The Quick Guide to MBA Glossary, Part I
Decrypting the MBA
So I heard you’re interested in an MBA, but are you ready for the GMAT, and which b-school are you aiming for? Easy enough, right? Everyone knows the basics – MBA stands for Masters of Business Administration, and the GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test, is the exam you need to take in order to get into your business school (b-school) of choice. But what if I told you that being part of a cohort does not mean you’ll become a Roman legionary when you graduate? Unless fighting Hannibal and his army of Carthaginians is a valid career choice in your book, a cohort is actually a term in the MBA glossary, which refers to MBA classes – the collection of MBA students grouped around shared characteristics – learning methods, curricular specialisations, graduating class, etc. In this new series, I will introduce you to some of the most outlandish and seemingly out-of-context MBA terms out there – for fun and for education!
GRE – Graduate Record Examination
The GRE is a postgraduate (or graduate for our American-English readers) admission test, which is a requirement for entry into MBA (but also Masters and PhD) programmes in business schools around the world. Like the GMAT, it is comprised of verbal, writing and quantitative reasoning sections, where students need to show a high-enough overall aptitude in order to be considered for admission. The GRE has grown in popularity in recent years, and is now considered an equally valid alternative to the GMAT, meaning that the majority of business schools will accept either as part of the admission process. The 3 hour, 45 minute test can be taken in both paper and computer form and its validity lasts for 5 years. The organisation behind the GRE is the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which is also the administrator of the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) – one of the world’s most recognisable English-language tests.
AMBA – Association of MBAs
The AMBA is an accreditation provider for business schools. It is part of the Big Trio (more on that in later episodes) of accreditation organisations in the MBA world. Accreditations are an integral part of the education system and work as quality assurance for undergraduate and postgraduate institutions. Both business schools and would-be students look for accreditation, as it is a standard for quality, much like a degree is for employers. AMBA is based in London, UK and issues certificates to more than 200 business schools around the world. It aims to “raise the profile of business education and MBA qualification in UK and Europe”, and suffice to say, is highly sought-after in Western Europe. AMBA also runs a research centre on global trends and thought leadership and organises a range of student, alumni and faculty events.
GEMBA – Global Executive Master of Business Administration
The GEMBA is part of the EMBA family of MBA degrees – it is tailored to more senior professionals, with more work and managerial experience. Roughly speaking, if the average MBA student enters school with 5 years of work experience, the EMBA student will have around 10. The distinct advantage of a GEMBA is that it takes place on more than one campus, in numerous countries and often on more than 2 continents. The aim is to introduce executives to diverse environments, which comes in quite handy seeing how they often run or are expected to run multicultural teams in multinational companies. The profile of the participants is very high – financial consultants, managers, directors and CEOs, and often the auditorium becomes a place for heated discussions rather than passive listening. The GEMBA is the peak of postgraduate business education – you simply can’t go any higher than that.
An Alumni Network is the network of graduates of a given school. These networks are facilitated by the school and are sometimes grouped by subject, depending on how old the school is and how big they’ve become over the years. More often than not, however, b-schools treat all their graduates as part of their alumni network, and instead of segmenting them, try to instil a common sense of pride and accomplishment by organising reunion events and disseminating newsletters full of success stories. Business schools see their alumni networks as one of their most crucial resources. Their volume is an indication of tradition and their members’ accomplishment is both a source of pride, and a useful tool for creating added value. For graduates themselves, the most important function of alumni networks is the ability to come into contact with graduates from former and future classes who might help with powerful contacts, give advice on a crucial deal, or even be passionate enough to team up for a start-up.
And if this is not motivating enough for you, consider that this is how hedge funds, investment groups and influential businesses are often born.