Tag Archives | 85 Broads

85 Broads Webinar: Showing Your Leadership in MBA Admissions

The premier women’s networking group, 85 Broads (formerly a group of women who worked for Goldman Sachs), has invited me to present a webinar on MBA admissions on December 4, 2012. Even if you aren’t a member of the group (and you should be!) it may be possible for eager participants to listen in. Here are the details:

In the one-hour webinar, Harvard Business School graduate and Stanford GSB leadership communications coach Betsy Massar will draw upon her extensive experience working with students who have been accepted into the world’s top schools.

Betsy will present a step-by-step program for students to lay out their business school campaign, work through the hurdles and opportunities, identify their personal excellence, and position the total application to make it stand out. This Jam Session will not only help you get focused on the entire b-school admissions adventure, but will also help you to think creatively about your life history, where you have shown signs of outstanding personal leadership, and your authentic personal excellence.

Betsy Massar is the CEO of Master Admissions, and author of 85 Broads’ first published book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting Into a Top MBA Program, she is an “original” 85 Broad, beginning her business career at Goldman Sachs. She has lived and worked on Wall Street, in Asia and Silicon Valley and has been helping candidates apply to business school since she was in her second year at Harvard. An expert on MBA admissions, she has been quoted in numerous publications such as US News, Poets & Quants, MBA Podcaster and has a dedicated forum at Wall Street Oasis. She is also an active blogger on 85 Broads.

The Jam Session is limited to 200 participants. More information here.
No cost for Subscribing Members of 85 Broads to participate.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:00 pm
Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)

Want to get into b-school? Be yourself!

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “authentic?” My bet would be that you don’t automatically think of an MBA student. But someday, you just might.

Why? The top business schools are not only looking for applicants with academic potential, but they’re seeking out a new breed of leader—­someone who’s passionate, collaborative, and wants to make a difference in the world. They want applicants with more than good grades, impressive scores, and a letter of recommendation from the likes of Bill Clinton. They’re looking for people who can use their hearts and souls when making business decisions—leaders who are authentic.

Many applicants shudder at the thought of revealing themselves in a business school application (“what if I look imperfect?”). But believe it or not, that’s OK! If you try to be the person you think schools want to read about, you’ll end up sounding just like every other candidate out there. So, take a look at these do’s and don’ts that will help you show business schools your true self—and your leadership potential.

Do: Be Yourself

It’s corny, but according to Mary Miller, Assistant Dean of Admissions at Columbia Business School, it works—and it’s exactly what admissions committees are looking for. “Be yourself,” she advised in a BusinessWeek interview. “We’re all unique individuals; we all present ourselves in a unique way…After you read 10,000 applications, it’s pretty easy to pick out who really shares themselves.” So do some self-exploration before you start writing. Figure out your own motivations and influences to get in touch with the genuine you.

Don’t: Presume You Know What They Want to Hear

Don’t model yourself after admitted applicant “essays that worked.” Admissions readers are wise to the templates that are out there, and they’ll take away from your own authenticity.

Instead, write what you want people to read in your application essays. As Director of Michigan Ross MBA Admissions Soojin Kwon Koh says, “the uniqueness comes when you answer questions using your own experiences and your own points of view developed through your unique way of processing experiences. An off-the-shelf approach is a sure way to distinguish yourself—in a negative way.”

Do: Learn By Doing

Of course you can take Myers Briggs or Enneagram tests to determine your leadership style—but the best way to develop it is to go out and make things happen. Take on a new responsibility at work, join a non-profit steering committee, or mentor someone who could benefit from your expertise—and use those experiences to talk about your leadership potential. Take note of how you work with others when you are faced with challenges and actively seek feedback on ways to improve.

Don’t: Be Like the Tin Man

Harvard Business School Admissions Director Dee Leopold claims that the best candidates have a “Wizard of Oz” combination: brains, heart, and courage. We all know plenty of smart, gutsy people—some of whom have risen to the top of their organizations. But many are missing a crucial ingredient: heart.

Authentic leaders show heart, which comes in the form of their dedication to their purpose, and their commitment to their values. Throughout the application process, don’t be afraid to reveal your passion—it’s this quality that makes someone a leader worth following.

Do: Stand Proud of Your Success

It’s OK to be excited about your accomplishments—in fact, you should showcase them in your essays and interviews. Tell stories to illustrate your experiences and potential. . Just don’t forget to acknowledge the contributions of your teammates and supporters too. . Success is something you should be proud to share, but chances are, you didn’t get there alone.

Don’t: Brag

While showing pride can be an asset, don’t get carried away—you can be gracious about your accomplishments without boasting. Dwell on your accomplishments too long, and you risk sounding like what cynics call the “typical MBA,” not a future leader. Also, don’t be afraid to own up to your mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, and admitting that you’re fallible can demonstrate maturity.

As you begin to prepare your essays and applications, you may think your own stories aren’t so interesting. In reality, the opposite is true—the more genuine you are, the more interesting your stories become. That authenticity will improve your chances for admission, and pave the way for success—in business school and beyond.

This article originally appeared in The Daily Muse.

Researching MBA Programs: Finding the Right Fit

Lots of angles (and curves) to measure

Believe it or not, all business schools are not alike. They each have their own personalities, including their own strengths and weaknesses.

Even assuming you could get into every program (why not?) not every place will be just right for  you. Just like in job-hunting, the decisionmaker is going to evaluate how you fit. The best way to get that right is to do your own research.

As I’ve mentioned before, (see blog posts: Use Your Summer Wisely, Start Your App Now, and      The First Tip: Start Early), it makes sense to start early in this process, so you can refine your  choices and also learn a bit more about yourself on the way.

You can use this time to research,  network, pick up valuable work experience, visit campuses, and, believe it or not, have a good time.


Here are some things you can do to learn about where you might want to go to business school:

  • Go to MBA fairs and school-sponsored outreach events–in person (preferable) or online (easier to schedule and are increasingly available)
  • Talk to current students
  • Talk to alumni
  • Visit schools
  • Sign up for outreach programs. Examples include UCLA’s Riordan Fellows Program, the Kellogg Women’s Leadership Workshop , the  Duke’s Women’s Weekend and Stanford GSB’s Many Voices and XX programs. (Plus, too many more to list here.)
  • Read school websites
  • Read student blogs
  • Watch YouTube videos on schools – official and non-official
  • Follow/like school pages on Twitter or Facebook
  • Talk to your career mentor
  • Talk to friends and relatives you respect
  • Check out the list of chats and events at the MBA.com website (the GMAT people), Bloomberg Businessweek, admission consultant websites, and reputable MBA portals.
  • Take notes!

Keep an open mind when you are researching. You never know what you will find, as schools, programs and career trends are changing all the time.

Monique, and 85 Broads member who lives in a city in Africa that will not be visited by any business schools this year, has combed through her target school sites for African graduates and students, has connected with people from her undergraduate alma mater who went to business school, and is asking through Facebook for names of current students or recent graduates, who might be in her country over the summer. She’s also emailed students who are listed as “student ambassadors” on business school websites or the student club pages.

Some schools, such as UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, ask you what you have done to learn about their program in the application. The answer will not make or break your application. However, if you live across the bridge in San Francisco, and have never set foot on the campus, then it could be an issue. With so many channels available – fairs, tours, outreach programs, student ambassadors, clubs, blogs, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, you name it – it’s hard to find an excuse not to have talked directly to students, alumni, or school reps.

So the burden is on YOU to learn about fit. But it doesn’t have to be a burden at all – you’ll be learning more about yourself and your future.  How cool is that?


Thank You Women of Washington DC







The 85 Broads DC Chapter is outstanding! Last Tuesday, I was able to talk to about 30 wonderful chapter members about Leadership & the MBA. With the help of Jhaymee Wilson, and Wharton EMBA graduate, Joy Quinn, we covered a lot of ground.

We talked about a number of resources for potential students of graduate business or joint programs.  I of course shilled my own blog, posted on 85 Broads and on the Master Admissions website. There you can find useful tips on getting your quant skills MBA ready , standardized testing skillsrecommendation wrangling, and storytelling at the interview .

We also talked about other resources, and for great material and zero cost, I cannot recommend MBA Podcaster enough.  This site is filled with balanced audio and video resources – it’s sophisticated and easy to navigate.  I’ve learned a lot from this site, and am a big fan of the founder, Leila Pirnia, an MIT entrepreneur.

But Wait, There’s More!

Very briefly, here are a few more resources we discussed:

Fellow 85 Broad member Alison Levine – her website is here at alisonlevine.com.

Daniel Goleman, the author who popularized “Emotional Intelligence” discusses this subject in the original Harvard Business Review article on “What Makes a Leader?”  A discussion of how this all applies to business school and essay writing can be found here.

List of business schools that take GRE as well as the GMAT

TED talk on the brain’s plasticity by Jill Bolte Taylor

Finally, in our discussion of the brain and learning, one member mentioned books by Steven Pinker,

If I am forgetting anything, please let me know! It was a wonderful evening, and I look forward to hearing more from the wonderful, exciting, emerging leaders of Washington.  You ladies rock!

The New MBAs Who Are Changing the Definition of Leadership

This article was originally published in Forbes Woman. You can see more at this link.

If someone were to ask which countries in the world have more women than men preparing for their MBA by taking the Graduate Management Admissions Test, you might guess the U.S. or Sweden or even Iceland.

You’d be wrong – in fact, more women than men are taking the GMAT in China, Russia, Vietnam and Thailand.

This represents an amazing trend… not only are hundreds of thousands of women preparing to embark on a serious business careers, but they are coming from some countries that have historically seen relatively few women in executive and leadership roles.

This trend is quite a bit different from when I entered business school in 1980.  A generation ago, my class at Harvard Business School comprised 21% women – a number now which has grown to 36% – still low.  Apple launched its initial public offering with a split-adjusted price of $2.75 (now $351). Charles and Diana were about to be wed, China’s Gang of Four had yet to be tried, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were about to define a decade.

Thirty-one years ago, most women who are now applying to business school weren’t even close to being born. Their parents likely had no inkling that their future female offspring would be sitting at a computer taking an English-language standardized test in hopes of embarking on a career in business. They had no idea that these eventual young women would be stepping into a formal program with the goal of walking out with an MBA.

What has changed, and will continue to change, is twofold: women are starting to look at themselves as leaders, and the definition of leadership has changed. Business schools today are not just looking for managerial potential, but are looking for different kinds of leaders:  principled change-makers who show up in the world.

Much More than Management

But many women still believe they cannot gain acceptance to an MBA program because they think they have not yet held a high-ranking title in their company. Or have not managed a team of subordinates.

“Leadership encompasses much more than managing people,” wrote Rose Martinelli, former director of Admissions at the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business.” Business schools are now equating leadership with influence, or the ability to motivate others toward a shared goal. Stanford Graduate School of Business’ recommendation form includes a “Leadership Behavior Grid” with traits such as initiative, influence and collaboration, developing others, and trustworthiness. Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business defines leadership as “the ability to inspire others to strive and enable them to accomplish great things.” And Wharton places its leadership programs “at the heart of MBA life.”

Leadership can mean anything from running a classroom to being the idea person in your work team. From standing up for an unpopular position, to organizing a food drive. In a nutshell, leadership is about finding the passion inside and acting on it – and that’s what these amazing women from unexpected countries are doing by taking the GMAT and believing in their own leadership potential.

The Essence of Leadership

Furthermore, business schools are actively searching for what women have been known for traditionally: Emotional IQ.  In a seminal article published in a 1998 Harvard Business Review article, entitled, “What Makes a Leader,” Daniel Goleman attempted to answer the question with the attributes of effective leaders.  Goleman, who popularized emotional intelligence with his book of the same name, wrote, “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant,” he says. “They do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities.’ But … emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.”

Emotional intelligence is what separates good leaders from great ones.  And business schools want to see people with the raw material to produce nothing less than great leaders.  “We educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” proclaims Harvard Business School’s mission page.

Women are training up, getting their technical chops in order, and are ready to take the next step. They will both influence and be influenced by what is being taught in the leadership component of MBA programs all over the world. And you can bet that when this generation of female leaders matures, we’ll see business and enterprises become even more diverse, more embracing of new ideas and creativity than we can even imagine now.  The world is ready.