The Rady School’s first FlexMBA class of working professionals began their program in September 2004 and the school will welcome its first Full-Time class in fall 2005. The Rady School has a curriculum focused on management principles and business realities for organizations driven by science, technology and innovation.

Below is our 3-page interview with JoAnne Starr, Assistant Dean for MBA Programs.

What new changes are occurring on campus and how is Rady evolving?

New things are happening all the time here, as we grow and mature. The Fall 2005 entering class will be our first Full-Time MBA class, and we’re seeing tremendous excitement among those incoming students. They join our first class of FlexMBAs, who are in our weekend program, and really have an opportunity to help shape the school and the student experience. We have a very strong group of faculty joining us this coming year, with faculty in finance, marketing and innovation/operations coming from other top business schools.

How do you ensure your students have ample access to recruiters outside the San Diego area?

Our career center, MBA Career Connections, is working actively to establish corporate relationships in the region and beyond. We have remarkably strong support in the region and as the buzz about how we are different grows, we’ll see significant interest among innovation-driven companies in other locations. Because we are still small, we’re able to provide a very high level of personalized support to our students, working with them individually to identify goals and targets and support them with contacts and career coaching.

Are you seeing any early indications of how this coming year’s application volume may look? Have you noticed any recent changes in the demographic make up of the applicant pool?

Since we are admitting our first Full-Time MBA class for Fall 2005, we don’t have a trend to be concerned about. We have been very pleased by the overall quality of the applications we have received and by the number of applicants. Applications for our FlexMBA program for working professionals, for which we are admitting our second class, are comparable to last year in quality and quantity.

What general advice would you like applicants considering Rady to know?

Rady will be the best fit for students who want to be part of building something new and different and who really want to have an impact in changing the way business is done. We view entrepreneurship not as a separate subject, but as the way business leaders in innovation-driven organizations have to think and act every day. We very much want to understand how this vision of business and management education fits for you – this is not a generic, plain vanilla MBA program, and we want to be sure you understand that and have made a conscious choice in applying for the Rady MBA.

When do you encourage applicants to apply?

We always encourage highly interested applicants to apply early in the cycle. We find that applicants want to be able to plan, and early application to the programs you’re most interested in enables you to do that.

Are there any specific characteristics that you target in the applications to help you identify the ‘best fit’ candidates?

Leadership experience or potential is especially important to us. We are looking for applicants who will make an impact – as students and then as business leaders. Also, given the nature of our program, we look for a passion for technology and science. That doesn’t mean you have to have a degree in a technical subject, or that you need to have worked in a lab, but you should be excited by how science and technology are changing both the kinds of businesses that exist and the ways business is done – and how they are transforming the world.

What should applicants most heavily emphasize in their work experience?

Contributions, impact, evidence of creativity or innovation and career progression are important. These things show that you’re a person who wants to make things happen, to impact the way business is done. This is far more important to us than some specific number of years of work experience. We are also interested in your ability to work collaboratively, both in formal teams and informally.

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