2017 GMAC Annual Conference and What You Missed

The 2017 GMAC™ Annual Conference was a truly global experience for all, bringing graduate management professionals from 28 countries together to network, share stories, and learn from each other.

Jul 18, 2017


AC Wrapup

The 2017 Annual Conference provided something for everyone in the industry, whether you were a seasoned veteran or just starting out in your career.

In addition to the sessions highlighted below, the 2017 conference offered:

  • An array of symposium topics tailored to meet your needs and answer your questions.
  • The GMAC Expo, featuring companies and products that provide solutions to the challenges you face every day.
  • The GMAT Lounge, where attendees learned more about the exam.
  • Multiple opportunities to network and catch up with colleagues from around the world.
  • GMAC President and CEO Sangeet Chowfla and keynote speaker Kelly McGonigal kicked off the three-day event with remarks about the current and future state of the industry, followed by some thought-provoking findings about stress. 

    Chowfla’s remarks focused on the status of GMAC’s assessments – the GMAT, the Executive Assessment, and the NMAT by GMAC exams – and the value that extends to schools beyond the tests themselves. Additionally, he discussed the forces that affect student mobility and GMAC’s commitment to growing the student pipeline. 

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    McGonigal, a psychologist who holds positions in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and its School of Medicine, and author of the book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, is a leader in the growing field of “science-help.” She challenged the audience to view stress, long viewed as a public health enemy, as a positive.

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    The conference programs covered top-of-mind issues relevant to the work of graduate management admissions professionals worldwide, including sessions about recruiting strategies, professional development, and the future of GME, among others. Scroll through the session summaries or jump to a section using the links below.

    For those who were unable to attend this year’s Annual Conference, make plans to join us in 2018 as we convene from June 27-29 in Boston, Massachusetts.


    Planting Seeds: Working Your Undergraduate Base for Future Enrollment

    Arguably, the best time to inspire someone to pursue a graduate business education is when they are an undergraduate. This panel of schools and the Forte Foundation shared their efforts to cultivate future graduate management education candidates while they are still in college. Panelists included: Elissa Sangster, executive director, Forté Foundation; Georgette Chapman Phillips, Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business and Economics, Lehigh University; and Daniel Pullin, dean of the Michael F. Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma.

    Understanding Candidate Motivations: An Introduction to Candidate Segmentation

    Attendees at this session learned more about the GMAC Global Candidate Segmentation research study that categorized seven global candidate segments based on motivations for pursuing a graduate management degree and school selection. Presenters included, Betty Su, chief marketing officer, GMAC, and James Barker, market development manager for Europe, GMAC.

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    Learn How to Innovate, Automate, and Elevate for the Optimal Prospect Experience

    Presenters from the Fox School of Business at Temple University shared how they leveraged three different tools to increase internal knowledge sharing and external communications across IT, university, and business school policies to help admissions personnel (and others within the organization) increase efficiency. Presenters from Temple’s Fox School of Business were Holly Pfeifer, associate director of graduate enrollment management & marketing; and William M. Rieth, director of Graduate Enrollment Management.

    Fostering Engaged Prospects Through Digital and Social Media: How to Get and Keep Their Attention

    Schools can enhance their marketing efforts by leveraging segmentation to better tailor their messaging to potential candidates. This session reviewed best practices in digital marketing and identified areas of opportunity based on an evaluation of marketing outreach examples. Presenters from LMO included: Christopher Rothrock, media director, and Lauren Pappas, media supervisor, as well as Betty Su, chief marketing officer at GMAC.

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    Fostering a Strong Pipeline

    Presenters from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, shared insights into their success in fostering engagement. They also discussed how key marketing initiatives – including market research, agency collaboration, bringing brand identity to the next level, defining personas, optimizing communication plans, implementing alumni strategy, and analyzing data–drove results. Presenters were Jennifer Meunier, director of marketing & communications for Isenberg Graduate Programs, and Trista Hevey, director of MBA alumni and corporate relations at Isenberg School of Management.

    Innovative Ideas to Build the Diversity Pipeline and Create an Inclusive Learning Environment

    Panelists in this session offered a fresh look at building an underrepresented minority pipeline by sharing strategies they have employed with alternative groups and communities within their network. They also discussed the benefits of an institutional inclusion model and initiatives used to support students along the enrollment-to-graduation continuum. The panel included: Kimberly Freeman, assistant dean of diversity initiatives and community relations, UCLA Anderson School of Management; Terrance Gresham, recruiting manager, MBA program, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology; and Consuela (Sawyers) Knox, director of admissions operations, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University.


    Application Bootcamp: How Berkeley-Haas Is Changing the Relationship with a Skeptical Applicant Pool

    This session offered insights into the development of the Berkeley-Haas Application Bootcamp, an eight-week, step-by-step program intended to guide and coach participants to the application finish line. Presenters from the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley included: Morgan Bernstein, executive director of full-time MBA admissions, and Scott Rief, director of marketing and technology.

    Enhancing MBA Student Satisfaction, Engagement and the Student Experience

    This session featured strategies for increasing and maintaining MBA student satisfaction, including soliciting and acting on student feedback, addressing student dissatisfaction, partnering with student leaders to enact change and securing the resources needed to facilitate an exceptional student experience. Presenters included: George Andrews, associate dean of degree programs, Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University; Zelon Crawford, assistant dean and dean of students, Columbia Business School; Gary Fraser, assistant dean of student affairs, UCLA Anderson School of Management; and Nancy Gimbel, assistant dean of student engagement and MBA programs, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology.

    The Recruiting & Yield Journey: 5 Steps to Mapping Your Prospective Student Touchpoints

    Megan Overbay, principal at Kennedy & Company, used this session to present an approach for gaining value from mapping customer touch points, which can be applied to various stakeholders and schools regardless of size, selectivity, program portfolio, or location.

    Admissions Symposium

    GMAC’s Sabrina White, vice president of market development for the Americas and European regions, kicked off a half-day symposium that covered a variety of topics, with her concept of the “Annual Conference guarantee,” namely:

    • You will make at least one new contact during this conference. 
    • You will walk away with at least one new idea.
    • You will leave refreshed and reinvigorated. 

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    John Danner, senior fellow at the Institute for Business Innovation, Berkeley-Haas School of Business, University of California, shared insights from his new book, Built for Growth, in which he uses quantitative research and interviews with entrepreneurs to identify different “Builder Personality” types, invaluable to admissions professionals who are assessing future entrepreneurs for their programs.

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    How to Win a (Kickass MBA Applicant) Woman

    Women comprised less than 40 percent of the global MBA degrees conferred last year, but why? Building on insights from the GMAC global segmentation research and the stories of five female MBA applicants, Shelby Colby, GMAC business strategy analyst, and Andrea Sparrey, founder of Sparrey Consulting Group, explored what schools can do to attract more female applicants. 

    International Admissions: Best Practices in Degree Authentication & English Language Skills Verification

    This panel of schools shared insights and best policies and practices to ensure a smooth and successful transition from international applicant status to student. Panelists included: Melissa Booth, director, of graduate admissions, A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University; Lorinda Grogg of the World Education Service; and Alisa Lopez, director of global programs, Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University.

    Admitting the Right Student for Your Program: Competency-Based Interviewing Aligned with Learning Goals

    To succeed in the corporate world, business school graduates must exhibit an advanced level of leadership competencies valued by employers. In this session, Eva Koltunova, assistant to director of international accreditations, Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg University, shared best practices around competency-based interviewing.

    Applicants Say the Darndest Things…And You Should Be Listening!

    This session offered a primer on social listening and offered case studies from two MBA programs that engage in social listening to uncover opportunities for admissions process improvements. Presenters included: Graham Richmond, founder of Southwark Consulting; Peter Johnson, assistant dean of full-time MBA program and admissions, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; and Pamela Spencer, associate director of admissions, MIT Sloan School of Management.

    How Alumni Engagement Can Help with Your Student Recruitment Strategy

    This session explored eight top strategies that Thunderbird School of Global Management uses to enable its alumni to identify, mentor and place qualified talent at their alma mater. Presenters from Thunderbird, included Sogol Homayoun and MaryAnne Riodique, both assistant directors of global recruitment.


    Standing Ovation Presentations: Beyond the Basics

    This workshop drew upon techniques from theatrical storytelling and theatrical performance to help participants develop skills to earn a “Standing Ovation” in all communications. Todd Salovey, associate artistic director, University of California - San Diego, presented.

    Communicating with Stakeholders in Turbulent Times

    Academic leaders and administrators must build strong relationships with stakeholders across the academic enterprise to succeed. Erika James and John H. Harland Dean from Goizueta Business School at Emory University used this session to explore strategies for communicating with these stakeholders in a variety of challenging real-life situations.

    Spark Your Creativity

    Max Oliva, deputy director of social Innovation at IE Business School, focused his session on ways to enhance your own and your team’s creative inputs and how to make your creative talents come to life.

    Is Your Ladder Leaning Against the Right Wall?

    This workshop, presented by Jacqueline Brito, assistant dean at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, linked personal passion to organizational performance to teach you the skills and strategies to effectively impact your own life, and work.

    Social Media: 45 Ideas in 60 seconds

    In this rapid-fire format, peers shared how they are using social media to drive engagement with prospects and current students. Presenters from BarkleyREI included: Stephanie Armbruster, digital marketing strategist, and Chris Herring, director of digital marketing.

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    System Upgrade: 10 Tips for a Successful CRM Implementation and Use in Admissions

    CRM solutions are fast becoming a mainstay on college and university campuses. In this session, presenters provided the top 10 most important things you should know to determine if a new CRM is right for you, what to look for in your search, how to successfully implement one and the best ways to get the most out of it. Presenters included: Dalia R. Pineda, director of admissions and recruitment, graduate and professional programs, University of Houston Bauer; Joanna Fowler, director of admissions & operations of MBA programs, Naveen Jindal School of Management, The University of Texas at Dallas; and Adam Park, chief operating officer at TargetX.

    Social Media Marketing: Measuring Impact

    Stephanie Armbruster and Chris Herring from the BarkleyREI digital marketing team and Mandy Reyes, marketing manager of the MS in Technology Commercialization program, McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin, session offered insights into how to measure the effectiveness of social media in driving online/offline engagement and how to apply these insights to create impact.

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    Data for Daily Use

    Matt Hazenbush, research communications senior manager at GMAC, offered instruction in leveraging an array of GMAC market research resources to enhance approaches to recruitment and marketing.

    Using GMAC Tools/Data to Manage the Myths & Realities of Rankings and Other Challenging Expectations

    You may hear things like, “you’re not recruiting enough women,” or “you’re failing at diversity recruiting.” This session explored how to use GMAC tools and data sets to craft a pragmatic strategy for success. Presenters were: Matt Hazenbush, research communications senior manager at GMAC, and Dan Poston, assistant dean of MBA Programs, Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington.

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    Data-driven Enrollment Strategy: A DIY Approach to Projection Modeling

    In this session, participants gained an understanding of how Cornell Tech incorporated projection modeling into its practice—using it to think strategically about the admissions cycle as well as to communicate with stakeholders. Presenters were: Abby Fitzgerald, founding partner of Yellow Arrows, LLC, Carrie Taubman, partner at Yellow Arrows, LLC, and Christine Sneva, senior director of enrollment management and student services, Cornell Tech.

    2017 GME Market Demand Trends: A Look at Prospective Student Searchers

    Building on GMAC trend data, Grant Sabatier, vice president & principal of digital strategy at Eduvantis, and Paula McKay, director of school products at GMAC, examined the search trends gathered from an analysis of over 40 million global prospective student searches, and demonstrated how to connect with these candidates using a variety of tactics, including the Graduate Management Admission Search Service (GMASS) data.

    Recruiting in Asia, Africa and the Middle East

    This session explored what GMAC data reveals about candidate populations in Africa, the Middle East, and under-represented parts of Asia. Presenters shared on-the-ground outreach experiences to reach potential students in these markets. Presenters from GMAC included: Matt Hazenbush, research communications senior manager; Ashish Bhardwaj, vice president of market development, Middle East, Africa & APAC; and Jason Lawrence, market development director, East Asia.

    AIGAC’s MBA Applicant Survey Results: 2017 Insights & Trends

    The presenters, Andrea Sparrey, founder of the Sparrey Consulting Group, Mike Hanus, director of constituent research, AIGAC Research Partner, and Vince Ricci, director of Agos Consulting, AIGAC President, shared insights into the AIGAC’s latest survey results and how its survey data reveals what drives interest in full-time, two-year programs compared to interest in newer accelerated programs or specialized management degrees.


    Future of Business Education: A Comprehensive Look at the Master’s in Management Market Worldwide

    Roland Siegers, executive director at CEMS Global Alliance, explored the demand and supply of Master’s in Management (MiM) programs in key global markets, the motivations of prospective students to pursue a MiM, and employers’ motivations to recruit from MiM programs.

    Men as Allies in Business School

    A growing trend in graduate management education is the development of programs in which both male and female students participate in efforts aimed at gender equity. This session focused on the Forte Foundation’s “Men as Allies” Online Toolkit for business schools interested in launching and managing male ally groups. Presenters included: Kyle Grubman, senior talent management consultant at LinkedIn; Elissa Sangser, executive director at the Forté Foundation; Jeff Barnes, corporate finance manager at Proterra; and Jenn Wilcox Thomas, senior associate at Hall Capital Partners LLC.

    Best Practices from the Corporate World: Diversity & Inclusion

    Diversity & Inclusion professionals from the corporate world shared best practices and initiatives to attract and recruit a diverse population. They also discussed strategies to develop an open environment where talent can grow. Presenters included: Milton Dellossier, vice president of diversity & inclusion at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Pacific Coast Region; Damien Hooper-Campbell, vice president and chief diversity officer at eBay; Rachel Williams, head of corporate recruiting, diversity & inclusion, Yelp; and Kimberly Freeman, assistant dean for diversity initiatives and community relations, UCLA Anderson School of Management.

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    Management Exercises: A Novel Approach to Reflection, Mindfulness & More Fulfilling MBA Experience

    Often, students are taught how to do things, but many are not forced to reflect on why they should do them or what we are here for. In this session, Frank Fletcher, director of MBA programs, and Richard Stackman, associate professor and director of EMBA program, at the University of San Francisco School of Management, explained how the program leveraged its Jesuit tradition to create a secular version of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and how this novel co-curricular approach has reshaped how it delivers the MBA experience.

    Academic Program Portfolio Growth & Diversification: Best Practices Launching Pre-Experience Master's

    In this session, schools who have launched or are in the process of launching Master’s degree programs targeting the pre-experience population focused on four areas that are essential to success: organizational structure; marketing and recruiting; program integration; and career readiness and fit. Presenters included: Emma Candelier, director of graduate recruiting, University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce; Suzanne Feinstein, director of admissions, Master of Marketing Program, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Business; John Montana, senior associate director, MA Enrollment Management, Wake Forest University School of Business; Mike Waldhier, director of MBA Admissions and MMOL, Penn State Smeal College of Business; and Megan Overbay, principal at Kennedy & Company.


    Keeping the GMAT Exam Relevant: What's Next?

    Earlier this year, GMAC carried out research to inform the design of the next generation of the GMAT exam. Rebecca Loades, director of the Next Generation GMAT exam at GMAC, conducted this session, providing an overview of what’s been achieved to date and what the future holds for the GMAT exam.

    The Executive Assessment: The Columbia and London Business School Experiences

    In this session, Amanda Carlson, assistant dean at Columbia Business School, Columbia University; Manish Dharia, director of product development at GMAC; and Brett Hunter, admissions director of leadership programmes, London Business School, shared their first-hand experiences with the new GMAC Executive Assessment as early users.

    Finally, in his closing keynote address, Adam Alter, associate professor of marketing at the New York University’s Stern School of Business, left attendees with insights on how they could leverage technology to direct and command attention to our message.

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