Christophe: Academic Rigor, Human Touch and New Curriculum at Stanford

When Christophe, an organizational consultant, started thinking about doing an MBA, he was not sure about a lot of things. He has never taken the GMAT before, much less any college entrance exam. He has also never written any in-depth essays required by business schools. In short, the MBA application process was a completely new experience for him, but given his extensive background and the coaching he received at our Paris center, it was easy for him to prepare for the admissions process. In the end, he applied to the following top business schools, and was admitted to INSEAD, UCLA, Tuck and Stanford where he has decided to attend.

Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Throughout the years, my taste for effort has pushed me to climb mountains in all areas, pacing myself over the distance to achieve personal and professional challenges, such as designing jets for the NASA, running the 400-meter race in 51 seconds or writing short story collections. During my long-year employment at NASA, I was a systems engineer and a manager of cost modeling, analyzing the financial feasibility of new technologies on missions to collect rock samples on Mars, Venus, Mercury and the Moon. I was also a project director and a designer for the technology mass sensitivity project, developing models to estimate the effects of technology improvements on spacecraft total mass. With each of these accomplishments, I learned that hard work was in fact the key to being creative. Indeed, I found that the mastery of basic concepts, techniques and forms were the best way to free myself in any discipline and to reach new levels of inspiration and true originality. In everything that I do, I look for this miraculous moment where the conscious effort to learn disappears, and the mind is liberated to build something new. This quest for creative mastery is what matters the most to me. I would like to live many lives, and be an endless discoverer or explorer.

What advice do you have for other MBA applicants?

Find a good GMAT coach! I gave a lot of credit to my coach, who developed a great technique to improve my reading comprehension. I saw a big difference between my first two GMAT scores on the verbal part. I earned a GMAT score of 720 on the second sitting and a 680 on the first. Thanks to a good coach, I improved my scores significantly.

Why did you choose to do an MBA at this point in your career?

My goals are realistic and I have a number of assets which can help me reach my objective. First and foremost, I am truly passionate about what I do and I have been constantly getting better at it – this determination is at the heart of who I am, and it was the fuel for my decision to undertake an MBA education. Furthermore, I would like to develop my existing skills in organizational behavior, finance and high-level negotiations. Finally, I would like to develop more advanced leadership skills and have a better awareness of cross-cultural environments, and key assets that all MBA graduates must strive for.

Why did you choose Stanford?

Joining the Stanford Graduate School of Business is undoubtedly the best way for me to meet my goals. Only Stanford, especially as it adopts its new curriculum model, will let me meet these learning objectives. In addition to its academic cutting-edge, the school keeps a human size and encourages small-group interactions between students and faculty members. The new curriculum model promises to pay even more attention to this human-touch dimension. It is completely tailored to train global leaders. All the Stanford alumni that I have talked to have recalled having lunch with their former professors, and in some cases, even getting invited for dinner parties at their homes. The combination of intellectual rigor and interpersonal availability is exactly what I need. Stanford has an environment that will positively respond to my proactive involvement in the learning process.

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