Friday, August 2, 2013

Interview with Mary Miller on the EMBA-Global (Asia) Program offered by Columbia, HKU and London Business School

I am pleased to present the following interview with Mary Miller, Program Director of the EMBA-Global Asia program offered by Columbia Business School, HKU Business School and London Business School.  

Career Impact

1. Have any of your students attempted a career change (changing their function, or even moving to a new company) after completing the program?

Yes, many of our students don’t wait to graduate before they change positions in their current company, accepted a new position with a different company or started their own business.  EMBA-Global Asia gives students confidence in their ability to take on new challenges and opportunities in addition to the support, knowledge and skills to do so.  While our program is still young, it is difficult to keep track of all the employment changes that happen during and after the program. These individuals are truly global citizens who are talented and sought after by international companies.


2. What kind of TOEFL or IELTS score are you hoping to see? Is there a minimum for either test?

An important component of the program is the lively discussions that occur in and out of the classroom, so English fluency is critical to get the most out of the program.  However, we have no minimum score for either test.  All of our candidates are interviewed, so this offers an additional opportunity to demonstrate their English language ability. If we think candidates need to improve their English language skills, we encourage them to obtain this in various ways prior to the beginning of the program.

3. In some countries like Japan only very senior employees get management experience. How do you factor this in when weighing the managerial experience of applicants to the program? 

We are aware that the countries have different business practices and we think it is important to have diversity in the classroom.  An individual’s management experience is important, but so is his or her attitude and reasons for pursuing an EMBA degree.  Even a candidate without a lot of management experience can be a leader and have much to share and contribute.

4. I assume that company support makes it easier for students in the program to manage the scheduling and travel. However is company support a necessary component of an application?

We want students to get the most out of the program and think it is important for them to have the support of their employer in terms of time out of the office, and so this is required.  While financial support by the company is also encouraged, it is not required.  When a company gives a candidate time away from the office, this demonstrates a commitment to the individual’s professional development and is a very positive influence.

5. The academic background of applicants is mentioned on the admissions website - how important is the undergraduate GPA? What can applicants do if their GPA is relatively low (for instance below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale)?

While the academic background is important, the GPA is also the only aspect of the application that can’t be changed.  Most people have matured 5+ years after they were undergraduates.  They are business managers and leaders and we’ve found that their attitude and commitment is a critical component to their success in the classroom.  That said, it is always helpful to prepare for the rigors of the course work by reviewing material that may have been forgotten or not used for a long time. We have a pre-MBA online course that we encourage candidates to complete once they are admitted. They can do this at their own pace and this helps them determine areas where they may need to expend extra effort.

6. What range of GMAT scores are represented in the current class?

The GMAT seems to be the requirement that causes the most anxiety for applicants. We have no minimum score and only ask that candidates do their best.  Many EMBA programs don’t require the GMAT, but we do.  One of the unique features of the EMBA-Global Asia program is that our students take electives courses with students in other MBA programs at all the three schools (CBS, LBS and HKU).  We hold all students to the same high standard.  While applicants don’t like taking the GMAT as part of the admission process, after they are admitted they are proud of their accomplishment and are glad that it was required.  As you might expect with such a diverse group of candidates, the scores also vary widely.

The EMBA-Global Experience

7. Is all learning conducted in the classroom? A lot of people have the impression that EMBA programs mix short bursts of in-class learning with online-based assignments. How about your program?

All courses are taught in the classroom with lively discussion and interaction, but learning takes place in and out of the classroom.  What is so wonderful about EMBA programs is that you learn something in the class that you can apply the next day in at work. Students learn from each other all the time – in and out of the classroom. Since our students come from all over the world and work in teams across time zones outside of class, a lot of team projects and assignments are completed using a variety of tools – email, Skype, video-conferencing. 

8. Can you give an example as to how students can grow their network by meeting students from other programs in elective courses? From what programs are these students coming from?

This is one of the unique aspects of the program. In July, three CBS faculty members (one being Dean Hubbard) taught an elective course in Hong Kong at HKU.  The class included some EMBA-Global Asia students, but full-time and other executive MBA students from CBS and LBS also enrolled.  It was amazing how easily they connected with each other, and by the end of the week they all had new friends and colleagues.

Thank you Mary for your time!

John Couke