Bob's got a proven record in telecommunications, but can targeting European MBAs lead to a better life and career in Europe?
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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
Career Protocol. Career Coach, MBA Coach, loud talker on YouTube. I am here to help you get into the MBA program of your dreams and you have found us on a Monday of the Bob Project. The Bob Project is where we talk directly to our subscribers and give them a free, mini MBA coaching session so that we can translate all the stuff we've been talking about all these years on our channel into actionable advice for specific individuals so that they can achieve their MBA dreams and so that all of you watching can get the hang of how all this stuff comes together and what it means in real life. So if you want to be a part of the Bob project, go to careerprotocol.com/bob, and you could apply to be a member of the Bob community and have a free MBA coaching session with me. You got to be a subscriber first so click the little button, be sure to subscribe. And today I am talking to Bob. Say hi, Bob! Give our audience here a little bit of a sense of who you are. Why don't you start by introducing yourself?
Bob: Okay! Hello. Thank you, Angela, and thank you to the audience. Well, my name is Bob. I live in Bolivia in South America. I am a subscriber of the Career Protocol YouTube channel. Actually, the last four months since I entirely made up my mind of following an MBA, I started following this great channel. I'm very happy indeed to talk to Angela. I'm a big fan. Anyway, I studied electronic engineering, that's my background. I have a major in telecommunications. Indeed, for the last five years, I have been working for a big telecommunication equipment provider. Because of that, I had the chance to combine my technical skills with the business skills, where I learned a little bit, but this combination motivated me to consider an MBA seriously. Finally, yes, I made up my mind of following an MBA, and that's why I'm here.
Angela! Here you are! So everybody knows, here are Bob's statistics.
Bob majored in telecommunications. You're very much on your path, you've been on your path for a while now. You majored in in telecommunications at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés?
Bob: Yeah, you're pronouncing it right.
Angela: Okay, excellent. My Spanish is a little rusty. That was in 2017. So here you are, five years into your career in telecom. I'm characterizing your role as telecom sales. We'll talk about it, I think it’s broader than that. But when I glanced at the resume, that seemed to be what it was mostly saying to me. Then we have this “C” GPA, which we're going to talk about. We're going to dig into that. And then you're working on the test so we're also probably going to talk about that. The test is really a common pain point for people in this process. Bob is applying to top European MBA programs, which we always love to see. In your form, I love what you said, you were like “I want to move to a new geography. Europe is known for its quality of life, so I know that that's where my future is.”. So you're targeting European MBA programs because you know that it's going to enable you to make a pivot to that new geography and get a job in Europe so that you can build at least the next phase of your career, if not the rest of your career in Europe and that is super smart. So I love that you did that research. You really thought about where do you want to be, what you want to gain and you're targeting the right schools for you. I talked to a lot of people who are targeting US schools but want to work in Europe or targeting European schools but want to work in the US and it's not like it's impossible, but brands are geographic and so are recruiting opportunities. So if you want to have a career in Europe, your best bet is to go to European MBA program. So that's awesome. Let me see here. Let's just start with that. Let's just dig in with that GPA. I know there's a bit of a story here. Give me some more context.
Bob: Well, indeed, I have a low GPA actually. The university you just pronounced earlier, the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés actually in my country is the top one university, but it's a public university here and it's one of the most popular. There is some old tradition there that since there are thousands and thousands of students, usually the professors are forced to level up the difficulty of the tests and all the matters in the university. So it's a little bit hard to obtain a high GPA. I think that's one of my weaknesses. Yes, I have to admit it. Anyway, I am trying to compensate this by studying and focusing on improving my GMAT score, which is one of the few things I think you have control over.
Angela: To some extent, within reason. In your form when you applied to be a Bob, what you said was that you were among the top 3 in your class.
Angela: The school grades on a forced curve. So, Bolivia's greatest university does not have the same grade inflation that most American universities have. And so, it's impossible to get an A+. So just explain a little bit more about that because this is important for schools to know.
Bob: What we usually do here in Bolivia in order to apply to any scholarship or in order to apply to any master's degree program, what we do is we explain the situation to the application team in the university, and what we do is ask the university to provide the ranking position in your generation, your cohort. In my cohort, I ranked top 3 among thousands of students. So that helps you to demonstrate that you were a good student during your time at the university. Local embassies and local institutions here are aware of this strange situation, but this is the way we handled it.
Angela: Very good. I think in all of my years doing this kind of work and working with people from — I think our most recent tally is 71 countries that we've worked with clients from — I don't think Bolivia is on that list. I'm going to double check. I don't think the Career Protocol team has ever worked with a client coming from Bolivia. So what that means is that there's a very high probability that the admissions committee will not know this. Wait, I take it back! There was someone from Bolivia in our distant past. So one, we had one candidate from Bolivia. So that means that there's a high probability that schools, and especially European schools, will not understand how grading works at your school. So that's something you're going to have to explain to them and you’ll likely do it in the optional essay. They’re going to give you a space to explain your education, explain an employment gap. They may even ask for additional context around your transcript. So if there’s a school they’re going to know from Bolivia, it’s probably yours, if it's the top school, but if they don't know that school, then you'll just want to make sure that they know that. So explain that you're in the top 3, it's a forced curve, and that you're fully prepared for the rigors of their challenging program. And then to your point, a strong GMAT score will also be super helpful along those lines as you're seeking to demonstrate your MBA readiness, as will the resume. So let's briefly talk about that because I appreciate that you acknowledged that this is not an MBA resume and indeed, this is a great example of a resume that is probably great for your industry but isn't going to work at all for an MBA context. Not just because it's frankly too creative, it's lovely. I like your graphics here, but this does not suit an MBA resume.
Bob: It's actually an old template that I picked from work. One day I had the chance to apply to some internships, so I prepared this resume late at night.
Angela: That's exactly how most resumes start. It's exactly how most resumes start. This is why we created our badass Resume Protocol course. We actually have a course on MBA resume writing that will change your life (not to oversell it). It will teach you not just formatting — formatting is actually the easiest thing to change — it'll teach you how to think like a CEO while you're writing your bullets. And of course, these are all task-based bullets. So I don't have any insight into, did you do your job well? Did you have an impact? If you're a presales manager, I'm guessing you have a direct line to revenue. I should see targets being beaten and despite the downturn, great numbers, etc. All the ways in which your success is measured that you want to convey that here. And by the way, all of our Bobs get to do the MBA resume course for free so we'll get you into that in a week or two here so you can crush your resume. So here, this is like five years. Have you been promoted? What is the hierarchy like here?
Bob: That's one of the reasons I am pursuing an MBA. Actually, in the corporation — this is a Chinese Corporation — in order to be like promoted, you need to fulfill some cultural requirements. The high-level management, the leaders that are in headquarters, they usually have these meetings in Chinese, which I don't speak actually. Also, the decisions, many of the decisions are made in Chinese. The company can offer a rise in seniority for the employees as well as some salary rise but I got stuck in my career.
Angela: So you went from presales intern to presales manager and that's it, or was there a step in between?
Bob: No, no. That was it. That was it, basically.
Angela: Okay, all right. So then you just want to make sure that you can see increased responsibility over time. You might even divide this time by your raises. Even if your title didn't change, your responsibilities, presumably, have increased. You've gotten more authority, more impact. We want to see that. We want to see that there's a progression there. And so this will be very important in further showcasing, again, your MBA readiness. That you know how to produce results, you know how to work with numbers, you know how to have an impact. So the resume is super important there. And then really, the next, I think, most important piece for you is going to be the story about your future. That's because you are making at least one jump, which is geographic. So you're moving from Bolivia to Europe, so that's already one big jump. And then talk to me about your post-MBA goals and what you envision yourself doing in, let's say, Paris or Amsterdam or Frankfurt. What are you going to do post MBA?
Bob: Actually, I decided to apply to European schools because, well, one reason was because I got stuck in my career. But actually, I like the industry I work in. I like tech, as an engineer. My goal after the MBA is to keep on the same industry. I would not like to move. If possible, of course, I would like to keep on working on telecommunications. I know there is not a lot of companies working on that, but I have better chances in Europe than here, of course. A second reason is something more personal. Here in Bolivia, I am openly gay, but the problem with my country is the human rights here are not well developed. So I also got stuck with some things here. So I had all these ideas and got encouraged to apply to some European schools. As you said at the beginning, they are known for the quality of life. So my top school of my ideal school, I think it's a London Business School because of the language. My English is not so good, but I can handle it in some way. The second reason to choose this school is the flexibility in time. Of course, I’ve checked the web page and I think one of the differences, as you’ve explained in some videos, between European and American schools is the time, of course. Most of the European schools have this accelerated program of 10 months or 12 months. But two of these schools, London Business School and HEC Paris, have this intermediate time that is I think, up to 20 months in London Business School and up to 16 months in HEC Paris. For a person like me pretending to move to a new country, I think that additional time is very valuable in order to get to know the environment, the city, and get used to the life there. So that's why I am choosing and aiming to apply to those schools.
Angela: That makes sense. You use the false friend there, “pretends” in Spanish, means intends or plans but in English, it means you're faking it. I think you know that. These little things catch the ear. But yeah, good! So let me ask about a couple of other schools. So there's three, four programs I think should be on your radar, just worth considering. One is INSEAD which is a little bit on the shorter side, but it's got a great reputation and great career placement. Then there's the two stronger schools in Spain, ESA in Barcelona and IE in Madrid. Then finally, there's RSM, Rotterdam School of Management in Rotterdam, which is maybe not the most ambitious program. It's more moving towards a safety school for you, but it positions you in a great geography for recruiting. So thoughts about those schools? Have you thought about those schools?
Bob: I’ve heard of them. Like many, I check the rankings. I know they are also top schools. I didn't really check the brochures or the details of the programs in detail, but yes, of course, I can consider them.
Angela: Just thinking super pragmatically, working in Spain will be very easy for you because you speak both English and Spanish fluently. Then for personal reasons, I think you'd probably really enjoy living and working in the Netherlands. Then INSEAD is like, most people are like, yeah, there's two big dogs in Europe, LBS and INSEAD. So people who are considering LBS should probably also — not that you have to apply — but you should also consider it because it will it will give you the most clout in your post-MBA career in Europe, at least across the whole of Europe, as all the other schools. Okay, so your plan is to stay in telco but to relocate here. So you're looking at like, Nokia, right? We're talking hardware.
Bob: Yeah, companies like that. You have Nokia, you have Ericsson, some Chinese companies like Huawei or ZTE, the one I was previously working for.
Angela: ZTE as well yes, great. Good! And then are you going to also change function? Are you going to move out of sales? Are you going to move into more like strategy or operations? What's the plan there?
Bob: Yeah, I’m considering that because I had some strategy responsibilities here as well. I learned a little bit of that. I’m very interested in learning a strategy, or I am also considering marketing as well, it’s something I like. The marketing in B2B is quite different to the marketing for end users so it's very challenging. It forces me to combine the technical skills with the business skills. So it's quite encouraging for me.
Angela: Yeah, great. My gut says that your sales experience will translate best into a Spanish context where you can also use your native language. But if you're going to move out of that function, then that opens up the whole anywhere at that point, anywhere that either has English or Spanish as a dominant language. Great! I think that schools will be compelled by your motivations. You're in an industry you like. You even like your function; you've already been creeping into a different function. So, for you it's just about advancing, getting into a position, into a company where you can move up, and changing geographies. I know there's also a personal reason for that desire for geography change, which I think is probably going to form part of at least some of your essays, maybe not for every school, but for at least a few schools. Do you want to strategize around that just a little bit?
Bob: Yeah, I was thinking of organizing my personal story in order to create this interesting profile. I know some schools look for these interesting stories that include those personal reasons. I didn't prepare or think about the essay yet, I know it requires some time. I think it will take me at least a month to prepare it because it's like a test you need to improve and improve continuously. Now I am focusing first on the GMAT and after that I will start working on the essay.
Angela: Excellent. So with respect to the GMAT, let's revisit that Did we already talk about this? We didn't, right?
Bob: Yeah, we didn't.
Angela: Yeah. So if we put everything together here, so we've got strong career related to future goals, so decent positioning for recruiting. We've got a decent undergraduate with a complex number associated with it, given the way your school grades on a curve. And so then we’ve got to pair that with, ideally, at least an average GMAT score. So the European schools, their average GMATs are slightly lower than the top US schools, and they tend to be a little bit less concerned about the GMAT only because the rankings are not such a cluster for the European schools as they are for the top 20 US schools. I think if I were to calibrate where you need to be, GMAT wise, vis-à-vis the schools you're applying to, to me, if you can hit the average of your target schools, maybe even if you're a little bit below, maybe 10 points, maybe 20 points below the average of the schools you're applying to, I think that should do. You mentioned that you're quite confident in your test taking abilities.
Bob: I'm quite confident. I never struggled with math or with any of these logic matters during school, during university. For me, it was easy. I will give it my best. I hope to obtain at least a little bit above the average, but I can only tell after taking the test. Or at least mock test, right?
Angela: Exactly. And our advice is always to take the test more than once. Plan to take it more than once. Even if it goes well the first time, most people see their second score go up just because nerves are calm, it's your second rodeo. So if you're able to put up a 740 or a 750, that's going to even help you a lot more in the process. So if you can achieve that score, by all means, go for it. But usually when people haven't taken the test yet, we want to know what's the floor. What's the lowest score you can have and still feel pretty good about your candidacy and to my eye with everything else about you, if you're a little bit below the average, you're still probably going to be all right. You're going to be a competitive candidate for these schools.
Bob: Okay, it's good to know that.
Angela: By all means, take it more than once if you're below the average. If your first test is good, take it again anyway, because the higher the score, the better. But definitely don't let it stop you, even if it's not where you want it to be when the time comes.
Bob: Okay. That's a very useful advice.
Angela: Okay! So have we covered everything? Let's see. We talked about your GPA, we talked about your goals, we talked about your resume, we talked about… We haven't gotten into the essays, but that's a whole other big thing. So do you have any other questions for me, Bob, before we close our session today?
Bob: Yeah. So some, well, most of these European schools, basically, they have this message for the applicants that they are considering students, not only because of the great GMAT score or great essay, but they have this holistic view on the applicant. So yes, I would like to ask you, according to my profile, if you were some if you were part of these universities, what's your opinion about my profile? What do you think? What are my chances according to Angela's opinion?
Angela: Yeah! I think your chances are pretty solid. But if I'm really honest, I think the most interesting thing about your candidacy is something that we haven't talked about yet, which is the fact that you're openly gay in this country where it's very challenging to be gay at all, never mind openly gay. So I suspect that you have some stories to tell about that that maybe aren't the happiest stories but have shaped your character and have also given you a drive to rise above your circumstances and to build a life for yourself that is a bit more on your own terms. So that alone wouldn't get you into business school because it is business school, it's not just like, do whatever you want school. It's business school. But you've got a solid business profile and so having that additional personal reason why you want to move and change and get access to this new geography and these new companies, I actually think that will quite inspire and touch the admissions committees at these programs. I guess the various countries of Europe are known for being not all as open. You know, some are more open, some are less open, there’s diversity there. But certainly the MBA world in our vast experience of working with members of the LGBT+ community, schools are very interested in candidates who are coming from a background where their character had to be forged through challenge. So anyone who's outside of the norm in whatever way in their society has dealt with more challenges than the average person, and that shapes character. That makes you more compassionate, more brave, usually more generous, frequently more ambitious. And so my feeling is that once you get into the essays, this will also be part of your story. Not like a card to play like, hey, diversity card. Not like that but like, hey, this is genuinely part of where I'm coming from and it's a big part of why this movie is so important to me. I love my job, I want to have an impact, I want to stay in this industry, but I also really want to be in a place where I can be respected as the professional that I am without the constraints that I'm used to dealing with. That's a human story, that can't help but touch someone who's reading it.
Bob: Okay. Yeah, that's something important. Of course, I will think carefully on how to describe that in the essay. Well, yeah, thank you! I very much appreciate all the advice you have just told me and yes, I will consider it. In the short that you sent for the awesomeness videos you mentioned this is like a free version of half hour support that we will provide to the audience of Career Protocol. But yeah, I very much appreciate your videos. I think they are quite useful. Of course, I will seriously consider working with Career Protocol, at least asking for help and getting whatever you can offer. Great. It's very encouraging for me to talk to you. The very first time I actually talked to some very famous YouTubers, and I always follow MBA Mondays. I also like the style and the advice provider!
Angela: Well, I'm really touched by your kind words, but I just have to laugh that you're calling me a famous YouTubers. That's not anywhere in my self-conception, but I'm really glad you like our advice!
There are very few channels that touch in detail all MBA matters, for example, dedicated entirely to the essay or the GMAT or the differences with the GRE. It's something hard to find on YouTube.
Angela: Cool! All right well I really appreciate that feedback, that's really great to hear! I love your story. I think you're going to get traction with these schools. I think you're also going to be like, you're going to add value to your class. You're going to have a great experience. I am definitely rooting for you to succeed on this journey. If you all watching are also rooting for Bob to get into a top European school, please leave us a comment and just cheer Bob on. Give Bob the muscle arm or the applause. Pick your favorite emoji and let Bob know that you are supporting his success! We're definitely rooting for you at Career Protocol. For those of you who want to become a Bob, don't forget careerprotocol.com/bob, you can submit your application. Be sure to subscribe to our channel if you haven't already. If you haven't signed up for my MBA 101 program, you can do that at careerprotocol.com/mba101. This is a free five-part course where I'm going into depth on the five biggest pieces of the application. I'm trying to shrink down our one hundred and fifty videos into the five most important videos you need to watch as you're preparing your MBA application. Register for that program here. I will see you all next week on MBA Monday. Bye, Bob!
Bob: Bye, bye. Thank you!
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