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February 2013 Archives

11 February 2013

Stanford GSB Visits the Hometown of Pandas - Chengdu

For the first time ever, Stanford GSB held an information session in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, a vibrant modern city of 14 million people and a key inland Chinese metropolis with offices of major Fortune 500 companies. It all started when Paul Chen, a first-year MBA from Chengdu, offered to hold an event for us when he was home for the winter school break. Over 160 prospective applicants turned out at the Shangri-La Hotel to hear Paul and a panel of GSBers talk about their experiences. Both working professionals and college students were there. Even some parents attended and milled in the lobby enjoying the sweets and tea. We were honored to have the deputy director general from the Office of External Affairs of the Chengdu government, the president of the Sichuan Youth League, and the vice-president of a local university in the audience.

Paul talked about his personal journey from Chengdu to Stanford and how he's learning from real global leaders like Dr. Condeleeza Rice, former Secretary of State, who is on the GSB faculty. Frank Hawke, the GSB's director based in Beijing, talked about Stanford's activities in China. The panel, comprised of first-year student Altaf Saiyed, and alumni Kevin Choo (CEO, Accessen Group, a Shanghai-based Sino-US joint venture and the second player in China's Plate Heat Exchanger industry), James Liu (COO of, and Yi Xu (Founder of FocusEdu, an education startup based in Beijing) shared their experiences, took questions, and then chatted informally with the crowd.

Some of the comments from those who attended:
"Stanford students have the reputation of being innovative and down-to-earth. The interactions today further confirmed this to me."
"The thoughts of the alumni are very innovative and creative."
"Stanford has a great alumni network in China."
"I liked the openness of Stanford including faculty, alumni and curriculum."
"I felt the panel did a good job of addressing important issues."

Several people said they hoped that Stanford would host more events like this in Chengdu. Based on the tremendous success of our first event, we plan to be back again soon.

PanelistsAltaf Saiyed MBA '14, James Liu MBA '00, Kevin Choo MBA '04, Yi Xu MBA '08 (left to right).
Frank Hawke, China Director for Stanford GSBFrank Hawke, China Director for Stanford GSB.
Paul Chen MBA 2014Paul Chen MBA '14 talking with prospective applicants.
Info session attendeesProspective applicants at the Stanford information session.

25 February 2013

Bringing Out the Flavor in Your MBA Application

Lizabeth C., Associate Director of MBA Admissions, offers some healthy tips on serving up a well-rounded and authentic application.

Living in California, I've begun to think about food differently. I understand what "California Cuisine" is all about - fresh, local ingredients prepared simply so you can taste the amazing flavors. Food that is actually a pleasure to eat. Not that I don't love certain processed foods, but I'm more aware of the difference between the two, and how much better I feel when I eat good food.

Getting up to read applications today, I thought about the parallel. Over the years I have seen more and more applicants over-strategizing, being "coached," or trying too hard to "package" themselves. Sometimes after a day of reading it can feel like I've eaten processed foods all day. There's less pleasure in it for me as a reader, but I think it matters beyond that.

To me, a great dish has good ingredients and is presented well. To put your best foot forward in your application and "present a great dish" to us, here's my advice:

  • Try to find the right balance between "well presented" and "processed." We expect you to show us your best self, just make sure it is YOURself.

  • Focus more on being a great candidate than on creating a great application. Follow your interests. Take the risk to try leading something or someone. Learn from your successes and failures, and apply that learning to do it better the next time. Step up for challenges. Do an excellent job.

  • Stay true to yourself. Don't let anyone else tell you how you should be or what we want. You know yourself best, and if you want to know what we want, then come to us. That's why we travel around the world, do webinars, answer phones, and post on our website. Always go to the source.

Well, now that I've made myself hungry, I need to get back to reading. Happy cooking!