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Background in Academia anyone?

As you know, Bob, I've been looking into my options on going back to school for an MBA. Last week I took the GMAT (MBA entrance exam basically) and got a 600, which is decent but not phenomenal.

So I was quite surprised this Monday to get a call from Seattle U (one of the two schools I had sent my score to) recommending that I apply for the Leadership Executive MBA program there. I hadn't really considered it before this, but now that I've had a chance to read up on the program I think it would be a very good fit for me, and me for it.

So I've been working on my application all week, in between working in Seattle and cleaning the house before our expected guests arrive. I hope to be done by this weekend.

My question for LJ-land, especially for those of you with more experience with college than I have:
I need to provide two recommendations from supervisors.
One is easy, Phil and Kaja are my supervisors at my current workplace.

Puzzling about the second has left me with three choices:
Do I ask Bob Mau (Head of Accelerator Operations at Fermilab, who was my supervisor from 1984 to 1988) even though he can't speak to the intervening twenty years of business experience?

Do I ask Greg Ketter (owner of DreamHaven Books, my business partner from 1988 to 1994 and the buyer of my business when I closed in 2004)? Although we had a close business relationship, and remain very good friends, Greg's role in the business was mostly financial and advisory, with no supervisory element.

Do I ask Bruce Schneier (well known cryptography expert and security consultant), who was never my supervisor in any capacity, but may be the best of the three of them at evaluating whether the Executive MBA program would be a good fit.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
Is two the mandated exact number, or is it at least two?
Because I'd go with the Foglios, Greg, Bruce, and a letter from yourself explaining that while you have few supervisors who can provide relevant observations, that's because you were your own boss for 18 years.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
I'd second that.

I went through "The Management Program" at the UW Executive Programs - mostly because I was too chicken to tackle their Executive MBA :) There were several folks in my class who were business owners, or in some kind of independent-consulting situation. I'm sure they had their recommendations from business associates, rather than bosses. . .
Aug. 2nd, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thirded. What they're likely to want is some evidence that you have something to bring in; if you can only pick one of Greg or Bruce, I'd probably pick Greg just because his will reflect direct experience with your business skills.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
Ask Bruce. It never hurts to have a *name*, even if he was not your supervisor, he can speak to your character and stick-to-it-ness.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
Ask Bruce. It never hurts to have a *name*

Wait - you're assuming a business person - no, an academic business person is going to have heard of Bruce?

I guess I can see listing him as founder and former whatever he was at Counterpane (CEO? CTO?) but I'd be real surprised if somebody at a business school knows who Bruce is in the world of computer security.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
He's quoted in the WSJ all the time. I'd expect business people read that. The Business people at Tech were all over him because he often talks to big business. And I expect business people know how to use Google.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)

What They Said are all good suggestions. The only possibility I might be able to add is the thought that if one of the wholesalers you did business with while you owned the bookstore was particularly close and impressed with you, it might be worthwhile at least considering asking them. But the other ideas are probably much better.

Aug. 3rd, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
Eric is spot-on: go with letters from Phil & Kaja, Greg, and Bruce. Each of them can attest to your skills and abilities as befits an EXECUTIVE MANAGER in a way that few others could.

The boss from FermiLab? No. He knew you when you were a tadpole (well on your way to being a big froggie, for sure), but the other folks have seen you rise to the occasion.

Yay, Alice! Good for you. You will be a wicked good executive. ;-)
Aug. 5th, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
I would ask all three for recommendations.

While Greg didn't supervise you, he dealt with you as a peer business-owner, and that I think of as way more useful in an MBA setting than just an employee-supervisor relationship. You owned and ran a business, and you exited that business successfully. (Where I define success to mean there were no fatalities, and you are still on speaking terms with Greg. Others may define success in other ways.)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


after all
Alice Bentley

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