Q&A with the McCombs School of Business Managing Director of MBA Admissions

Q&A with the McCombs School of Business Managing Director of MBA Admissions

RODRIGO MALTA, Managing Director, MBA Recruiting and Admissions

1) What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at your MBA program this coming year?

 One of the most exciting developments in our full-time MBA program for the upcoming year is the addition of AI/Machine learning course to our custom core curriculum. Students starting this year can take a custom core class called AI for Business and Society. This course equips MBAs with a profound understanding of AI technologies from a strategic business perspective. The curriculum provides a comprehensive foundation for making informed decisions on integrating AI capabilities to drive innovation and enhance overall business performance. Through exploration of key concepts and methods, students learn to create value with AI, evaluate AI business solutions, anticipate, and mitigate AI-related risks, and navigate the ethical and societal challenges posed by AI/machine learning. In sum, students will learn to strategically embed AI technologies in their organizations, aligning technology implementation with ethical considerations and overall strategic business goals.

2) What 2-3 qualities, skill sets, experiences do your program value most in applicants?

  • Leadership and Teamwork:  The Texas McCombs MBA program looks for individuals who have demonstrated leadership abilities in various capacities, whether in professional roles, extracurricular activities, or community involvement. We also value candidates who can work effectively in a team, as teamwork is crucial in the business world.
  • Academic Excellence and Analytical Skills: Strong academic performance, typically reflected in undergraduate grades and standardized test scores like the GMAT or GRE, is a critical piece of our candidate evaluation. Additionally, the ability to think analytically, solve complex problems, and demonstrate a solid understanding of business concepts is highly valued.
  • Professional Experience and Commitment to Texas McCombs: Texas McCombs values MBA candidates with substantial work experience, recognizing that such experience enriches classroom discussions and brings diverse perspectives to the program. In addition to professional achievements, we highly appreciate applicants who demonstrate a strong commitment to the Texas McCombs community. This commitment may be exemplified through a genuine understanding of the program’s culture, values, and resources. Moreover, candidates who articulate clear career goals and illustrate how an MBA from Texas McCombs aligns with and advances those objectives stand out in the admissions process.

3) How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically?

The Texas McCombs MBA admissions committee seeks well-crafted application cover letters that directly addresses our prompt. It is imperative for applicants to convey their thoughts in a clear and concise manner. We value the inclusion of unique perspectives and personal narratives, as our admissions officers are keen on understanding what sets each applicant apart. Additionally, we emphasize the significance of strong writing skills in this process. Admissions officers thoroughly assess grammar and overall writing proficiency. A meticulously written application cover letter not only demonstrates effective communication but also elevates the credibility of the applicant’s message. At Texas McCombs, we encourage applicants to showcase their individuality, communicate clearly, and present a compelling narrative that aligns with our program’s values and goals.

4) Walk us through the life of an application in your office?

For the Full-Time MBA program, we have application deadlines in “rounds.” This means that applicants must submit their completed applications by the round deadline to be considered in that round. We start the review of applications the day after the round deadline. Any given application may get up to three reads + a “by-invitation only” interview, prior to discussion by the admissions committee. Our committee meets as a group for several days to discuss applicants prior to releasing a final admissions decision.

5) Do you have any application tips (for essays & recommendations) for MBA applicants? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid?

  • Essay Tips: Take the time to be patient with yourself throughout the essay writing process. Reflect, brainstorm, rewrite, and edit your content. Remember, crafting your submission may require more than one draft before achieving your final version. Avoid copying and pasting; each business school values unique and tailored responses. Ensure you stay on prompt, framing your submission as a cover letter.
  • Recommendation Tips:  When selecting recommenders, prioritize those familiar with your strengths and weaknesses, aiming for your direct supervisor as the primary choice, but explore alternatives like former supervisors, clients, mentors, or colleagues if needed. If not choosing your current supervisor, explain your decision in the Optional Statement to provide context to the admissions committee. Opt for recommenders who understand your current professional value, emphasizing measurable tasks over future potential. Give recommenders ample notice, discuss your MBA goals, and revisit shared projects to deepen their recommendation’s insight.

6) How important is standardized testing for an MBA application to McCombs, and is there a preference for GMAT, GRE, EA for your full-time program?

Standardized testing is a crucial component of the Texas McCombs MBA application and here at Texas McCombs we offer multiple options such as the GMAT, GMAT Focus, GRE, or Executive Assessment (EA). While a valid test score can enhance a candidate’s position, the admissions committee provides test waivers for expired scores (5+ years old) or based on merit.

Candidates seeking a waiver should have a minimum of three years of substantive post-undergraduate work experience, demonstrating readiness, particularly in quantitative subjects. The choice between GMAT, GMAT Focus, GRE, or EA is left to the individual with no preference from the admissions committee. Practice tests are recommended to determine the most suitable option.

It is important to remember that submitting a strong test score may strengthen a candidate’s MBA application and may improve chances for merit-based scholarships. Candidates ought to evaluate the significance of a test score by considering their academic background, demonstrated quantitative abilities, and recognizing the relevance of test scores for potential future employment.

6) Could you tell us about your interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Do you have any Interview tips for a Zoom call?

Interviews are by invitation only, and for our full-time MBA program interviews are conducted by a current MBA student, an MBA alumnus, or MBA Admissions staff. The number of applicants interviewed varies by admissions cycle and admissions round. One key tip for virtual interviews – test your technology ahead of time! Our virtual interviews are conducted through Zoom, so if you don’t have one already, create a Zoom account. You’ll want to find a good space to conduct your interview, ideally with good lighting, stable internet, and access to a power outlet. Treat a virtual interview the same way you would an in-person interview. This is a professional interview, but we also want you to be yourself so we can really get to know you better!

7) What resources are available at your MBA program to assist with internship and full-time job opportunities?

Texas McCombs boasts a top-tier Career Management and Corporate Relations team, providing a robust set of resources for MBA students to secure internships and full-time jobs. Our dedicated career services team offers coaching, resume reviews, interview preparation, and networking assistance. Texas McCombs facilitates a variety of on-campus recruiting events for employers, regularly organizing company presentations and networking events that enable students to explore opportunities across various industries. MBA students have access to our robust alumni network, job boards, online databases, and mock interviews. The Texas McCombs MBA program goes beyond conventional resources, organizing industry treks, conferences, and additional support, including a career management course and various career development workshops ensuring comprehensive preparation for successful professional pursuits.

8) What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

One aspect of our program that we want applicants to be more aware of is our Global Education offerings. Texas McCombs takes pride in offering a variety of immersive global engagement experiences. These opportunities include STEP (Short-Term Exchange Programs) for 5 to 14 days, focusing on specialized industries or local business acumen. Additionally, our Global Connections Courses offer semester-long programs with 9-10 days abroad, and students can also choose a Semester Exchange, spending a full semester at one of our 30 partner universities worldwide. These experiences foster cross-cultural competencies, adaptability, and international perspectives, preparing our students to navigate the complexities of the global business landscape and excel in an interconnected and dynamic workplace.

8) Fun Fact about Texas– such as where is a favorite hangout for McCombs MBA students?

The Texas McCombs MBA is situated in Austin, a city renowned for its eclectic cultural scene. The city comes alive annually with major events such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix (F1), attracting motorsport enthusiasts from around the world. Additionally, Austin hosts the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival, a spectacular showcase of diverse musical genres, and the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, a globally recognized celebration of film, music, and interactive media. These events not only offer unique entertainment experiences but also provide valuable networking opportunities for McCombs MBA students in the heart of this dynamic and creative community.

9) Anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?

Connect with us! Even though we are fully virtual for recruiting events and interviews, we want to hear from and connect with you. Attend an event, send us an email or even give us a call. We look forward to sharing #WhyMcCombs to help you navigate the admissions process and discover your fit at Texas McCombs. 

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