Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why we do certain thing?

People do thing because they either (a) "need" it (financially, physically or spiritually), (b) enjoy it (physically or spiritually), (c) obliged to it (commitment to those you care or love) or any of the combination.

As far as possible we should avoid being over driven by (a) (beyond basic need) unless it eventually will lead to (b) or (c), and always try to strike a good balance between (b) and (c)....

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

How to choose an MBA program?

Some of my friends have been asking me about my personal experience in choosing an MBA program. I hereby make an attempt to write a short article about my thought in this subject. Hopefully it is useful to you.

MBA is a huge investment both in term of time and money. So it is important that you choose the right MBA program that best suits your personal goal. Personally I think the following decision process is quite useful.

Step One: Ask: Why do an MBA?

As making any other major decisions in life, the very first thing is to lay down the reasons why you want to do your MBA. In general, the clearer the answer of this question is, the easier it is for you to choose the right MBA later.

Some of the common reasons are:

1) Personal Advancement: For the sack of getting more knowledge, or for personal achievement.
2) Academic Advancement: For pure academic reasons. To prepare oneself for an academic career, or to qualify oneself for a PhD program.
3) Entrepreneur: To be better equip so that you can develop your own business better
4) Career Advancement: To move up the corporate ladder and earn more income.
5) Career Changes: To have a career change. There are two basic types of career change. Either you want to change your job portfolio (e.g. from Engineer to Manager) or you wan to change your industry (e.g. from Manufacturing to Investment Banking).

As different medicines are design to cure very different sickness, different MBA programs are also good for very different purposes. So do spend considerable amount of effort to know your own goal. The more precise your goals are, the better it is.

For example, if your goal is to have career advancement after your MBA program, it is not good enough to just say “I want to get a promotion after my MBA”. It is better if you can figure out something like “After my MBA, I want to get a middle management position in one of the top 5 investment banks in the world. I will like to work in foreign currency or future trading area, with special focus in the USA market. Ideally I will like to work in New York, Chicago or other major city in US. My starting yearly salary will be around US$50,000.”

This kind of precise and relatively comprehensive statement of purpose can be very helpful in choosing the right MBA program. For instance, if you know that you want to work in investment bank in New York, it does not make a lot of sense to do a MBA in Germany and major in operation management. Instead, you should try to find out which MBA program in New York are well known in their Finance courses, and try to get into the program.

Step Two: Design your decision criteria

Simply put, decision criteria are your personal guidelines in making a decision. These are some of the common decision criteria in choosing a MBA program.

1) Program Quality

I think the number one criteria are the program quality. Since you are planning to invest one to two years of your life in doing a MBA, it is important that you do not compromise on choosing a good quality MBA program (even it could means more financial investment). Needless to say, the quality of any MBA program is usually directly proportional to it price, duration and entrance requirement. For example, MIT Sloan MBA program take 2 years, cost US$62,000 (tuition fee alone), average 5 years working experiences and average GMAT score of 710 (which is extremely high). Despite the extremely expensive tuition fee, every year MIT Sloan still receives over 3000 application and they accept only about 300 students each year. Usually a candidate needs to apply at least 1 or 2 years in advance.

I know the MIT example sound a bit extreme, but my point is, when you are trying to manage your budget, it is important that you should only consider those MBA program that meet the minimum quality standard.

So you may ask, how do you know which MBA programs are good? In fact, there is a lot of useful information out there that deal with this subject. Basically those information sources can be classified into 3 major categories:

a) Business School Ranking by major newspapers and magazines

Some major newspapers and magazines publish their Business School Ranking every year. Usually those ranking are quite comprehensive and can serve as a very good guideline. Some of the most reputable ranking are:

Wall Street Journal Business School Ranking:

Financial Time Business School Ranking



b) MBA Association or Accreditation Organization

There are few reputable MBA associations that give “quality certificate” to high quality MBA program. A good example will be the London based Associations of MBAs, which is probably THE accreditation body in Europe. Usually the good accreditation bodies are very strict in awarding their accreditation. So I will say school listed by them are usually very good. Some of the most reputable accreditation bodies are:

The Association of MBAs (focus in UK and Europe)

European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), (focus in Europe)

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), (focus in US)

Unfortunately I don’t know any MBA Accreditation body in Asia.

c) MBA Guide Book

Another good source of information will be books about MBA program. I think one of the best MBA guidebook is:

Which MBA?: A Critical Guide to the World's Best MBAS, By George Bickerstaffe

I think the book publish a new edition every year. So the information is very up-to-date.

2) Course Content

All good MBA programs have a lot of similarity in term of their core module structure. Basically they should cover the following subjects:

(a) Accounting and Finance
(b) Marketing Management
(c) Organization Management
(d) Human Resources Management
(e) Operational Management
(f) Quantitative Methods
(g) Economic
(h) Strategy Management

However, what differentiate each MBA program are their areas of specialization. Some schools are more famous in certain fields. For example, Thunderbird – The American Graduate School of International Management is famous for the International MBA program. So it is important that you choose the school that is famous in the field that you will like to specialize in.

3) Reputable Professors

Good Professors make all the different between a good class and a bad class. However, it is rather difficult to conduct research on the teaching team of each and every business school. But generally speaking, good University usually does attract and retain good professors. So you can’t get too wrong by selecting a good business school.

4) Infrastructure – Hard and Soft

Libraries, lecture rooms, computer facilities, sport facilities, student association, career services, internship, seminars, exchange programs and etc are all important factors in choosing the right business school.

5) Alumni Network

Good school will usually have strong alumni network, which can be a very valuable assets for you.

6) Timing and Duration

Unless you are willing to wait, otherwise timing could be another important decision criteria. Business schools around the world start their MBA program at very different time. For example, business schools in South East Asia usually start in early March, business school in China will start in May, and business school in Europe will start in August or early September.

I think nowadays majority of the full time MBA can be complete in one year. However most good MBA program in USA, and a few good MBA in Europe and Asia will last for 1 and half years to 2 years. So be prepared.

7) Part time and distance learning

If you can afford it, I will recommend you to do your MBA in a full time basis. You will be more focus and probably learn a lot more.

Unless it is absolutely unavoidable, I do not recommend doing your MBA via distance learning (if there is such a program). In fact, vast majorities of the MBA material can only be learn via class participation and group assignment. You will not able to learn a lot by just reading your material at home.

8) Macro Environment of your study environment

Actually many people overlook this very important decision criteria. As the matter of fact, the location of where you are going to study has a very strategy impact on your future career plan. There are many reasons for that:

a) Content structure: For any good MBA program, the content structure is usually shaped by the need of the local and regional business communities. In many cases, the quality of the MBA program usually is highly correlated with the level of sophistication of the local industry.
b) Learn from the community: Business is about knowing the latest development of your industry and market. If you have a choice, it makes sense to study in a city that is very strong in the field/industry that you are interested in. For example, students who are doing their E-commerce MBA in Silicon Valley will definitely have more exposure to the subjects than MBA students in Malaysia.
c) Future career opportunity: Although recruiters do travel around the regions to look for the very best brains, but usually you will still have a better career opportunity in where you get your MBA degree. So if you plan to work in China after your MBA, it is not a bad idea to consider doing your MBA in Shanghai.
d) Business networking: While you are doing your MBA, it is also a good opportunity to build your business network. In that sense, you should take that into consideration when you choose your MBA program.

9) Cost

Well….what else can I say on this? Everybody has to work within his or her own set of constraints, and money is certain one of them. But as I mentioned earlier, when you are trying to manage your budget, it is important that you do not compromise on the quality of the MBA program.

Step Three: Shortlist, Evaluate and Choose

If you have done enough homework on step 1 and 2, step 3 is relatively straightforward.

It is very important to note that every business schools around the world have very different semester term and application deadline, some even require their applications to submit their completed application form 6-8 months before the semester start. So in order to make sure that you have plenty of time to select and apply for the right MBA programs, I strongly advise you should plan at least 6 months or 1 year ahead.

Besides, to avoid unnecessary bottleneck during your application, you should take for your GMAT test as early as possible. You can obtains more information on GMAT test from (not, which is the Mahavaipulya Buddhist Association web site : ) )

Although there are people arguing that all MBA degree are more or less the same, but based on my own observation, a good MBA degree from a famous business school do make a huge different both in term program quality and future prospect for graduates. This is especially true if your goal is to secure a promising job in a multinational company. So if you are qualified and if you can afford it, do go to Harvard Business School!

That’s all I have to say at the moment. If you need further advise, please feel free to contact me.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011




庄子在其所处的战国时代深刻的体会到现实生活的残酷无情,和人在面对不可改变的既定境遇(绝大部分都是悲惨不幸)时的万般无奈。在面对如此可怖而且挥之不去的精神压力之下,庄子提出了一套能让世人即便在现实生活中如何不堪,但却能在精神世界里得到逍遥的方法,可说是具有非常积极的现实意义。而像黄万里,老舍,傅雷 和赵九章等不幸的人,也应该能从庄子的智慧中找到生活中的一丝慰藉和希望。



至于郭象的逍遥哲学,我个人认为其高度和格局都较庄子为低,可能会适合渴望安居乐业的普通老百姓,但未必会被黄万里,老舍,傅雷 和赵九章等社会精英所青睐。试想之,此等非常人物之所以能够在社会中出类拔萃,皆因他们对自己的能力和理想有较高的期望,不安于现状,努力突破自己,力争上游。而郭象的逍遥哲学则倡议万物应自足其性(满足于自己的性分),安于其性(顺天安命),满足于现实,不做非分之想,以求能达到逍遥的境界。但黄万里等人的心理纠结就正正是不满足于现实,故我认为郭象之学即便能带来逍遥,但黄万里之辈多半不屑为之;俗语说“宁为玉碎,不为瓦全”,指的就是这个意思啊。


西方或现代自由理论的根基始于古希腊的“自然法”(Natural law),即宇宙万物依循着一套普遍理性规律(或自然法则),符合该规律的状态(包括人的生活方式)就是至真至善至美的状态。而万物在自然状态下是一种自由的状态,因此自由具有宝贵的内在价值。经过多年的发展,现代自由理论对“自由”一词也有了更深刻和广泛的认识,而其中较著名的美国哲学家法兰克福[1]就把自由区分为“行动自由”和“意志自由”[2]两大层次(唐孝威,黄华新)。简言之, 行动自由就是“能够依循自己的意愿去行动而不受内在或外来因素[3]所限制”;而意志自由[4]就是“能够自己决定自己的意愿”或“能过通过自己的高级意志(Higher-order volition)控制自己的低级意愿”[5]。拥有意志自由并不代表一定拥有行动自由, 而反之亦然[6]。美国哲学家凯恩[7]则将这两种层次的自由称之“浅层自由”和“深层自由”[8];而近代著名自由主义哲学家赛亚·伯林[9]也提出类似的“两种自由概念”,即主体因没受外来因素所限制而享有的“消极自由”,和主体拥有自主意志的积极自由[10]。(石元康)



[1] Harry Gordon Frankfurt, 生于1929年,
[2] “Freedom of action” and “freedom of will”
[5] 这和儒家所说的“大体”和“小体”有些类似。孟子,告子上:“公都子问曰:钧是人也,或为大人,或为小人,何也?”孟子曰:“从其大体为大人,从其小体为小人。。。”
[6] 动物虽拥有行动自由,但其意愿可能完全被欲望或本能所支配,而无法自主。
[7] Robert Hilary Kane,生于1938 年,
[8] “Surface freedom” and “deep freedom”
[9] Isaiah berlin,1909 – 1997
[10] “Two Concepts of Liberty”,“negative liberty” and “positive liberty”。


庄子之逍遥理论源自于庄子对人生一切无可奈何之“既定境遇”的深刻认识和无奈接受,进而把其精力转向于对更高精神境界的追求。庄子在《庄子内篇》之〈逍遥游〉里通过鲲鹏和蜩与学鸠的寓言,明确的表明了他对广大无穷的精神境界存在之肯定和向往;而要达到这种超脱的精神境界,就必须依赖深厚的德性和人生智慧[1],即便面对荣辱毁誉而不惊[2]。庄子也于“之二虫又何知!”暗讽一般人对鲲鹏之志的不解和无知之处[3]。要知道一般人看似大而无用之物,在有识之士眼中却能是妙用无穷 [4]。在《庄子内篇》之〈齐物论〉中, 庄子进一步通过“齐物”和“真知”的概念,淡化世间万物在世俗的价值和标准下所产生的差别,以超越世俗思想的束缚,进入逍遥的精神境界。

郭象的《庄子注》虽然标明是一本注释庄子原文的著作,但郭象在解释庄子的核心思想,如 “逍遥”和“齐物”时就明显植入原文以外的思想,有严重曲解庄子原意之嫌。首先,郭象认为世间万物都有自己的本性(天性),而各个本性也都有各自的局限[5]。虽然世间万物不一,但各自都有自己的性分和位置; 只要能顺着万物天然的性分,让其能够恰如其分的发挥其所能,那就无所谓胜负高低,而万物皆能逍遥[6]。 从郭象的思路,〈逍遥游〉中鲲鹏和蜩与学鸠的寓言被郭象解读为大鹏没有理由认为自己的境界比小鸟的境界还高,而小鸟也没有必要羡慕天池的种种好处,虽然大鹏和小鸟的大小不一,但逍遥的境界是一样的[7]。此外,郭象还认为万物的性分是上天赋予且无法改变的[8],故万物应自足其性(满足于自己的性分),安于其性(顺天安命),不做非分之想,那就能达到逍遥的境界。

如此看来,庄子的逍遥和郭象的逍遥确实有着天渊之别。 庄子的逍遥强调的是接受人生的既定境遇,彻底看透世俗标准下的所谓高低差别,进而体会万物之共性,最终进入无差别境界,对万物无所期待(无待)而达到精神上的逍遥。在达到逍遥的方法和功夫上,庄子的进路有相当高的个人修养要求,故一般只有少数至人才能达到庄子所说的逍遥境界。反之,郭象的逍遥则强调接受万物的差别,无论是有待或无待,只要能满足于自己的性分,顺天安命,那万物都能得到各自的逍遥。


[3]庄子内篇之逍遥游:“ 。。。之二虫又何知!小知不及大知,小年不及大年。奚以知其然也?朝菌不知晦朔,蟪蛄不知春秋,此小年也。楚之南有冥灵者,以五百岁为春,五百岁为秋;上古有大椿者,以八千岁为春,八千岁为秋。而彭祖乃今以久特闻,众人匹之,不亦悲乎!”
[4]庄子内篇之逍遥游:“ 。。。今子有五石之瓠,何不虑以为大樽而浮于江湖,而忧其瓠落无所容?则夫子犹有蓬之心也夫!” 及“。。。今子有大树,患其无用,何不树之于无何有之乡,广莫之野,彷徨乎无为其侧,逍遥乎寝卧其下?不夭斤斧,物无害者,无所可用,安所困苦哉!”