[PaGaLGuY.com Interview] The Richard Ivey - Canada Admission Director Interview

In the first of our interview series exploring Canadian MBA programs, we speak to Niki Healey, the Admissions Director of the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in Canada on doing an MBA in Canada and unique differe…

In the first of our interview series exploring Canadian MBA programs, we speak to Niki Healey, the Admissions Director of the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in Canada on doing an MBA in Canada and unique differentiators and admission nuances of the 86-year-old business school.

How is Canada different from the USA or Europe as a region for studying MBA? Is there any such thing as a Canada brand of MBA?

Studying in Canada is unique primarily because Canadian culture and mentality is diverse, open, and accepting by nature.* Most Canadians are defined by both their current Nationality, and by their ancestry - and this creates a country and culture that is liberal and highly multicultural.* For example, 50 pc of domestic students at Ivey were born in countries outside of Canada, so, international students in Canadian MBA Programs feel welcome as their classmates appreciate and respect the challenges and contributions made by their truly international colleagues.

I don't believe that there is a common Canadian MBA brand as our Programs are all quite distinct and different, but I am quite proud of the quality and caliber of MBA education offered in Canada.* I imagine that many applicants would be surprised to know the history and how well-established Ivey is as the first business School established in Canada in 1922 – and we're very proud of the achievements of the school and our ability to continue to innovate and remain a global leader in business education.

What is uniquely different about Ivey MBA program?

I think there are four key differences about the Ivey Program that are quite valuable independently, and even more critical when evaluated as a whole.* The first is that campus is located in London, ON – so all students (both domestic and international) move to London to dive into the MBA experience. They step out of their existing networks of friends/family and are physically away from their homes – everyone moves, everyone faces the same pressures and challenges of getting established in a new city, which is very different from a commuter-based Program in a big city like Toronto or New York where Programs attract people from those local markets. Strong bonds and relationships are formed as everyone has moved out of their 'comfort zones' for the year to be challenged and totally engaged in an MBA experience that is nothing short of personally and professionally transformational.

The second difference is that our Program is offered in a 12 month, case based format, so the return on investment is tremendous when factoring in the total opportunity cost of an MBA (lost income, expenses, tuition).* We know that only stepping away from your career, and networks, for 12 months is an important benefit that our Program offers.* The opportunity to learn through a case based style exposes our students to several hundred real life business challenges in 12 months, and develops a bias for action and implementation that differentiates Ivey grads day one in the corporate world.

The third difference at Ivey is the access to our career management team – one of the largest and best qualified teams in North America.* Our approach to career management is essentially an executive coaching model, and career management interviews all candidates considered for admission, and continues to work with students from application to graduation.

The fourth benefit of the Ivey MBA is the school's alumni network.* With more than 20,000 Ivey alum in over 95 countries around the world, joining the Ivey Program means gaining access to this exclusive network of grads that are incredibly successful with two in five alums at the Director level or above in their organizations. Alumni are highly connected and committed to Ivey and act as mentors to our students through a formal Partnership Program, contribute to new case writing leads, recruit our students, and give back in many other ways.

These unique benefits offer tremendous value for MBA students and the combination of these four features is difficult to find in any particular Program. *

How has the MBA program evolved at Ivey? Any latest major changes in structure or curriculum?

Ivey moved from the traditional two year MBA structure to a 12 month MBA Program in May 2006.* At the same time, we implemented our Cross-Enterprise Leadership (CEL) teaching philosophy.* CEL is very much an extension of Ivey's past General Management philosophy.* What CEL means in the classroom is that cases are taught from a business issues perspective, instead of a functional perspective.* For example, in traditional b-schools, a new product launch case would be taught from purely a marketing perspective with discussions on pricing, promotion, and placement.* In an Ivey CEL case, this discussion would cover these marketing issues, but the product launch discussion would also cover pressing questions from other functional areas such as – how and where will the new product be manufactured? (Operations) Will this require more staff? (HR) How will this launch impact cash flow? (Finance) and whether the new product is a strategic fit with other corporate goals? (Strategy). CEL recognizes that business issues today are complex and messy, span functional silos and cross geographic boundaries and our curriculum has evolved to reflect today's business environment. *

How many applicants has the Ivey MBA been receiving in the past 3 years and how many of them were Indians?

Over the past 3 years we've seen an increasing trend of applications overall and this trend is true for our Indian population as well.* On average, we receive between 350-400 applications to each of our two cohorts – in both May and September. And our application trends have increased significantly, with more than a 50pc increase in the past year.* The vast majority of these applications receive an invitation to interview, this isn't a statistic we actively track. This invite is driven by a match between a candidates paper qualifications and our Admissions criteria – Geographic factors do not come into the decision set when shortlisting for interviews. Finally, our Indian students typically make-up about 10-15pc of the class.

How is the Ivey MBA program structured to deliver value to participants?

Our Program was designed with input from recruiters, alumni, and corporate leaders – not simply 'by the faculty, for the faculty.'* This consultative approach ensures that Ivey MBAs graduate with more than simply an MBA toolkit but an ability to make complex decisions, recognizing the impact these actions have on an organization.* The ability to analyze situations, act and implement solutions makes Ivey grads different and highly valued by corporate recruiters as this skill-set is a result of the case-method.* One of the most interesting things I've heard from Ivey alumni is that their MBA learning becomes increasingly relevant as they move up in their organizations, so the value to students lasts for your entire career and remains relevant and applicable.

What is the minimum work experience required to apply to Ivey MBA? Do you make exceptions?

Two years of full-time, post undergrad work experience is required to apply to Ivey. We do not admit candidates straight out of undergrad, as work experience is necessary for all students to be able to contribute in a case-based environment, but also to have a professional context to apply their learning.* The only exception to this policy may be flexibility in admitting someone with 2 years less a month or two of experience, and that candidate would need to have an exceptional profile as the average student at Ivey brings 5 years of full-time experience.

Please explain the Ivey MBA application process in brief. Which Indian cities can an Ivey applicant interview in?

After a candidate submits a completed application, the file is reviewed to determine if an invitation to interview should go out.* We will be traveling with the QS World MBA Tour fairs to Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore in late November this year and available to conducts admission interviews for candidates with submitted applications.** Ivey conducts two interviews – our admissions team will be traveling to India and can interview in-person, and our career management team conducts phone interviews for Indian applicants as the second part of a parallel interview process.* After the interviews are conducted, the complete file is reviewed by the Admissions Committee and candidates can expect a turnaround time of about 4-6 weeks. *

What was the average GMAT score for the previous admitted MBA batch? What is the lowest GMAT score below which you refuse to look at the rest of the application further?

The average GMAT at Ivey trends around 660.* There isn't necessarily a cutoff point for GMAT scores, but typically our range of admitted students is 600 and above.* We consider total scores, the breakdown between GMAT quant and verbal, and AWA scores as well. *

What has the class composition in terms of nationality and backgrounds been?

Although class composition always varies with each cohort, some typical trends would be a class that is about 70pc Canadian, 10pc Indian, 5-10pc Chinese, 5pc Latin American, and 5-10pc other nationalities (which could include Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean, etc.)* We typically see about 25pc of the class from both Business and Engineering backgrounds, with a large proportion from Science and Computer Science, and other with Liberal Arts, and professional background in Law, Medicine, etc.

What has been the post-MBA career pattern for your international students in terms of industry and country?

Since International Students are able to access work visas in the Canadian market, there isn't a big distinction between where our domestic versus international students post-MBA. Our 2007 graduating class accepted positions in over 110 organizations in 40 industries, 7 countries, 4 provinces, 3 states.* Typically about 25pc of the class moves into Finance, 25pc into Consulting, and 50pc in Industry which includes positions in General Management, Marketing, Operations, Sales, and Other.

How does Ivey help Indian students with visa/regulations for working in Canada?

On the front end, although the process can be time consuming, almost all of our MBA students are successful with their study permit applications and our team is there to help and provide candidates with the required resources.* On the back end, working in Canada is a strong option for international students.* The Canadian government recently announced a new Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allowing grads from Canadian Universities the opportunity to quality for automatic work visa's of up to 3 years.* The relative ease of the processes is certainly a strong benefit of the Canadian MBA experience.

Please comment on how feasible it is for MBA students with software engineering background to switch over to Finance/Investment Banking post Ivey MBA.

Regardless of background, targeting finance/i-banking is a challenge that ultimately comes down to how hard a student is willing to work and how much they truly want a position in finance/i-banking. Candidates targeting this industry with a software engineering background need to think about two main things: how to sell their transferrable skills (quant aptitude, analytical abilities, etc.) and how to get up to speed on this industry – i.e. Pursuing the CFA designation, reading the business press, etc. *

What is the proportion of women in the Ivey MBA class? Do you strive for a particular gender mix during admissions?

We've seen the trend of women in the Program typically reach 30-35pc in the 12 month MBA.* Ideally we would love to see this much higher, but are committed to admitting high quality applicants first – regardless of gender, geography, industry, etc.* Many undergraduate business Programs have an equal ratio of 50:50, but all MBA Programs struggle to attract strong women.* We're fortunate to have a strong woman as our Dean – Carol Stephenson, and she is actively involved in our recruiting efforts and is an inspiring and highly accomplished female leader – an excellent role model for our MBAs. *

What are strengths and weaknesses of the Ivey MBA as compared to the Rotman MBA?

This is a tough question as the same feature of each Program could be perceived very differently – strength by one type of applicant, and a weakness by another type of applicant.* Since these two Programs are very different, particularly in learning style and length, it is the job of each applicant to do your homework, investigate what Programs offer, and determine which school provides you with the best 'fit' to meet what you are looking for in an MBA.* This is an incredibly important decision and a degree you'll only pursue once – so doing your research and choosing wisely is critical. *

How important is the knowledge of French for one to get by at Ivey?

Knowledge of French is not necessary at all – MBA classes are taught in English.* The only French speaking part of the country is the Province of Quebec, about eight hours from London.

A wonderful post with all the information about a B-School..

I suppose all the general aspects & information, which are very much needed, have been covered in the article...

There are definitely some specific questions which can be asked to admission coordinator of the institute.