experiences, and knowledge that will help them understand the challenges and opportunities of the global business environment. My Fortuna Admissions colleague, former INSEAD Director of Admissions Caroline Diarte Edwards, makes a persuasive case for the international MBA in her recent article, 3 Reasons to Pursue an MBA in Europe Right Now. And while an international MBA is an outstanding way to launch a global career, many stateside business schools also offer experiences and programs that embody a global perspective.

So what are these skills and how should business schools impart them? From my perspective as a Fortuna Admissions Director and former Chicago Booth Associate Dean, there are several areas critical to success in global business.


  1. A firm grasp of the fundamentals of business. Whether or not you are doing business in Chicago, Fontainebleau or Tokyo, there are certain principles and skills that you need to understand. A thorough knowledge of economics, data analysis, consumer behavior, and management (psychology) and organization behavior (sociology) are critical to effective business leadership. The key tenets of these courses apply across time and around the world, and every school that aspires to global leadership must provide a solid foundation in these subjects.
  2. Keen understanding of the elements that differ across cultures and geographies. Next, students must learn which business concepts differ across regions. Clearly, there are institutions, practices and “norms” that differ from country to country. Effective business leaders must be able to assess these differences and adjust to the local business environment. That isn’t to say that global business schools must teach courses in “how to do business in [choose your favorite country].” On the contrary, schools couldn’t possibly find the time to teach all the intricacies of every market around the world. Instead they should focus on what can change, how those differences affect business strategy, and the kinds of questions you need to ask to determine just how the environment is different from your own.
  3. An appreciation of other cultures and world regions. Effective business leaders are curious about the world and eager to learn more about other markets, management techniques and cultural norms. Opportunities to study abroad and the chance to study with students from abroad can help foster this curiosity.
  4. Exposure to, and practice in, doing business outside of one’s home country. Real experience in working across cultures is a tremendous learning experience. Such opportunities can offer exposure to a particular country’s business practices, but more importantly, it will hold up a mirror to your own biases and cultural assumptions (if you choose to see them). Regardless of whether you build a career a certain part of the world, learning how to modify your own assumptions and approaches is invaluable. That’s why so often you’ll see successful business leaders move from one part of the world to another – they have learned how to adapt.


As you explore business schools with the above elements in mind, here are other criteria for evaluating whether a program truly embodies a solid perspective on global business:

  • A globally diverse student body
  • Faculty who have international experience
  • Opportunities to study and work abroad
  • Relationships with global firms for internships, projects and careers
  • A strong global alumni base
  • A well-articulated global strategy that might include international coursework, physical facilities abroad, global student projects, and a strong sense of the importance of the global business environment.

Attending a school with these characteristics can provide you with the tools to help you build a global career. However, it’s up to you to take advantage of them. You’ll need to take some risks and likely step out of your comfort zone to truly develop the skills to be an effective global leader.

Fortuna-Admissions-LogoFortuna Admissions Director Bill Kooser is former Associate Dean at Chicago Booth. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.