In the Spotlight: McGill Desautels 2-Year MBA
In 2018, Financial Times (FT) ranked McGill’s Desautels’ MBA program as number one (1) in Canada and 78th among its global peers. The aspects of FT’s methodology that placed Desautels at the top of Canada’s MBA programs include the percentage increase in graduate salary and career progress as well as the percentage of female faculty in the program. Globally, Desautels ranked high on both international mobility (ranked 17th globally) and international course experience (ranked 14th globally).
Desautels’ two (2)-year MBA offers, first, a foundation in business, which lays the groundwork for a specialization. Its students have the opportunity to specialize in any one of the following four (4) disciplines: Finance, Marketing, Global Strategy and Leadership, and Business Analytics.
To learn more about the program, its culture, admissions, and alumni, we connected with Marie-Eve Roy, Director of Recruitment and Marketing and Keum-Yeo Brochet, Associate Director of Recruitment and Marketing at Desautels MBA programs. Their insights are outlined below.
Describe the culture of Desautels?
Most students and alumni would describe the culture in the Desautels MBA as feeling like you’re part of a tight-knit family. Our MBA class size is small (70-85 students), and we make it our mission to ensure students have a personalized student experience in a very collaborative learning environment. Students in our program can get involved in just about anything they are passionate about both inside and outside of the classroom.
At Desautels, a successful student is defined not only in terms of their strong academics and personal achievements, but also in terms of their involvement in the Desautels community.
What distinguishes Desautels from other top MBA programs?
What sets the Desautels MBA apart from other top MBA programs is the way in which we build our class, and the opportunities students get from being part of a small and diverse cohort. Students will join a small cohort that is selectively chosen based on candidates having solid qualifications, but also because they bring something unique that will add value to the overall learning experience of their classmates.
Diversity is a strength at Desautels. Students are hand-picked with a strong consideration for diversity in professional background and accomplishments, leadership potential, their career goals, and on international experience.
The small and diverse cohort combined with a personalized environment offered at Desautels fosters unparalleled opportunities for students to network closely with peers, professors, student advisors, career coaches, alumni, and members of the business community who regularly bring their expertise and share their experiences in the classroom.
What are recent developments in your program you are most proud of?
On the academic side, we continue to focus on equipping our students with the skills needed to meet the demands of employers.
Two years ago, we added a Business Analytics concentration which answers to a growing need for MBA students to understand big data to improve management decisions. Last year, we had MBA’s finding internships with a focus on analytics in a variety of fields and companies.
We also have invested in infrastructure having opened the Donald E. Armstrong building in January 2018 for our MBA and Master’s students. The new building has increased the number of study spaces, classrooms, event spaces and administrative offices for our students and staff.
We have also invested in more career resources, including hiring additional career coaches and alumni engagement staff to ensure continued resources are in place to help students find successful internship opportunities and full-time post-MBA employment.
Like many MBA programs, McGill’s Desautels has its own list of requirements. Can you describe the traits you see in your most successful applicants?
There is no specific mold for a great MBA candidate, especially in a cohort as diverse as ours. Generally speaking, a successful applicant is someone that is highly driven and combines their academic strength and professional prowess with a thirst for knowledge and growth.
A will to collaborate and a vision that goes beyond one’s personal achievements are also desirable traits for someone who wishes to thrive in the Desautels community.
Answering your three essay questions are essential in the application process. What distinguishes the top and most memorable essays, regarding prior achievements, personality, goals, etc.?
Similar to the trailer for a movie, the essays are a glimpse into a candidate’s story. They provide an opportunity for the school to get to know a candidate outside of test scores and academic grades. The most important thing to keep in mind when writing an essay is to avoid being generic. It is very important that the essays are tailored to the school you are applying to (as opposed to sending similar essays for each school).
Prior to writing answers to the essay questions provided, candidates should think about their past achievements and their future career goals, and then think about how the Desautels MBA can bridge the two. It is important to think of one’s personal story carefully, give concrete examples when answering the questions, and whenever possible link this narrative to what the school has to offer.
The application process also involves an interview by a Desautels representative. What advice would you give a candidate preparing for said interview?
At Desautels, candidates can interview in person or by Skype if they live outside of Montreal. We use the interview as a means to assess a candidate’s professionalism, communication and interpersonal skills, their fit for the program, and to clarify parts of their submitted application.
It is important to treat the MBA interview like a job interview. We recommend candidates dress professionally (from head to toe, even for a Skype interview!), be on time, test the technology if applicable, and thoroughly research the school before the interview. Also, we recommend that candidates prepare a list of questions that they might not find the answers to on our website.
Finally, candidates should come into the interview component of the admission process with this in mind: Consider how you will benefit from being a part of the Desautels MBA Program, but also how you intend to make an impact in the program and the Desautels community.
Selecting an MBA program is a challenging endeavor. What advice would you give a candidate considering an MBA at Desautels?
Take the time to study each program and to learn about the student experience by connecting with current students, alumni and members of the recruitment and admissions team. If you’re able to, take a trip to the school and do a campus and class visit. The MBA is a big commitment in terms of time and financial investment. That is why it is important to make sure that the program is a good fit for you, that you will achieve your personal and professional goals and that you are sure to make this an experience of a lifetime.
Turning the limelight on Desautels’ alumni, where have they made a significant impact on society?
At Desautels, success is defined not only in terms of career achievements but also in terms of the impact you continue to make as you become part of the Desautels alumni community. The members of our Desautels Family are therefore highly involved in a variety of areas.
During the MBA, they have many opportunities to get involved in volunteering causes, not-for-profit organizations, crisis relief, etc. A notable example would be when the Mexico earthquake happened last September. Our MBA’s quickly rallied behind the Mexican students to raise funds and help the community in need. Through this event, they raised more than $5,000 for the Mexican Red Cross over just a few days.
Post-MBA, our students continue to find ways to impact society. For example, two of our alumni, Nicolas Drohojowski and Julien Desnoyers, who both work for consulting companies in Montreal, have founded Thinkr Consulting, an initiative that offers free business consulting services to nonprofit organizations and seeks to provide support to those start-ups and social enterprises who need help but do not have the resources to hire a professional consulting firm.
What opportunities are offered to students to work or network with your alumni?
Networking is an important part of the MBA, particularly in a competitive job market such as Canada’s where many opportunities are obtained through the building of strong professional relationships. The smaller cohort size allows students the chance to “be seen” and to take part in personalized networking opportunities with prospective employers, alumni, and business leaders.
The Soutar Career Services Centre at Desautels are vital in helping students to ease into this process. Our career team organizes a three-day Meet McGill in Toronto networking trip that enables MBA students to learn about the Toronto job market, meet companies interested in recruiting McGill students for summer and full-time employment and build their networks through meetings with alumni, mentors, and employers.
We also offer an Alumni Mentorship Program whereby each student gets paired with an alumni mentor who works in the industry that they are interested in.
Alumni are also regularly invited to come to the school to take part in panels, to discuss their professional fields and to share their advice to our MBA’s.
In speaking with alumni, what are some fond experiences and themes they share about their time at Desautels?
The common theme that comes up whenever we meet with our alumni and discuss the Desautels MBA is the sense of belonging and the close-knit relationships they have built with their peers. The members of our cohort stay in close touch with their classmates, professors, and other members of the Desautels community after they graduate. There is also a great sense of pride that comes with being part of McGill University, a school with a global network of over 250,000 alumni worldwide.
Spotlight is a periodical profiling top MBA programs. The series’ aim offers universities an opportunity to expand their reach and prospective students an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the institutions. Universities differentiate themselves by focusing on the program’s culture, its distinguishing features, and its enthralling characteristics; prospective students gain insider knowledge on the program and the culture, facilitating their university selection and ensuring programs fit their personal and intellectual needs.
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