By Paul Lanzillotti
Adam and I have been busy working on our next white paper - "How to Apply to the Stanford Graduate School of Business." The following is an excerpt from our work-in-progress. Within the next two weeks the final version of our white paper should be available for download in the "Guides" section of the Amerasia Consulting website.
In the hierarchy of business school rankings, no program can be considered as selective as the Stanford Graduate School of Business. With an acceptance rate that is traditionally in the single digits, GSB is the school that knows exactly the type of candidate they are looking for. The program expects applicants to truly know who they are as not only a professional, but more importantly, as a person. They will accept nothing less from those who eventually gain entrance to GSB - students who truly know themselves and how they plan to change their communities and the world for the better.
It is important to recognize the impact that Professor turned Dean Garth Saloner has had at GSB. Even though he took over the reins as Dean in September 2009, Saloner is no stranger to the program, having joined GSB in 1990. In fact, he can be considered one of the major influences on where Stanford stands today, the types of students the program seeks to fill their ranks and even the school’s ethos, “Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.”
In Saloner’s own words:
"The Stanford GSB has the opportunity to prepare future generations of principled critical analytical thinkers whose actions can change the world. Through our research, we will continue to develop the intellectual underpinnings of management and we will embody that knowledge in our teaching. From our sustainable new management center on the Stanford campus we will promote the free-flow of students, faculty and ideas across disciplines and schools as we develop management knowledge and business leaders for the 21st century."
So what does this mean for those applying? These three critical leadership characteristics:
1. You must demonstrate a commitment to your personal development as a leader and a commitment to causes greater than your own.
2. You must demonstrate critical thinking abilities, introspection and an innate understanding of your belief system through your actions.
3. You must demonstrate your abilities to design and deploy the innovative solutions necessary to affect change across people and places, no matter the existing environment.
Stanford is serious about using the above leadership characteristics as a vetting mechanism. This is because GSB believes that focusing on the right kind of leadership ensures a diverse student body. Could this be viewed as the program spreading their bets? Sure. However, we believe that GSB genuinely recognizes that the intersection of business and society is the point where profound change occurs.
In essence, Stanford walks the talk and this is a characteristic that we see reflected in their updated curriculum which we observe as a renewed focus on pragmatism - a general management education, core skills development and a significant global requirement. The curriculum is driven by the diversity of leadership represented in the GSB student body; characteristics that are both a profound blessing and a challenge. The cross pollination of ideas results in what we believe is the most innovation experience in leadership education. The challenge of addressing a diversity of educational needs requires balancing the rewards of an exceptionally strong general management experience with the risk of being all things to all people. We have no doubt that the Stanford community will pull it off.
If you question your candidacy to the GSB, read our upcoming guide - "How to Apply to the Stanford Graduate School of Business." It should serve as a starting point for critically examining the appropriateness of your candidacy and the profoundly personal reasons for why you are applying to the world's most selective business school. And if you are ready to begin your application process, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.