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Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA

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Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2011, 12:19
Dear All,

I am trying to decide between the FT MBA at Said vs. the EMBA at INSEAD. I originally applied to the FT MBA program at INSEAD but was offered a spot on the EMBA course. I suspect this may be because of my age (35) although the team at INSEAD is trying to convince me that I am over qualified and will likely not 'enjoy' the FT experience. A bit about me....

I am an engineer from a Tier 1 private school in the US and have experience in Tier 1/boutique management consulting (3 years which I quit as a senior associate) followed by 7 years as an entrepreneur, social worker, budding politician and public servant (in no particular order) across two continents. My view of my situation and the schools on offer is as follows....

I am originally from an Anglophile country in South East Asia which is dominated by Oxford graduates in pretty much every walk of life so that's a major plus for the school in my book. I also like the fact that it has a stellar reputation in social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship and finance (which is an academic area of opportunity for me). Although, I am not currently planning on returning to the US I may move to Canada after my MBA and I feel that the Oxford brand name and its rigorous academic reputation carries some weight regardless of rankings in the US and by corollary in Canada. Based on my considerable research, graduates from INSEAD and Oxford returning to Canada are getting similar opportunities. With Oxford, another draw is its family orientation (I am married and have kids) and the fact that one can get 2 degrees in two years, with a ton of graduate options, including the new Blavatnik School of Government which is enrolling its inaugural class in September 2012 and is virtually guaranteed to become a European rival to the Kennedy School at Harvard. So I may be able to get an MBA/MPP or MBA/MS in 2 years from Oxford which is appealing to me and should hold me in good stead no matter where I end up in the world.

On the other hand, I am pretty experienced as a businessman and the depth of the INSEAD network globally, and its reputation as a business school amongst ultra elite employers is attractive. The EMBA is modular, so I can keep doing what I'm doing and fly to a new destination every other month to hang out with some senior executives and discuss our businesses. The cons with INSEAD are that the EMBA is a different diploma from the MBA, the school is full of 'A' type personalities (I don't mean that in a bad way but just something I have observed because I'm a bit laid back myself and see business as a means to an end), and that there is, I feel a bias amongst recruiters and full-time MBA students towards EMBAs (as in they don't view them as legitimate alumni) and one does not get access to the same opportunities. The INSEAD EMBA is also quite new and the ROI is unproven. INSEAD may also cost me up to 40% more than Oxford and I can not get the EMBA team to give me a straight answer about post EMBA employment opportunities compared to FT MBA students and/or any data on the subject.

In an ideal world I would like to build an infrastructure financing business for a decade after my MBA and would eventually like to run for office and get involved in social work, but in case I don't make enough money to support my ambitions, I would like to have access to the best possible employment opportunities, globally. No interest in going back to consulting, but would like to get a deep understanding of finance during my MBA and explore Clean Tech/Infrastructure alternative investment opportunities (I currently work in the Cleantech industry as a management consultant).

My options, the way I see it, are,

- go to Oxford and get 1 or 2 top tier degrees and enjoy the FT experience
- enroll in INSEAD EMBA, keep my job and make the best of it (although a quick sample of INSEAD EMBAs from LinkedIn do not seem to be doing very well compared to INSEAD FT)
- petition INSEAD to allow me to go full-time (suggestion from someone who had a similar experience although I may still pick Oxford as most older students who get into both schools seem to prefer Oxford FT over INSEAD FT)
- go to neither and re-apply next year to MIT Sloan Fellows (which dinged me this year but is a good fit for me) and LBS (which has a 15 month option and is also a good fit for me) and perhaps Wharton. The other M7 options state-side I think are fairly challenging considering my age and goals, plus the 2 year commitment and visa issues in the US. I can currently work in my home country, the UK or Canada without a problem. But again, no guarantee that I will get into any of the 3 so its a bird in the hand vs. something not even in the bush....

Apologies for the long post but really struggling with the decision and badly in need of some perspective because I've reached 'analysis paralysis'.
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2012, 08:34
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Update: I went to Green Templeton College, Oxford.....and Thank God for that !
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 04 Nov 2012, 22:05
khagan wrote:
Update: I went to Green Templeton College, Oxford.....and Thank God for that !


How do you feel about Oxford MBA? especially: Impact of economic crisis in Europe and change in visa regulations
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 05 Nov 2012, 16:28
I am also between Insead and Oxford (assuming both accept me :) ) and I am also a "mature" applicant. You feel very happy about having gone to Oxford so I would really appreciate any feedback. Cheers.
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2012, 04:13
Ducksworth wrote:
I am also between Insead and Oxford (assuming both accept me :) ) and I am also a "mature" applicant. You feel very happy about having gone to Oxford so I would really appreciate any feedback. Cheers.



Looks like you are also Canadian so that's one more thing we have in common ! Good luck with your applications !

I am married with a baby, so for me one factor was how family-friendly the town is and Oxford is probably one of the best places to raise a family if not "the" best, at least in the UK and most definitely better than "Paris". As an older applicant, you have to understand that there will be many younger kids (and I mean much younger...the youngest in my class was 24 and straight from University) who are at a completely different stage in their lives and have completely different priorities. The typical MBA candidate at the top schools is quite "A-Type" and in my opinion, the larger the size of the class the more lost you are likely to feel. I mean INSEAD has the largest class I think in the world with a 1,000 kids. My class at SBS had 250 and it was hard to keep up so its just a question of what fits you better. Do your homework before you pick a school because the rankings are a crock of £$@!....SBS definitely has fewer "A-Type" people although I've heard this changes from year-to-year and class-to-class. What I mean is that an MBA is not a golden ticket, its just one piece of your resume and other than the banks and the consulting firms, employers don't like candidates that have an unreasonable sense of entitlement...READ: Hubris is not a strategy....

Let me know if you have specific questions and I can try and address them. Apologies for the random thoughts above...
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2012, 04:26
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greatps24 wrote:
khagan wrote:
Update: I went to Green Templeton College, Oxford.....and Thank God for that !


How do you feel about Oxford MBA? especially: Impact of economic crisis in Europe and change in visa regulations


I loved Oxford and loved the experience and am very happy that I picked it over INSEAD. Once you join a program you will understand that the rankings don't mean a damn thing.....

The impact of the economic crisis is over-rated because the unemployment rate for people with post-graduate degrees is lower than the average unemployment rate, even in the UK. The top b-schools in the UK produce less than 1000 graduates a year combined so even during the worst of economic times there are always opportunities for good people. Investment banking is kaput for the time being but consulting firms still need a lot of canon fodder so they are still hiring as are many other companies. I had interviews with 11 different employers during the year so that should give you an idea of what to expect if you hustle....having said that it also depends on your profile and personality....whether you go to Oxford or somewhere else, if you think that Careers will get you a job, think again. The people in my class who got the jobs they wanted just tried harder.....and it worked out for them. The networking opportunity at Oxford is UNBELIEVABLE so if you have a cunning plan and know how to execute, you're golden !

The visa issue is real, but is likely to get simpler over the coming years as employers get a better understanding of the sponsorship process. Many people in my class have been sponsored so its not as big a deal as people think it is. Just have a solid plan B in case it does'nt work out in the UK and look for work globally and opportunistically....

Let me know if you have specific questions and good luck !
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2012, 08:34
khagan wrote:
greatps24 wrote:
khagan wrote:
Update: I went to Green Templeton College, Oxford.....and Thank God for that !


How do you feel about Oxford MBA? especially: Impact of economic crisis in Europe and change in visa regulations


I loved Oxford and loved the experience and am very happy that I picked it over INSEAD. Once you join a program you will understand that the rankings don't mean a damn thing.....

The impact of the economic crisis is over-rated because the unemployment rate for people with post-graduate degrees is lower than the average unemployment rate, even in the UK. The top b-schools in the UK produce less than 1000 graduates a year combined so even during the worst of economic times there are always opportunities for good people. Investment banking is kaput for the time being but consulting firms still need a lot of canon fodder so they are still hiring as are many other companies. I had interviews with 11 different employers during the year so that should give you an idea of what to expect if you hustle....having said that it also depends on your profile and personality....whether you go to Oxford or somewhere else, if you think that Careers will get you a job, think again. The people in my class who got the jobs they wanted just tried harder.....and it worked out for them. The networking opportunity at Oxford is UNBELIEVABLE so if you have a cunning plan and know how to execute, you're golden !

The visa issue is real, but is likely to get simpler over the coming years as employers get a better understanding of the sponsorship process. Many people in my class have been sponsored so its not as big a deal as people think it is. Just have a solid plan B in case it does'nt work out in the UK and look for work globally and opportunistically....

Let me know if you have specific questions and good luck !


Thanks a lot for such a profound in-sight of SBS. Would request you to please share more information about the facilities/ support for family of MBA students?

Brief about me: 10 Years of experience in Telecom in Asia (India, China, SAARC countries). Did my Masters in Advance Software Engineering from King's College London, Uni. of London.
Married with a 3 year old kid. My wife is doing PhD in Competency mapping (a topic from Human resource/ Organisation Behaviour)
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2012, 08:58
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Brief about me: 10 Years of experience in Telecom in Asia (India, China, SAARC countries). Did my Masters in Advance Software Engineering from King's College London, Uni. of London.
Married with a 3 year old kid. My wife is doing PhD in Competency mapping (a topic from Human resource/ Organisation Behaviour)[/quote]


There is a University-wide association for students with families (of which there are many) but the University is large and sprawling so best to stay close to SBS so you can spend time with your family. I got partial funding from Green Templeton and they own a property right behind SBS so you have a 3 minute commute to class which is outstanding. I had a 3 month old when I started so it was extremely important to me to be close to home otherwise I would have missed out on a lot of 'firsts'. I took my kid to school with me on several occasions and at least one party and so did all the other people with kids. The Said facilities are the best in Europe I think with large courtyards, gardens, common rooms etc. so you can take your family along to pretty much anything. A few spouses also sat in classes from time to time....out of curiosity I think...

Many people are married with spouses, there will be 5-10 couples with kids typically in a class and there is always a spouses group. You will reap what you sow, if you are outgoing and social people will respond to you in kind, but if you don't make an effort don't expect anything in return. My point is this, every MBA program in Europe has lots of international students but some countries are over-represented, typically the US, Canada, India, China....this is the case at Saïd, Judge, LBS and the "B-School of the World in Paris". Some people are physically here but never make the mental move and remain in their home countries (e.g. only socialize with other people from your own ethnic/national background). I think if you are going to do that, then might as well save your money and avoid an MBA because you will gain nothing from it ! Academically and socially, Saïd is the best program in Europe, in my opinion so make the best of it !

Your profile would be interesting to many employers I feel (There was a telecom engineer in my class who is headed to MBBB). If you have UK residency it will make things much simpler and you won't have problems getting "a job". For your dream job, you will need to hustle a bit more, but should be doable. You should chat with someone in Careers if you want more advice/feedback, they are pretty straightforward. I had a chat with Careers at both SBS and INSEAD once I was admitted before I made up my mind.

Lots of spouses end up working part-time/full-time in SBS, especially in HR/Organizational Design so your wife might get a job before you do ! :)
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2012, 01:11
Thanks for the great insights, Khagan!

One question:
You mentioned consulting is still hiring at Oxford, and the big boys (MBBB) are active there.
Since Said's class is relatively older than the American ones considering the average of 6 years of work experience, are there any obstacles to older candidates (33-35 years old with 7 years of experience) trying to make the switch? Or are these candidates also being snapped up?
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2012, 09:42
khagan wrote:
Ducksworth wrote:
I am also between Insead and Oxford (assuming both accept me :) ) and I am also a "mature" applicant. You feel very happy about having gone to Oxford so I would really appreciate any feedback. Cheers.



Looks like you are also Canadian so that's one more thing we have in common ! Good luck with your applications !

I am married with a baby, so for me one factor was how family-friendly the town is and Oxford is probably one of the best places to raise a family if not "the" best, at least in the UK and most definitely better than "Paris". As an older applicant, you have to understand that there will be many younger kids (and I mean much younger...the youngest in my class was 24 and straight from University) who are at a completely different stage in their lives and have completely different priorities. The typical MBA candidate at the top schools is quite "A-Type" and in my opinion, the larger the size of the class the more lost you are likely to feel. I mean INSEAD has the largest class I think in the world with a 1,000 kids. My class at SBS had 250 and it was hard to keep up so its just a question of what fits you better. Do your homework before you pick a school because the rankings are a crock of £$@!....SBS definitely has fewer "A-Type" people although I've heard this changes from year-to-year and class-to-class. What I mean is that an MBA is not a golden ticket, its just one piece of your resume and other than the banks and the consulting firms, employers don't like candidates that have an unreasonable sense of entitlement...READ: Hubris is not a strategy....

Let me know if you have specific questions and I can try and address them. Apologies for the random thoughts above...



Lots of useful points khagan! This is where I stand:

  • My fiancée will come with me, making it imperative for her to be able to work while I study. Because of our nationalities, this restricts our list to Canada, UK, Switzerland and Singapore.
  • I need to get back to work as soon as possible given that my opportunity cost is significant at this stage. This means that I do not wish to be enrolled in a programme longer than 12 months. This restricts my list even further to Ivey, Saïd, Judge, IMD and Insead (Singapore).
  • My undergrad degree is from Cambridge. Not mattering how much I love the place, I feel I would benefit from being in a different university. My list is now down to Ivey, Saïd, IMD and Insead.
  • I am not sure about IMD since my fiancée does not speak French (I do, but this is irrelevant). Also, I will return to my present company (finance sector) and IMD probably offers the least finance-oriented programme among this list. I will probably only go for Ivey, Saïd and Insead, but I can retake this option.

These three schools seem to tick all the requirements that I have. Insead needs no introduction. Also, I feel the same way as you do in terms of the importance that I should give to rankings. This is about what I will learn and my network rather than my ego. In either case, Oxford is a very well-known brand in my country. I know for sure that my Cambridge degree has openened many doors and Saïd will do the same. Having said that, I am worried that since too many people do care about rankings, Ivey is not attracting the most talented people. Because of this, I place it third in my list.

All in all, Saïd and Insead are my top two choices and it seems I now have to wait. I have an interview scheduled with Insead and just waiting for Oxford to reply.
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2012, 03:38
Chem21 wrote:
Thanks for the great insights, Khagan!

One question:
You mentioned consulting is still hiring at Oxford, and the big boys (MBBB) are active there.
Since Said's class is relatively older than the American ones considering the average of 6 years of work experience, are there any obstacles to older candidates (33-35 years old with 7 years of experience) trying to make the switch? Or are these candidates also being snapped up?


There are no obstacles to older candidates. There was a 38 year old in the class before me who went to McK. Having said that, please understand that Saïd is not a 'consulting' school per se. Although MBBB do recruit here, they typically have a quota per school although they pretend they do not. Your chances of getting that job would be higher if you went to one of the 'consulting' focused schools.

A more important question to ask yourself is why consulting? Why not try and get the job which you would try and get AFTER consulting? 1 in 10 Associates at McK make partner and 1 in 10 partners will make Director so the odds are against you even if you get that job. As an Associate you will work long hours with terrible self-obsessed people who will pretend that they care about your development. We had an MBB presentation the other day and one of the Associates they brought along kept using the "F*%$" word during the presentation. The HR lady escorting him did not correct him, which was amusing and inappropriate. Do you really want this guy as your boss?

Finally, the exits from MBBB are not what they used to be even 10 years ago. When the firms were smaller, you could go from being a junior partner to COO of Continental Airlines (true story) but this is not the case any more. Exits are especially not so great for Associates and EM, much better if you make Partner. Also the guy who ran McK for a decade has just been imprisoned for insider trading and Monitor has declared bankruptcy today and is being sold to Deloitte.

Think hard about what you want to do....
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2012, 17:38
khagan wrote:
Chem21 wrote:
Thanks for the great insights, Khagan!

One question:
You mentioned consulting is still hiring at Oxford, and the big boys (MBBB) are active there.
Since Said's class is relatively older than the American ones considering the average of 6 years of work experience, are there any obstacles to older candidates (33-35 years old with 7 years of experience) trying to make the switch? Or are these candidates also being snapped up?


There are no obstacles to older candidates. There was a 38 year old in the class before me who went to McK. Having said that, please understand that Saïd is not a 'consulting' school per se. Although MBBB do recruit here, they typically have a quota per school although they pretend they do not. Your chances of getting that job would be higher if you went to one of the 'consulting' focused schools.

A more important question to ask yourself is why consulting? Why not try and get the job which you would try and get AFTER consulting? 1 in 10 Associates at McK make partner and 1 in 10 partners will make Director so the odds are against you even if you get that job. As an Associate you will work long hours with terrible self-obsessed people who will pretend that they care about your development. We had an MBB presentation the other day and one of the Associates they brought along kept using the "F*%$" word during the presentation. The HR lady escorting him did not correct him, which was amusing and inappropriate. Do you really want this guy as your boss?

Finally, the exits from MBBB are not what they used to be even 10 years ago. When the firms were smaller, you could go from being a junior partner to COO of Continental Airlines (true story) but this is not the case any more. Exits are especially not so great for Associates and EM, much better if you make Partner. Also the guy who ran McK for a decade has just been imprisoned for insider trading and Monitor has declared bankruptcy today and is being sold to Deloitte.

Think hard about what you want to do....


Thanks for the insight, Khagan!
Hmm... something to think about...
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Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2013, 21:30
I am also between Insead and Oxford
Re: Oxford Full Time MBA (w/ $$$) vs. INSEAD Executive MBA   [#permalink] 08 Jan 2013, 21:30
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