Top Feeder Companies to Harvard B-School

by John A. Byrne on

What to increase your chances of getting into the Harvard Business School? Go to work for a top consulting firm. The top five feeder companies for Harvard’s Class of 2013 are McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., Boston Consulting Group, Booz and Deloitte–all prestige management consulting shops that also heavily recruit MBAs from Harvard. Those five firms alone account for more than 17% of the incoming class at HBS this fall.

Also among the top ten feeder organizations are Google, JPMorgan/Chase, Goldman Sachs, the U.S. Army, and Citigroup. The U.S. military is fairly well represented with an estimated total of 23 students from the Army, Navy and Marines.

Of the top 25 organizations sending the most employees to Harvard, there’s not a single non-profit other than the World Bank. Financial firms, from the mega-banks to the private equity shops, tend to dominate the top list with 11 spots among the top 25 feeder companies. Among the private equity players are Blackstone Group, TPG Partners, Summit Partners, and the Caryle Group. This is despite the fact that class profile statistics recently published by Harvard’s admissions office showed a decline of seven percentage points in finance types, year over year. Admits from private equity and venture capital fell to 13 percent from 18 percent a year earlier, while those from the investment banking and investment management fields dropped to 12 percent from 14 percent. The fact that financial employers still loom so large in the incoming class is testament to how large the intake of these applicants remains.

Nine of the top 25 feeder companies are consulting firms which represent the second largest industry from which Harvard is getting students. Google and Microsoft are the only two high tech companies in the group.

The data was collected from the Facebook page for the Class of 2013. Poets&Quants was able to identify and confirm the work backgrounds of some 566 members of the group. We then used that sample to estimate the number of students from any one institution in the full class of 918 first-year MBAs.

Of course, the pedigree of one’s work experience is just one of many factors used by admissions to decide whether to admit or deny an applicant. Unlike GMAT scores, grade point averages, however, it’s one of the more mysterious factors because no B-school publicly discloses the companies that employed their admits. Yet, the company on an applicant’s resume can loom large in an admissions decision, often given far more consideration than most admissions directors will admit along with where an applicant received his undergraduate degree (see Getting Into Wharton: Does College & Work Pedigree Trump Merit?).

“School and job pedigree count more than schools would like to publicize because the mythology of admissions is that everyone starts equal, and schools are open to all comers,” says Sanford Kreisberg, an MBA admissions consultant who runs “But schools are not equally open to all comers, and job pedigree especially can be critical, even more so than schooling. You are not getting into Harvard Business School or Wharton from the local bakery or real estate office.”

Harvard’s top 25 feeder companies is not all that disimilar from Wharton’s top group. Some 16 of the top 25 organizations at Harvard are also represented among Wharton’s top 25 feeder companies. Organizations who make the Harvard list but not Wharton are Citigroup, TPG Partners, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Summit Partners, Carlyle Group, Lockheed Martin, Shell, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Marines.

(See next page for table of the top 25 feeder companies for Harvard Business School’s Class of 2013).

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  • BenjaminFranklin100ftw

    I agree with this – quality control in input data is essential, and a disclaimer must accompany any serious journalist’s article.

    Moreover, they need to be careful in removing any subjective comments that are open to interpretation. Present the facts and let the readers make of them what they will.

  • Interesting

    i havent noticed this before but now that I look at it, it does seem W gets no attention on this site at all

  • Sagar Virmani

    One questions about this:
    Does the concept of feeder companies apply only to the mentioned locations or does it also apply to other locations in the world too?

    For example, what if a person is a part of McKinsey at India office or Singapore office. Would it still be called a feeder company?
    How would B schools treat this experience?

  • JohnAByrne

    Yes, both firms are tallied.

  • JohnAByrne

    Yes. In many non-U.S. Countries, the competition for some of these jobs is even stronger. So it not only counts, it could sometimes count more.

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