Friday, August 19, 2011

GMAT Club: Everything about GMAT and Beyond

GMAT Malaysia was created to share our GMAT, MBA applications and later MBA program experiences. While we did our best to share what we know, there are more out there whom can assist you too. I have given you and in my earlier posting. If you are seeking help how to prepare for GMAT or answer some of the tough Quant and Verbal questions, look no further than GMAT Club ( Again, lots of questions and resources in their forum for you to tap on.

GMAT Club has also created iPhone/iPad/iPod mobile app "GMAT Toolkit" that you can download and use while on the go.

You need all the help you can get. I wish you good luck in your GMAT!

Jimmy Low

BusinessBecause: Because They Know their Business (Programs)

As they say, "birds of a feather flock together." Okay, I don't want to sound cliché-ish. What would be a better place to meet someone in the same boat as you (sorry again ;-)). Just like how GMAT Malaysia started in 2008. A few of us who wanted to do GMAT started meeting regularly and helped each other. Then, we "graduated" from GMAT and helped the next batch. We are almost 4 years old this December and in spite of the founders no longer living in Malaysia, we still continue to help via this blog and replying emails.

Then again, do not limit yourself to us. Get to know others around the world especially if you have decided which school you want to join. Talk to current student body or alumni. They can tell you from their personal experience about studying in the school, living in the city and the fun they had and now missed. London-based BusinessBecause is one of such places where you can meet these alumni and know more about the schools and activities. Do sign up for its free membership and tap into the wealth of resources it has to offer. I have recently been made an ESMT Ambassador, my MBA school based in Berlin, Germany. If you want to know more about the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), feel free to write to me.

Jimmy Low

QS TopMBA: First Stop in Your MBA Journey

Many have written to me about MBA programs, asking about which MBA program should they do. Honestly, my focus had been on US MBAs before I landed in Germany in 2010. My co-founders may have looked at more schools. However, one of the websites that I recommend you to look at is

London-based QS runs one of the largest, if not the largest, tertiary educational fairs in the world. Their popular QS World MBA Tours attract some of the top schools around the world and together with these schools, QS brings the admissions officers and alumni closer to your city. I have associated myself with QS since 2008 through GMAT Malaysia promoting their events in Kuala Lumpur (see label). I highly recommend you to check out their website for more information about the schools that you like to join. Perhaps we can talk more about your selections. Don't forget to register for their 2011 World MBA Tour,

Jimmy Low

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ESMT MBA Student Dimitry Krasnozhon Shares his Silicon Valley Field Trip Experience

Starting from this year, European School of Management of Technology (ESMT) in Berlin offers two elective tracks: Management of Innovation and Technology (MIT) and Global Sustainable Business (GSB). As part of their all-expenses paid international field trip, Russian student Dimitry Krasnozhon shares with GMAT Malaysia his impression of the Silicon Valley. For more information on ESMT full-time MBA program, visit

By Dimitry Krasnozhon, ESMT MBA 2011 candidate

Whenever coming across the term Silicon Valley, I was struck by the question of its origin. What stands behind this name is unfamiliar to vast majority of people, although it is impossible to imagine modern civilization without inventions ranging from HP pocket calculator to lasers that came from this area. The ten-day field trip to Silicon Valley was a strong nudge to learn about the history of the place before meeting its business and academic luminaries in person.

The name Silicon Valley was first mentioned in 1971 by Don Huefler, Microelectronics News editor, as a title of article about semiconductor industry developed next door to Stanford University. The reason is surprisingly simple: silicon is the material for producing semiconductor chips, a product which gave the Valley its current technological edge. Silicon Valley is an evident example of what bright individuals with scientific background and business mindset can achieve if given proper financing, creative freedom, all of that backed up by wise state economic policy. As Thomas Mahon, author of “Charged bodies: People, Power and Paradox of Silicon Valley” put it: “the Valley is an economic and cultural frontier where successful entrepreneurship and venture capitalism, innovative work rules and open management styles provide the background for most profound inquiry ever into the nature of intelligence”.

Dimitry and his ESMT MBA classmates in San Francisco

Over the past 60 years Silicon Valley has become a global technology powerhouse giving home to more than 10 thousand companies and employing more than one million people. Which factors led the valley to success? Are they exportable? Can these conditions be recreated in Russia, my homecountry, which once stood at the forefront of innovations in microelectronics, aerospace, and nuclear physics? These questions were of my major concern throughout the trip.

I was particularly impressed by the executive summary that Lisa Sweeney, Director of Stanford GSB Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, gave us. She sees the “Secret Sauce” of Silicon Valley prosperity as a blend of four ingredients: Unique Culture, Free Markets, Stable Legal System, and Reliable Infrastructure. Indeed, the culture is one-of-a-kind in terms of risk and failure tolerance. Venture capitalists invest where others fear, whereas on average only one in 20 companies succeed. The good thing is that if you fail, you can try again. In other cultures usually you do not get the second chance. “Proper” failure is acknowledged in the same fashion as success because it gives valuable lessons. The common philosophy is that a start-up is not a tech company, but rather a learning tool. In this respect, both venture capitalists (Khosla Ventures) and serial entrepreneurs (Krish Ramakrishnan of Blue Jeans Network) echo each other’s words: failure is tolerated if it results from from unsecured financing, product ahead of the market or lack of commercialization skills. However, poor execution and lack of commitment will most likely leave a black mark on the entrepreneur similarly to other more conservative environments. Another striking cultural aspect is the readiness of Valley’s residents to share ideas and collaborate, thus creating an uncommon mix of partnership and competition, which at the end of the day determines the success of the whole valley.

However, this culture would not have formed without Stanford University, the nucleus of high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Founded by railroad tycoon Leland Stanford in 1887, the university became the main source of engineering specialists for local businesses. In mid twenty century Stanford Research Institute was formed. This research park leased land in Stanford vicinity to high-tech companies on favourable terms, and this is when the real binding between the university and the companies took place. Many high-tech pioneers including HP moved their R&D centers to the park making it a worldwide model for a handful of other high-tech clusters.

During the field trip meetings, none of the speakers explicitly mentioned the role of the US Government in supporting the Valley, leaving us under the assumption that the main benefit currently given by the state is its non-interference. However, state support played a vital role in the early days: military spending represented about 70% of integrated circuits in sixties. Pentagon still remains an important purchaser of latest technologies. In addition, the area has secured a modern legal framework that accounts for favourable tax regime for start-ups, intellectual property protection, and hiring the best talent including foreign specialists. For instance, more that half of Silicon Valley companies were initiated by people born outside of the US.

Finally, the Valley’s infrastructure – utilities, transportation, high technology penetration, backed by mild Mediterranean-like climate create an environment highly appealing for work and life. Throughout the trip I have been reflecting on how this innovation cycle can be replicated in other geographical areas. Which elements are “exportable” and which are not? History knows a few successful examples like Silicon Wadi in Tel-Aviv and Central Taiwan Science Park, but also a multitude of less prosperous examples, such as Sophia Antipolis which has been micromanaged by French government for years and Shenzhen Technology Park. The latter research center attracts brightest local students but according to Margaret O’Mara, Professor of History at University of Washington, they do not intend to build companies in the area upon graduation. The most recent ongoing attempt is Russian President Medvedev’s Skolkovo Science Park on the outskirts of Moscow. There are certainly many legal, cultural, and infrastructure issues that will prevent this project from becoming a success story overnight. The good news is that Russian leadersWhenever coming across the term Silicon Valley, I was struck by the question of its origin. What stands behind this name is unfamiliar to vast majority of people, although it is impossible to imagine modern civilization without inventions ranging from HP pocket calculator to lasers that came from this area. The ten-day field trip to Silicon Valley was a strong nudge to learn about the history of the place before meeting its business and academic luminaries in person.


And, I leave you with this song "Going to San Francisco" by 92.7 edit

Jimmy Low

Monday, August 15, 2011

Duke MBA: Asian Recruiting Event

Considering an American MBA? Duke will be on its Asia tour this coming August. Don't miss the chance to speak to the admission officers and alumni in each of these cities:

Bangkok - 18 August
Singapore - 20 August
Taipei - 22 August
Seoul - 24 August
Tokyo - 25 August

For more information, click here.

Jimmy Low

Friday, August 12, 2011

MBA Applicant Drinks Club: Your Avenue to Know Others

If your idea of MBA is all about partying and drinking sessions, well, let me tell you. You are RIGHT! What a good way to stay in a semi-sober position. But it is also a good avenue for you to pour out your thoughts and share your concerns. BusinessBecause's MBA Applicant Drinks Club sessions are held regularly around the world. Perhaps this is your opportunity to meet future students and alumni and learn more MBA programs.

Check out for regular updates.

Jimmy Low

International Grad Mag and BusinessBecause

As you research more about post graduate programs, let me help you with some useful resources. The International Grad Mag has a good coverage of various programs around the world, and addresses many areas that you should be aware of. Do check out their website at

London-based BusinessBecause is another useful website to network and learn about MBA and other post graduate programs. Besides career posting and interesting articles by students and faculty members, check out their regular MBA Applicant Drinks club. Check out

You will also find other useful resources on the right side of GMAT Malaysia website.

Jimmy Low

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MBA & Co.: Your Door to Post-MBA International Consultancy Experience

Ask any MBA aspirants or those who are currently doing their MBA or just finished; at some point or another, I am sure most of them wanted to join the big name consultancy firms. After all, the high-flying job commands high pay and high profile; a good add-on to your resume. But, we all know how competitive it is to get into these big boys. Just the assessment phase would have eliminate 95-98%. Only the cream of the crop would get in. With the present uncertain economy, hiring could be frozen.

So, for the newly minted MBAs, it is still an option for you. MBA & Co. started by an MBA from IESE, started a freelance consultancy firm. You can bid for the project that you are interested and if you matches their project profile criteria, you can join other MBAs on the project. Sound interesting? You bet. You are a freelance and get referenced. A good opportunity to network and who knows, it could open the door to the company that you wanted so badly to join.

Give this a thought. Check out

Jimmy Low

Sunday, August 7, 2011

To Specialise or Not to Specialise?

I was often asked whether one should specialise in MBA. I had a thought about it; in fact, when I research for my MBA program I want a focus on technology management. I guess for most of us since young, we have been compartmentalise or stream. In high schools, we were either in science or arts stream. Then came university, the major or concentration to go for. As a result, we became specialist or functionlist.

Is that bad? I don't think so. Since the Industrial Revolution and the foundation of management theory by Fredrick Taylor, labour force has been classified into functions with the aim of "the more you do the same thing, the better or efficient you become". That's all right for a start but as you move up the career leader, you become more of a generalist. You manage people, and though them results. You may not know a lot about a particular subject but at least a good understanding. But what you learn is more about inquisitive skills. Asking the right questions and hopefully, these will help you make informed decisions. That's what MBA is about.

Having say that, I see no wrong in specialization for a couple of reasons. Firstly, many of us want to switch from one industry to another. Very often from one technical field e.g. engineering to another e.g. finance or from one for-profit to non-profit, and vice versa. Whatever our choice is we want to have a stronger focus on a specific concentration to give us a more indepth understanding and yet retaining the general management perspective. Thus, you see many business schools are focusing on some concentrations. In fact the other alternative is to masters program (MSc), which has strong, academic focus in a particular field.

Secondly, certain business schools have strong association with certain industries. As a result of the close collaboration and cooperation between the academic and the industry, it formed a natural channel for admission in the industry. For example, if you want to go into finance sector, London School of Business and Wharton should be on top of your list. Naturally, this also means that the faculty members and their research have a high focus in that area which will attract more brains to the schools. Thus, the schools themselves by their own design, are already industry or subject concentrated.

Lastly, specialisation at MBA level is like giving you a higher degree in a different concentration or major from your first. By arming yourself with both a technical degree and work experience, and now with a master degree with a business focus, you could, hopefully, learn new things and apply to your managerial role. After all, if you look at class profiles of any business school, a good 30-40 percent of students from engineering background and wish to pursue a management career.

So, my usual advice is look for an MBA that will bring you to where you want. If there is a concentration that you want, then go for the best school in that area. Of course it would be nice to have the top 10 schools as your choice but if it does not give you what you want or can afford, then using concentration is a good selection criteria. Think about it.

Jimmy Low

GMAT Malaysia Goes Mobile

Google has updated the features and setting functions of the In addition to the statistics function, which I found extremely helpful, I could now turn on the mobile function for our GMAT Malaysia. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets/pads, I am sure this function will come in handy while you're on the go. I occasionally follow the comments from my Android. I hope you will find this mobile function useful too.

Happy reading on the go!

Jimmy Low

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doing MBAs in Malaysia - Spoilt with Choices: Part 2

I stumbled upon this French consulting and rating agency in higher education, EDUNIVERSAL. Annually, it ranks over 1000 business schools around the world and categorised them according to number of PALMS; between 1 and 5 PALMS. You can read more in its Wikipedia.

6 Malaysian universities were grouped into 3 PALM categories. There are as below:

I also suggest that you visit the respective universities' MBA website and talk to the alumni, students or admissions officers for more information.

Jimmy Low

Doing MBAs in Malaysia - Spoilt with Choices: Part 1

I was monitoring this blog's statistics and found that one of the common search words was "MBA in Malaysia". Then I realised that over the last 3 years, I have been talking about GMAT and MBA but can't recall blogging about MBAs in Malaysia. Either I was not asked or I wasn't looking at MBAs in Malaysia. I wanted to do my MBA overseas and I am sure there were many who set their eyes to overseas MBA too. But this does not mean that no one is looking for MBAs domestically.

I am sure some of you did yours or planning to do yours in US, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, France, Hong Kong, India or Australia. These are the few typical countries that many want to get their MBA from. MBAs from these countries are in the annual Financial Times Top 100. In fact, you see these countries in top 20 or top 50.

Hence, one of the criteria in choosing an MBA program is the brand name of the school. You want to be an alumni of Harvard, LBS, Insead, Manchester, etc. That brand name says who you are and being a part of the school's network open doors to career or business opportunities. Of course, this means paying the entry price and being competitive with everyone around the world. Ask any applicants and you will find the big names in MBA as their choice of schools; getting in is another matter. Already some of these schools won the brand mind share, as they say in marketing or brand management.

If you have plans to work overseas or migrate, often it is also a good choice to do an MBA or masters program from that country. One, the school is known among the big corporation in the country or region. Two, you add diversity to the class and probably the employment pool. Very often certain regions are less represented in an typical class. South East Asian, Latin American and African countries were somewhat the underrepresented countries. So, if you are from these countries, you should stand a good chance for admission and perhaps a scholarship. This adds to a good chance Malaysians look outside for MBA which opens the door to the country or region. Malaysians are now a discerning group of people and do want an overseas MBA if they could afford. Financing is an issue and looking for an affordable MBA makes them think between doing locally or overseas.

Often you will hear this term in Malaysia - doing MBA locally. What does this mean? It could mean - either offered by a local university (public or private) or studying foreign programs locally through educational institutions e.g. colleges, education centers or perhaps local branches of foreign universities.

Over the last 15-20 years, private colleges have proliferated. Starting with undergraduate twinning programs with foreign universities from US, UK and Australia/New Zealand, colleges also offer MBA or post graduate programs for working adults on the same basis. Courses are done locally and with perhaps a semester or two overseas. In fact, with the Malaysian government giving private colleges university or university-college status, many of these "office" universities offer their own MBA program, with or without accreditation from a foreign partner university. In fact, one college in Malaysia offers its own MBA program but confers two degree - its own and those of its foreign partner. Some foreign universities set up a Malaysian campus to offer MBA program. In all cases, these institutions claimed that their programs are moderated by partner universities in spite having majority taught and examined by local lecturers. In the end, the degrees are conferred by the foreign universities and are said to have equal status as those conferred in their country. Most of these MBAs done in Malaysia do not require GMAT score.

The other truly local MBA or post-graduate programs are those offered by local public or private universities. These universities do not partner with any foreign universities and conferred their own degree. As far as I know, these MBAs also do not require GMAT score for admission.

Of these two groups of MBA programs, majority of Malaysian professionals opt for foreign MBAs conducted locally; many of which are Australia and UK-accredited MBAs. In fact, UK and Australia are the biggest exports of secondary (IGCSE) and tertiary educations (bachelors and post-graduates) in the world. For reason of cost and continued income and employment in Malaysia, these programs made it affordable to Malaysians to pursue tertiary education. For post-graduate programs, these could be done part-time without sacrificing career, income and at own pace.

I don't have any statistics on the size of the MBA market in Malaysia but it would interesting topic for me to cover in my next article. In the meantime, I leave you to think about doing MBA in Malaysia. Perhaps you can agree or disagree with my writing above. I would love to hear from you why you choose to do MBA in Malaysia.

I also leave you with this article published by the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) in December 2007 - Do Malaysian MBAs Want International Careers? by David M Hunt, Md. Zabid Abdul Rashid, Osman M Zain and June ML Poon.

Jimmy Low

Monday, August 1, 2011

QS World MBA 2011 Tour Coming to Your City

Although this blog is called GMAT Malaysia, many of our readers actually came from around the world. So, I will make this blog more "global" but still retaining our identity as Malaysians initiated blog.
Anyway, QS World MBA is starting its 2011 World Tour this August. This is your chance to meet some of the top global and regional business schools in one location. Please sign-up for this event and share this link with your friends.

GMAT Malaysia has been a keen supporter of QS World MBA Tours since our formation in 2008.

Jimmy Low

Improved Topic Labels for Easier Search

I have gone through all 130 postings since the beginning of this blog and re-tagged all the labels. I hope this effort will make it easier for you to search the relevant materials. This re-labelling effort is also a result of the keyword searches feedback that our 12,000 visitors made over the past 3 years. Thanks to Google Blogger stats, I can now improve this blog for you.

Jimmy Low