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Move From Family Business to B-School

Applicants who have worked in a family business sometimes worry that their professional profile won’t measure up when compared with other MBA hopefuls with more traditional employment paths. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Every year, top schools accept students who will go back to work for the family business. In fact, 9 percent of the applicants accepted into the Harvard Business School class of 2014 had worked for, or planned to work for, their family-owned company.

Business schools strive to compose a cohort of diverse personalities and backgrounds to guarantee lively discussions, so depending on your role in the company and the type of business itself, your experiences would likely add a unique perspective to the class.

Part of your school selection research should focus on what types of resources and support for family businesses are offered by your target programs. For many applicants, a one-year MBA program is ideal since you won’t need the internship and recruiting opportunities that job-switching students in two-year programs rely on.

I advise applying to the best schools that you think you can get into because they will offer a great education as well as the best networking opportunities. Also, think about whether the school’s geographic location will help you build a network which would directly help your family business.

Family business management has emerged as an important discipline at business schools as second- and third-generation family members realize the need for specialized skills in order to take over the reins and create a more corporate work environment. Over the past decade, schools have introduced courses and clubs on family business, founded centers dedicated to the subject or launched concentrations in this area.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has a Center for Family Enterprises. Columbia Business School, stating that 80 percent of businesses worldwide are classified as family businesses, offered a course this spring on Family Business Management. And students and alumni of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School can participate in the Wharton Family Business Club.

If the school offers a student club focused on this group, reaching out to current members for their insight on the program’s benefits might prove invaluable in your decision-making process.

As with any winning application, the strategy in this case is to show in detail how an MBA degree will help you further your professional goals. Explain with specifics what you need to learn in order to grow the family business.

Paint a clear picture of your vision for the company’s future, and leave no doubt as to how an MBA will help you make an impact on the business after graduation. That way, the admissions committee understands why business school is the logical next step.

For your essays, start brainstorming some of the challenges your business has faced, and come up with examples that show how you as a family worked to overcome those obstacles. Business schools place a high value on teamwork, and what better way to show commitment and follow-through than by demonstrating you know how to work well with others to achieve a common goal?

As many applicants know, the ideal recommender for an MBA application is the manager to whom you report directly. However, if your immediate supervisors are relatives, you’ll need to get creative since you cannot have a family member write your recommendation letter.

Can you approach a supervisor or manager from a company you’ve previously worked for? Or have you worked closely with any clients or vendors that can speak to your managerial or leadership abilities?

Our client Bill had been working for the family business, a manufacturing company in Baltimore, for three years after college.

After brainstorming for recommenders he could approach outside the business, Bill hit upon a retail vendor that had been supplied by his company for more than a decade with whom he’d built a strong relationship. Since this vendor was evaluating Bill on many similar criteria as a direct supervisor and was an objective, outside source, he turned out to be the perfect choice.

In the end, Bill’s family business-based application fared well next to candidates coming from a corporate background. He was ultimately admitted to Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and chose Darden to be a little closer to home.

Alberto Gimeno, director of Esade Business School‘s International Family Business Lab, recently noted in the Financial Times that “Concepts such as honesty, pride, loyalty and long-term commitment… are everyday practices of successful family businesses around the world.”

If you’re planning on pursuing an MBA to learn how to take your family business to the next level, take pride in your professional circumstances and know that business schools will value your accomplishments and responsibilities, whether acquired at a Fortune 500 company or under Mom and Dad’s tutelage.

School Governance and Finance

Abigail Barker works at Beachfield High School, in Herodale, Arizona as an Economics teacher, as well as a financial advisor.

I play two roles as it keeps me occupied and helps me financially. Besides, I couldn’t live without teaching- it’s my life, it’s in my blood- my mother was a teacher as well, and so was my grandmother.

Apart from that, maintaining school finance is also important. School finance isn’t just about cents and dollars. It is more about the way to allocate funds, and the kind of funds that are available. The resources made available indicate the combined priorities laid for public education system.

Good teachers are very important in proper running of a school, but only teachers cannot run a school- it requires proper governance and finance. Running and improving school management requires proper resources. Many people think that money is the primary resource for proper school management, but there are many important resources besides money. Generally, the state government provides approximately 49% of school budget, using a combination of sales tax, corporate tax, and income tax.

School funding isn’t exactly a simple process. There are various systems for governance and financing of schools. The state of Arizona uses a foundation program to form the basis of funding system for schools. Local districts and state collectively share the responsibility to provide the necessary funding for fundamental education.

Think of school finance in terms of equity and adequacy of resources. Equity is about highlighting the techniques for bridging the gap between the abilities of local government bodies to raise income for the school, while adequacy focuses on providing funds to every student, so that he/she is able to meet or excel academic expectations.

School finances are mainly dependent on the state government. The funds that the state provides are distributed among schools. It is the responsibility of schools to use and allocate these funds intelligently. I have to manage many aspects of financing and arranging funds from the government authorities, and so I know that division of funds is not exactly an easy task. It becomes quite tedious and strenuous at moments, and my only escape is teaching. Thank god I’m a teacher as well. Teaching students about economics as well as values required for a disciplined life breaks the monotony that comes with handling financial matters. Being a teacher is a blessing.

Five New Area Superintendents Appointed to the San Diego Schools

In June 2006, Superintendent Carl Cohn appointed five new area superintendents for the San Diego Schools.

Each new area superintendent will be an advocate for the schools under them, as well as the communities for these schools. They will be empowered to ensure that the San Diego Schools have a fully enriched and competitive curriculum that recognizes the importance of the educational basics, as well as the nearly forgotten art, music and physical education programs. They will be responsible for expanding in their partnerships between parents, the community, businesses and higher education. Each student is to be ensured as smooth a transition as possible for students and parents, especially in the early years.

These five appointments complete key staffing of top leadership positions in the San Diego Schools. Each of the five areas within the schools in San Diego will include up to 25 elementary schools and their nearby middle schools.

The new area one superintendent is Carol Barry. She earned an MA inn school administration from Azusa Pacific University and a BA in liberal studies from San Diego State University. Before her appointment, Barry served as acting assistant superintendent for the San Diego. Previously, she was the principal at several San Diego Schools.

The area two superintendent is Dr. Hye Jung (Chelsea) Kang-Smith. Kang-Smith holds an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California, MS in education from California State University Fullerton, and her BS in biology from the University of California Irvine. Kang-Smith came to the San Diego Schools in 2005, where she first served as principal in Anaheim Union High School District and most recently as assistant superintendent.

Dr. Richard Cansdale is the area three superintendent. He holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the United States International University, an Ed.S. from Point Loma Nazarene University, an MA in education of exceptional children from San Francisco University, and a BA in elementary education from the University of Nevada at Reno. Previously, Cansdale was the principal at Cherokee Point Elementary School in the San Diego Schools.

The area four superintendent is Vincent Matthews, who was a 2006 fellow of the Broad Superintendent’s Academy. He earned an MA in educational administration and a BA in elementary education from San Francisco State University. Before his appointment, Matthews was an educator in residence for the NewSchools Venture Fund in San Francisco. Prior to that, he was an advisor to 35 charter schools that serves approximately 9,000 low-income students.

Dr. Delfino Aleman, Jr. is the area five superintendent. He holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin, an MA in education from Texas Women’s University, and a BA in theology from Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. Aleman, who is proficient in Spanish, was the associate superintendent for teaching and learning at the Isaac School District in Phoenix, Arizona. Previously, he served as director of policies, procedures and public information in the San Antonio Independent School District.

In addition to these five new appointments, the schools filled three other positions through recent appointments.

Dorothy Harper is the new associate superintendent for parent, community and student engagement. Harper earned her MA in education from Memphis State University and bachelor’s degree in biology from Dillard University. Her experience includes vice president of development for the Newton Learning Supplemental Education Services, as well as area superintendent, assistant superintendent, and deputy superintendent at the Long Beach Unified School District. In her new position, Harper will work to establish a comprehensive, consolidated system of support that will engage parents, the community, and students within the San Diego Schools.

Arun Ramanathan, an advanced doctoral fellow at Harvard, is the new executive director for governmental relations. He earned an MA in special education and elementary education from Boston College, and a BA in government from Dartmouth. Prior to his appointment, Ramanathan was research director for the Los Angeles Unified School District. He will serve as an advocate for the San Diego Schools to state legislators on issues and laws affecting the school district.

Dr. Kyo Yamashiro is the San Diego Schools’ new director of school management. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA, which she received in June of 2006 as a top doctoral candidate. She earned an MA in administration and policy analysis and a BA in English literature from Stanford University. Prior to her appointment, she was a research and evaluation consultant for the Long Beach Unified School District. In her new position, Yamashiro works with the School Choice programs, including charter schools, No Child Left Behind program improvement, and enrollment options program — magnet schools and voluntary ethnic enrollment programs (VEEP) are included.

These appointments excite the San Diego Schools. All will serve well the more than 132,000 students in the San Diego Schools, the second largest school district in California. With more than 216 educational facilities, these talented and motivated appointees will be a plus for the district.