The Rady School of Management – University of California, San Diego – is in a unique and enviable situation. Stepping into its teenage years (the program just turned 13), the Rady MBA is young and bubbling with innovative ideas to explore strategies that other businesses can’t. It now also has the resources, thanks to the significant funding of $100 million it has received from the Rady Family Foundation, to embark on its ambitious growth plans to redefine the way management education works.
MBA Crystal Ball interviewed Jay Bryant – Director of Graduate Recruitment & Admissions at the Rady School of Management.
MBA Crystal Ball: What are the key challenges and opportunities you see for the Rady MBA program in the immediate future?
Jay Bryant: There are a lot of great opportunities we have as being one of the youngest MBA programs. As we are just now becoming a teenager – the school’s 13th “birthday” is just around the corner – we have the opportunity to identify ourselves in terms of where business and management trends are going. We were amongst the youngest schools to gain the highly prized AACSB accreditation.
This being said, our faculty were ranked #1 for Intellectual last year by Bloomberg Businessweek. We continue to move up in various rankings and have a growing influence in our industry. Last April, the Rady family announced a commitment of another $100 Million USD to secure the school’s future. This is amongst the largest commitments in any business school’s history.
If we can make it this far in just 13 years, one can only imagine what the next decade can bring forth from our school. We are a school built on innovation and it is fun to be truly innovating ourselves through this process.
MBA Crystal Ball: Are there any areas where you see potential to break the age-old norms (that the other big programs have set over the decades) and try something dramatically different in the area of management education?
Jay: Absolutely! We are a school built on innovation. With our small size and our innovative faculty, we are constantly reflecting on how we do things around here. Our faculty are regularly looking for new ways to engage students to maximize learning. I would argue that our Lab-2-Market program is already breaking the mold of what traditional MBA programs are providing.
MBA Crystal Ball: In the last one year since Ernest Rady gifted $100 million to the business school, how have the new funds helped in making the program better?
Jay: At this point most of the funds are going to building our endowment which ensures sustainability for our future. The funds are also being used to attract top-rate faculty and strengthen our fellowship programs.
MBA Crystal Ball: How important are MBA rankings for you? Are you taking any specific steps to rank better in the coming years?
Jay: Rankings are important to all schools; however, there is a great deal more to consider when looking at a school than the ranking. We believe that we do have a unique personality as an institution. We value an entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge, collaboration, and –above all- innovation. That distinguishes us from other institutions in a way that the rankings do not always include.
That being said, we are becoming more and more selective for admission offers into our full-time MBA program specifically because we want to improve our standings in the various rankings.
MBA Crystal Ball: Apart from strengthening the program from within, what external initiatives have been launched recently in the area of industry outreach, placements?
Jay: We are regularly analyzing our outreach both on the recruitment of students and the connection with employers. Since Rady is now 13, we, like most teenagers, are becoming fully aware of who we are and what we stand for. As we are defined by the students who attend and the alumni who go on to represent us, this has helped us in targeting our outreach into the appropriate markets. We have seen a great number of our students go into entrepreneurial ventures, biotech, and hi-tech industries that is where more and more of our energy is going.
MBA Crystal Ball: What are the big challenges that the international students face before, during and after the program? What can they do on their part to tackle them?
Jay: There are very distinct challenges in each of the three phases mentioned in this question.
1. Before: the competition is strong to get into MBA programs. Each year we see an increase in international applications. Meanwhile on campuses across the country, admissions directors are instructed to diversify the class and maintain certain levels of international vs. domestic students. To stand out in this crowded space you must learn to differentiate yourself. Not only does it take a good academic and work background, but you must also find how you are a match in terms of goals and personality with any program that you are considering.
2. During the program it is important that international students fully take advantage of their studying with a diverse population. All too often I have seen students spend all of their free time with others from their home countries. Though it is great to have that base of friends and support, make sure to network and learn from students who come with different ideas, backgrounds, and cultures.
3. The final challenge is finding a job. I wish someone had told me before my MBA what I am about to say as it would have made my last term during my MBA much more enjoyable. You should consider your career search equal to any class that you are in – from the very beginning of your program. Waiting until the last minute to start a job hunt or polishing yourself for interviews and the like is a very bad idea and will only lead to extreme stress and unhappiness. Figure out what you would like to do from the start. Work with the Career Center and make sure you are getting in front of the organizations that interest you throughout your studies.
MBA Crystal Ball: There are concerns regarding job opportunities that require a work permit. How is the business school helping international students in this area?
Jay: Unfortunately, schools have very little impact in this area. However, we do make several efforts that stand out.
I personally serve on an advisory board with GMAC, our industry organization. Through this board I am directly speaking with individuals who represent graduate education on Capitol Hill and push for appropriate opportunities for international students.
Here on campus our Career Center works with a wide variety of companies. Ultimately, the companies decide if they are willing to sponsor students for their visas; however, we do make sure they are aware of the wonderful talent that our international students have and encourage them to consider employment of our international students.
MBA Crystal Ball: Innovation is a key area of focus for the Rady School. How is it integrated into the DNA of the MBA program?
Jay: Innovation is definitely the cornerstone of the Rady School. I would say that more than we are teaching ‘innovation’ itself, we are teaching ‘innovators’ how to use business to create value and bring their ideas to the world in a sustainable and effective way.
Our Lab-2-Market program is undeniably the most significant way that innovation ties in with our curriculum. This three-term capstone project is required for every one of our MBA candidates – both Full-Time and Part-Time. In the three terms of this program students go from the inception of an idea to a state of “launch ready”.
The final presentation of the program requires students to present their idea to a panel of faculty, alumni, and local business leaders much like in an episode of the TV show “Shark Tank”. Quite a few of the projects that came out of the Lab-2-Market program are now up and running organizations.
MBA Crystal Ball: While many initiatives can take years to bear fruit, what are some that will show tangible results in the next year or two?
Jay: Right now the school is focusing efforts on growing our faculty and on student quality. In the next few years we anticipate hiring more amazing faculty that will attract top talent in our classes and top recruiters coming to campus to hire.
MBA Crystal Ball: We appreciate your time and responses, Jay. Good luck with all the interesting initiatives.
Jay: Thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions.
Image source: ucsd.edu