Interview with Admissions director – AIM Manila

In the face of the current economic uncertainty, it becomes all the more important to make an informed choice for your MBA destination. The days of multiple job offers, stratospheric salaries, and even something as taken-for-granted as hundred percent placements, are behind us now. For the forseeable future. Even at the best Indian B schools.

That makes it all the more important to consider some of the good MBA options in South Asia. International exposure can open doors for you, in ways that local MBAs never can. Which is why we started to feature NUS SingaporeHKUST and AIM Manila.

AIM Manila was established in 1971 with the help of Harvard Business School. Philippines has a lot in common with India – English proficiency, and a rapidly growing services sector that competes with ours, to name a couple. For those of you planning to work as leaders in multinational service companies, it is highly likely that in a few years’ time you will be vying for South Asia leadership roles with your counterparts from Manila.

InsideIIM spoke to the Admissions Director at AIM Manila. The school recently made a radical move to reduce batch intake from 140 to 70 students. This is bound to improve placements. Read on to find if the AIM Manila MBA is right for you.


What are the few things that make the MBA programme at AIM Manila stand out among its peers in the Asia Pacific region?

AIM has been known as the ‘Harvard-established school of the East’ because of the key role Harvard Business School played in our founding. We continue to use classroom methods from Harvard, such as the case study method. The case study method simulates actual business problems and requires students to come up with practical solutions and decisions. Only four schools around the world teach mainly through the case method today: the Harvard Business School, Ivey, Darden and AIM.

Another differentiating factor is the content we deliver. We are currently updating our curriculum to prepare our students for the ASEAN economic integration come 2015. This also includes preparing our students for public, private and non-profit organizations. We have this expertise in our Master in Development Management Program and we are looking to further integrate its content into our MBA.


The typical serious MBA aspirant studying in India aims for a top ten B school (i.e. strong brand image at least in India) costing about INR. 1.2 mn (USD 21,800 approx.) , with a starting salary in the range of at least INR. 1.5 mn (USD 27,300 approx.). How does the AIM Manila program stack up against these programs? What are the additional costs and benefits?

Our recent graduates on an average get USD30,000 per annum, a 167% rise in their post-MBA salary. For the September 2013 intake, the tuition is set for USD$31,000. We hope to increase post-MBA salary by reducing our intake in half which I will further explain in question #4. Other additional costs include dorm fees approx. USD400/month which is a higher rate this year because we are limiting the residents to two per suite; food allowance approx. USD10/day; and school supplies (if you want to buy reference books but all the case packs and handouts are included in the tuition fee).


Could you give some colour on the profile of the current batch? (gender, average age, nationality, educational background, tenure and industry of work experience)

Our current MBA batch has 131 students from six (6) countries. The gender breakdown is 26% female and 74% male. Their ages range from 22 to 44 with a mean age of 26. They come from diverse academic backgrounds from Engineering to Management to Chemistry to Law/ Political Science, and even Architecture and Nursing. They have an average of four (4) years work experience and the top 5 sectors they come from are IT, Manufacturing, Telecommunication, Banking and Consultancy.


Could you give us some details about the radical move to halve the student intake? How would it play out for the batch enrolling in 2013, in terms of admission procedure, fees, chances of scholarships, placement prospects? Was this decision influenced by the gloomy economic environment?

Our primary reason for reducing student intake is quality. We are conducting a tighter selection process in 2013 to ensure that those accepted have the best intellectual, emotional, and social competencies  and are attractive to our recruiters. By ensuring that our enrolled students meet the highest of standards, we can also assure an improved quality of case discussions, benefiting all class sessions. On the faculty side, with fewer students to teach, our professors will be spending more time writing Asian cases focusing on family business, entrepreneurship,  and public-private partnerships, and management cases  that will help our students hone their problem solving and decision making skills in marketing, finance , operations, and human resource.

We will be offering a significant amount of scholarships to all those accepted into our MBA program. For most accepted applicants, this scholarship will exceed the price increase, so effectively, the cost remains practically the same if not lower.


What have been the major changes in the curriculum over the last few years?

We have done continuous curriculum reviews over the last few years. We have an Assurance of Learning (AoL) Program which measures how much students learn against learning goals and objectives. We have also introduced learning labs or research collaboration teams supervised by faculty.


Could you throw some light on the diversity of students and the kind of international exposure available to students at AIM Manila?

Our target for the next intake is to have students from each key Asian city. Our students gain international exposure from a variety of programs and initiatives. This includes:

  • International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) which allows students to spend their last term in any of our 30+ partner institutions in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas. The list includes Wharton, Pepperdine, and Kenan-Flagler in the US as well as HEC in Paris, St. Gallen in Switzerland, and Rotterdam in Netherlands. Students from the partner schools likewise spend a term at AIM.
  • Asian Study Tour – a one week program that exposes students to critical management issues confronting companies and industries in different Asian countries.
  • Visiting professors and guest lecturers – last year we had IMF Managing Director Mme. Christine Lagarde, Harvard Professor Ranjay Gulati and Columbia Professor Bernd Schmitt .
  • Case competitions – our students have entered international case competitions such as the Hult Global Case Challenge, PPM Case Competition in Jakarta, and Drucker Challenge in all of which they emerged as champions or awardees.

What is the procedure for applying for and obtaining a scholarship? What are the profiles of people likely get a scholarship?

Various scholarships are available for students accepted to the AIM MBA. All scholarship requests are submitted together with the application form. We encourage early application for scholarship requests.  The applications will be evaluated by the Scholarship Committee based on academic superiority, personal circumstances, and professional accomplishments.


Does the MBA course include experience with corporate projects or summer internships? What are some of the internships students typically do?

Yes. We partner with companies for internship positions in various fields (i.e. Market Research, Consulting, Finance etc) usually within the industries of FMCG and Banking/ Finance for an average period of 10 weeks.

At times, internship is linked with the Management Research Report (MRR), which is AIM’s thesis equivalent.


What are the major functions (finance/consulting/marketing) and sectors of the economy (real estate/financial services/media/technology) in which AIM Manila graduates find employment?

In recent years, the major domains have been finance and marketing while the industry sectors are consulting, technology/communications, FMCG, and banking.


What are the activities conducted by the student body? How does Manila compare with other cities in the Asia Pacific region as a place to work and live?

The AIM student body has 16 active clubs that span a wide range of interests. Students may join or even establish their own organizations. Other extra-curricular activities include sporting games, international event celebrations, and tours.

The AIM campus is situated in the Central Business District (CBD) of Makati City, the premiere financial district of Metro Manila.  Makati CBD takes in most of the head offices of local and multinational companies, embassies and consulates, first-class shopping malls and five-star hotel chains. Most companies offer competitive salaries and extensive compensation.  Salaries may be lower compared to other Asian cities like Hong Kong or Singapore but this is because the cost of living is also relatively cheaper.  There is always something to do and see in Makati and it’s easy to go around since all Filipinos can speak good English.

– InsideIIM would like to thank Margarita (Mia) Zamora of AIM Manila for helping us out with this interview.

You may also be interested in :

Interview with Admissions Head, NUS Singapore

Interview with Executive Director, HKUST MBA

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One comment

Krishna Chaitanya

Great article. It would be really helpful, if the InsideIIM team can post average the GMAT score accepted at AIM Manila