News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Admissions Director Q&A

Clear Admit’s exclusive interviews with admissions directors at the world’s leading MBA programs.


Admissions Director Q&A: MIT Sloan School of Management’s Dawna Levenson

dawna_levensonAs we continue to make the rounds, checking in with admissions directors at top business schools around the globe, we had the good fortune recently to speak with Dawna Levenson, director of MBA admission at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Levenson’s MIT roots run deep. She has an undergraduate degree from the school as well as an MBA from Sloan. She spent 18 years working for the company now known as Accenture but then decided it was time do something new and different. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: Soojin Kwon of the Ross School of Business

soojin kwonWe are thrilled to launch the latest edition of the Clear Admit’s Admissions Director Q&A Series. We began interviewing admissions directors at leading business schools back in 2008, and we circle back regularly to capture changes and new developments in the dynamic field of graduate management admissions.

We kick off this most recent round of interviews with Ross School of Business Admissions Director Soojin Kwon, who has been leading the admissions team at the Ann Arbor school since 2006. A Ross graduate herself, she knows the school’s admissions process from both sides. During her tenure at the school, she has worked to increase the transparency of the application process through her blog and other online forums. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: UCLA Anderson’s Alex Lawrence

~ A CLEAR ADMIT EXCLUSIVE ~

There has been a change at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA since we ran our Admissions Director Q&A Series last spring. Anderson alumnus Alex Lawrence (MBA ’99) has taken the helm as assistant dean and director of MBA admissions and financial aid.

Stepping into the role last August, he replaced interim director Rob Weiler. Lawrence is certainly no stranger to UCLA Anderson. Five years after receiving his MBA, he returned to campus to serve as executive director of the Riordan Programs, an initiative founded by LA Mayor Richard Riordan to help high school and undergraduate students attain higher levels of education. In this role, Lawrence developed programs targeting students who are the first in their family to apply to college or seek an MBA degree. Under his guidance, nearly 70 percent of Riordan MBA Fellows went on to obtain their MBA at some of the nation’s most elite business schools.

In his new role as director of admissions, Lawrence is turning his focus toward assembling the strongest and most diverse incoming MBA classes he can at Anderson. He provided the following updates regarding the admissions process, as well as advice to prospective applicants as they approach the essays. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: Cristina Sassot of ESADE Business School

300px-Esade_idiomasIn the latest installment of our Admissions Director Q&A Series, we hear from Cristina Sassot, director of admissions at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. Sassot, who herself obtained an MBA at ESADE in 2008, worked for more than 10 years before that in educational consulting. As director of admissions, she is in charge of global outreach and student selection for the school’s full-time MBA, as well as its master of science programs in finance, management, marketing and innovation & entrepreneurship.

In the interview that follows, Sassot shares some of the things that set the ESADE MBA apart – such as its flexible format, in which students can opt for either a 12-, 15- or 18-month program. She also highlights the fact that the school’s 160 students herald from almost 50 different countries, which helped earn it the top spot in terms of student diversity in the Economist’s most recent rankings. And she provides detail about Creapolis, the unique innovation center on campus that houses more than 60 companies looking to share resources and ideas. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: Hima Badu of the Indian School of Business

The main entrance gate at ISB Hyderabad.

Hima Badu oversees admissions and financial aid for the Indian School of Business (ISB), which has campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali. Badu has a background in English literature and a master in management and worked for a marketing agency before joining ISB.

In the interview that follows, she shares some of the exciting developments taking place at ISB right now, including the launch of a second campus and accreditation by American-based accrediting association AACSB. She also provides some insight into the admissions process from an operational standpoint and helps explain how candidates can use the essays to present a complete picture of themselves to the admissions committee. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: Sherry Wallace of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School

English: Kenan-Flagler Business School

Sherry Wallace, director of MBA admissions at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business, told us that she wants to make the admissions process as transparent as possible. “There is no advantage to us in our selection process if people feel like they are in the dark,” she said.

Wallace herself graduated from the Kenan-Flagler MBA program in 1987 and pursued a career in advertising and marketing with several major consumer packaged goods companies. She later married and returned to North Carolina, and 15 years ago she was offered the opportunity to come back to Kenan-Flagler as part of the admissions team. “It fit me to a tee, and I didn’t need to think very long about coming back to work in Chapel Hill,” she recounts. While she might not have imagined herself in her current role at the start of her career, that she is here now shows the power and flexibility of the MBA, she says.

In the interview that follows, Wallace takes the time to completely demystify the admissions process for prospective applicants to Kenan-Flagler, sharing candidly about what they can expect and how best to prepare. She also underscores the strength of the school’s career services offerings, notes the development of a new healthcare curriculum and more. Enjoy! Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: IESE’s Itziar de Ros

English: IESE Logo 日本語: IESE Logo

Itziar de Ros is MBA admissions director and president of the MBA Admissions Committee at IESE in Barcelona, Spain, where she herself obtained an MBA in 2006. After working as a marketing and sales consultant at DuPont, de Ros returned to IESE in 2007, holding roles in admissions, marketing and communications and development before assuming her current role in 2011. As MBA admissions director, she is responsible for global marketing, student selection and administration of scholarships for the IESE MBA class of 280 students.

In the interview that follows, de Ros shares details about the expansion of the school’s international elective courses to include offerings in China and Kenya for the first time this year (in addition to the United States, Brazil and Singapore). She also highlights the school’s focus on entrepreneurship and the benefits of the school’s remarkably international approach to management education.

Finally, you won’t want to miss her comprehensive description of the application process – including the unique in-person assessment day, which includes team case work and presentations by applicants working together in groups. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: Rodrigo Malta of the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business

McCombs School of Business

Rodrigo Malta, a native of Brazil, moved to the United States for high school and college and ultimately graduated from the McCombs full-time MBA program in 2007. While a student at McCombs, he was highly involved in admissions activities, and after graduation he remained in Austin, accepting a marketing position with Dell.

A year later, when then-Director of MBA Admissions Tina Mabley contacted him about a job opening with her team – as associate director of admissions focused on diversity recruiting – he jumped at the chance to return to campus and work on something he was really passionate about. Later, when Mabley was promoted to program director for the full-time MBA, Malta applied for and got the admissions director’s position.

Did he ever imagine as a prospective applicant to McCombs that he would be sitting in the decision-maker’s seat today? “Never,” he says. “Working in admissions while an MBA student was a lot of fun, but I never considered it as a career,” he says. It wasn’t until he returned to the corporate world at Dell that he found himself missing higher education.

Prospective applicants may be happy to learn that Malta understands the position they now are in on such a personal level. Perhaps that’s why he’s so full of useful tips and advice. Read on to learn what he has to share. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: Katelyn Rosa Stephenson of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University

McDonough School of Business

We were lucky enough to catch Katelyn Rosa Stephenson just weeks into her role as interim assistant dean and director of MBA admissions at the McDonough School of Business. But though she is new to heading up admissions, she is not new to McDonough. She joined the admissions staff in March 2008, bringing with her plenty of experience from time spent working in undergraduate admission at the George Washington University.

Read on to learn what Rosa Stephenson has to share about the new curriculum McDonough will implement this fall, including the steps the school is taking to provide its students with a truly global education. She also highlights the contributions of Georgetown’s Jesuit origins to the MBA program and provides practical advice and insight regarding the admissions process. Check it out. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: Stephan Chambers of the Saïd Business School at Oxford University

Over the past decade plus, Stephan Chambers, the current MBA director at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, has gotten to watch the school grow from about 50 students to more than 200 and from nowhere in the rankings to the top 20 in the world.

Chambers, who is also the chairman of Oxford’s Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, founded and ran for a decade the Oxford Executive MBA before assuming his current role. Prior to coming to Oxford he had a 15-year career in the private sector, specifically in publishing, where he invested in and ran companies.

In the interview that follows, he shares why he thinks right now is the best possible time – perhaps in history – to be in business school in general, as well as why it’s an exciting time to be at Oxford. A new dean is championing new initiatives, and Chambers tells us all about them below, so read on. Continue reading…

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Admissions Director Q&A: James Frick of the Tepper School at Carnegie Mellon University

Tepper School of Business

James Frick calls himself a lifer at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. “I have been at Tepper since 1998,” he says “Scary! How did that happen?”

Frick began on the program side, which means that for his first five years there his function was much more working with students once they came to campus. In this role he did a lot of systems work, a lot of advising, etc. But the fact that Tepper is such a small organization really benefitted him, he says. “It allowed me to have half a foot in career services, half a foot in admissions.” And the more of admissions he did, the more he loved it. He transitioned officially to the admissions team in 2003 and became director of admissions in 2010.

In the interview that follows, he shares his enthusiasm for Pittsburgh and its baseball team and highlights a new leadership coaching program that he thinks will help students really learn to communicate and implement the analytical skills they get through the Tepper program. He also shares some sage advice for how to approach the essay portion of the application – advice that will be useful whether you are applying to Tepper or to any other top MBA program. So don’t miss out. Continue reading…

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