Asian MBA

I’ve always leaned against getting an MBA, but lately I’ve heard that Asian schools have become more popular because of their lower tuition. I really want to move my career to Asia and I don’t think that’s possible without an MBA network because I don’t live there. Japan and South Korea seem impossible to enter unless you want to be an English teacher. I don’t speak Chinese yet so China isn’t accessible, I don’t speak 3 Asian languages so Hong Kong is out. Singapore is just hyper competitive.

The problem is that I haven’t seen Asian schools that rank particularly high yet. I’m not sure that their networks are useful outside of Asia. Have any of you looked into this and developed an opinion? I passed all the CFA exams and the CFA appears to be valued highly over there. Asia (excluding Singapore) isn’t already swamped with charterholders like the US, Canada, and Australia, so perhaps my progress through the exams would pay off more over there than here.

Looks interesting…

Doubt it.

INSEAD Singapore campus is the obvious first choice.

I think a lot of it depends on where you want to work, and what type of work you want to do, after your MBA. If you want to stay in Asia, I think it might be worth it. For example, getting an MBA from Korea University is great and all if you want to stay in Korea (or HK but the reach drops dramatically when you go out of country, even within asia).

The problem that you’re gonna run into - US MBAs are always valued higher than asian MBAs. It’s pretty universal - right or wrong. If you went to a great undergrad (IE: Princeton), then get an MBA from Seoul national - that’s a different story. Makes sense, right?

I looked into this a little bit as the Korean Government has a program where they will give you a scholarship + stipend to get a masters at any of their Universities. It’s a pretty sweet deal - you get a flight over, free tuition, and a $1000 stipend every month to cover living expenses (housing is not included). If you can get into one of the SKY universities, it might make sense. For me, I decided that the $$$ invested in a US education is probably worth it, and given where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, an MBA from a Korean universitiy didn’t make sense. Plus, on further investigation, I learned that the Korean MBAs are kind of a joke - people compared it to “easier than my undergrad classes”. A majority of people I spoke to said something along those lines, followed by “it’s not worth it”. Not sure if it’s competely true or not - I am a believer that you get what you put into it, but it’s a data point none the less.

So long story short - it really depends on a number of different factors. I’d be happy to discuss in more detail if you have questions.

I can tell you almost for a fact that for the same level of competitiveness, US MBAs are more highly valued in Asia than Asian MBAs. For better or worst, Asians are still stuck on the prestige factor of US schools. You might gain some novelty benefits from being the “token American” in an Asian university, but I doubt that this is the best step for your career.

Wangata, thanks for your input. This makes sense, after all many of Asia’s best and brightest seem to be coming here for their MBAs. Have you looked outside of Korea? If I would get an Asian MBA it would have to be HK or Singapore.

The other option would be to get a US MBA that has a decent Asian network, maybe Fuqua would be an example. Is this the route you took?

Yeah exactly. I went to business school in the states - for all the reasons I mentioned above. Network does help but honestly, if you go to one of the top US schools, you’ll be fine.

However, know that the alumni for the various schools can differ drastically in your country (or country in asia you’re focused on). For example, Wharton dominates in Korea compared to HBS. The HBS guys are all doing very well - however, there are just a lot more Wharton alumni in Korea. Not sure how Singapore or HK alumni rank, but something you should look into and consider when narrowing your choice of schools.

what are all the US MBA programs with a decent network for Asia?

Top names are best. Asians value brand over all else. If you go to Wharton or something, Asian people will grovel at your feet. Business schools and technology focused universities like MIT are also more heavily valued in Asia compared to in the US, as people latch onto the university name. California schools - Berkeley, UCLA, USC, etc. are also highly represented in Asia. The other thing to realize is that your “network” does not just comprise of people from the business program of some university. If you get an MBA at university X, you can also connect with non-MBA graduates of that university.

Which would be better for a career in Asia - UCLA or Cornell MBA?