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I attended this last night. Stanford is not one of my favored destinations. However it was one of the very few schools holding a session in Sydney, so I thought 'What the heck' and went anyway.
The one thing that immediately struck me was the difference to its presentation style when compared to Wharton's. Wharton was one big sell job, very good presentation. Stanford was somewhat relaxed, almost an afterthought. The guy presenting was an Australian alum and he just whizzed through most of the material almost saying 'blah blah' and moved to the Alumni.
The Alumni were outstanding. There was also a current student present. Dave Deverall, the MD of Perpetual, Australia, was there. He was one amazing speaker, engaging and funny and obviously very very successful (not to mention high profile). The first thing he said was that, "I have forgotten everything I learnt at Stanford". He kept taking the mickey out of the Uni and of himself. The whole thing was very Australian, in that there was no chest thumping or boasting at all.
Almost all of the alum were originally management consultant of some sort (mainly Mckinsey's). It didn't make us normal folk feel that much better about our chances, especially now that the median GMAT score has risen to 730.
The key things differentiate Stanford are :
- Team work and collaborative environment. Everyone is bloody smart there and so they don't want people to 'compete' with each other. They dont even publish their grades.
- The importance of having good academic grades and one strong academic reference (Stanford wants 3 references instead of the usual 2).
- The entrepreneurial / innovation angle of their program.
- A lot of talk about Stanford MBA being like a passport stamp for all the successful things in life in the future.
- Emphasis on 'making a difference', whoever is admitted seems to want to do so
While I loved the alum and feel that Stanford a better 'cultural' fit for my personality, my MBA goals and priorities are not in line with Stanford's (and I don't have a 730 GMAT either).
Good luck to all you other aspirants. Stanford does seem like a lot of fun if you can get in.