Over the past few months, I’ve been reminded that this is a time of reflection and renewal.
Maybe it was seeing 500+ of you at our GMAC Annual and GMAC Leadership conferences in June as your academic year were wrapping up or the conversations I’ve had since about your incoming classes arriving on campus and your plans for the upcoming year. Maybe it’s been watching my own kids finish up their summer activities and begin preparing for another school year. Or maybe it was attending my 30+ year college reunion (how is that possible?).
This opportunity for renewal is what I love most about this time of year and one of the reasons why I loved working in admissions, first at my undergraduate alma mater and later at UPENN’s Wharton School and Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, and why I love working at GMAC since schools are welcoming new students while also beginning another year of engaging and recruiting aspiring candidates.
This year, my reflections are combined with a curiosity about what’s ahead. Maybe it’s my age (I recently had one of those ‘big’ birthdays) or the stage of my career (I manage an amazing team) or the age of my kids (they are becoming way too mature and independent) or maybe it’s because, after nearly a decade, we are going through a leadership change at GMAC. As you know, Sangeet Chowfla is stepping down as President & CEO, and moving into a new phase (I think he just wants to spend more time with his adorable young grandchildren) and Joy Jones (a beloved and highly respected colleague) is taking over. I think that’s really it and, oddly, it’s a reminder to me why you, our school partners, are so critically important to our ability to fulfill our vision (every talented person can benefit from the best business education), mission (provide the tools and information necessary for schools and talent to discover and evaluate each other), and purpose (ensure that talent never goes undiscovered)… let me explain.
When I started at GMAC in 2005, the Council was led by Dave Wilson, who ended every email and letter with ‘Carpe Diem’ which reminded us to ‘seize the day’ and do everything we could to help, as he believed to his core, that GMAC, in partnership with schools and industry stakeholders, change lives for the better through our work. During his time, the Council, on behalf of the Membership, created programs and services to expand candidate access to GME worldwide, including the ability for candidates to take the GMAT in more than 110 countries; significantly increased the number of schools using GMAC products, services, assessments, and research offering; expanded GMAC Membership globally to reflect the GME landscape; and established regional offices in East Asia, Europe, and South Asia to better serves schools and candidates locally and globally.
When Dave retired in 2014, Sangeet Chowfla took the helm and, for nearly a decade, he worked closely with school professionals, industry stakeholders, and GMAC senior leadership and staff to navigate an extraordinary time of disruption in GME, including a global pandemic. This resulted in significant diversification and transformation of GMAC offerings, including enhancements to the GMAT exam, the launch of the Executive Assessment, online versions of the GMAT and Executive Assessment, and the acquisition of three complementary products and services (BusinessBecause, The MBA Tour, NMAT by GMAC) which foster connections with candidates and schools. In addition, expansion in the number and diversity of research programs, conferences, and events allowed GMAC, school professionals, and industry stakeholders to discuss, debate, and solve problems.
Now, as Joy Jones begins her tenure leading GMAC, I’m excited as I’ve had a front-row seat, since 2017, to witness her leadership as GMAC’s Chief Product Officer and General Manager of Assessments, where she not only evolved and stewarded the Council’s assessment and preparation portfolio but added to it. The latest addition being Business Fundamentals Powered by Kaplan (‘micro’ courses in statistics, accounting, and finance) to help candidates and enrolling students prepare for business school. There is no doubt she has the vision and deep understanding of graduate management education, intellectual curiosity, and exceptional authentic leadership and management skills, to lead GMAC into the future. I also greatly appreciate that she takes every opportunity to convene groups of school professionals, reach out to industry stakeholders, and be fully engaged in industry conferences and events to share and learn from subject matter experts across the industry.
So, while the seasons of change are upon us, both figuratively and literally, and I think about GMAC’s past, present, and future, one constant remains – the importance of GMAC partnerships with school professionals, like yourself, and industry stakeholders, to ensure we continue to offer world-class assessments, products and services, research, and industry conferences and other events, which will effectively promote the value of graduate management education worldwide, enhance professional development of industry professionals, and help candidates and schools discover and evaluate each other. Over my nearly twenty years working at GMAC and ten more as a partner school professional, I’ve had the gift of seeing first-hand the benefits of these partnerships.
Whether it’s serving on the GMAC board to advise GMAC leadership; being a member of advisory groups to advise on data-reporting standards, next generation assessments, product enhancements, and industry conferences; being a member of a focus group; or participating as a panelist or speaker at a conference; the opportunity to contribute is tremendously important and satisfying.
So, a big THANK YOU to those that have and continue to contribute through these partnership opportunities, and if you have not had an opportunity and you’re interested in contributing, we would love to hear from you, so please do not hesitate to reach out to our School & Industry Engagement team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a fantastic year!