Monday, August 29, 2016

Harvard / Stanford / Cambridge MBA Alums to Appear at Tokyo MBA Event on September 22 2016

A former client asked me to post a link to an upcoming event for MBA applicants that will feature recent alums from Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge. More information as well as a link to register for the event to be held on September 22, 2016 can be found here.

John Couke

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions Event in Tokyo on August 26, 2016

I was asked to post the following information on an upcoming Michigan Ross event in Tokyo. Details follow in English and Japanese.

John Couke

Date: August 26th 7:00pm-9:00pm (Reception for the party starts at 6:30pm)
Venue: Roppongi Academy Hills Sky Studio
Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 49F, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-6149

Style: Presentation by admission officer, Panel discussion, Networking hour with alumni
RSVP: Please refer following HP
(more details below in Japanese)

Michigan Ross 入学審査官による学校説明会 8/26開催

来る826日(金)、University of Michigan Ross School of BusinessAdmissions OfficeによるFull-time MBAの公式説明会を開催いたします。

#1 in Top Leadership Development Programs by Leadership Excellence
#8 in Full-time MBA Ranking by Business Week
#1 in Top Schools for Sustainability by Business Week
#1 in Ranking of Best Graduate Programs for Entrepreneurship by Princeton Review
#4 for Management, #5 for Marketing, #6 for International Business in US News MBA Rankings
#3 for Corporate Strategy, #5 for CSR / Ethics in Financial Times MBA Rankings

在校生は優秀かつ協力的であり、Globalなネットワークを広げられる素晴らしい環境です。また、Ann Arborは非常に治安のよい街で、パートナーズクラブや教育施設も充実しており、ご家族でいらっしゃる方々も安心して生活することができます。今回の説明会ではAdmission Officerに加え卒業生・在校生も多数参加予定ですので、是非ともこの機会にRossの魅力を感じていただき、ネットワーキングしていただければと思います。

Ross School of Business Tokyo Information Session
場所:六本木アカデミーヒルズ スカイスタジオ
   東京都港区六本木6丁目101 六本木ヒルズ森タワー49



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dartmouth Tuck MBA Informal Event in Tokyo on August 21, 2016

A former client informed me that Tuck will be hosting an informal event on their MBA program in Tokyo on August 21, 2016. Relevant information follows below (in Japanese).

John Couke

この度、Tuck(正式名称:Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth)の学校説明会ならびに懇親会を以下の要綱にて開催いたします。 本校の概要をはじめ、卒業生による体験談等をインフォーマルな形式にてご紹介する予定です。全米最古の歴史をもち、小規模校ならではのインタラクティブなコミュニティ、チームワークを体感できるトップビジネススクールの一つ、Tuckの魅力を是非この機会にご確認ください。


日時:            2016821日(14:0016:00 13:30受付開始]

場所:            丸ビルホール&コンファレンススクエア Room 5 

概要:            14:00-15:00 学校説明会 [プレゼンテーション、スモールグループセッション]
                    15:00-16:00 懇親会

定員:           80名

お申込み:       以下のリンクから8/15までにお申込ください。


ホームページ:  TUCKオフィシャルサイト





※本説明会は、卒業生・在校生によって企画されたものであり、出願審査とは 一切関係ございません。当日、アドミッションからの出席はございませんので、予めご了承ください。当日の進行は日本語で行われます。

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CUHK MBA Event in Tokyo - July 14, 2016

I received the following message below regarding an upcoming promotional event for the CuHK MBA program. Read on and if you are in the area do consider participating! 

John Couke

Why are more and more Japanese Professionals doing their MBA in Hong Kong?

Meet the CUHK MBA in Tokyo to learn more about:
  • Why Hong Kong is the ideal place for studying an MBA
  • How CUHK MBA can help you achieve your career goals
  • How CUHK MBA helps our Full-time graduates on job placement after graduation
  • The student life in CUHK and more...

l   Registration Link:
l   Time: 2016.07.14 (Tue)
l   Venue: GGCo. Café & Bakery (Ground Floor at Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Station Address: 2 Chome-1 Kyobashi, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan)
l   Please send your C.V. to Shota Morikawa
l   The consultation is about 15-30 minutes

l   CUHK MBA Selling points:

n   93% employment rate for 2015 Class, 87% secured jobs in Asia & China
n   concentration dedicated to entrepreneurship.
n   ​established in 1966, the first MBA program in Hong Kong--huge alumni network of 5000+
n   ​Dual degree with HEC ParisUT AustinCambridge and RSM
n   ​Focus Asia with a variety of exchange program partners to give students truly int'l perspective: 
McGill University
The University of British Columbia
The University of Toronto
York University
Cornell University
Duke University
Emory University
Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
The University of Chicago
The University of Florida
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Texas at Austin
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Riverside
University of California, San Diego
University of Massachusetts
Univeristy of Michigan
Washington University in St. Louis
l   the first Trading Lab among bschools around the world
The Finance Trading Laboratory is a world-class teaching facility accommodating 53 workstations equipped with Bloomberg and Reuters terminals. It is supported by real-time data feeds from all major stock exchanges, including those in Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Osaka, New York and Europe. Students experience real market operations and gain a better understanding of how to react to market fluctuations under the supervision of professional traders from world-renowned financial organizations.
l   ranking: 26th  in Financial Times Global Ranking 2016;
World’s top 100 MBA Programs in the Economist Full-time MBA Ranking 2015;  51st globally and 12th in Asia by
QS World University Rankings 2015 (more ranking info:
View online or download PDF Brochure for Intake 2016. Brochure available in English, Japanese and Korean.
5 reasons to choose Hong Kong, Asia's most dynamic business center.
5 reasons to choose CUHK MBA, the longest established MBA program in Asia.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

MBA Applicants - Get a Second Opinion!

I speak regularly with a lot of MBA applicants other than those I counsel myself. For those I do not work with, some do well while others are disappointed with their results. I suppose this is natural. However, I find it frustrating when I meet applicants that finished the process with applications that weren’t as good as they could have been, and this translated into disappointing final results. Some are luckier - they may switch counsellors at the interview stage and then get new insights on their goal story or other elements of their application. This is better, but I worry the advice is coming too late - especially if they don’t get a lot of interview invites!  Finally - and perhaps the largest group - are the ones that realise their interviews were tougher than they thought they’d be and they were not adequately prepared.

So here are the three types of regretful statements you may hear:

(1) Looking back I should have made sure my applications were better!
(2) I’m getting great feedback now that I'm preparing for interviews. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of interview offers to start with!
(3) I got a lot of interview invitations but realised after completing the interviews that they were a lot tougher than I thought they would have been!

If you want to avoid saying any of these things are you prepare your MBA applications, I suggest getting a second opinion.

Second Opinion on your Application

After completing your first application with your counsellor, get a second opinion. Good consultants will encourage this, and so you don’t need to keep it a secret or worry that they will be upset. Often the insight you gain from the second opinion will help you make that application a bit better - and that can be the difference between success and failure. Sometimes you may get more feedback than you anticipated. So - be sure to get the second opinion well in advance of your deadline in case you wish to make a lot of changes. I offer this service - find out more at my website

Interview Preparation

Another way to get new feedback is to do interview practice with others. When it comes to interviewing it is extremely beneficial for you to practice with more than one person. I always encourage my clients to do interview practice with me initially, but then with other counsellors or trusted advisors. Interview practice with someone who doesn’t know your story very well can feel more like the real interview (especially if it is a blind interview), and is a valuable experience for all applicants. 

I hope everyone is working hard on their test scores and getting ready to submit strong applications. Make sure you put your best foot forward and submit the strongest and best application possible! You’re only going to apply once (hopefully!) so get it right the first time!

John Couke

Monday, May 23, 2016

Brainstorming the Additional Section of your MBA Resume

(This posting is intended primarily for MBA applicants looking to add interesting contents to the additional section of the resume they'll use in their admissions package, although it should be of general interest to a range of applicants to other programs, as well as those interested in building their resume in general. I've reposted it because a lot of MBA applicants are - or should shortly - begin building their resume for their application.)

I live in Japan, where in some cases people place a stronger emphasis on their career and the company they work for, at the expense of developing strong extra-curricular activities. The work-life balance suffers as a result, and when it comes to the MBA application process, often this means a lot of people with great professional activities, but not a lot to show for outside of work.  This can be a disadvantage.

Why is it important to show extra-curricular activities in your MBA application?

There are many reasons.  One is that this is an effective way to tell a little bit about what you value or find important. After all, if you didn't like the activity or feel you could benefit from it in some way, you wouldn't do it. So your choices here say something about you.

Another reason is that your job, colleagues, clients, responsibilities and accomplishments gained at work won't come with you to b-school.  You'll instead go yourself. And who is this person? Well, once you strip away the career, and everything related to it, what is left over? That is you - at least the non-professional you - and this should be defined at least in some way in your MBA applications.

The final thing to keep in mind is that an imbalanced application - full of work stuff but offering no insight beyond work - can leave you at a serious disadvantage.  No matter how successful you have been, someone else also applying may have achieved the same pinnacle of success, but with interesting extra-curricular activities. This doesn't mean you shouldn't apply - it might not even be true - but it should motivate you to at least consider what activities you can mention. 

What should I do?

From my experience, the longer the list of extra-curricular examples you put in front of someone, the better the chances they'll find something they do outside of work is worthy of inclusion in the additional section of their resume, or in an application essay.  Let's make that list now, and then we can come up with some parameters for evaluating each possible item in order to choose only the strongest and most interesting contents.

The List

1. Volunteer Work

This is ideal if you have such experience.  Two varieties to consider when brainstorming:

a) standard, roll-up-the-sleeves volunteer work
b) volunteer work done through your company

I am mentioning point b) here because many people just consider it work.  But if you have done volunteer work that was organized by your company, it is still volunteer work! So it can be listed.

Note: it is best to avoid listing experiences where all you are doing is contributing money.  

2. Sports

a) team sports can show teamwork

Teamwork is a valuable skill that you will utilize repeatedly in your MBA program.  This is the value in emphasizing your participation in a weekly pick-up basketball game each weekend. Soccer, futsal, baseball - participation in any of these things shows - or at least hints - at the presence of someone who works well in a team. Take the activity to another level if you can - maybe you started-up these pick-up games, and now a lot of people attend regularly, or maybe you are the captain.

b) individual sports or athletic exercise are ok too (like running)

Devotion to a higher goal can also make for an appealing story, even if you are the only one involved. If you run regularly to train for marathons or triathlons, this can be emphasized too.  If applicable, list off the marathons you finished - whether you were in first or last doesn't matter. 

3. Music

If you take clarinet lessons at a school, put it in your resume.  It may not show an accomplishment (although if you have ever performed in front of an audience then you've got one) but it does show an interest that could become an interesting talking point (Why did you decide to start to do this? What is it that you like about playing this instrument?)

4. Cultural Activities

There are numerous examples of things that can count as "cultural activities". The obvious ones include holding black belts in judo or karate, or studying tea ceremony or flower arrangement. Many people here in Japan have such experiences, but don't immediately think of them when putting together their resume.  hence the value of carefully taking stock of your experiences as you draft your resume. These experience can add color to your resume, and so can be included.  

Beyond the few example listed above, there are many other things that can count as cultural activities, such as helping out in your local community summer matsuri (festival). What seems like normal life to you may be interesting or unique to others.

5. International Experience

This can be broken into two sections: living abroad, and traveling abroad.

a) Living abroad. If you have lived abroad, this is worth mentioning in the additional section of the resume. Unless of course it is because of your own working experience or university / post-university educational experience, and then in that case you do not need to mention it in the additional section because it will be in the professional experience or education section.

Note however that those with such overseas experience may have also afforded themselves the time to get involved in extra-curricular or extra-employment activities, and those from working experience can go in the additional section if there is little else to put there. I usually recommend people to include extra-curricular activities earned at school to include them in the same section of the education section that describes those experiences.  

b) Traveling abroad. This can work if it involved some degree of time, like studying English in Australia for two months at an English school. In this case you would not put it ion the education section (because you did not earn a degree from the studies) but you can certainly list it in the additional section. This can also work if you have been to a lot of places.  I've met people that have traveled through 30-40 countries, which is more than most. This kind of experience certainly shows dedication to international travel directly, and may also show some degree of cultural awareness, at least indirectly.

6. Memberships in Associations or Organizations

Especially good if you actually contribute something towards their organizations.  Nonetheless, make a list and when necessary or not entirely understandable, describe the nature of the organization or association to which you belong.

7. Certifications

This is for those who hold some kind of engineering or securities license, or the ability to sell real estate, or something else which allows you to do something.  

8. Academic Publications, Patents, and Presentations

The first word here demonstrates pretty clearly what you're demonstrating: academic experience and ability. This is less important for an MBA application than you may think (separate tests are administered to test these things, and besides you've also got a neat and tidy GPA to summarize all 4 years) but if the content is impressive and (importunely) something you are passionate about talking about, then it may be worthy for inclusion - especially if you have little else to draw upon.

9. Awards

If you have won anything, put it in. Be clear about what you won, when you won it, and the selection criteria.  

10. Fluency in a Third or Fourth Language

This is especially true if the application doesn't ask (though honestly most typically do).  It's not necessary to note in an MBA resume that you speak English, or your native Japanese.  But if you've got a third language ability there that is more than just conversational, and the application doesn't call for this detail, consider it as additional section content.

11. Hobbies

I have intentionally placed this low on the list. For many, their "hobbies" will have already appeared above, as in sports or music.  But beyond this, don't underestimate the value of exploring deeply your hobbies.  Maybe you took a ceramics class with your wife recently - and made stuff you use in your home.  Maybe you then took another lesson, and made more stuff.  This isn't ideal content - but for those with no content, it is content. So keep going to ceramics class, and put it on your resume.

12. Academic Interests

Be careful here, because writing about "reading books" is far from ideal. But, if in your spare time, you have become something of an expert in 14th century Japanese history, then this could be worthy of inclusion, especially if you can discuss the topic coherently and having something worthwhile to say. If, on the other hand, this interest has made you active in some type of group where people gather to study such things, I'd think it better for you to mention membership in this group instead, as that demonstrates more practice building people skills than reading can.

13. Sponsorship

If you have nothing to put in your additional section, and are company-sponsored for your MBA, then this can go in the additional section. I usually recommend it be placed elsewhere, but it is certainly flexible enough in nature to go here too.

Qualifiers to Determine Which Items are Best

Now that you have been able to come up with a long list of possible items, you'll probably recognize pretty quickly that some items have more potential than others. How to ultimately choose? Put each idea you generated to the test using the following 5 criteria. 

a) Is it interesting? This is pretty straight forward I think. Can it be used to add color to an interview? If so great. 

b) Is it active or passive? Doing something is always going to be better than getting something, all other things being equal.  Volunteering time to accomplish something looks better than receiving recognition for donating money, for instance.

c) How committed are you to the activity? It should be something you have devoted time to.  One game of basketball isn't enough to merit inclusion in your resume.  However, if you have played twice per month for 1 year, then it is enough to put in the resume. Along the same lines, a dedicated interest in some activity that started yesterday might not seem very convincing either.

d) How recent is it? Taking saxophone lessons in 2009 will always be better than a local soccer participation award earned in 1994. The former is simply more telling about who you are today - while the latter is describing someone who has changed a lot since that time. Generally speaking, activities from high school and earlier should not be included in the resume for business school if at all possible.  (note: unless you are really young, but even so it had better be a major activity)

e) (for Japanese applicants to b-school in particular!)  International experience. If choosing between two extra-curricular activities, one that has something to do with interacting with foreign cultures might be best. So if you are stuck between describing your love of local onsens, which you've been to 6 times, and your love of climbing mountains in Nepal, which you've also done 6 times, I might recommend the Nepal experience.  Not only is it more international, but it is also more significant, and might also show you in an "active", rather than "passive" way as well. 

When in doubt, or when brainstorming, you should include everything. Later on you can cut out the things that aren't as good when trimming your resume down to one page.

John Couke

Monday, May 16, 2016

MBA Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2016-17 are slowly rolling out

It may seem to some that this time of year is far removed from any approaching deadlines. And essay topics for the graduating class of 2019? A long ways off..  Well neither is true. Not only that but in particular, this year deadlines and essays are being released quickly. Here's some that are already out:

Harvard deadlines and essays
Columbia deadlines and essays
UNC Kenan-Flagler deadlines and essays

Stanford deadlines
Dartmouth Tuck deadlines
Indiana Kelley deadlines
HEC Paris (1/17 entry) deadlines
INSEAD (9/17, 1/18 entry) deadlines

So now you're caught up as far as I can tell. I source ClearAdmit on the majority of these, but I do also check the admissions websites of major MBA programs this time of year just to make sure I am on top of what is going on. I'd suggest that if you want to stay on top of the deadlines and essay topics for your top choice schools you subscribe to the ClearAdmit blog and/or bookmark the admissions site of your top schools to make sure you are getting the latest news.

John Couke