Monday, October 12, 2009

The Mini-MBA

What kinds of things would separate an average PhD candidate at Harvard from an outstanding PhD candidate in the mind of a recruiter? I thought about this for a while and came up with a short list.

1) Credentials--publications, awards, honors, GPA, test scores
2) A genuine interest in the profession---shown by volunteer work, work in a consulting club, etc
3) Leadership
4) Creativity-which is hard as hell to assess from a resume
5) Analytical skills-something with PhD's all have in spades
6) Some business experience or business acumen

There isn't much that I could do to develop leadership, analytics, or creativity in consulting club members, but I could teach them something about business by offering a mini-MBA course.

I began to develop the course based on the Steven Silbiger book "The 10-Day MBA." I would highly recommend this book to anyone with or without formal business training. Anyway, I made up a series of 12 1-hour lectures outlining the topics covered in the book in greater detail. Each week we also had a seasoned consultant give a 1 hour case presentation on a case they had worked on that related directly to the study material for that particular week.

At the end of the class the students broke up into groups and presented a business plan about a fictional business they had developed. All in was a great class that received a lot of positive feedback. It took a lot of time to put together...actually a rather monumental feat for an individual with a full time job, but was quite worth the effort in the end.

Students who took the class were able to put it on their resumes, are now able to use and understand business vernacular in their consulting interviews, and have definitely shown a strong commitment to learning what business is all about.

For me, it is a great talking point during interviews...when I am asked about leadership, working with others in teams, how I've been involved in consulting,'s a great answer with some impressive implications.

I think the take away message from this post is to show that you care about consulting and the business world---it's something that I believe the firms are looking for!

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