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【見聞專訪】MIT Sloan商學院招生辦主任:如何叩開麻省理工MBA的大門?

來源: http://wallstreetcn.com/node/209648

又到了每年的MBA申請季。事實上,包括哈佛、斯坦福、麻省理工等全球頂尖商學院的第一輪申請已經結束,申請者們正為第二輪截止日期努力準備各項材料。

MBA申請者心中“夢想學校”之一的麻省理工學院斯隆商學院(MIT Sloan)究竟偏愛什麽樣的申請人?MIT Sloan招生辦主任Dawna Levenson近日在Sloan辦公室接受了華爾街見聞副總編輯嚴婷的獨家專訪。

Dawna Levenson強調,MIT Sloan最看重申請者擁有的五種特質:領導力、建立關系的能力、獨立思考、不懈追求目標、以及創新能力。Sloan認為,過去的表現是未來成功的最佳指標。通常他們會從兩個維度上評估申請:一個是所謂的“已證明的成功”(Demonstrated Success),另一個是“個人屬性”(Personal Attribution)。

Levenson表示:“來自中國的學生表現都非常棒。我們樂見更多來自中國的申請者。”

此外,她還提到,金融危機後,MBA學生在金融行業尋求職業發展的興趣已明顯下降,不少來自金融行業的學生來念MBA但很多人是為了轉行。

dawna (MIT Sloan招生辦主任Dawna Levenson)

嚴婷: 今年第一輪申請截止日期剛過(9月23日),你們一定收到了大量的申請,你能和我們分享一下去年MIT SloanMBA的申請和錄取情況和數據嗎?

Dawna Levenson: 
是的,我們的確收到了很多申請。我們最新一屆MBA共有406名學生,其中50名來自全球運營領袖(LGO)項目,其余356名為兩年制MBA學生。另外,女性占比近40%(39.4%)。60%為美國學生,40%為國際學生。國際學生來自世界上60個不同的國家,所以學生背景是相當多元的。學生們的工作經歷在0到12年之間,平均工作經歷約5年。我們的學生來自各行各業,有同學來自咨詢行業,也有來自金融服務行業和銀行,但我們也有同學來自藝術類行業,我們也招收了建立自己企業的創業者。大家的背景各異。

嚴婷:每一個學校都有它自己給外界的固有印象,而這些印象並不總是正確的。一些人說“MIT Sloan是主要針對想要創業的工程師”。你怎麽看待這種印象?你希望申請者在聽到MIT Sloan這個名字的時候會怎麽想?

Dawna Levenson: 
MIT Sloan當然是MIT的一部分,就學生而言,在這兒成功的人有著各種各樣的背景。是的,有理工科背景的人會更多地關註到MIT,所以他們更傾向於申請我們的項目。但是我們並沒有刻意要尋找理工科背景的人,一點也沒有。

嚴婷:你在Sloan也負責其他多個項目的招生,與其他商學院相比,Sloan有什麽特別之處嗎?

Dawna Levenson: 我們現在坐在這個咖啡廳(Sloan商學院咖啡廳),看到了自很多不同項目的人。事實上你可以在Sloan獲得本科學位。我們也有一年的金融碩士項目,一年的管理科學項目,兩年的MBA——這是我們Sloan最大、也許也是最知名的項目。我們還有一個非全日制的EMBA(高級管理人員行政管理)項目。此外,還有Sloan Fellow項目和博士(Phd)項目。很多不同的項目會帶來巨大好處,那就是這會吸引到有著各種各樣經歷的人,所以教室內的討論和社交互動是相當豐富和多元的。

嚴婷: 關於申請,您先能簡要總結一下申請的程序嗎?

Dawna Levenson:
我們的申請程序非常簡單明了。我們在標準化申請流程上花了很大功夫,所以其他項目的申請流程也基本一樣。就MBA而言,要求要提交兩篇短文(essays)。我們也要求提交簡歷,而且我們為申請者提供了簡歷模板。我們要求提交兩封職業推薦信,而且要求所有獲得學位的成績單。而且如果你做過交換生,我們同樣也想要這些(交換期間)成績。另外還需要GMAT或者GRE,但不再有任何托福的要求。之後我們將審閱所有的申請。

嚴婷:即使對非英語母語學生也不需要托福成績嗎?

Dawna Levenson:
不需要,因為在你提交申請後的下一個步驟,就是被邀請參加面試。這個面試是面對面的,而且只有收到面試邀請才行,這是必需的下一步。我們更認同通過面試來幫助我們評估申請者的英語熟練程度。

嚴婷: 過去你們曾要求申請者提交一封Cover Letter,後來為什麽不要求了? 

Dawna Levenson:
對,已經不再需要了。我們一直都在努力改變,有時只是因為我們想要嘗試新的方法。你知道,我們發現有時人們在Cover Letter中的內容與他們的短文有點重複,顯得很累贅。所以我們決定將其剔除。

嚴婷:今年MBA申請流程的最大變化是什麽?

Dawna Levenson: 我認為最大的改變時我們的第二篇短文。去年申請了的同學,應該會記得去年我們第二篇短文的題目是“告訴我們你曾走出自己舒適區的一次經歷。”但今年我們的第二篇短文是要求申請者自己給自己寫一封推薦信,就像把自己當做自己現在的推薦人。我們在推薦信中提出的問題與我們給推薦人提的問題是一樣的。這很有趣,我們團隊對這一改變很興奮。

嚴婷: 這一改變背後的理由是什麽?

Dawna Levenson:    
有幾個因素。一個單純的因素是我們想要做出這個改變來反映現在行業動態。現在與以往相比,職場中越來越要求人們進行自我評測。另外,我們想要看到的數據,即我們設計的這些問題,其實就是我們推薦信上要求的信息。我們以此來判斷申請者是否擁有我們在尋找的一些品質。所以我們就想,為什麽不讓申請者給自己寫一封推薦信呢?我認為對每一個人來說,這是一個非常發人深思的問題。

嚴婷:這也幫助你們去評估申請者的能力。我知道你們在篩選申請者時采用了一個評分系統。你們仍然使用這個系統嗎?

Dawna Levenson: 是的,我們的整個錄取程序都是基於一個行為模型,通過這個模型來尋找我們想要的某些能力。很多年以前,我們與咨詢師一起確認了這四到五種特質,這些特質在很多成功的學生和校友身上都得到了集中體現。我們設計的短文、推薦信以及面試問題就是要獲取能反映這些能力的數據。例如領導力,我們希望(在申請者身上)尋找體現領導能力的證據,我們也在尋找建立關系能力的證據,這里只是幾個例子。

嚴婷:其他幾項特質是什麽呢?

Dawna Levenson:
除了領導力和建立關系的能力,我們還想尋找獨立思考能力這一特質,例如不拘一格的思維能力。還有一點就是不懈追求目標,也就是有能力確立目標、並堅持不懈達到這個目標,即使在追求的路上遇到各種各樣障礙。最後是創新能力。你知道,在MIT Sloan我們一直在尋找這些追尋創新想法的人。這些就是我們要評估的最重要的品質。

嚴婷:有趣的是,你們並不詢問申請者的職業目標和未來規劃,為什麽?

Dawna Levenson:
我們發現,兩年制MBA的同學,到我們這里來,在認識了很多人,發現和了解了各行各業的其他機會,從而改變自己想法的人占絕大多數。所以在這里並不是你的職業興趣決定了你的成功,而是我們之前提到的那些品質。那些才是看一個人能否成功的真正的關鍵指標。

嚴婷:那麽你們怎麽評估申請者的潛力呢?

Dawna Levenson:
我們相信,過去的表現是未來成功的最佳指標。我們的工作也基於此。我們正是在尋找你過去的經歷中可以證明建立關系能力的證據。這是一個很好地例子,因為這對我們來說很重要。輔導、團隊建設、教導、培訓,如果這些事情是你在過去三年中一直擅長做的,那麽這些特質並不會隨著時間的推移而消失,最有可能的是你會繼續朝著這個方向前進。

嚴婷:在申請材料包中,你們接收到了很多東西:各項數據、推薦信、課外活動、個人短文,這些每一小部分信息是如何拼湊在一起從而起作用的呢?

Dawna Levenson:
沒有哪一個部分是一定比另一部分更重要的,我們會參考申請的每一個部分,我們會從中讀取特定的數據。我們事實上從兩個維度上評估我們收到的申請。一個是我們所謂的“已證明的成功”(Demonstrated Success),另一個是“個人屬性”(Personal Attribution)。已證明的成功包括你工作上的成就、你的GMAT或GRE成績和你的GPA。很多這樣的信息都是個人披露的,一些來自於你的簡歷,一些是來自你的推薦信。另一方面,我們在尋找我們稱作“個人屬性”的東西,這些特質正是我們之前提到的:領導力、關系建立能力等等。

嚴婷:什麽是申請者需要避免的常見錯誤?

Dawna Levenson:
一個普遍的錯誤或挑戰是,申請者在文書中往往糾結究竟該用“我們”還是“我”來表達。一方面,我們非常想要知道申請者作為個人而言做了什麽。另一方面,我們也想知道申請者是否與團隊有良好的合作。所以在短文中找到使用“我們”和“我”之間的良好平衡是非常重要的一件事。另外,我們鼓勵人們遵守我們的申請要求。例如我們有字數限制,所以你需要確保在字數要求之內。另外我們只要求兩篇推薦信,我們也確信每個人如果想要的話一定能夠得到五封推薦信。你知道的,我們不建議申請者不遵守申請指導要求。我們理解每一個人都想與眾不同,但有一些與眾不同的方式是對的,有一些卻是不好的。

嚴婷: 你們做的每一個決定都可能改變一個人的一生,你們是否有時需要做出艱難的決定?

Dawna Levenson:
我們意識到我們所做的工作,正如你所說的是改變命運的,我事實上很喜歡這一點,我也經常提醒我們辦公室里的每一個人,尤其是閱讀申請材料的人,關於這一點。因為它確實可能改變一個人的命運。我很榮幸我的工作讓我能夠打電話給人們告訴他們被MIT Sloan錄取了。但有時這種對話也很艱難,比如要告訴他們這並不是最適合他們的地方,我們現在並不能錄取他們。這些都是工作的一部分,而我也比其他人更享受它們,當然我也認識到它的兩面性。

嚴婷:一些人被拒了,但他們可以再次申請獲得第二次機會。

Dawna Levenson: 
是的,非常對,我們確實鼓勵人們再次申請。再次申請的人在我們項目里都表現非常好。這是一個競爭異常激烈的地方,這里很可能暫時沒有一些人的位子,但一些人可能會在過去幾年里改進他們履歷從而提高資質。再次申請無疑是展示一個人的堅持不懈,它展示了一個人對目標的追求,即使在第一次沒有成功後仍然不放棄。所以我們確實錄取了一些再次申請的人們,他們在我們的項目中的表現都非常出色。

嚴婷:你們把申請者放入候補名單的常見原因是什麽?他們需要做什麽從而可以被錄取?

Dawna Levenson:
我們鼓勵在等待名單中的人在開放窗口期中(Open Window Period)告知我們的發生的任何新的情況。這並不意味著他們需要每天給我們寫電子郵件,但當比如他們得到了晉升或是換了工作等重大事情的發生的時候,請給我們發郵件,讓我們知曉,我們將會把信息加入你的檔案。

嚴婷:你對中國的申請者和學生有什麽普遍的印象?

Dawna Levenson:
我們每年都收到來自中國的申請數量都不錯,規模非常可觀。我們剛過第一輪的截止日期,這一次同樣也收到了很多申請。我們將要建立的這個班級是非常多元化的國際化班級。來自中國的學生表現都非常棒。我們樂見更多來自中國的申請者。

嚴婷: 你們是如何面試中國學生的?

Dawna Levenson:
當要面試時,我們到世界各地區。所以我們也去中國,到北京或上海,取決於面試的數量,這兩個地方都去。就我個人而言,我認為作為面試官第一的職責就是讓申請者感覺放松,因為這主要是想要了解另一個人。我為各種項目面試了很多中國申請者,他們都表現得非常棒。

嚴婷:你對中國申請者有什麽具體的建議嗎?

Dawna Levenson: 不,我的建議對每一個人來說都是一樣的,做你自己,在你的申請上花一些時間,面試是MIT Sloan對你的第一印象。盡量通過各種可能的方式來接觸我們,通過我們在你的國家舉辦的活動了解我們,或者你有機會直接來到學校參觀。

嚴婷:從行業角度來看,MBA教育在金融危機前後有什麽變化嗎?

Dawna Levenson:
我們觀察到,許多人對於尋求金融行業職業發展的興趣已明顯下降。我們有來自金融行業的學生,但很多人都是為了轉行。

嚴婷:談到轉行,你在埃森哲咨詢公司工作了18年但決定改變你的職業,走向一個全新的領域。為什麽你當初會做這樣的決定?你對其他想轉行的人有何建議?

Dawna Levenson:
是的,這個問題很有趣。我理解為什麽很多人認為這是一個很大的職業改變。但對我而言,我認為根據我自己的優勢,做我認為很有趣的工作,並不是一個很大的轉變。我當初知道,在某一時間我會離開埃森哲去幹一些別的事情,事實上長期以來我都知道我想要在一個學術環境中工作,我一直想回到大學校園。所以我在離開埃森哲開始在MIT工作的時候,我的目標是很明確的。我覺得我有一些非常容易轉變領域的技能。我在埃森哲學到了很多,關於項目管理和商業發展,個人發展,人際管理等。在我現在每天的工作中我仍然繼續依賴於這些技能。所以也不是那麽不同。我想提到的另一方面是我發現我自己喜歡處在有非常強的文化氛圍,在埃森哲如此,在MIT Sloan也是如此,都有非常強的文化,我很想成為其中的一部分。

嚴婷:你對MIT Sloan以及其他計劃改變職業領域的人有什麽建議嗎?

Dawna Levenson:
說起來比做起來更容易。我現在已完成職業轉變後,說起來就比較容易。我想說,要遵從你的本能。找到你擅長做的事、感興趣的事以及需要你這樣的能力的地方,這三者的結合點。集中精力在這一點上,並努力爭取,你將會找到你的下一個職業。這也正是我現在的情況。坦率的講,五年前我很難想象今天的我的樣子,如今也很幸運能成為今天的我。我也支持其他人在他們的生活中做出類似的職業選擇。

(實習編輯 戴博 對本文亦有貢獻)

(註:轉載請註明華爾街見聞和作者嚴婷)

英文版原文如下:

Interview with Dawna Levenson, director of the MBA & MFin admissions office at MIT Sloan School of Management

(By Ting Yan, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Wallstreetcn)

Ting Yan: We have just passed the round 1 application deadline (on Sep 23). You must have received tons of applications. Could you share some data on last year’s application and acceptance?

Dawna Levenson: 

Yeah, we did. So our current class is 406 students that made up of 50 Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) students, 356 2-year MBA students, a little under 40% female (39.4%), 60% US and 40% international. It is from 60 different countries around the world, so it is an incredibly diverse class. The years of working experience range goes from 0 to about 12 or so, and the average working experience is a little bit under 5. We have people coming from all different industries. So we get people from consulting, we get people from financial services and banking, but we also get people from the arts, we get people who are entrepreneurs starting their own companies. It really varies significantly.

Ting Yan: Every school has its stereotypes, and we know that these are not always accurate. Some say “MIT is for engineers who want to start-up businesses”. What do you think of this mindset? What do you want applicants to think of when they hear the name MIT Sloan? 

Dawna Levenson:  
MIT Sloan is definitely a part of MIT, in terms of the students, the people who are successful here, they really come from all different back grounds. Yes people who have science and engineering are more aware of MIT and therefore they tend to apply to our program. But we are not specifically seeking out just people with science engineering backgrounds, not at all.

Ting Yan: You are in charge of different programs in Sloan, are there any unique aspects of Sloan compared to other schools?  

Dawna Levenson:
We are sitting in this cafeteria with people from many different programs. You actually can get an undergraduate degree here at Sloan. We also have our one year Master of Finance program, one year Master of Science in Management Studies, two-year MBA that are largest and probably best-known program at Sloan. We have an executive MBA which is a part-time MBA program. We also have a Sloan fellows program and we also have a PhD program. So this is a variety of programs. What’s great about that is it attracts people with very different experience levels, so the classroom conversation and the networking in the community is really very rich and diverse.

Ting Yan: Regarding the application, could you briefly summerize the process first?

Dawna Levenson: Our application process is extremely straight forward. I will focus on MBA, but we tried very hard to standardize the process of different programs, so it is not that different for other programs. For the MBA, there are two required essays. We also ask for resume and we provide a resume template for you. We ask for two letters of professional recommendation. We ask for transcripts from all universities where you received a degree. And if you by chance did any kind of exchange, we want those grades too. And GMAT or GRE, and no TOEFL requirement at all, we then review all of our applications.

Ting Yan: Even for non-English speaking students?

Dawna Levenson: 
No, because the next step in the process, after you submit your application, is to be invited for an interview. The interviews are face to face, they are by invitation only, that are required next step. And we really feel strongly we rely on the interview to help us assess one’s English proficiency.

Ting Yan: I remember you used to ask for a cover letter,  why was the change?

Dawna Levenson: No more, we are constantly looking to change things. Some of them are simply because we want to experiment different things. You know, we found that it was a little bit redundancy in what people put in their cover letter and then put in their essay. So we decide to strip that out.

Ting Yan: What are the major changes in MBA application process this year?

Dawna Levenson: So I would say the biggest change is our second essay. To those of you who applied a year ago, you would remember that our second essay was “tell us about a time when you went beyond your comfort zone.” Our second essay this year is actually to ask our candidates to write a letter of recommendation on behalf of themselves, as if they were their current supervisor and we provide them the exactly same set of questions that we send to our recommenders. It is fun. We are excited.

Ting Yan: What’s the rationale behind this change?

Dawna Levenson: So there are several factors, one was simply we wanted to change it up to mirror what industry does. So in industry, people are asked to do self-assessment now more than in the past. Also the data, the way we structure our questions, and the data we are asking, the recommenders form is very much the data we are looking for in terms of people’s different competencies. So we thought why not ask somebody to write their own recommendation. I think it is very thought-provoking for the individuals.

Ting Yan: It also helps you to assess the competencies. I know you use a score system during selection. Do you still use it?

Dawna Levenson: So we do, our entire admission process is based on a behaviourial model where we are looking for certain competencies. Many years ago we worked with consultants to identify those four or five qualities that were prevalent in many successful both students as well as alumni. And we structure our essay questions as well as our recommender’s questions as well as our interviews to be able to garner data that support these competencies, for example leadership. So we are looking for evidence of leadership skills, and we look for evidence of relationship building just to give you a couple of examples.

Ting Yan: What are the other qualities?

Dawna Levenson: Besides leadership and relationship building, we want to see independence of thought, i.e. the ability of thinking outside of a box. And the persuit of goals, i.e. the ability to set and define goals, and actually go after them even if obstacles get in your way. And finally there is innovation. You know, we are MIT Sloan, and we’re always looking for people who are pursuing innovative ideas and thoughts, that’s something else that we evaluating.

Ting Yan: Interestingly, you don’t really ask for applicants’ career goals or future plans, why?

Dawna Levenson: We have found that a very large percentage of our two-year MBA students, once they come here, meet other people, see other opportunities get a feel for other industries, they change their minds. So it is not your career interests that make you successful here, but these other qualities we’ve talked about. They are the real key indicators for us, of success.

Ting Yan: Then how do you evaluate the candidates' potentials?

Dawna Levenson: There is a school of mind that says past performance is the best indicator of future success. That’s where we are lying on. We are looking for, in your past, evidence of relationship building. To me it is a great example, because it is so important to us. Mentoring, teambuilding, teaching, coaching, and these qualities don’t go away if it is something you were inheritably good at doing in the past three years, most likely you will continue to do it moving forward.

Ting Yan: In the application packages you actually receive a lot of things, the data, recommenders, extracurricular activities, essays. How do all the little pieces fit together for you?

Dawna Levenson: No part is more important than the other, we really look at all of the components of the application, we are pulling out certain data. We are actually evaluating all of our applicants on two dimensions. One is what we called demonstrated success, and the other is personal attributes. Demonstrated success includes your work success, your GMAT or GRE and your GPA. A lot of that information are self-reported, some of them come from your resume, some of them also come from your recommendation. On the other hand, we are looking at what we call personal attributes, these are the qualities that I talked about before, leadership, relationship building, etc. that come into play.

Ting Yan: What are the common mistakes that applicants should avoid?

Dawna Levenson: A common mistake or challenge that people are faced with are something we called “we vs. I” factor. We very much want to know what you as an individual did, on the other hand, we also want to know that you work well in teams. So striking the right balance in your essay using the word “we” versus the word “I”, is a very important thing to do. We encourage people to simply following the directions. We provide word limits, so you want to stay within the limits. We ask for two recommendations, we are sure that everybody is capable of getting five recommendations if you really want to. So you know, not following the guidelines is not something we recommend. We understand that everybody wants to stand out, but there are ways to stand out that are good, and there are ways that are not so good. 

Ting Yan: Every decision you make may change one’s life. Is there a time when you have to make a very difficult choice?

Dawna Levenson: We definitely realize that the work that we do as you mentioned is life changing, I actually really like that, I remind people in my office, and I remind people who read our applications about this all the time, because it really is life changing. It is a great privilege of my job to be able to call people and tell them if they get admitted to MIT Sloan, and at times it is challenging to have some different conversations with somebody to let them know that perhaps this is not the best place for them, we don’t have a spot for them. It is all part of the job, and they are certainly parts that I enjoy more than others, but I recognize that there are both sides to it.

Ting Yan: Some people get rejected but they may have a second chance and reapply.

Dawna Levenson: 
Yeah, absolutely, we encourage people to reapply, we do. Re-applicants do very well in our program. It is an incredibly competitive pool, and there may not be a space for an individual. But somebody may have improved their candidacy in their profile over the past year. Reapplying certainly shows persistence, it shows your interest it shows your pursuit of goal, your ability to find goals and pursue them even if they don’t work out for the first time. So we do admit people who are reapplicants, and they do very well in our program. 

Ting Yan: What are your common reasons to waitlist an applicant? What can they do to get off the wait list and get admitted?

Dawna Levenson: so people on the waitlist are encouraged to keep us informed of any changes that may happened during the open window period. It does not mean that they have to email us every day, but to the extent that if they get promotion, change of job, something significant happened. Please send us an email and let us know, we will add it to your file.

Ting Yan: What is your general impression of Chinese applicants and students? 

Dawna Levenson: We receive a healthy number of applicants from China every year, it is a large number, definitely significant. We just had our round one deadline, again we received a healthy number of applications from China. I think that the class we are trying to create here is in incredibly diverse global class. I think students in China are doing very well here, so that’s great, we would love to see even more people from China to apply.

Ting Yan: How do you conduct interviews for Chinese students?

Dawna Levenson: When it comes to the interview, we travel globally. So we come to China, we come to Beijing, Shanghai, depending on the number of interviews, we go to both of these cities. From me personally, the very first responsibility as the interviewer I have is trying to make the applicant feel relaxed, because again it is all about getting to one another. I have been interviewed many many applicants in China, with multiple programs here, they do very well.

Ting Yan: Do you have any specific advice for Chinese applicants?

Dawna Levenson: No, I think it is the same for everybody, be yourself, spend some time on your application. It is actually your first impression to MIT Sloan school. Reach out to us however you can, get to know people whether through the event we are holding in your country or if you have an opportunity to come here. 

Ting Yan: A more industry-level questions is, how has the MBA education changed before and after this financial crisis?

Dawna Levenson: We definitely have seen less interest of people in pursuing a career in finance. We have seen that. We have people coming from finance coming here, but many of them are career changers.

Ting Yan:  Talking of career change, you spent 18 years working for Accenture but decided to shift your career to a completely new and different path. Why did you make that decision? What are you advice to many career changers?

Dawna Levenson: Yes, it is interesting because I understand why somebody from outside would think it is a huge career change. For me personally, based on the strengths that I think I have, the type of work that I find interesting, it wasn’t such a big change. I knew that, at some point I would leave Accenture to do something else, and actually I had known for a very long time that I would want to work in an academic environment. I have always longed being in a university campus. So I was very focused at that time, when I decide to leave Accenture and work at MIT. I felt I brought a lot of very transferable skills with me. So I feel my work at Accenture I learned a lot about program and project management, about business development, personal development, and relationship management. These are all different skills that I continue to rely upon every day to do my job here. So not that different. The other thing I would like to say is that I found out about myself that I love to be in an environment with a very strong culture. And clearly both Accenture and MIT Sloan have very strong cultures that I also want to be in part of.

Ting Yan: Do you have any advice for those career changers at MIT Sloan and beyond?

Dawna Levenson: It is easier said than done. It’s easier to say now because I am on the other side. Follow your instincts. Figure out the intersection of what you are good at doing, what you are interested in doing and where there is a need. And at that point, really be focused and go for it, and you know you will find your next career. That’s exactly what I have ended up in. To be honest, five years ago it would be hard for me to imagine that I would be where I am today. And very fortunate that I am where I am. I encourage others to do similar things with their lives.

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Netflix叩開中國大門 愛奇藝內容“逼格”提升

中美在影視劇方面的合作近日又取得了里程碑式的突破。在版權內容方面持續投入的愛奇藝與美國流媒體網站奈飛(Netflix)已經達成內容許可協議,Netflix的原創劇內容將進入中國。

補全唯一的“殘缺”

Netflix內容收購副總裁Robert Roy在近日印尼的一場大會上宣布了該消息。消息公布後,Netflix股價大幅飆漲近6%,收盤創下152美元的歷史新高。愛奇藝股東百度股價也飆升3.7%,收於186.7美元。

“目前,愛奇藝與Netflix正在探討基於內容層面的相關合作,合作會嚴格遵守網上境外影視劇管理的有關規定,具體合作內容近期我們會正式公布。”愛奇藝在一份電子聲明中表示。不過公司相關人士未向第一財經透記者透露具體合作和分成模式。

Netflix的視頻服務遍布全球,該公司一年多以前就開始將其服務推向世界各國,目前已經進入130個國家,訂閱用戶規模上周末剛剛突破1億大關,但Netflix在中國並沒有直接進行投入業務以及內容合作。對Netflix來說,中國可以說是其唯一的“殘缺”。

Netflix CEO里德·哈斯廷斯(Reed Hastings)去年初就曾表示,計劃在中國市場推出其流媒體視頻服務,而且與中國監管部門的談判已經取得進展。通過此次合作,Netflix自制視頻內容將通過愛奇藝在中國同步或者接近同步上線,業內猜測,這部分內容或許將涉及到收費。

除了提供視頻流媒體服務外,Netflix近年來也逐漸推出了自制影視劇內容,比如知名的《紙牌屋》、《怪奇物語》等電視劇。

過去一年,Netflix原創節目內容時間超過600個小時,今年的目標是超過1000小時。Netflix首席內容官Ted Sarandos透露,過去一年有一半的用戶搜索來自Netflix Original的原創內容。未來Netflix還將推出多達42部原創劇,包括漫威動畫的《鐵拳》(Iron Fist)以及德魯-巴里摩爾的僵屍喜劇《Santa Clarita Diet》。

Netflix表示今年將在營銷方面投資10億美元吸引更多用戶。2016年,Netflix終止了與幾大主要內容制作方以及分銷商的合作,從線上撤下了幾百部影視劇,轉而開發自制原創內容。這一戰略的變化為Netflix贏得更多訂閱用戶,這也是新的競爭環境所迫。

哈斯廷斯說:“用戶的增長反映了全球觀眾對網絡電視的接受度大增以及對原創內容需求強勁的趨勢。觀眾不需要廣告的打擾,能夠隨時隨地看自己想看的內容。”為此,Hastings果斷切斷DVD點播服務,大力發展Netflix Original業務。

雖然Netflix在美國訂閱率市場占比接近一半,但陸續也有如亞馬遜Prime視頻、美國視頻網站hulu等流媒體視頻平臺出現。這些平臺也投入大量資金開發原創影音內容,成為Netflix的有力競爭對手。

亞馬遜去年推出的流媒體視頻業務Prime Video,覆蓋全球超過200個國家,而且以低於Netflix的訂費招攬觀眾。在前期推廣過程中,亞馬遜將給用戶提供半年的優惠期,直接將原價每月5.99美元的訂費降至2.99美元。用戶還有7日的免費試看期。而Netflix最基本的付費方案去年調漲至每月9.99美元。

據華爾街機構分析估算,亞馬遜每年在流媒體視頻業務上的研發費用約為30億美元,但在這一業務領域上,最關鍵的部分還是內容提供。亞馬遜制作的原創劇《透明人生》(Transparent)、《高堡奇人》(The Man in the High Castle)等以及剛上線的汽車節目《The Grand Tour》得到的市場反響良好,Prime Video業務有望幫助亞馬遜吸引全球更多的用戶。

而Netflix今年第二季度也將上映新一季的《女子監獄》、《紙牌屋》、《無為大師》等原創劇,這將讓公司的利潤再一次受到考驗。Netflix已經下調了盈利預期,不過表示,用戶數量將加速增長,今年可能開始盈利。Netflix目前每年收入大約112億美元。

Netflix表示今年在原創劇方面的投入將比去年再增加10億美元,達到60億美元。Netflix首席財務官David Wells此前表示今年的現金流赤字將達到20億美元,比去年的17億美元也有所增加。

國內原創劇的燒錢大戰

作為愛奇藝大股東的百度,今年提交給美國證券交易委員會(SEC)的文件顯示,2016年營收112.83億元,同比增長113%,高於分析師預估。虧損率為24.6%,比上一年45%的虧損率大幅縮減。財報稱,2016年愛奇藝的財務狀況得到了極大改善。

由於視頻網站較高的流量和內容成本,加上巨頭的爭奪,視頻網站普遍虧損嚴重。自2010年4月愛奇藝正式上線,到今年4月的7年里,愛奇藝一直在持續虧損。2013年到2016年,愛奇藝一共虧損了70億元,虧損額從2013年的7.43億元擴大至2016年27.7億元。

好消息是盡管愛奇藝的虧損每年擴大,但營收確實比虧損增長更快,虧損比例也在下降,運營情況有所好轉。營收的高速增長主要是因為會員,直播,遊戲聯運等非廣告收入在快速增長。根據愛奇藝2016年6月的數據,愛奇藝的會員突破了2000萬人。

過去十年中,中國視頻網站的格局也發生了翻天覆地的變化,形成今天愛奇藝,騰訊視頻,優酷土豆三足鼎立之勢的同時,樂視,芒果,PPTV,搜狐視頻也在悄然發力。

世界摔跤娛樂(WWE)去年6月與蘇寧旗下的PPTV簽署協議,授權PPTV獨家轉播兩場WWE比賽。但是國外視頻進入中國仍然面臨很大的挑戰,無論是迪士尼電視頻道DisneyLife還是蘋果iTunes的相關視頻內容服務,都被擋在門外。

愛奇藝要和阿里和騰訊旗下的視頻網站競爭也已異常艱難。自制原創劇是其今年的戰略重點。愛奇藝CEO龔宇去年10月時宣布,愛奇藝今年將斥資100億元人民幣購買和制作“超級網絡劇”。愛奇藝首席內容官王曉暉曾向第一財經記者透露:“2016年愛奇藝自制內容超60部,同比增長200%。其中自制劇增長翻了近5倍。”

在中國網絡平臺上,80%的用戶都在看中國的電視劇和電影。此前,愛奇藝已經和華納兄弟和獅門娛樂簽署協議在網絡發行電影,愛奇藝將獲得包括《指環王》系列、《地心引力》、《哥斯拉》等影片的獨家版權。

不過,即使和愛奇藝合作,Netflix仍然會發現真要進入中國,它要面對的競爭格局遠比看起來的更為複雜。

首先,Netflix的好萊塢特色在中國已經不具有優勢。國內的騰訊視頻早已在2013年初與華納兄弟、環球、米拉麥克斯、獅門等好萊塢知名電影公司達成合作協議,在好萊塢影院中推出付費會員服務。阿里巴巴則希望憑借Tmall Box Office(TBO),進軍流媒體視頻領域; 樂視也開始原創自制劇,並向上拓展至硬件。

因此,為原創內容燒錢在中國會演變為來自BAT等大財團的一場“你死我活”的戰爭。愛奇藝依歸百度;騰訊視頻依靠微信和QQ的無敵用戶;優酷土豆和華數傳媒均背靠阿里巴巴。現在,愛奇藝、土豆、優酷將三分之一的預算花在自制劇上,盡管這些投入與Netflix相比,僅為幾十分之一。

當然,在這場戰役中,愛奇藝優勢相對明顯。《盜墓筆記》為愛奇藝贏得了200萬會員。此外,愛奇藝已經將人工智能和深度學習法則運用到網絡視頻制作中,將提高用戶數據的分析能力。

Counterpoint分析師閆占孟對第一財經記者表示:“Netflix是美國最有實力的內容制作商,如果能進入中國,將為未來類似的合作提供模板。另一方面,這對中國視頻網站發展有好處,因為中國人很喜歡美劇,能讓他們通過付費的方式更加方便地獲取好的內容,也會提升愛奇藝內容方面的實力。”不過他同時表示,Netflix進入中國的內容無疑會受限。

Netflix 叩開 中國 大門 愛奇 奇藝 內容 逼格 提升
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