Meet GMAC’s New CEO: Pleasure Jones’ Massive Wager On A New GMAT

GMAC CEO Joy Jones

GMAC CEO Pleasure Jones

Pleasure Jones, the brand new CEO of the Graduate Administration Admission Council, led the event of the brand new GMAT as the previous chief of product improvement

For the previous two years, Pleasure Jones has been laboring over a top-secret undertaking that’s solely now coming to fruition. Because the chief product officer-turned-CEO of the Graduate Administration Admission Council, she has rather a lot driving on the brand new GMAT examination, the most important change in enterprise faculty testing for the reason that GMAT went from a pen-and-pencil examination to a computer-based format in June of 1997.

I dont have something to babysit proper now, she says over lunch close to the organizations workplaces in Reston, Va. It’s about driving ahead with innovation and searching for alternatives. Nowadays the cycle instances and expectations are actually excessive. There’s a lot to be performed, however I’m excited concerning the potential and the problem.

The primary girl and the primary African-American to move GMAC, Jones is not any stranger to challenges. She spent years with the Related Press in New York because the newspaper business was disrupted by digital innovators. Now, with GMAT test-taking at historic lows and extra colleges than ever making standardized testing optionally available, GMAC faces a frightening future. However Jones is optimistic that the brand new take a look at, extra particulars of that are being launched in the present day, will assist the non-profit group win again market share from rival take a look at GRE and persuade extra colleges so as to add testing necessities for admissions.


The brand new examination shaves almost an hour from the time it takes to take a seat for the GMAT, eliminates solely the analytical writing part of the take a look at, and considerably reduces the variety of questions and time allowed for each the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. The built-in reasoning part, newly named knowledge insights, is expanded to handle the rising emphasis positioned on enterprise analytics.

The adjustments, says Jones, are supposed to enhance the GMATs relevance and worth. Now we have been engaged on this for at the least two years, she says. We spent loads of time having conversations with colleges and stakeholders to search out out what they’re searching for from a enterprise faculty perspective. It’s a large transfer for our group. It’s a likelihood to be brave and put it out on the earth that GMAC is dedicated to evolving with the stakeholders we serve.

In all, admission officers, school, program administrators and deans at 60 enterprise colleges worldwide had been interviewed for the undertaking. Some 5,400 candidates had been both surveyed or participated in focus teams to achieve a way of how test-takers are utilizing the exams and to find out the sorts of adjustments that will add probably the most worth. We used that collective suggestions to assist form the take a look at, provides Jones.


She is cautious in noting that standardized testing ought to solely be one issue of many in a colleges choice to confess a candidate. We see the evaluation as a part of a holistic admissions course of, she says. We wish to be sure we proceed to be the gold customary and the popular take a look at and we noticed a possibility right here.

For each Jones and GMAC, the stakes are excessive. The pandemic pressured extra enterprise colleges to go test-optional or to be way more beneficiant in granting take a look at waivers. That change occurred because the Academic Testing Companies GRE examination continued to achieve market share. The proliferation of different graduate administration levels together with on-line MBA choices that don’t require candidates to take a standardized take a look at even have deeply minimize into the organizations core product. The consequence: GMAT test-taking has plunged to historic lows, and the group she now leads has posted losses of $9.1 million in 2019 and 2020, in keeping with public filings. Program income in 2020 fell 33% to $60.4 million, down from $89.8 million in 2019. T

On the identical time, functions to full-time residential MBA packages within the U.S. are in decline, notably from home candidates. Getting extra of them within the pipeline is one other goal for the brand new take a look at. I’d like to see extra folks coming into the pipeline as a result of they’re much less daunted by the testing necessities, provides Jones, who took over CEO duties in October of final 12 months.  I additionally hope extra folks see the take a look at as a method to shine. We wish to be that choice. I wish to reinforce the notion that colleges are getting an excellent learn for scholar readiness for his or her packages. I hope we’re including extra perception and data on the college facet to assist them higher consider their candidates.


Jones had confronted an identical problem on the Related Press the place she spent 13 and one-half years from 2004 to 2017, a time when the rise of social media wreaked havoc on conventional media shops that AP lengthy relied upon for enterprise. She rose to change into vice chairman of merchandise earlier than being recruited to GMAC by an government search agency. Jones, who lived in Montclair, NJ., and commuted to work in New York Metropolis, welcomed the change.

The group couldn’t have discovered a greater successor to CEO Sangeet Chowfla who stepped down after a nine-year run. A Stanford MBA who scored over 700 on the GMAT when she was in her early twenties, Jones isn’t merely a believer in an MBA training. She is a dwelling advocate. Jones was admitted to Stanford Graduate College of Enterprise in 1993 with out full-time work expertise. She enrolled on the age of twenty-two instantly after graduating magna cum laude from UCLA the place she had earned her undergraduate diploma in math and utilized science. It was terribly uncommon, remembers Jones. I believe there was just one different individual in my class who got here direct from undergrad and that individual had well being points that had been degenerative. I used to be the newborn in my class by far which was an attention-grabbing expertise.

Her choice to get an MBA was knowledgeable by an opportunity assembly with MBA interns at Procter & Gamble the place she was doing a area internship in advertising as an undergraduate scholar. They had been doing actually attention-grabbing work with some attention-grabbing instruments like Excel and Powerpoint, she laughs. I didnt have entry to them however thought that was actually attention-grabbing.


Her lack of labor expertise was greater than made up by her stellar grades at UCLA and her extras. She was a Division 1 athlete, a founding member of a sorority chapter dedicated to neighborhood service and her P&G internship. In highschool, she ran observe and performed basketball and volleyball. Whereas a senior in highschool, she competed within the lengthy soar, and the triple soar and was the anchor for her colleges 400-meter relay teamall whereas sustaining a 4.0 common and being named a nationwide advantage scholar. Jones was named the feminine Scholar-Athlete of the Yr in California, an accolade that led UCLAs observe coach to ask her onto the universitys group. I had a narrative with an expertise I may inform that was related to be admitted. And it didnt harm that I had a extremely nice GPA in a STEM main and an awesome GMAT rating on the time, she remembers.

No much less importantly, she got here of age in a spot and a house the place increased training was embraced. Jones lived in a school townChico, CA, attending highschool only a stroll down the road from Chico State the place she completed calculus as a highschool sophomore. Each her mother and father had been graduates of Chico State College. Her father taught literature at the area people faculty earlier than changing into an administrator there. Her mom began her profession in early childhood training after which moved into scholar companies on the college.

My mom was a surrogate mom to loads of college students at Chico State and he or she very a lot taught me about constructing neighborhood and the worth of household. Now we have a tight-knit household. She had an enormous affinity for the college and for youth. My father helped me perceive human nature He gave me considered one of my greatest items of recommendation: perceive peoples strengths however at all times settle for that they’re human which suggests that there are at all times going to be developmental issues behind that. Work with the entire individual and you’ll each achieve success. My father was full of recommendation. He’s mental and intellectually curious and desires to share his life experiences.

Armed together with her MBA, Jones launched a profession in strategic consulting, first becoming a member of Gemini Consulting after which leaving for Ernst & Younger when the accounting agency began a strategic advisory service. She ended up again at Gemini, then Cap Gemini, when the agency acquired E&Ys consulting enterprise. Her shoppers had been largely top-tier telecom and media firms together with the Related Press. Amongst different issues, she labored with Yahoo to offer AP content material on its website by introducing APIs. That was considered one of my prouder digital improvements, she remembers. It was not a straightforward time for the business and perhaps that’s perennial in enterprise. I began there in 2004 which was nonetheless a time when everybody was beginning on their digital transformation journey. 


At each AP and GMAC, I labored with actually sensible folks, she notes. They had been energized and curious folks at each organizations. The psychometric folks at GMAC are loopy, mad scientists. We’re in a position to entice actually gifted folks on that facet. They’re spectacular and fortuitously, they accepted me with my bachelors diploma in math. It’s a tightly run and managed course of run on a need-to-know course of.

It was throughout this time that she oversaw the event of the brand new GMAT. However her largest problem was dashing to market an internet model of the GMAT throughout the pandemic when take a look at facilities closed down. It was a studying expertise that was mind-boggling however we persevered and at this level, we’re happy with the place we had been in a position to take that channel. When you requested me earlier than COVID, I’d have stated it might in all probability take 5 to eight years earlier than transferring high-stakes testing on-line. With any product introduction, you might be at all times attempting to steadiness the wants of the market with the perfection of the product. We had bumps within the street.

As we speak, she provides, 70% of GMAT test-takers are taking the examination again in take a look at facilities. There in all probability is a few normalization and we’re not there but as a result of COVID isn’t solely performed, says Jones.


Regardless of the dramatic decline in test-taking, Jones is satisfied that there’s a place for standardized assessments just like the GMAT. I see standardized testing staying as part of the equation for folks going to enterprise faculty, she says. Plenty of the dialog about transferring away from testing occurs within the U.S. however not globally and we have now a worldwide footprint. I dont have a clue about whether or not the pendulum will transfer again to the place it was in testing. The GMAT and the Government Evaluation nonetheless have their place, completely. However I believe there might be different alternatives to evolve the best way testing is utilized. Testing is a knowledge enterprise. You get very high-fidelity knowledge and in the event you proceed to summary as I typically love to do you see a world of prospects. We’re dedicated to insuring that we have now a extremely high-quality take a look at for individuals who select to make use of it. Colleges worth high-quality knowledge of their choice course of. We imagine its a important a part of holistic admissions. Testing will discover its rightful place in admission choices and candidates will select to make use of it as a result of it offers them their greatest likelihood for preparation to achieve success in a program.

Jones does imagine that advertising might be important to advertise the assessments worth. When GMAT was the one recreation on the town, we didnt have to give attention to advertising, she says. If you find yourself in that place, advertising isn’t your strongest swimsuit. If you find yourself in a aggressive providing dynamic as we’re, I’d conclude that we have now to talk on to the shopper concerning the worth the take a look at gives. We do see it provides worth over whether or not you have a look at GPA alone. Older college students are usually helped extra and even college students coming from non-Americas markets see that the take a look at is useful.

She rejects criticism that the take a look at is biased in opposition to under-represented minorities and girls. We do loads of work to verify we’re doing equity evaluations throughout the take a look at improvement course of and we have now rigor round that from the entrance finish all over. The take a look at is precisely predictive. A GPA plus a GMAT rating is best for evaluation. By having each, college students have a greater likelihood of demonstrating their educational readiness for a program. We actively work to verify there isn’t any bias in efficiency.

Requested what enterprise GMAC is now in, Jones gives a broader view of the organizations mission. We’re at a spot the place analysis is our experience, she says. But in addition we’re within the enterprise of serving to candidates join. On the finish of the day, we’re within the enterprise of connecting and matching. 

Meantime, she might be overseeing the launch of the brand new GMAT examination which Jones believes is extra in step with the elevated emphasis colleges are putting on knowledge analytics. Its actually attention-grabbing as a result of whereas it has quant and verbal and charts that are extra visible it truly works properly with folks type completely different educational backgrounds, she says. For people who find themselves verbally oriented, it makes quant accessible in numerous methods in knowledge insights. It brings collectively the quant, the verbal and visible in a extremely accessible approach for individuals who have had completely different experiences with quantitative content material.



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