Born in Canada, raised in the U.S. and now based in Paris, France (for 25 years), Tanis led a dual career as a journalist (published in Le Figaro, Elle, The Guardian, etc.) and corporate communications consultant (clients including AXA, Canal +, UNESCO, Louis Vuitton) before branching out into MBA admissions consulting. For 17+ years, she has helped hundreds of clients gain admission to the elite business schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Chicago Booth, Columbia, and Tuck. She is also a board member at the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC). I recently caught up with Tanis and posed the following three questions to her:
How does your leadership role at AIGAC help you add value to your clients?
“I see so much value in this organization, which works to bring best practices to the field of Admissions Consulting. First, as a Board member I have regular interactions with the individual schools when we work on setting up our yearly conferences. Then there is the rich and personalized interactions I enjoy as an AIGAC member with the schools that physically attend the conferences. There is a real camaraderie and a sharing of information, along with frank discussions of issues, trends and changes. Also, the networking that happens at the conferences (but also virtually, during monthly phone calls) is incredible. I feel very lucky to be able to shoot an email or Skype a colleague on the other side of the globe whenever I need some advice or clarification, or even to discuss an idea or a particular client. Then there are the actual visits to the B-schools during our annual conferences, which we have organized at virtually every top business school in North America and Europe. This gives us a broad perspective on the schools but also on our clients, who come from around the globe. I could go on, but I will end with a mention of the trust that we build with both the schools and our colleagues. This brings a layer of confidence to our work, which clients obviously benefit from.”
Because you’re based in Paris, clients might assume that you are ‘Euro-centric.’ True? What are some differences in approach or strengths/weaknesses you’ve noticed between applicants from different regions?
“When I first began this work, about 17 years ago, I was definitely ‘Euro-centric’ but with the incredible globalization of the business school space, I would say that my vision is truly international. That having been said, I do have a very rich and devoted European network. When you live and work in Europe, you by definition have a multi-faceted view on life. For example, in April, I hiked from France to Spain (and back again) and in May I will be in Italy and the UK. In the same time frame, I will probably have spoken with clients in 5 or 6 countries. You cannot successfully navigate this cultural mosaic without knowing something about each country. I have a good handle on the main references of so many cultures, like their educational system, their cultural make-up, the way bureaucracy, hierarchy and management work in their home countries, and so on. This is critical to putting a client’s accomplishments and activities in context and helping them identify their true strengths and weaknesses. No matter what anyone says, there IS a difference in approaches and strengths/weaknesses in applicants from different regions, and by understanding them I feel I can bring more value to their application process.”
What trends have you noticed among applicants and/or among M7 admission decisions?
“Happily, I see more and more applicants, particularly women, applying from the Gulf States and North Africa/the Maghreb. There is also a more universal communication style coming from emerging markets clients, which to my mind results in better assimilation once they attend a school abroad. I also see more of a desire for Europeans to stay in Europe or set off for Asia. And I think we all see a dramatic increase in entrepreneurship goals (versus general management within a multi-national) as markets open up and old business models mutate.”
Thanks you, Tanis.