Frequently Asked Questions
I Want to be a Consultant
Thank you for your kind interest in management consulting as a career. Here is the set of materials for your review that will allow you to better understand this career and the needed preparation.
What is management consulting? What is the history and future of the field?
I want to be a management consultant. How do I get in?
(MANDATORY) 95% of your questions on process, resumes and interviews are answered here: Management Consulted e.g. fit interviews, market sizing tips, etc.
If you want answers from other consultants or have questions of your own: Quora Overview
I presented a marketsizing drill session for fellow HBS students
Tell me more about your experiences!
“What is X firm like to work at?”: Glassdoor
“What is Bain & Co. Southeast Asia / Singapore like to work at?”: Great firm. These reviews echo my experience.
“My life as a Bain management consulting star and partner” is an excellent read as well as “Why I Never Wanted to Go Into Business: Confessions of a Bain Consultant”
I Want a Harvard MBA
Thank you for your kind interest in a Harvard MBA. Here is the set of materials for your review that will allow you to better understand this career and the needed preparation.
What is an MBA? What value does an MBA add? Is it worth it?
I want an MBA, especially from Harvard! How do I get in?
Read everything here at Poets & Quants (Please! This will cover about 99% of most questions)
Friends of mine have had success with working with admission consultants
MBA Link (Based in Singapore at The Hub)
If you get an interview, there’s a guide here
Tell me more about your experiences!
I’m also chronicling everything that I’m learning at HBS
“Can you write my recommendation to business school?”: You should be seeking a recommendation from your direct supervisor.
Reflections by 1963 HBS alumni is an excellent read - totally recommended as a reminder that HBS is just a small chunk of your life, and definitely not a marker of success
What was your journey like?
Terrible grades for Junior College due to a personal loss
Went off to serve the Singapore Army - Studied SATs and GMAT in the jungle by torchlight, evenings and days off. Cut up my SAT prep books and placed into ziploc bags for waterproofing.
Applied to prove to universities that I was stronger academically, got into Berkeley
Did social impact consulting and thus management consulting
In senior year, realised that my GMAT score was very decent and thus applied to HBS early
Got my HBS offer in late 2011
How did you prepare?
Please note that this was years ago!
In 2007 while in the army, I studied the GMAT Prep Book by Princeton Review (paperback) and did 2 online free tests in the evenings and weekends. I got a decent score with this method, your experience may vary.
In 2011, I bought this book to understand the process. It was amazing for me.
Do you think the case method is effective?
Current: updated by industries and geographies annually
e.g. Ebay, Tom Brady, digital cameras
Includes social entrepreneurship cases
hospital, create light bulbs, how to market a disruptive product
How to get the most out of the core curriculum?
case studies cover a breadth of functional skills and strategies in different geographies and situations so you learn the basic principals
leadership can be geographical/industry-specific
come in with some bounded exploration; not company specific but industry-specific so you can apply these skills and strategies through an industry sense
point of view from a role that ranges from management to CEO where you are expected to make decisions and run teams
entrepreneur: founding vs. scaling vs. maintening
training for series B managers
many opportunities to join series A companies
many resources for the founding
so think about what you mean by “entrepreneurial” because resources differ
Do you get to design your FIELD experiences?
FIELD 2: I was assigned a project to redesign the customer experience at a “Pottery Barn/ Bed Bath & Beyond” in Turkey
teaches design thinking
most classmates not super enthusiastic/passionate because of many commitments and other opportunities
Large Class size
What opportunities do you have for meeting other people? Have you joined clubs or associations?
section, clubs, parties
joined health care club, social enterprise club
to be integrated in clubs, it is better to be in leadership team
clubs are mostly for educational purposes instead of community
Career: Are you able to access career resources?
Focus on health: Medicare event, Entrepreneurship panel, met up with professor
Is HBS a hard place for an introvert?
There is a high level of extroversion
a huge spike in the beginning
general attribute of students - select more extroverts
leadership behaviors - display extrovert behaviors when necessary
each class forced to debate, may have to be confrontational
trains introverts in public speaking
Is HBS a stressful place?
there are mandatory and opt in opportunities so manage your time and the number of activities you participate in
people who overexert themselves usually don’t know what to focus on so they do everything and then get burned out
personal reflection: what’s important to you? What metrics could you use to evaluate opportunities?
take the time out to review, to integrate the lessons
don’t need to be top 10%
industrial role or geography focus
General Advice before coming in
Take time to reflect before b-school begins
HBS will teach you how to get to where you want to be but it will not tell you WHO to be, nor who you want to be
Write down who you want to be
Write down the jobs you don’t want to do - e.g. banker, bain consultant
Reflect with friends and mentors
e.g. what should I not learn at HBS
Write a personal mission statement, while understanding that how you execute might change and you can still refresh the mission statement along the way
There are a few risky startup opportunities I am exploring, which deviate from my original 2+2 application's job plan. Would HBS have an issue with this?
The 2+2 is meant to retain people who might not have otherwise considered the MBA. No matter what you do, be able to give a good explanation about what you are doing, the opportunities you saw and why you made that choice. The 2+2 program is an opportunity to take risks, and you can use it to your advantage to build businesses that grow fast. Just don't waste your 2 years on a trip to Bali.
This question is on the possibility of 2+2s being denied admission pre-matriculation. Is this possible?
Yes. Make sure that you are focused on learning, growing and positioning yourself as someone who will add value to your MBA class. Note that you should get your extension application in early as some time may pass before HBS responds. You should also be aware of the signals you give out to people if you talk about your 2+2 and extensions, as people may plan around you with the knowledge that you may leave in a few years or months time.
This question is on things you would have done differently during your 2+2 working years. Having just graduated from HBS, is there any tips on looking at the 2+2 working years?
You have to be intentional. One of the most important thing is not believing that HBS will automatically let you find yourself. HBS is a tool, which you have to put in effort to use to wherever you want. It’s like a boat with a great engine. Some are going to park it to a dock. Some are going to where they want to be. Others are going to use it as their ticket to wealth.
This emphasis on being intentional is important. It is easy to accidentally end up in a place where you don’t want to be. This is particularly true for HBS, since people can afford to fool around because its prestigious by default.
Figure out what you want to learn so you can know what you want to learn in HBS. Identify the events, people, and knowledge you want to gain and meet. Along the way, there’s a lot of FOMO that you have to learn to ignore. Carl Icahn may swing by the campus one day, Gwyneth Paltrow may be sharing how she built her brand the next day. Whatever you choose, you have to choose not to pursue something else. That’s hard.
How did you think about your time in HBS?
I came up with a list of simple rules:
Figure out your weak spots and what strengths you want to maximise. I wanted to be a great founder and a great CEO. I attended classes to learn how to hit the next level of scaling a company. I focused on learning about organisational restructuring, entrepreneurial finance, and entrepreneurial planning.
Meet a new person everyday. I couldn’t go to every single networking event so knowing one person every day allowed me to connect and follow up with people in a more manageable way. I did not know everyone in my HBS class of 900, but I worked to have a genuine connection with those that I knew. I schedule catch-ups and have a deep conversation with old friends regularly. I make it a point to call my old co-founder once a month.
Join something you really care about or create it. I explored different courses, hackathons, and talked to various startups. When I walked out of HBS, I had got what I wanted. Although I missed out on 99% of the parties, drinks and trips, I did what I wanted to do. The worst possibility is doing a bit of everything and not following through with any deeply enough.
Thanks for your time. Is there anything I can help you with?
Pay it forward. Help others out and give advice to those who can benefit from it.
What is Singapore like?
Singapore is a great city-state in SE Asia, and I’m glad that you’re on the way here. Here’s my favourite reads and haunts that I hope that you find handy.
Learn about Singapore (15min)
Understand History and Politics
Review social needs and differences
Remember that Singapore has its own distinct communication/ negotiation style
Understand what local Singlish is
Eat your heart out
The key dishes that you have to go through
Get yourself introduced to a Singaporean food checklist
Buy a local food guide
Savour beef marrow and stain your fingers with Sup Tulang
Chow on Indian food at Komala Vilas
Eat satay at Gardens by the Bay
Eat local Peranakan Cuisine at Candlenut
My personal favourites
Plan your vacation with the tourism website
Sit at the bar and chat at Maison Ikkoku
Nurse a beverage at Divine Wine Bar (live music 9pm-12am M-F)
Take sunset & cityscape photos while swimming at MBS infinity pool
Enjoy the sunset while walking around Marina Bay
Play foosball at the hipster French restaurant at Wanderlust Hotel
Work out of the Hub Singapore on your social venture
Hike the Green Corridor
Find a lost Shinto shrine in Macritchie
Visit Changi Chapel
Cycle around Palau Ubin
Watch the Marina Bay Sands Laser Show daily at 8pm, 9.30pm and (Fri, Sat) 11pm
Take a photo with the local Merlion
Enjoy the view at the Esplanade
Explore the SE Asia Region
I Want To Be An Entrepreneur
You mentioned taking time to reflect before business school on who you want to be and writing a personal mission statement. Did you know you wanted to start a company at HBS?
CozyKin was award 2nd Prize at the HBS New Venture Competition, funded at the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund, and winner of the top award at MassChallenge. How did you decide which competitions / resources to pursue?
What did you do between your RC and EC year?