Why a MBA / Leadership Development Program (vs. direct hire)?
I was exploring career opportunities during Insead and always knew that I wanted to work in Industry, for a multi-national corporate preferably in the technology and telecommunications space. BT had come on campus to present their MBA leadership programme and I really liked the people who were currently in the programme and had just moved into roles from the programme. I also liked program’s structure - a pan-company focus with a good mix of strategic and operational assignments, and the right mix of flexibility and direction.
What are the key advantages / disadvantages of being on a MBA / Leadership Development Program?
In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages of a MBA leadership program is its ability to give individuals a fantastic platform to showcase their talents and get a wide understanding of the company culture. By virtue of its structure the program allows one to be a generalist for a while before specialising into a specific line of business and function.
That being said, this can sometimes be a double edged sword where one can be a generalist for a longer period of time thereby not being able to find their desired specialist role. One way to circumvent this is to have a reasonably clear idea of the area of your specialisation within the first six months of the programme.
How does the MBA / Leadership Development Program fit in your career goals?
I was keen to get into the general management with a strong emphasis on commercial management and the programme covered all business units and functions including commercial propositions, product and marketing.
How strongly did you weight the location of the program?
I wanted to work in either Europe or Asia after completing my MBA. BT’s MBA leadership programme is based out of London with potential international opportunities, which worked really well for me.
However I do know that most leadership programs are quite flexible and international in terms of their location and assignments.
What to look for in a MBA / Leadership Development Program?
The most important aspect for me personally was the functional breadth and market focus covered by the MBA programme. I believe this is quite important as it translates into the quality of assignments and truly gives you the chance to build strong networks in the organisation.
Another good indicator, I'd suggest would be to get a view of individual's success in the organisation after the programme. This would indicate not only of the programme's success but also how much an organisation has vested in it.
Can you summarize the recruiting process you went through and how long it took?
The process started early with BT's MBA leadership programme with CV screening on campus, followed by a couple of competency and case based interviews. These were followed by an analytical test and two more interviews focused on key competencies and case studies. The final round was a day of assessment centre with around 5 interviews including an executive presentation and group discussion.
What were the required skillsets and prior experience and how were they evaluated (behavioral interviews, case studies, assessment center, panel interview, etc)?
The interview process is very thorough and covers areas that the company is looking for in an ideal candidate, including (and not limited to) - analytical and problem solving skills, ability to influence and manage stakeholders, dealing and working in ambiguity, values and past achievements, and motivation and drive.
What advice and tips can you share with those interested in MBA Development Programs?
I am sure every organisation’s MBA programme is unique, catered in a way that helps them identify and groom the right talent. If you believe a MBA leadership programme is the right career choice for you then I'd advise you to thoroughly do your research about the programme and the organisation. The key to your success depends on the right programme that meets your objectives in the immediate future as well as your long term career goals in the organisation.