The Wall Street Journal recently published a Q&A with Sangeet Chowfla, the new CEO of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). Chowfla, who took the helm as CEO of GMAC back in January was questioned about his vision for the future of the organization and shared his thoughts on matters ranging from minority performance on standardized tests to the possible competition the GMAT exam is facing from ETS’s GRE. While the Q&A was relatively brief, it offered several key takeaways for those of us who keep an eye on all things management education. Here are those takeaways, along with some editorial thoughts from the Southwark team:
- Chowfla believes that the organization’s flagship product (the GMAT exam) still has a lot of room for growth. He cites figures that suggest that GMAC can still convince additional schools to use the GMAT or at minimum consult on the development of localized entrance exams in markets like India and China. Southwark’s take: This makes sense, especially when one looks at the sheer number of MBA programs on offer in markets like India and China and the overall rise of the MBA globally. While many in the field are biased by the relatively mature markets in North America and Europe there clearly remain interesting opportunities for growth globally.
- When probed about new areas for growth beyond the GMAT exam, Chowfla pointed at two specific domains. The first is the realm of corporate recruiting – where Chowfla highlighted the consulting industry’s interest in using GMAC’s Integrating Reasoning testing expertise to help screen candidates. The second area is helping business school admissions offices with marketing and professional development. Southwark’s take: While Chowfla’s first idea is one that we’ve heard about in the past (with firms like Bain going on the record in support of using the Integrated Reasoning component of the GMAT exam in their recruiting process), the second area ‘marketing and professional development for admissions officers’ is intriguing. While GMAC does currently offer some of these services (professional development workshops for new admissions officers, annual and regional conferences, etc.) the sense we get from Chowfla’s comments is that this could be expanded. Given the important role that admissions officers play in shaping a school’s brand and reputation, and the rapid pace of change in the admissions world, this kind of professional development and training could be highly beneficial.
- When asked about his view on the GRE exam, Chowfla offered the following: “I think it’s complementary. Some students are unsure of what programs they want to do—undergraduates who are saying, maybe I’ll do a master’s in economics, or I may do a master’s in management, I want to keep my options open. That category of students, which is a minority, do tend to take the GRE, and that is the appropriate test for them.” Southwark’s take: This is a refreshing and somewhat surprising take. It represents a bit of a new direction for GMAC where ETS’s GRE exam is concerned. While the organization hasn’t been publicly ‘anti-GRE’ historically, there had been an underlying sense of disapproval on the part of GMAC when business schools began accepting the GRE as an additional test. Chowfla’s take should better align the organization with the mindset of the leading business schools that first began accepting the GRE as a means to broaden the pool of applicants and make management education more broadly accessible. Of course, our view on all of this is that ETS’s motives for pushing the GRE may be less than pure (as they lost the contract to make the GMAT exam several years back), but that’s a story for another blog post entirely.
We look forward to seeing what’s on the horizon for GMAC with Chowfla at the helm and hope that he can successfully position the organization to continue to grow with the ever-changing management education landscape.