Update from GMAC’s CEO – June 12, 2020
Recognizing progress amidst uncertainty & reflections on the power of community
As a business school leader, we know you’re grappling with challenges and changes that none of us could have anticipated. Many of the professional and personal milestones we typically would have been recognizing by this mid-point in the year have been turned on their head.
I hope that you’re finding ways to take care of yourselves and to acknowledge progress in the midst of chaos. Each June, we gather at the GMAC Annual Conference to celebrate progress, strengthen relationships, build new connections and share knowledge. For me, it’s an important time to recharge my batteries, and while I will miss seeing many of you in person, I am reminded that we are still able to convene our community, just in a different way. Currently, more than 450 school professionals are registered to participate underlining the clear need to come together and work together as a global group.
Market Intelligence – Business School Aspirations
It’s remarkable to me how quickly everyone has embraced the move to virtual. In many ways it opens new opportunities and areas to explore, such as virtual tours, digital experiences, online conferences... All those enable us to reach more candidates and new markets. Candidates are certainly adapting as well and are keen to stay on the path to b-school. We are reaching out to more candidates to keep them engaged on their education journey, and to learn as much as we can about the impact that COVID is having on their b-school aspirations. What we are seeing at a high level is that GME candidates are responding to uncertainty and disruptions by delaying their pursuit of GME but not giving up on their aspirations for business education. The environment is prompting some candidates to consider alternative destinations or different formats, and not surprisingly while job market concerns dominate the minds of prospective international students, social reactions and visa concerns follow behind.
Employer Research – Corporate Recruiters Survey
One thing that has changed for GMAC is our timing to release our annual Corporate Recruiters Survey findings, which reflects salary information, intent to hire and employer growth projections – we closed the survey in mid-March, just as the impact of the pandemic was reaching a critical stage globally. As such, we made the decision to re-launch the survey, and add questions specific to COVID, to ensure we are capturing the most current insights, and compare them to the first wave of data. At the end of this month we will be inviting schools and employers to participate in this ‘round 2’, please keep an eye out for the invitation to complete this critical survey.
Advocating on Behalf of GME
GMAC recently took the lead in making a formal request to the ranking organizations to delay their process this year, and we have seen positive results: Business Week and Forbes announced they will not be publishing rankings in 2020, and the Financial Times and The Economist are mulling changes. And in the spirit of a multi-pronged approach, we always seek out opportunities to present key narratives, including keeping the importance of student mobility at the forefront, and a recent letter published in the Wall Street Journal is a good example of these efforts.
Keeping our Foot on the Gas
As the global situation continues to evolve, we will continue to adapt and evolve our support of the business school community. While our online assessments solutions (GMAT exam online and the Executive Assessment online) were initially slated to be available through mid-June, we have extended their availability through mid-July and have moved our tours events and conferences into virtual experiences. We are listening to market feedback and know that we need to continue to evolve as your needs and those of candidates continue to shift and change.
We also want to hear from you – please share your feedback and perspectives on how GME is responding to COVID and what you like to hear more about from GMAC – I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President & CEO
Update from GMAC’s CEO – May 21, 2020
Moving the needle on rankings & other key updates for b-school leaders
I hope you are staying healthy and safe. What a difference a few weeks makes in this rapidly shifting environment in which we find ourselves. As I write this, some areas across the world are beginning to slowly re-open. At the same time, we are all developing plans that acknowledge the reality that this new ‘not normal’ is likely to continue to evolve over the next 12 to 24 months. I wanted to take this opportunity to share updates on a few topics that I know to be on the minds of business school leaders and opportunities to work together and leverage resources designed to assist your programs.
Outreach to ranking agencies – formal request to delay. Last month, GMAC joined with AACSB and EFMD, in coordination with MBA CSEA, to formally request a discussion with business school rankings organizations as COVID-19 continues to impact higher education. I am pleased to report that Bloomberg Businessweek recently responded, announcing that they will not publish a ranking of full-time MBA programs this year.
We want to represent your voice fully in this dialogue. As we look to what the next steps are in a collaborative, data-driven discussion on rankings, we want to make sure we are representing the views of the business school community. You’re invited to complete a brief survey to better inform our approach and response to the rankings agencies.
Join the virtual Annual Conference, June 18-19. There is power in making our collective voice heard, and in hearing from one another. It’s more important than ever to create opportunities for convening within our global network, and I hope you will have the opportunity to join us at the upcoming virtual Annual Conference to connect with your peers, share best practices and sharpen our knowledge. This year marks our 50th anniversary of hosting the Annual Conference, and though we had certainly planned to celebrate this milestone in a much different fashion, we still look forward to this gathering.
If you haven’t yet registered, I encourage you to do so to stay connected with your network during this pivotal time for GME.
The MBA Tour goes virtual. Many programs rely on events such as The MBA Tour to build connections with candidates and applicants worldwide. With travel and budgets affected, we understand the need to deliver an online tour solution that builds the strongest relationships with the most targeted candidates. We are planning to host tour events through September online; schools can currently register for 56 events across the world.
An innovative hallmark of these summer and fall virtual events will be the launch of an advanced, proprietary matching algorithm that uses the power of GMAC’s candidate data paired with exclusive behavioral insights, demographics and psychographics. Our team of data scientists has been working on this exclusive algorithm for some time, mining millions of data points into meaningful, data-driven matches with your programs. I believe strongly that leveraging our market intelligence with your unique needs will be a game-changer for engaging with candidates, and we are excited to offer this new functionality for schools and candidates to better connect with one another.
Market intelligence is staying on top of COVID and the candidate pipeline. While no one can see around corners, there are clearly indicators that the global economy will experience contractions. Concerns about the job market are rising among prospective business school students; however, their aspirations to pursue GME are holding steady. Recent data suggest that some candidates are considering GME as a promising pathway in a harsh economic climate while concerns persist about fall re-opening plans and online formats. GMAC will continue to provide you with relevant market intelligence on the impact of COVID-19, and work to highlight the value of business school to candidates around the world.
Online assessment solutions. We launched the GMAT Online exam and Executive Assessment Online to provide solutions to evaluate applicants who have restricted access to physical testing centers. These alternatives will continue to be available for the time being even as some test center locations begin to reopen, to ensure accessibility and help keep candidates in your pipeline. As we have evaluated score ranges for the online exams vis-a-vis the in-person testing experience, we are confident that the scores for online test takers are on par with those of center-based testers.
Kudos for all you are doing to rally around your students and prospects while also caring for your staff, families and communities. GMAC is proud to work with you to provide solutions to help candidates stay engaged with their graduate management education journey.
We know there are challenges and opportunities ahead, and we will continue to support you as we navigate these changes together as a global community.
President & CEO
Serving business schools during this time of crisis
GMAC’s Mission is to provide the solutions necessary for schools and candidates to discover and evaluate each other. As an organization, we are focused on listening to the needs of our stakeholders and partnering with you to best serve our community – and never more so than right now. As we continue to navigate an ever-evolving environment in the face of a volatile pandemic, I’d like to share the latest highlights on how we are responding to COVID-19.
Assessments - GMAT™ Online exam launches, online Executive Assessment coming soon
Helping schools evaluate talent and supporting candidates in pursuit of their business school aspirations represent the core of our mission. We made it our highest priority to deliver an alternative assessment that meets our standards for a valid and rigorous assessment tailored for an online proctored environment. Last week, we launched registrations for the GMAT™ Online exam to great demand, and testing began on April 20. The GMAT Online exam is the only online assessment designed specifically to help candidates meet upcoming application deadlines amidst global test center closures. Our team is also moving quickly to launch an online alternative for the Executive Assessment at the end of this month. We will communicate the exact dates and details as soon as they are available.
Formal request to rankings institutions on behalf of GME
Business school deans and administrators have always understood the impact outside forces have on their mission to develop diverse, high-level talent in their classrooms. Traditionally, such forces have included economic fluctuations, trade wars, advances in technology, and political factors.
The forces we face today are extraordinary. In recognition of the unprecedented impact of the global pandemic on the admissions process, coupled with the economic uncertainty for graduates and potential employers and feedback we are receiving from schools, GMAC has partnered with other industry leading organizations – AACSB, EFMD, and MBA CSEA – to formally request that the major rankings institutions postpone their work and publication on business school rankings. We have heard your concerns will attempt to drive productive conversations with the rankings institutions to foster a greater understanding of the implications COVID-19 is having and will continue to have on business schools, and the resulting impact on rankings metrics. We will keep you apprised as these discussions evolve.
Virtual tours for prospective students
Throughout 2020, it is realistic to anticipate that some in-person MBA Tour events will need to be cancelled. We are rapidly developing a virtual solution to replace in-person tours when needed, with a format that supports meaningful engagement with a diverse and qualified pool of candidates. The solution will leverage our unique candidate data to provide curated matching between schools and candidates. We remain committed to providing innovative and effective solutions to your recruiting needs and will provide a further update soon on dates and format of events.
Virtual Annual Conference and convening opportunities for schools
Convening school professionals is a cherished component of our mission. While we had hoped to host our Annual Conference in June in Baltimore, the ongoing implications of COVID require that we move this to a virtual platform. While we won’t see you in person, we plan to bring the features of our traditional conference to life via a fully interactive web platform with the same in-depth content and information. We’re updating the Annual Conference website regularly with information on the schedule and events. The adjusted dates are June 18-19. One thing that hasn’t changed is that we are stronger when we are together.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on aspirations of prospective business school students?
A recent GMAC survey snapshot reveals that aspirations aren’t necessarily disrupted but planning is. Despite the new reality for candidates and business schools spurred by the pandemic, the findings suggest that prospective business school students remain determined to pursue an MBA or business master’s degree; aspirations remain strong. The situation will continue to evolve, and the GMAC Research team will continue to check the pulse of prospective candidates and publish regular updates.
Marketing & recruiting during COVID-19
Future students are looking to us all for guidance during this time of uncertainty. Our data shows candidates are keen to stay on the path to business school and stay connected with your programs. We also know that you are under enormous pressure to reevaluate and retool your marketing and recruitment programs. For more than 65 years, GMAC has served the graduate management education community, providing resources and information to help inform your decision making. As the pandemic continues to rapidly evolve, we don’t have all the answers. However, we do have best practice advice to share, and will continue to share as things change over the course of this crisis.
Please contact your Market Development Manager with questions or if we can be of support. Thank you.
Find the most up-to-date information on GMAC’s response to COVID-19 here.
Share your program’s information with a wide swath of prospective candidates via mba.com here. More than 300 programs have already been featured and received updated Program Finder profiles.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by the unprecedented event of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The staff at GMAC has been working diligently to respond to this situation so we can continue to deliver on our Mission: To provide the tools and information necessary for schools and talent to discover and evaluate each other.
Please note the following updates:
GMAC ASSESSMENTS – Increased flexibility and alternatives
As GMAT™ and Executive Assessment testing remains suspended in several global locations, we are actively exploring temporary online alternatives to support the delivery of our assessment solutions in regions impacted by test center closures. We aim to provide these options by mid-April, if not sooner, so that schools can meet May deadlines for application decisions. We will share more detailed information with schools and candidates in the coming weeks.
For test-takers affected by closures, we are reaching out directly to provide full refunds and/or assist in proactively managing appointments. To offer further flexibility for all our test-takers we are waiving reschedule fees. Furthermore, test-takers with a score from a previous GMAT™ exam whose rescheduled appointment was impacted by global test center closures have been extended the opportunity to reinstate previous scores and send one additional score report for free.
The candidate resource page on mba.com can be found here: https://www.mba.com/articles-and-announcements/announcements/update-on-coronavirus
GMAC CONNECT – Enhanced virtual capabilities
We remain committed to providing schools with the opportunity to connect with prospective students, while balancing this with the need to ensure the safety and well-being of the community of schools and prospective students that we serve. For this reason, our MBA Tour team made the choice to cancel the Asia Spring Tour along with parts of the Latin America Tour, in all cases working closely with the schools who were impacted by these cancellations.
Looking ahead, we are actively working on ways to provide flexibility and alternative solutions during these uncertain times. First, we are adjusting our cancellation policies to provide more flexibility for the Summer/ Fall Tour season. Second, we are piloting a Virtual Meet-up Event on March 25 for those schools who were a part of our cancelled Jakarta Spring Event. We will leverage the learnings from this event to develop a potential alternative virtual option if needed in the summer.
Our GMASS, content services and advertising programs on mba.com and businessbecause.com are unaffected by the situation. We anticipate that these methods of digital outreach will become even more important in these times. Our teams will continue to work closely with schools to understand your marketing and recruitment needs and provide recommendations about how to best utilize these channels to address them. Information on content and advertising options can be found here: https://www.gmac.com/reach-and-recruit-students/promotional-opportunities/gmac-media-solutions
GMAC RESEARCH – understanding the impact of coronavirus
We recognize that unprecedented times require unprecedented insights. Our research program has historically been a standard in our community and many of you rely on it to provide the data and insights that you need to guide your decision making. We are continuing to expand this program with additional studies about how the coronavirus situation may affect candidates plans to apply to schools. Our core research programs, such as the annual Application Trends survey, remain on track.
GMAC CONFERENCES – following government directives
Conferences are one area that are the most directly affected as we all reduce travel and increase social distances. Our European Admissions Institute – scheduled for April – will move to a yet to be determined date later in the year. Although our plans are to move forward with our Annual Conference in mid-June, we are closely monitoring directives from governments and global organizations and will decide as appropriate.
GMAC OPERATIONS – ensuring the health and safety of staff
We remain very concerned about the health and welfare of GMAC staff during these times, as well as our social responsibility to reduce spread. We have cancelled all international and non-essential domestic travel. Our offices are at phase 1 of our CV response plan; reducing office density by half through enhanced telework. These changes could adversely impact some of our response times to you, and I ask for your understanding on this.
Please contact your Market Development Manager with questions or if we can be of support. Thank you.