How to be a stand-out MBA applicant at UBC Sauder

MBAGRADSCHOOLS spoke with Rodrigo Porto, the Director of Recruitment & Admissions at UBC Sauder School of Business. He shared valuable insights into the admissions process at UBC Sauder, including what kind of candidates his team looks for, how to make your application stand out, and common mistakes candidates make in their application.

In short

What traits does UBC Sauder look for in MBA candidates?

The MBA application process at UBC Sauder is a very thorough process. Rodrigo tells us, “Any application that gets submitted to the UBC MBA is likely to be assessed by approximately 10 to 14 people” (02:10) – and that’s all before an application gets to the interview stage!

So, what does UBC Sauder look for in its MBA candidates?

The key is emotional intelligence. Throughout the application process, UBC MBA candidates need to “have demonstrated their vision, leadership, and experience, and some of those key emotional intelligence competencies…things like self-awareness, empathy, optimism,” Rodrigo says. (01:42)

Through video essays, the UBC Sauder’s Recruitment & Admissions team looks for maturity, ambition, and drive in candidates. “I always say that half of an MBA [experience] is going to be the network that you get and being challenged by your peers,” Rodrigo says. “So, we are looking for…those emotional intelligence skills that prove to us that you’re going to collaborate and you’re going to be a great team member and a great alum – so we are seeking insights into your adaptability, your empathy, optimism, [and] resilience.” (03:43)

How to submit a strong video essay

“It’s quite cliché…it starts with ‘just be yourself,’” Rodrigo advises. “We personally believe that [an application to the UBC MBA] is one of the best ways for you to assess your level of readiness to doing the program itself – and same goes with the video.” (04:15)

For your video essay, you will be asked questions similar to “Why the UBC MBA? Why you?” or “What are some of the challenges that leaders are facing with COVID-10?”

These questions are designed to assess how you bring everything together; how you connect your application to the UBC MBA with your overall personal and professional goals.

“What we are looking for is your personality [and an introduction of who you are],” Rodrigo adds. “So those emotional intelligence skills, [such as] self-awareness – which really comes through in the video essay – [are] really important for us [when we put the class together].” (06:11)

For this reason, Rodrigo suggests not to use a script: “What we want to see is less rehearsed, and more prepared.” (04:49)

Stay away from these common mistakes

It’s a daunting task to submit an application to an MBA program. Receiving thousands of [inquiries] every year, Rodrigo says, “Where candidates sometimes come short is they haven’t done enough research or their application is rather impersonal,” he explains. (10:47)

At the core of UBC Sauder is “a collegial spirit,” Rodrigo emphasizes. “We want to see how well you know yourself. We want to see how well you have given some thought to what Vancouver [might offer? Why UBC might be a good fit for you?] We have over 40,000 plus alumni all over the world. Have you been in touch with them? Have you looked into some of our professors? How does that connect to you?” (10:04)

“It’s not about [making] a mistake,” Rodrigo says. “It’s more around not having spent enough time figuring out why I want to do this and why I want to do this with UBC MBA.” (11:05)

The main takeaways? Do your research – and be yourself!

Why everyone is assessed for scholarship opportunities at UBC Sauder

It’s no secret that an MBA is not a small (financial) investment.

At UBC Sauder, every student has the opportunity to get financial aid. “We welcome applicants to tell us more about their situation [and] their needs during the interview,” Rodrigo says. “They can speak to us about anything.” (15:27)

The scholarship process at UBC Sauder is very simple. “We don’t require any special application for scholarship consideration,” Rodrigo tells us. “We require a strong application by you…And every candidate that gets a UBC MBA offer of admission is automatically assessed for entrance scholarship awards.” (16:55)

Above all, be open, be professional, and don’t be afraid to communicate your needs with the school.

How to make your MBA application to UBC Sauder stand out

“I understand it’s a thorough process and a competitive process to get admitted to the UBC MBA,” Rodrigo says. “But I wish more candidates would ask me, ‘How can I be the best applicant I can be?’” (19:56)

While every candidate has a different story, it’s crucial to understand why you’re applying for an MBA – “this includes being self-aware and defining your personal and professional goals,” Rodrigo explains. “We want to see you really connecting the dots.” (20:39)

His final piece of advice all comes back to emotional intelligence: “Think about what makes the UBC MBA unique. We are very collegial, so we are looking to have people who share the same values, missions, and goals. See some of our Dean’s thoughts about responsible leadership. It’s something that [is at the] core at UBC Sauder.” (21:58)

Share this article: