BUSINESS SCHOOLS seek candidates with strong leadership potential. For this reason, they want well-rounded applicants - both academically and professionally. Work experience is one key factor that is considered. 'The Admissions Committee aims to select those applicants whose intellectual capability, work experience, demonstrated leadership, communication skills and academic background meet the challenging demands of the MBA programme and a managerial career,' said Tony Hui, programme director, executive education, the China Education Group. 'A high degree of self-confidence and independent thinking, with a strong need for achievement combined with flexibility and adaptability, are also desirable attributes.' Caroline Tso, manager of education services at the British Council, agreed. 'Most importantly, [candidates should have] high commitment, determination and enthusiasm ... Qualities that admissions officers look for may differ from programme to programme,' she said. While many university students move directly into graduate school, most business schools prefer MBA applicants with a few years of postgraduate workplace experience. They also seek to create a healthy mix of business sectors and job functions within the classroom. 'We look for candidates with undergraduate degrees and a minimum of three to five years of management experience,' said Glover Chan Wing-wah, senior marketing manager for masters programmes at the Hong Kong Management Association. 'Students are encouraged to bring their workplace experience to the classroom. They will benefit by actively exchanging ideas between the lecturers and the students.' Owing to the interactive nature of many MBA programmes, admissions officers are not just interested in how much applicants can benefit but how students can give something back to the programme - even after they graduate. 'Schools look for candidates who are well-rounded and will make supportive alumni,' said Amelia Chan, director of EMBA and MBA programmes, Richard Ivey School of Business (Asia). 'Because of our case-based learning method, we also look for candidates who have work and/or life experience that will allow them to contribute to ... the programme. The experience brought to the class is particularly important.' The criteria for executive MBA (EMBA) candidates varies significantly from that for MBA candidates. 'More emphasis is placed on their academic achievements because work experience is relatively short while for the EMBA, work experience and progression will be instrumental in assessing leadership potential and suitability for our programmes,' Ms Chan said. Raymond Yeung, course director of the MBA in International Management offered jointly by the University of London and HKU SPACE, said candidates were from a variety of backgrounds - both technical and non-technical - as MBAs were the first step for executives to move into senior management posts. As in most top MBA programmes, SPACE seeks applicants whose resumes show strong academic qualifications and work experience. 'We wish to ensure that candidates not only can take but can give,' he said. 'From our school's perspective, the overall students' quality is the utmost consideration in running the programme.'