Recruiters' Top Choices For M.B.A.s Going Global

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Like the North American rankings, the International list is based on how schools rate with recruiters on different qualitative attributes, such as students' leadership, teamwork, interpersonal and analytical skills, and on "supportive behavior" (the likelihood that a respondent will continue recruiting from a school and make a job offer to its students in the next two years).

Where the International and North American rankings part ways is on "mass appeal." In the North American rankings, the mass-appeal score is based on the number of survey respondents who say they recruit from a particular school. For the International ranking, mass appeal is the number of countries from which a school attracts recruiters. Respondents from at least four countries must say they have recruited from a school in order for it to qualify for this ranking.

Who Shines

The International list includes 13 schools from the two North American rankings, along with eight European M.B.A. programs. Half of those European schools really shine in this ranking, primarily because of the diversity of recruiters they attract. London Business School, which is especially well regarded by financial-services companies, attracted recruiters from 15 countries in the survey, the most of any school, followed by IMD with 12.

But London Business School, IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, HEC School of Management in Paris and Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas (ESADE) in Barcelona also scored better than many of the U.S. schools on supportive behavior and specific attributes, particularly their students' international knowledge and experience.

Among the U.S. schools in the International ranking, the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology fared best, at No. 5, mainly because of its mass-appeal score. Respondents from nine countries named Sloan's M.B.A. program as one of the places where they recruit.

Thunderbird's Garvin School of International Management in Glendale, Ariz., enjoys the strongest reputation for teaching international business of any U.S. school in the survey. Yet it ranked only eighth because its "mass-appeal" score was relatively low, with survey respondents from only four countries saying they recruit at Thunderbird. Many recruiters indicated, however, that they intend to keep visiting Thunderbird and are likely to hire its graduates over the next few years.

Growing Presence

Although M.B.A. programs are an American phenomenon dating back more than 100 years, universities throughout the world are proving to be increasingly formidable rivals these days. Many foreign business schools, particularly those in Europe, offer condensed one-year M.B.A. programs, a format some students find appealing. The fast-track approach means they aren't out of the workplace long, and the opportunity costs are therefore much smaller than in America's traditional two-year programs.

Some U.S. schools were concerned this year to find prospective applicants from Asia, in particular, considering European schools more seriously, given the difficulty some faced in obtaining student visas and the inhospitable job market for international M.B.A. graduates in America.

When it comes to recruiters' perceptions of M.B.A. program attributes, Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business is hard to beat. The world's first graduate business school placed No. 3 overall in the National ranking of North American schools, but ranked first among those 19 schools on perception scores for such qualities as leadership potential and teamwork orientation. In the International ranking, however, IMD managed to edge out even Tuck to place first for perception ratings.

The small Swiss school clearly has many fans in the corporate world who give it especially high ratings for students' leadership abilities, strategic thinking, and personal ethics and integrity.

"We need business leaders, and what sets IMD students apart is a mature self-awareness and greater depth of managerial experience," says Pim van Wesel, business-development manager in Switzerland for Medtronic Inc. They bring "a grounding in real life, not simply academics."

Gustavo Melgarejo, another survey respondent, believes IMD students' age and higher level of experience (on average, students are about 30 years old, with seven years in the workplace) are two of their most distinctive assets. But Mr. Melgarejo, the country chief financial officer at Novartis Biosciences Peru S.A., has doubts about IMD's concentrated 10-month M.B.A. program. It's "too short and can be too demanding," he says. "When students are also searching for a job, I am not sure they can get all the best from their courses."

Languages and Teamwork

Some schools received kudos for encouraging students to be multilingual. "ESADE stipulates that part of the M.B.A. curriculum includes knowing two languages by graduation, which in my opinion, should be a requirement for every M.B.A. graduate in the world," says James Dress, a survey respondent and brand manager at Grupo Panrico, a food company in Barcelona.

Recruiters also gave the Spanish school high grades for students' ability to work well in teams, fit with the corporate culture, and personal ethics and integrity, and they ranked it first for "overall satisfaction" in meeting their needs.

But the other European schools - Instituto de Empresa, in Madrid; IESE, in Barcelona; Rotterdam School of Management, in the Netherlands; and INSEAD, in Fontainebleau, France - all fall in the bottom half of the International ranking. Recruiters are especially harsh in their assessments of INSEAD. Though it has broad reach - recruiters from 11 countries named it as one of their target schools in the survey - INSEAD received the lowest score for "overall satisfaction" in meeting recruiters' needs.

Recruiters criticize INSEAD students for limited work experience and a "cocky" attitude. "Too many students, more like an M.B.A. factory," one survey respondent griped, while another said INSEAD's M.B.A. program is too short and lacks "subject depth."

Mr. Alsop, a Wall Street Journal news editor and author of the new book, "The 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation," served as contributing editor of this report. Contact him with your questions about "The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Schools - Recruiters' Top Picks," on CareerJournal's discussion board.

Copyright (c) 2004 CareerJournalEurope.com

All Rights Reserved.

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