Finding the Right Match in B-School

Singapore is a small island nation at the tip of the Southeast Asian peninsula. It boasts year-round sunshine with an average daytime temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Singapore was my home until I was college-bound. After the mandatory two and a half years of military service, under the guise of higher education, I boarded a plane to the U.S. to satisfy my curiosity for the birthplace of MTV, McDonald's (MCD), and Microsoft (MSFT). After completing bachelor's and master's degrees in biomedical engineering and management, and learning about dorm-room culture and college cafeteria cuisine, I began working for Medtronic (MDT). It is a medical device company headquartered in Minneapolis, where winter lasts for half the year. Needless to say, I learned how to survive the winter and enjoy outdoor activities in the snow.

My work throughout the past seven years at Medtronic was fulfilling and extremely interesting. I experienced different functions starting in early-stage research. I then moved to a business analyst role, spent some time in hospitals working with doctors and patients on clinical studies, and finally joined the marketing team as a product manager in the cardiac division. In each job, I was moving closer to what I really wanted to do. The science and technical aspects were interesting, but what I really loved was business and leadership. Nothing could compare to leading a team, formulating a strategy, and then executing to provide extraordinary results.

I was hooked on business and began reading more and more about leadership, marketing, economics, communication, influence … you name it. If it was about business and being a better leader, I was reading it. My hunger for knowledge coupled with an itch to move to Europe led me to the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) (IMD Full-Time MBA Profile). I believe there are many reasons to go to business school, and depending on your reasons, there will be certain schools that are a perfect fit. My requirements were simple:

1. European schools

After living in Asia and North America, I wanted to experience Europe.

2. Participants were of comparable age and work experience

I believe in learning from students as much as from the professors.

3. One-year programs

Giving up 12 months of salary is bad enough.

4. Full-time programs

I am a strong believer in peeling off the Band-Aid quickly.

5. Strong focus on leadership, organizational behavior, and global business

I'm reading about it in my spare time, so there better be classes dedicated to these topics.

6. Small, tight-knit, international student body

I want to form lifelong friends and business contacts around the world.

7. Well-known and very highly ranked

Why pay good money for a second- or third-tier school?

8. Great placement statistics

In this economy, well-tuned career services and strong ties to recruiting companies are crucial, plus "debt" will be my middle name after business school.

O.K., maybe it's not that simple, but with these requirements, I narrowed it down to IMD as my top choice.

So what do I think an IMD MBA will do for me? I believe that IMD will help me become a better business leader, who can navigate in a global setting. Can I achieve the same thing by learning on the job and reading countless management books? Maybe, but what better way to learn than to be completely immersed in solving business problems and learning about leadership and organizational behavior 16 hours a day, six days a week, for 11 months? There is no better way. Am I masochistic? Maybe. Am I adventurous? Definitely. That is my primary reason for attending business school full time. So, if you are an applicant, or you are thinking about business school, jot down your requirements and really understand why you want an MBA and what kind of experiences you want. It doesn't even have to be business-related. You might have a requirement that you want to go to school in Shanghai, period. Be true to yourself and then do your research. I am sure you will find a school that will fit you perfectly; I know I did, and that is why I only applied to IMD.

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