Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good reasons to do an MBA

1. Because you're a career changer.

You're an aspiring IT engineer who wants to make a billion of two by starting your private equity fund that specializes in investing in companies dealing with used rubber tires. Possible? Hell yeah baby! An MBA turns you from a hero to zero - bonus points if it's in the top ten and people look at you in envy when you say "Haaaarhh - vaaard Ehm Bee Aye baby". Or maybe you'll sell your soul, I don't know, but do an MBA, it adds inches.

Alternatively, you're just another loser commercial banker reckons investment banks would make the exception and hire strong - just for you. With an MBA you're nothing less than Bruce Wayne of finance, the gritty corporate life by day and bottles and models at night... ok, maybe not exactly Batman, but hey, if Wayne wanted bottles and models every night, he would be getting them. Just don't be Bateman...

We all wanna run our own gig, and nothing makes and entrepreneur like an MBA. It doesn't matter whether you're an analyst or you think of new ways to sell placements, empowered with an MBA, you'll be able to soar to new heights when you launch your company. After all, you'll know all about finance, marketing AND strategy and now, you just need a good product - one which you can rip off from your smarter peers at school.

Lastly, for some strange strange reason, you reckon that saving the world is worth while. Let's go do microfinancing and charge low interest rates. Do you need an MBA? Actually you don't, and you'll probably have a greater impact if you went straight into non-profit, but I don't really care, you'll still be sexier with an MBA. Of course, once you graduate from Yale SOM, you be able to hit on girls while sipping your beer of the day (because you're non profit, you can't afford the good stuff).

2. Because you're looking for a partner.

Business schools are the best place to hook-up with somebody who's just as smart as you, or maybe she lied on her application and used an admissions consultant. But that's ok, at least she's got the money to blow.. maybe that's not all though. But... anyway, I heard that the better the school, the better the scene - of course, you've got to make exceptions for MIT (nerds), Chicago (nerds), Harvard (assholes), Stanford (saving the world), Kellogg (drunk sex isn't cool), Wharton (finance assholes), Tuck (all married), uhm... did I miss anybody out? Well, Columbia is pretty cool, of course, I'm not sure whether you would prefer to hook up with somebody at Columbia or actually impress the girls of NYC with the fact that you're at Columbia.

Another way to build your resume is to join the swinging scene. It's well known that if you're swinging in business school, you're swinging with the best and you'll be able to swing with the rest. So draw your lots and swap seats. Who knows, your off-resume skills might just be able to get your that job with Goldman Sachs or a promotion one day... off course, you might have problems looking at yourself in the mirror, but that's ok.

Ever wonder why you've never seen a video titled, Girls of B-school?

3. Because you want a well deserved 2 year holiday.

Go partying with daddy's money if you're rich, or at least do it on somebody elses expense when you take that loan. 2 years of hardcore partying AND you might actually get a good job too! Have you seen the summer break itineraries of some students? Travel to some exotic location for "bonding". School trips too... just don't forget to double bag.

4. Because you want to make money... more of it... a lot more..

Then you're in the right place. Please leave your morals at the door and join me at school.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet my girlfriend, the MBA application.

1. Choosing

You choose a school based on first looks and fit. You scope out who recruits from there and what the school's specialization is, and of course, rankings are always always sexy! You fell in love when you found out McKinsey hires a gazillion people from HBS. Heads up to the HBS crowd, you make me hot for you.

You choose a girl on how hot she looks in those tight short shorts, and how good you would fit inbetween her and those jeans. Competition is always valued, so the higher the demand for her, the higher her ranking - 10 guys after her? She's got to be hot stuff.. and it's not just looks, chances are that she's got pretty good specializations too... You knew it was true love from day 1 when you saw her bend over to pick up her pen that she dropped....

2. Application

You fill up the 10 pages of background information, write 5 essays on why you're so sexy and how much you love them and you pay the application fee upfront. Especially big on what you bring to the class. You don't hear anything from the school until they feel like telling it to you. Calls don't get any love.

It's good if you're a blue blood, HYP grad, investment grade BSD or swinging with M/B/B. Alternatively you might be the unique minority applicant who built wells in Africa, restored Renaissance art and has a penchant for clearing the minefields in Vietnam... or was that Cambodia?

You take her out for lunch, tea, dinner and drinks. You spend your time telling her (indirectly) what a baller you are, how you think she'll look good next to you and how you're going to rock her world. You pay for lunch, tea, dinner and drinks. She'll call you when she's bored or when she feels like going out, try not to call her too often lest you bore her - or become a stalker.

She'll like you more if you work for a Fortune 100 company, drive a BMW and get bottle service everytime you're thirsty. Some girls like the -i'm-so-in-touch-with-society-do-gooder-save-the-freaking-whales- kind of guy, so if that gets her hot, I guess the WWF had better be on your speed dial.

3. Admitted! Oh wait, just waitlisted.

They keep in suspense for months and when they decide to release their decisions, lucky you gets to wait it out for the big D-day when they tell you whether you're accepted/rejected/waitlisted. Intermittent communications are just meant to tease you. Appeals not entertained.

She'll keep you in suspense as you chase after her... when she decides to accept you, you're still being tested and might be rejected. If you're waitlisted by her, you might get some sexy loving, but hitting a home run is .. unlikely. She'll tease you over and over again until you're on your knees panting like Pavlov's dog. If you're rejected, say good bye, cry your heart out and pay off that credit card bill that you racked up spending on her.

4. Costs

Averaging USD200 a pop + USD250 for the GMAT. Factor in your time spent, misc. such as sending in transcripts, additional information. Do you wanna fly over for a visit? There goes a couple of grand down the drain. Will they accept you? Nope, not guaranteed.

Lunch $80, Tea $40, Dinner $150, Drinks $300! Bring out the dollars and let them fly baby, fly like an eagle. It's her birthday, wanna get that LV bag for her? Valentines is around the corner, get some flowers, flavored prophylactics and a hotel room if you're more than just casual friends.... Don't forget the dinner and gift too... and if you're generous, spring for the cab fare back home. Is her love guaranteed? Nope. ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Funding your MBA

One of the biggest headache most prospective students will need to go through is to come up with a financial plan that will put you through school.

Before I dive into how one can secure funding to pursue one of the most expensive post graduate qualification, I'd like to highlight that one must try not to bring funding into the mix when selecting and applying for schools. It's tough enough working on the GMAT, essays and investigating schools, so get in first, worry about the money later. If not, all you'll see is a mountain of obstacle and you'll never get off your arse to write those essays :)


Everybody loves free money! And all schools offer free money! The problem is... you'll need to standout from everyone else. Unfortunately (shouldn't it be fortunately?) while Malaysia is a developing nation, we are far less deserving than the girl from Chad that dreams of heading World Aid.

External scholarships? I only know of one Malaysia based organization that offers financial scholarships to deserving Malaysians and that's Maxis. If you hold a H/S/W offer. You should stand a good chance.

Otherwise, read the school's financial assistance material word for word, cover to cover. Have a knack for innovatively persuading people to pursue material opulence? LVMH sponsors many students in leading schools. Want to end up in McKinsey? Try the bursaries set up by consulting firms. There is always funding somewhere that fits your career goals or your unique profile and schools are more than willing to match you up with potential donors.

Be realistic though. Most will not obtain a 50% scholarship let alone a full scholarship. Most likely, you'll be going to school with a combination of scholarship, loans and savings. So be sure to have plan B, C, D and E.

Like it or not, you'll need to smash that piggy bank and scrape every dime you've saved since your first paycheck. Those who are toying with the idea of obtaining an MBA in the distant future, start saving now. Even if you don't end up in a business school a few years from now, the money saved is still yours to fling on that RX-8...
However, unless you are working in private equity now or if you've been converting every ringgit you've earned into gold since 5 years back, you'll need help to raise the US$80,000 you need.
Loans and borrowings

Got a rich dad? Easy then, just tell him you've grown up, realised the folly of your bi-weekly club crawl along Heritage Row and you now want a Wharton MBA so you can take over his automobile empire. You may stop reading now.

For the rest of us, raising money from family is a popular option. Unlike the West, it's acceptable to ask relatives to help out a daughter, nephew, grandson, godson or whatever. Just remember to not only pay back but also perform your filial duties.

If you've exhausted the options above, it's time to look at paying for credit. Make no mistake about it, immediate credit is just pain imported from the future. Loans are almost always a necessity. Unfortunately for us Malaysians, credit facilities for matriculating overseas isn't normally offerred. Start by contacting the school. They may be able to help source loans that are suitable for international students. Expect to be asked for a resident co-signer in the loan originating country though.

Malaysian banking institutions continue to exhibit its ignorance to international programs. However, two local banks do offer loans tailored for overseas education. Both CIMB and RHB offers loans on pretty reasonable terms (BLR + x, long repayments and 40-50% collateral). At the time of writting, you can borrow up to RM100,000. I've also heard that Citibank offers education loans but I think they need more assistance than us now... *snigger*

Less appealing options include personal loans from banks. These loans are way more expensive and will usually require you to start repayment upon loan disbursement. There's also no way to stagger the disbursements so you don't end up servicing the interest of the unutilised portion of the loan. You'll also need to secure this loan before you quit your job. While this is a valid option especially when you take into account of your anticipated higher income post MBA, becareful and always read the T&Cs. Depending on your current income, expect the credit line to be extended to a maximum of RM100,000.
Getting your boss to pay
Do you belong to this category? It all depends on your career goals. Career switchers can throw this idea out of the window immediately as no employer will invest in an employee that's leaving. However, if you are currently a loyal mid level manager and you've done enough to prove your leadership potential and is willing to return to the company, this is a valid and almost painless option. Admittedly it's a tough time now to secure corporate funding but business is all about making deals. Good luck to the lucky few!

For the desperados

What if you've tried all the options above and you still come up short? You could try any one of these methods...
Ask for more free money from the school. Once an offer is made, schools try to maximize acceptance rate. Most of the time, if you are sincere and you really need just that little bit more, financial aid officers can work out something for you.

Show them your other offer. Got free money from another school? You can potentially ask nicely and leverage your other offer. This may be frowned on by some schools but as long as you are honest, and you are not breaking non disclosure terms, you can still use this tactic.

Renegotiate your mortgage. If you are currently servicing a mortgage, why not contact your bank and see if you are able to extend the mortgage line?

Burn up your retirement fund. EPF withdrawals from account II (30% of total EPF funds) is possible on the pretext of reducing home loans. I will not comment more.

Apply for credit cards before quitting. Some desperados have been known to use credit cards to fund living expenses while servicing only minimum payments. Only for the very brave.

Well, I hope this post illustrates the various options one can exercise to fulfill that MBA dream. While it is highly likely that you will be racking up a whole lot of debt, MBA graduates are able to demand the highest salaries of any post graduate qualification.

Just make damn well sure you really do want to be a banker/consultant/PE. You can buy an MBA but you can't buy happiness.