Do You Have The Right Stuff To Get In?

The first woman in her family to graduate from college, this 26-year-old works as a lending analyst at a large regional bank. She now wants to get an MBA to achieve an ambitious goal: to become the chief financial officer of a Fortune 500 company.

He’s a 32-year-old U.S. Army Captain currently deployed in Afghanistan as a planning officer. He hopes an MBA degree will help him transition into the private sector and a job in investment banking or sales and trading.

With undergraduate and master’s degrees in economics, this 26-year-old Indian woman now works in private banking at a U.S. bulge bracket firm. But her goal is to use the MBA to break into investment banking in Asia.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

In this column, the 24th edition of our highly popular handicapping series, Kreisberg is his usual witty and irreverent self. His blunt message to one applicant with visions of Harvard dancing in his head: “Your jobs are off the beaten path and your goals are too narrow…There is nothing driving you into the school in terms of stardust.”

To another applicant worried about how his undergraduate degree in history will play with MBA admission directors, Kreisberg advises that “business schools are probably the last bastions in America–aside from the corrupt and sincecured and  geriatric professoriate themselves–that still buy into the now desiccated wet dream that Liberal Arts is great preparation for a career in business.”

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s honest and entertaining assessments:

Ms. CFO Wannabe

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.1 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance, marketing and international business from a Big 10 school
  • Work experience includes three years as a commercial lending analyst at large regional bank
  • Extracurricular involvement as a college athlete who spent a semester abroad; held lots of leadership positions and volunteer experience with boys and girls’ club-type programs teaching financial literacy
  • First in family to go to grad school and first woman to complete undergraduate degree
  • Goal: “Want an MBA to become CFO of a Fortune 500 company”
  • 26-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 15%
Chicago: 30-35%
Northwestern: 30-35%
Duke: 30-40%
NYU: 40+%
Berkeley: 25%

Sandy’s Analysis: Lots to like and your story all fits together which is a plus.  The low GPA and non-prestige job are your big drawbacks. Have you thought of what is called in this game, “developing an alternative transcript,” which usually means taking several courses at local colleges, either over the summer or at night. In a pinch, you could take these courses online, although IMHO online courses are not valued as much. People usually take ‘harder’ courses like stats, accounting, calculus, microeconomics, etc., and if you already took those, try the next level up. (You seem smart enough).

The idea is to show the schools that you are serious, so serious, you are willing to go through this hassle of taking those classes. Well, that would be the idea for you, since you have an anchor GMAT score.  For other applicants with both low GPA and low-ish GMAT scores, taking courses shows that you actually can do the work.  Even with an alternative transcript of some kind, I’d say you’d be a reach at Wharton. Too many applicants like you with better GPA, more elite schooling,  and better jobs with similar GMATs.

At Kellogg and Chicago, you could be in the hunt, since both of those places are open to your compelling personal story (athlete, extras, etc.) and your goals are a tight fit with your past. You might think about saying you are interested in regional banking as well, or just plain big banking. You have the background for it.   Tuck would be a good reach as well. You’re their type, totally.  As noted here before, you need to rush them like a Sorority: visit, make friends, etc. Duke, Darden (which you don’t mention) Cornell (also worth thinking about), NYU and Berkeley are worth applying to. An alternative transcript of two or four courses between now and when you apply would really help meet those places half-way.

  • LowGPAFool

    740 GMAT (46Q/46V,5AWR,8IR)

    2.3 Undergrad GPA from average university (explanation: grades suffered due to distraction of terminally ill parent)

    28 year old American female

    5 years of work experience – currently (and for last 1.5 years) head of operational finance for a software startup recently valued at $150mil, 90 employees in 7 countries, managed growth from 20 employees to current size, experience with PE capital raise with major PE firm, up for promotion in the next 3-6 months; prior to that spent 1.5 years as regional finance manager for a telecom handling $300mil/yr in my region, went from 2 to 35 direct reports, promoted 3 times; spent first two years of career in regional CPA firm specializing in privately held construction and technology companies

    Extracurriculars – Board gaming (including some local tournament wins), state and county polital party executive board member, treasurer of county political party auxiliary group, certified in campaign finance reporting, volunteer at local nonprofit in resume lab, congressional intern in undergrad. I generally work 60-80 hours a week, so I don’t have alot of time for extras…

    Career goals – I’m a little fuzzy here, to be honest, but given my work history I’m thinking about something along the lines of consulting for rapidly growing companies to ease growing pains related to rapid expansion and using that experience to eventually move into a COO role at a mid-sized or large multinational. I’ve built a pretty solid career on being able to use my natural deductive and inductive reasoning skills to solve problems, but lack in fundamental “business” knowledge (i.e. during this capital raise, I’ve spent countless hours Google-ing investment jargon to translate what our investment bankers were saying). I’m also interested in using the MBA experience to become more “global.”

    Looking at Booth, Yale, Insead, LBS, Cambridge, HEC, ESADE, and IE. Also Duke and UNC as I’m local to them. LBS or Yale are my “dream” schools, but I’m seriously concerned that the GPA and lack of corporate pedigree will do me in. Any other school suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Also, a note on my GMAT – due to work obligations, I was unable to prepare much leading up to the test. I think if I took it again I could improve to at least a 760, but I’m not sure if there is much of a difference between a 740 and 760, adcom-wise.

    P.S. Your column is great! Even when a profile is completely dissimilar from mine, there is almost always some sort of universally applicable information that I find very valuable.

  • guest

    HI Sandy

    720 GMAT

    GPA: Among top 15 % in class.Graduate in Business.

    7 years in National Carrier as Flight Crew

    Regular interaction with more than 10 departments on a given day of different countries.Leading new team members everyday .Crew for head of the state.

    Handled and being constantly groomed for handling uncertain exigencies involving human life and property..e.g.hijack,bomb on board,medical emergency,abnormal landings etc..

    In possession of  pilot license from 3 countries.

    Extra Curricular: Involved with an organisation for last 5 years working for  girl child education and stopping child marriages.Educating people in remote villages about importance of  basic necessities like clean water etc. and fighting for  their fundamental rights.

    Post MBA: 
    Short Term :Planning to do strategic consulting and eventually join and run an airline in my country which is one the fastest growing market for aviation.

    Long term : To contribute in policy formulation for the aviation sector my country which is by global standards primitive and unorganized e g. for new and old airports,passengers,investigation of incidents and accidents etc.

    30 years  Indian Male
    Target Schools: 

    HBS
    WHARTON
    MIT 
    LBS 
    INSEAD/BOOTH
    TUCK/KELLOGS/COLUMBIA

    Please evaluate my profile and advise on the schools I should be targeting.

  • RainbowWarrior23

    Hi Sandy,

    730 GMAT
    3.75 at Duke, NROTC
    Cum Laude (top 20% of 1400, does class rank matter?)
    Economics (with Distinction) & International Comparative Studies (European concentration), French minor

    Had a paper on the first public homosexual communities published in an Ivy Historical Review

    Fluent in French, Spanish, Hindi

    Dream Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia

    Current Employment:

    Surface Warfare Officer United States Navy working in the Office of Strategic Planning, Pentagon

    Prior: Navigator on a Destroyer out of Rota, Spain responsible for Ballistic Missile Defense. 2 years on an Amphibious Transport doing Marine operations/transportation & Humanitarian Relief in Asia

    Internship at GE during undergrad

    Extracurriculars: President of my Fraternity at Duke, Research Assistant at Fuqua in the Strategy Department during undergrad (3 years), Associate Director of LGBT Affairs & significant LGBT community involvement, won leadership award as best leader in my freshman class

    post-U I’ve continued to be involved in LGBT organizations, most notably organizing a post-DADT 5k with 1000 attendees, mentorship with local High School GSAs, political activism with local congressmen

    Goal: CEO of a Fortune 500 firm by 50, more immediately I’d like to get into international business working with large firms on glocal synergy (extensive experience in Europe, especially France-studied abroad at the Sorbonne-, and India) or go into consulting 
    Essay: Counseling gay service members during & post-DADT, the human side of the military and the importance of the heart and the fist (decisiveness, not assault) tandem in leading my division 

    27 year-old white gay white male (very conservative midwestern upbringing, father is welder, mention background as part of gay/mil essay?)

  • Rocket Scientist

    I forgot to add that I just took my GMAT last week – and I turned in a 770. My undergrad GPA – 9/10, and my grad GPA 3.75/4.

    Thanks!

  • Rocket Scientist

    Hi Sandy,

    I turn 32 this month – so I’ll be 33 when I start B school in 2013.

    I have an undergrad degree from IIT Madras, and a PhD from Stanford in Aerospace Engineering. I’m very keen on starting my own company in India – a technology meets business kinda venture. Not something pure tech, like Intel or Microsoft. Neither something pure business like a retail company. I want to be able to commercialize simple technology to benefit society.

    I worked first for a small research firm in the US, writing SBIR grant proposals to the US Federal agencies, some of which were awarded – followed it up with research and execution. My passion for startups lead me on from there to a small startup in Austin where we wrote software that could help save energy required to cool huge data centers. My desire to move to the subcontinent then brought me back to India, and ironically enough to a large US automobile company. Here I work with the Research division, where I try to impact the next generation technology that goes into the automobile.

    Would appreciate an evaluation of my chances at Stanford/Harvard and INSEAD/IMD.

  • Green Beaner

    Following suit with many of the previous posts.
    Military – Army Special Forces “green beret” – 7 years because of the extra job commitment
    Multiple Iraq deployments, led over 140 Iraqi Special Operation Soldiers, worked first hand with Sheiks and tribal leaders to solve local probems
    Intern – Dept. of Finance – State of Ohio
    BS Finance Ohio State – 3.63 GPA
    GMAT – 730
    Trying to change to IB
    Thinking H/S/W and Chicago

  • Said Mohammad

    Went to State school GPA is 2.8, willing to take all 4 of the classes I received a D in over again from local colleges if that would help with MBA schools.

    GMAT is a 690

    First and unfortunately only person in my family, including my parents to graduate high school and college.

    Fluent in Arabic, my background is Palestinian, I lived in Jordan for 5 years. Parents are Palestinian refugees. I am also a documented Palestinian refugee with UNRWA and I have the chutzpah to milk the heck out of this one. I took the NYU Arabic exam and received 12 credits which was applied towards my foreign language credit at my State college. They accepted those credits.

    Managed a small generic pharmaceutical wholesale company for 6 years. The number of employees was 8, including the telecommuting ones. I was able to increase sales by 50% throughout those 6 years.

    Currently managing an independent retail pharmacy since we sold the above business.

    I also run my own website which involves personal shopping and international shipping to customers in the Middle East.

    I have for the past month been volunteering with a foundation that teaches English to immigrants not applying until next year so this will go on.

    I want to receive an MBA so that I can work for an American company that does business in the Middle East or start my own consulting company for American businesses that want to do business the Middle East.

    Born in Jordan, lived in NYC for most of my life, inner-city.

    29 years old and completely bald. 🙂

  • FutureMBA

    -710 GMAT
    -3.66 GPA
    -Undergraduate Economics Degree from Cornell
    -2 Years experience at Booz & Co in London
    -Dual Citizen (US & Poland), 3 Languages
    -Extracurricular: Crew
    -167 LSAT (95th percentile; not applying for dual degree)
    -Strong professional and academic recommendations
    -Strong history of sending colleagues to target schools
    -24 years old, Male, very unique ethnic makeup, though technically “Caucasian” by US metrics

    Targets: HBS, Stanford, Columbia, Wharton, NYU, MIT

  • Prashant

    I wrote a rather short comment which might not paint a full picture. Here are my stats again.
    24 year old Indian Male. Lived in remote tribal Mountain areas throughout childhood in combat zone(Army fighting terrorists, terrorists resorted to extortion, etc).
    *760 GMAT
    *6.9/10 GPA on 10 point scale; class topper stood at 9.5/10, 19 students out of 60 stood in the range 7-9.5/10
    *Undergraduate degree in Computer Science from an NIT in India which are the premier institutes after IITs.
    *Work experience includes position at Accenture for two years.
    *Did part time jobs to support education. Taught English courses (unexpected of an Engineer)
    *Very interested in Psychology, applied at some colleges for distance learning. Want to pursue research in the field.
    *Extra Curricular: Participated and won in State level Quiz competitions, participated in a state level Science Seminar at the age of 10, Awards in Business Plan competitions at IITs, participated in a Regional News Telecast of Bureaucratic Corruption practices. Some other extras include(don’t know if they matter much): Taught Languages senior citizens for 2 months at Literacy center, member of College magazine.
    *Career goals: Starting business venture after gaining insights in Management with MBA and post-MBA job. More importantly than providing a good career uplift MBA will provide me with sound skills and networks.
    *Target Schools: H/S/W, Kellogg, Tuck,Columbia, Booth, MIT.

  • Gone Surfing

    Sandy, huge fan of these articles. Thank you for your help

    GMAT: Taking it this summer
    UNDERGRAD: BS in Political Science w/ Honors from Carnegie Mellon, 3.75 GPA
    -Finished in 3 yrs, awarded top graduating student award from department
    2nd UNDERGRAD: BS in Math, Temple Univ., 3.62 GPA
    -Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, again named as an outstanding graduate
    -Earned this in 2 years, at the time considering an Economics PhD
    WORK: Surface Warfare Officer, US Navy
    -Deployed 3 times in the past 3 years, managing up to 70 personnel and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. Deployments sent me travelling through much of Asia and the Middle East
    -First (and only one) in my family to join military, something very different for second generation Indian-American
    EXTRACURRICULARS: Various small volunteer projects with Surfrider Oahu, United Way, etc. Conversant in German and Tamil.
    GOALS: Loved the dynamic and tech-driven nature of Carnegie Mellon, but I don’t see it in the Navy. I want to study how companies, particularly in Silicon Valley (hint, hint), foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship- specifically strategic and organizational management. I would like to put this into practice at a top consulting firm, and eventually, go back in to government to change the Navy, and perhaps more broadly change how foreign and defense policy is made.
    -28 year old Indian-American male

    TARGETS: Applying for a dual degree program, MBA and MA in Intl Relations. Not sure how this affects my chances.
    -Stanford
    -Wharton
    -Dartmouth
    -Chicago
    For the Masters, also applying to
    -Princeton Woodrow Wilson School
    -Johns Hopkins SAIS
    -Harvard Kennedy School

  • Hi Sandy,

    I am Kunal from Mumbai, India. I had a few questions regarding my chances at the schools I fancy. I’d be really glad if you could help me out.
    I am a 25 year old male, currently employed with Halliburton Offshore Services( Oil & Gas Sector). My current designation is M/LWD Engineer. Most people wouldn’t know what that means or what the work involves. Basically we provide services for Directional drilling of oil and gas wells. My job is to prepare tools that are sent downhole for the evaluation of the well conditions while drilling. So in a nutshell we evaluate the well while drilling and try to take the well to it’s target. My job involves technical work as well as handling the entire operation on field. There are times we are required to pitch to the clients to increase the revenue by means of using advanced tools. I have been with Halliburton for around 16months. Before moving to Halliburton I was with a company called ITS Energy Services ( Another Oil field company). I worked in different roles at ITS as part of my training and was later promoted as Sales Engineer. I worked with ITS for 10months. I was dealing with a lot of people from the oil field, so I decided I needed to work hands on to get the right feel of this sector. At Halliburton I am the Project Lead and I manage a group of 6-10 people from Halliburton and also oversee the operations which include crew from the client side. I graduated from the University of Mumbai in 2009, where I majored in Mechanical Engineering. I don’t know my exact GPA, but it should be between 3.2-3.3. I was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities in college. I was the President of MESA (Mechanical Engineers Students’ Association) and also the Event Head for several college festivals. I used to participate in Intercollegiate quizzes ( Won 1 and 2nd in another 1). I was part of the college cricket team and also participated in Intercollegiate Fashion shows. My first attempt of GMAT yielded a 690 ( Way below my average practice test score of 730). I intend to retake it and get 720+ ( Fingers crossed).
    Now on the B-school front, I would like to apply to schools like Yale, Tuck, Darden, Ross, Mc Combs, Duke and Kellogg. HBS would be a blind 1st choice, but I am unsure of my chances. I would like to do an MBA in General Management. My goal is to work for an oil major like Exxon, Chevron or BP in Corporate strategy or Business strategy. I feel that I have the base in the Oil field and would like to grow in a role in business strategy. I would like to apply for the 2013-15 batch. So total work experience by then would be around 42-44 months.
    I would like to know my chances at these schools and any other schools that might fit my profile according to you.

    In a nutshell

    -GMAT 690( will be retaking)
    -Working for Halliburton
    -Total experience at matriculation 46 months.
    -Mechanical Engineer from Mumbai University.
    -GPA 3.2-3.3.

    Career Goals:
    – To get into corporate strategy or business strategy for oil majors like Exxon, Chevron. ( I already have worked in the oil field and wish to take it to the next level)
    – Long term goal is my own start up of consultancy for mid level oil field companies to break the plateau and grow further.

    Target Schools:
    Yale
    Mc Combs
    Darden
    Tuck
    Ross
    ISB
    Harvard( long shot)
    Kellogg
    Teper.

    what do you think my chances are at these schools?

    Thanks a lot…

  • José

    Hi Sandy, below my information.

    I am 26. I am male. I live in Argentina.

    GMAT: 750

    GPA: My university dont have GPA, but I am in the top 8% of the school.
    I studied Economy in the best university of Argentina, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), please google it. As a reference, UBA has 4 nobel prizes. I finished last year (our college is 6 years here). I started at 20.

    Work Experience: American Express, 5 and a half years. I started as a junior doing elemental things, after 3 years they gave me a team, and now I have 3 teams in charge. An operational one, another wich retains clients that wants to cancel the card, and the last of acquisition campaigns. I have won several prizes at Amex, including: Will to Win Award, Customer Service Award, Outstanding Achievements Award (regional prize). Also, I was nominated by Latam region to the Worldwide Customer Service Award two times, and to the Chairman Award of Innovation once.

    Extracurricular: I have lead a basquetball team. We won the local tournament 2 times, the regional tournament 2 times, and the national tournament once. Also, I teached guitar lessons for 3 years. I studied guitar 6 years and music composition 3 years.

    I wanna apply to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Kellog, Tuck, NYU. If you think that my profile may fit with another one just let me know.

    My goal is to get in at management consulting, in a top firm as BCG, Bain or McKinsey.

    Thanks a lot, José

  • AKH

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my post!

    Here are my core stats:
    – 700 GMAT (will be retaking)
    – 3.25 GPA (have taken two courses since and gotten As)
    – Degrees in biology and economics from Brown
    – 5 years in healthcare strategy consulting (3 years at boutique, 2 at a major management consulting firm); track history of excellent performance/reviews, team leadership, and client satisfaction
    – Intending on getting sponsorship from my current firm, and will come in post-MBA at a senior management position (1 position ahead of the typical MBA hire)
    – Heavily involved in extracurriculars in college (multiple mentoring positions, leadership positions, and volunteer programs) and outside of college (mentoring, heavy involvement in alumni activities/mentoring, volunteer programs)
    – Goal of MBA is to develop even more solid leadership and networking skills and to broaden my knowledge base beyond business strategy, solidifying my path to Partner at a major management consulting firm

    I am wondering what my chances are at:
    – Wharton
    – Kellogg
    – NYU
    – Booth
    – Duke

    Thanks again for your help!

  • Ritz Chu

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    720 GMAT
    3.16 GPA in Management Engineering (honors course where top 20% in the entrance exam are the only ones accepted and only 60% passing rate)at #1 University in the Philippines
    Graduated in the top 20% of the whole batch.

    Passed the CFA level 1 exam placing in the top bracket in all topics (passing rate at 30%)

    Passed the Insurance Commission Licensure Exam

    Worked as an AVP in the number one onion distribution company in the Philippines for one year optimizing both financial and operations and eliminating waste by 40% all this while under the load of debt to asset ratio of 60%

    Now working as the COO of the company after the first year and managing the expansion of the company and dealing with CEOs of different countries serving as the suppliers for the different materials of the cold storage facility.

    The background of the experience is under the cloud of constant power struggle by the board of directors and the owners of the company as well as security concerns due to shooting incidents involving my cousin who is an employee of the company.

    23 years old, Minority Chinese.

    I want to take up JD/MBA joint degree to pursue reforms in the import and export industry dealing with smuggling of goods that affect the local industry of vegetables. Furthermore, I want to clean up the farms that house the rebels posing danger to the distributors. Finally I want to give justice to my cousin who got shot by defending the case that is still in the processing phase.

    Sorry for the spam my net is a little choppy.

  • Ritz Chu

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    720 GMAT
    3.16 GPA in Management Engineering (honors course where top 20% in the entrance exam are the only ones accepted and only 60% passing rate)at #1 University in the Philippines
    Graduated in the top 20% of the whole batch.

    Passed the CFA level 1 exam placing in the top bracket in all topics (passing rate at 30%)

    Passed the Insurance Commission Licensure examination

    Worked as an AVP in the number one onion distribution company in the Philippines for one year optimizing both financial and operations and eliminating waste by 40% all this while under the load of debt to asset ratio of 60%

    Now working as the COO of the company after the first year and managing the expansion of the company and dealing with CEOs of different countries serving as the suppliers for the different materials of the cold storage facility.

    The background of the experience is under the cloud of constant power struggle by the board of directors and the owners of the company as well as security concerns due to shooting incidents involving my cousin who is an employee of the company.

    23 years old, Minority Chinese.

  • Ritz Chu

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    720 GMAT
    3.16 GPA in Management Engineering (honors course where top 20% in the entrance exam are the only ones accepted and only 60% passing rate)at #1 University in the Philippines
    Graduated in the top 20% of the whole batch.

    Passed the CFA level 1 exam placing in the top bracket in all topics (passing rate at 30%)

    Worked as an AVP in the number one onion distribution company in the Philippines for one year optimizing both financial and operations and eliminating waste by 40% all this while under the load of debt to asset ratio of 60%

    Now working as the COO of the company after the first year and managing the expansion of the company and dealing with CEOs of different countries serving as the suppliers for the different materials of the cold storage facility.

    The background of the experience is under the cloud of constant power struggle by the board of directors and the owners of the company as well as security concerns due to shooting incidents involving my cousin who is an employee of the company.

    23 years old, Minority Chinese.

  • Future Museum Leader?

    Sandy and John,

    I think I have a weird one for you, and I can’t figure out if it is unusual enough to be an advantage or more-than-a-long-shot. Here goes:

    I’ve worked in the same major NYC art museum in an administrative and research capacity for 5 years, with promotions and increasing responsibility ever since being hired after undergrad. While working full-time, I’ll have soon completed my MA (art history, possibly the best program in its field). My advisement team has been very pleased with my progress (I contributed writing and content-development to a couple of exhibitions and I’m confident I’ll publish my MA thesis) and have encouraged me to start getting together PhD applications, but I’m envisioning a less curatorial, more executive route.

    My dream school is Tuck (grew up in Hanover, was beneficiary of initiatives like Tuck-sponsored project WISE as a child and am eager to give back to my community, have personal and professional attachment to the college’s art museum) but I’ll also be applying to the slightly off-the-radar although trail-blazing John F. Kennedy University’s dual MA-MBA Museum Studies program.

    740 GMAT
    3.5 Graduate GPA (art history)
    3.0 Undergrad (English Lit) at a virtually unheard-of NYC liberal arts college
    Undergrad extracurricular activities include founding literary club, president of Sigma Tau Delta (International English Honor Society), and also some LGTB work, though no heavy-lifting,
    Work experience includes 5+ years in major NYC art museum
    Teaching Assistant (1 semester) for an art history survey course
    Goal: (obviously an long-long-term goal) Director, Deputy Director or Development Officer of a college art museum in New England (The Collection at the Hood has a particular strength in my area of specialization…)

    Thanks so much, in advance, for any guidance you might be able to offer.

  • Ms Future Biotech CEO

    I’ve been following this series for a while now, it is great!

    730 GMAT
    3.5 GPA

    Undergraduate double major at UC Berkeley – Haas Business & Psychology

    Work Experience: 5 years as a financial analyst split between 2 Fortune 500 companies, I have done roles in Budgeting, Cost Analysis, and am currently doing FP&A.

    Some extra curricular experience during and post college, including Executive Committee in my Sorority & a year volunteering with a non-profit post college, but nothing right now.

    Goal: transition from Finance at a tech company to Product Management or Business Development at a Biotech company. I am currently working towards a Biotech Certificate through an extension program to boost my biotech exposure and the MBA will facilitate a double transition (industry & function). I am looking to initially start in Biotech probably in the Product Management or Business Development and work my way up to be a General Manager of a division, etc.

    27, White, Female

    Targets:
    Kellogg MMM
    Harvard
    Wharton
    Stanford
    Booth
    Stern

  • hope4best

    Dear Sandy, John….Please help with my profile.
    Age:25
    Nationality:Indian Male
    Undergrad: Electrical Engineering from reputed tech school in India (not IIT)
    GPA:3.1 (Top 20% in class of 70)
    GMAT:730

    Work Experience: 1.5 yrs in purchase/supply chain in the largest automobile manufacturer in India.Responsible for developing new vendors for automotive parts.
    2 years in production deptt. Involved in setting up of production line

    Extracurriculars: student council vice-president during college.
    Helped obtain fund for various cultural events in my undergrad institute after passing out of college.
    Involved in an NGO for teaching kids in rural areas.

    Goal: To continue working in supply chain field or switch to Management consulting.

    Target Schools: Harvard
    Stanford
    Wharton
    Booth
    Kellog
    TUCK
    Haas
    Ross

  • AJ

    Sandy,

    Many thanks for an invaluable service. Love your style. How many As did you give when you taught Expos @ Harvard?

    Bio:

    – 28 year-old, african-american male
    – public school student from small southern town

    Academics:

    – 670 GMAT (converted from GRE: 740 V, 650 Q; could easily raise Q to 700+, which would put me at converted 700 GMAT)
    – 2.8 Undergrad GPA in liberal arts from an Ivy (didn’t adjust well to college in big city; picked it up in second half of schooling)
    – 3.8 Grad GPA in education policy from an Ivy (once had career focus, really turned it on)

    Work Experience:

    – 1 year in the film industry
    – 2 years in admin/teaching role @ high-end tutoring company (found focus here: worked w/ low-income/rich kids. saw achievement gap up close and personal, got pissed, and decided to devote my professional life to closing it)
    – 1 year in AmeriCorps role @ high-performing, inner-city charter school
    – (grad school)
    – 3 years at State Department of Education w/ nationally recognized Commissioner. Led overhaul of office engaged in politically controversial work: crafted strategic plan, wrote regulations, and developed systems that affected thousands of kids. Typically someone in my role has 3+ years leadership experience on top of teaching for a 5+ years. Routinely have difficult conversations–internally and externally–with people twice my age.

    Career goal:

    To play a leadership role in an organization that supports educators in executing their visions for achievement-gap-closing schools. Huge, but it’s really two paths: 1) Ops – helping educators build effective, accountable organizations and 2) Ecosystem – creating the policy conditions for educators to be able to do great things. On either path–which I’ll bounce back and forth from…and this is common in my corner of the ed reform world– the key to success is overcoming business challenges. 100 million great ideas in education; not a lot of implementation savvy to actually pull them off. B-school will give me the foundation to lead organizations that help school leaders block and tackle well.

    Schools:
    Stanford Joint MBA/MA Ed, NYU MBA, Cornell AMBA, MIT/HKS joint, Vanderbilt MBA, Columbia MBA

    Thanks!!!

  • Clown

    Off topic here, but I found this on Tuck’s FAQs:

    “The admissions committee takes into consideration your highest test score. The Tuck application allows students to report up to two GMAT and/or GRE test scores. If you have scored better on one test in the verbal section and better on the other in the quantitative section, we will consider your highest quantitative and highest verbal scores. Please refer to Instructions for applicants for more information.”

    Am I reading this right that they will take your highest Q and highest V score for the GMAT? Or are they only talking about the GRE?

    Anybody apply to Tuck this year with and able to shed some light on this subject?

  • Mr Telco

    Hi Sandy and John,

    I’ve been following this series since the beginning. Would appreciate if you can provide some feedback into my odds of getting into my target schools. Thank you very much.

    Mr Telco

    Profile:
    – 27 year old male, Malaysian citizen
    – Fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay/Indonesian

    Academics:
    – 700 GMAT
    – 1st Class Honours (3.7 GPA)
    – Undergraduate degree in engineering from a top Australian university
    – Undergraduate paper in Innovation Strategy published at the proceedings of an international peer-reviewed conference

    Work:
    – 5 years operations and system implementation consulting experience in Accenture with Asian telecommunications clients (Based 1 year in Korea, and multiple projects in ASEAN region)

    Activities:
    – Worked on a program to build homes in Africa with Habitat Humanity
    – Volunteered on a 6 month social entrepreneurship project in India

    Goals:
    -To get into strategy consulting at MBB and lead the strategic transformation of the Asian telecommunications/media/high-tech industry

    Target Schools (in order of preference):
    INSEAD
    Wharton
    LBS
    Cambridge
    Harvard

  • the striver

    Sandy,

    Appreciate the help if you can.

    Targets are HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern.

    Dual Citizen, U.S. and Palestine/West Bank. 25 Year Old Male. First in family to graduate from college.

    Undergrad DePaul Double Major Finance Honors program and Accounting. During school: held five internships, part-time job for 2 years, founded a charity, took GMAT, and CFA Level I.

    GPA: 3.71 Majors: 3.94 (3.9 Last 2 years) GMAT: 730. CPA, CFA Level III.

    Work Experience: Five internships during school.
    BofA and Morgan Stanley (Wealth Management). Grant Thornton (valuation), FTI Consulting (Restructuring), and Deloitte (Audit). Have been at Deloitte audit full time last 3 years in audit and looking to get into the buy side or asset management.

    Am I considered part of B-schools “white” applicants? Or can I pull the minority card somehow? Thanks again!

  • ny webb

    Your posts are truly insightful and much appreciated. Please see below my details for your review.

    GMAT: 720 (not taken yet)

    GPA: ~3.6 – 3.7 (1st class degree –top 10% of class)
    Top three UK University (i.e Oxford, Cambridge, LSE) BSc in Managerial Econ and Strategy

    Work experience: 4 years (2 in London / 2 in New York) in top European Bank (i.e. Barclays, HSBC, Paribas) M&A team. I have been promoted once and am at the top of my class.

    Extracurriculars: University’s alumni association, Big Brothers and The Innocents Project. I have also traveled extensively.

    Other: Male, 24 years old, white and have a learning disability

    Goal: Get a job in a less structured industry like VC or a start up

    Programs: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, NYU, MIT

    Thank you.

  • Mr. Healthcare Actuary

    @ P.

    I recorded my verbal score incorrectly. It was a 42, not a 44. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Ms Nomad

    Take 2 – hopefully my profile will get noticed this time!!

    Hi Sandy,

    I would really appreciate if you could analyse my profile and recommend the universities I should be aiming for. I’d love to get into H/S/W but want to know if I really stand a chance.

    – 27 yrs old Indian female, with New Zealand Citizenship (migrated to NZ when I was 18)

    – Education: Engineering from University of Auckland with first class honours.
    – 3.6 GPA (3.8 for last 2 yrs). Was nominated in the Dean’s list for 3rd and 4th year.
    – Received NZ Aluminium Smelters Undergraduate Prize

    – GMAT ~ 740 (I am taking the test next month but this is the average from my practice GMAT test so far)

    – Work: 4 yrs experience as an Engineer and Job Manager
    – Worked as an Engineering Consultant (technical) and a Job Manager at GHD Ltd (Consulting Firm) in NZ (2 yrs)
    – Was seconded to the Brisbane office (Australia) for 3 months where got a chance to work on high profile projects (Defence, Hospitals etc)
    – Transferred to Perth, Australia, where I have been working as an engineer and a job manager for 2 years now (still with the same company).

    – Extracurricular:
    – Mentored in University as part of a program called STEPS to assist students with lower grades achieve their full potential
    – Was a member of Uniguide in university. A program initiated to help new students adjust with uni life (was assigned 6-8 students)
    – Treasurer of Women in Engineering (WEN) for 1 yr. Active member thereafter
    – Volunteer work at old age centre after graduation

    – Goal: To further develop my leadership and management skills and move into managerial roles (basically move up the corporate ladder). I also have keen interest in finance and hope to enhance my knowledge.

  • ms. cfo wannabe

    hi sandy, john,

    thanks so much for looking at my profile! i really appreciate your insights. can i ask your thoughts on taking the cfa level 1? i feel like that might be more interesting than one off classes. thanks!

  • Gone Surfing

    Sandy, huge fan of these articles. Thank you for your help

    GMAT: Taking it this summer
    UNDERGRAD: BS in Political Science w/ Honors from Carnegie Mellon, 3.75 GPA
    -Finished in 3 yrs, awarded top graduating student award from department
    2nd UNDERGRAD: BS in Math, Temple Univ., 3.62 GPA
    -Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, again named as an outstanding graduate
    -Earned this in 2 years, at the time considering an Economics PhD
    WORK: Surface Warfare Officer, US Navy
    -Deployed 3 times in the past 3 years, managing up to 70 personnel and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. Deployments sent me travelling through much of Asia and the Middle East
    -First (and only one) in my family to join military, something very different for second generation Indian-American
    EXTRACURRICULARS: Various small volunteer projects with Surfrider Oahu, United Way, etc. Conversant in German and Tamil.
    GOALS: Loved the dynamic and tech-driven nature of Carnegie Mellon, but I don’t see it in the Navy. I want to study how companies, particularly in Silicon Valley (hint, hint), foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship- specifically strategic and organizational management. I would like to put this into practice at a top consulting firm, and eventually, go back in to government to change the Navy, and perhaps more broadly change how foreign and defense policy is made.
    -28 year old Indian-American male

    TARGETS: Applying for a dual degree program, MBA and MA in Intl Relations. Not sure how this affects my chances.
    -Stanford
    -Wharton
    -Harvard
    -Dartmouth
    -Chicago
    For the Masters, also applying to
    -Princeton Woodrow Wilson School
    -Johns Hopkins SAIS
    -Harvard Kennedy School

  • Gone Surfing

    Sandy, huge fan of these articles. Thank you for your help

    GMAT: Taking it this summer
    UNDERGRAD: BS in Political Science w/ Honors from Carnegie Mellon, 3.75 GPA
    -Finished in 3 yrs, awarded top graduating student award from department
    2nd UNDERGRAD: BS in Math, Temple Univ., 3.62 GPA
    -Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, again named as an outstanding graduate
    -Earned this in 2 years, was thinking once about Economics PhD programs
    WORK: Surface Warfare Officer, US Navy
    -Deployed 3 times in the past 3 years, managing up to 70 personnel and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment. Deployments sent me travelling through much of Asia and the Middle East
    -First (and only one) in my family to join military, something very different for second generation Indian-American
    EXTRACURRICULARS: Various small volunteer projects with Surfrider Oahu, United Way, etc. Conversant in German and Tamil.
    GOALS: Loved the dynamic and tech-driven nature of Carnegie Mellon, but I don’t see it in the Navy. I want to study how companies, particularly in Silicon Valley (hint, hint), foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship- specifically strategic and organizational management. I would like to put this into practice at a top consulting firm, and eventually, go back in to government to change the Navy, and perhaps more broadly change how foreign and defense policy is made.

    TARGETS: Applying for a dual degree program, MBA and MA in Intl Relations. Not sure how this affects my chances.
    -Stanford
    -Wharton
    -Harvard
    -Dartmouth
    -Chicago
    For the Masters, also applying to
    -Princeton Woodrow Wilson School
    -Johns Hopkins SAIS
    -Harvard Kennedy School

  • kram

    Below are my credentials for a profile evaluation. Thank you for your help.

    GPA: 3.63 overall, 3.91 major (finance)
    GMAT: 710; V 83%ile, Q 88%ile
    College: NYU Stern
    Other education: Passed all levels of the CFA and FRM exams
    Work experience: [Current Job] Since the past 1.5 years, I have been working at a well-known investment management company that runs hedge funds and mutual funds. I focus on determining the right levels of leverage and financing across all funds and strategies. I was recently promoted to Associate. [Previous Jobs] I have also spent one year each doing sales (2008-09) and consulting (2009-10) at other, well-known financial service firms.
    Extracurricular: Help raise financing since the past three years for an education foundation focused on educating underprivileged children in rural India. Also helping the foundation restructure its teaching model.
    Age: 25 year-old Indian male, US citizen. Lived in India till age 13 before moving to the US.
    Goal: To gain a deeper understanding of marketing, management, and business development in order to become either 1. A successful COO/CFO of a global investment management firm (or) 2. Launch a consulting practice that provides CFO/COO services to investment management firms.
    Schools (all Round 1 applications): H/S/W, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, MIT, Tuck

  • Basics:

    – 28 year old white male
    – 700 GMAT
    – 3.3 undergraduate GPA
    – Double major in philosophy and psychology from a small but selective liberal arts school
    – 3.7 graduate GPA
    – PhD in philosophy from a top 20 university
    – Work in philosophy focuses on ethics including issues of global poverty and human rights

    Work:
    – 4 years of work experience at a wealthy and cutting-edge nonprofit foundation, culminating as an IT project manager focusing on using technology to solve problems in education, criminal justice and government accountability. I worked full time while getting the PhD.

    Extracurricular:
    – Lack of extras because I was working full time and enrolled as a full time student throughout graduate school. But, I am an activist with non-academic publications on a number of issues and I was a semi-professional poker player for a year (achieved about $40,000 in winnings in my spare time during my first year of graduate school).

    Goal:
    – To move from the foundation side to a managerial role in an on-the-ground nonprofit, particularly one focused on third-world sustainability. I believe an MBA would give me the skills I need to make this transition.

    Target schools:
    – H/S/W, Booth, Kellogg, Yale, UT

  • sivilengyneer

    Hi Sandy,

    My profile:

    GMAT: 710

    GPA: 3.4 (3.9 in the last three semesters) Top engineering university in Pakistan
    Bachelors in Civil Engineering (Residential programme, in a town of 10,000. Strong community)

    Masters in Civil Engineering from the UK (Top ten UK University)

    5 yrs experience at matriculation (Worked with a global engineering and construction company—14000 employee strong in the UK)

    Experience as a construction engineer on large scale oil and gas construction projects such as refineries, petrochemical complexes, Liquefied Natural Gas Plants and Waste to Energy Plants. Team leading experience. Project management experience. Reported directly to the project manager. Managed the change control process on a multibillion dollar project. Managed project close out phase.

    Placements within Continuous Improvement, Business Continuity Management, Corporate Health Safety and Environment, Global Alignment initiatives of the company as a Project Associate.

    Work experience in Pakistan, UK, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Thailand with clients from Europe, Australia and USA

    Interned at Charity hospitals, Taught children suffering trauma and abuse in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, Voluntary work during Earthquakes and Flood relief efforts in medical camps and in camps for internally displaced people due to war on terror. Science and Engineering Ambassador for schools in the UK

    Post MBA Goal is management roles in Construction (or major project execution) or Management Consulting for Construction (or major projects execution)

    Long Term Goal: Entrepreneurship in Medium/Low cost housing in emerging countries.

    I am no H/S material so am looking at Tuck, MIT (stretch/reach/competitive?). Any other schools you’d suggest?

    Thanks

  • Ann

    This series has been going on for a while. I wonder how the people whose profiles have been featured in the past have actually fared in the admission process. Have any of them posted their results? It would be cool to see how some of them did (if they applied, even) and where they ended up.

  • Mr. Airline

    Thank you Sandy for the profile evaluation. Your input will be incredibly helpful as I begin the application process. Thank you again for you time and expertise.

  • Ms. Artsy Do-Gooder

    I’m a big fan of this series, and would love to be profiled if there’s space!

    STATS
    – 680 GMAT
    – 29 year old white female

    EDUCATION
    – 3.5 undergrad GPA from top 10 liberal arts college; double major in art history and economics
    – 3.7 grad GPA from top 25 university; received MA in art history
    – lots of student government positions in school, recruited varsity athlete at division III level

    WORK
    – 4 years total work experience in two small no-name arts nonprofits with job progression, leadership experience with direct reports, national honors/awards
    – I went immediately from undergrad to grad school, and then on to a small art museum where I worked for less than a year before they laid off their entire staff. I was unemployed following the mass layoffs for one month, and then joined another small, no-name nonprofit arts organization where I currently work directly under the Executive Director.

    EXTRACURRICULARS
    – heavy volunteer involvement in several local nonprofit arts organizations including sitting on board of directors for LGBT film festival, art gallery director for annual fundraiser against domestic violence
    – published writer as a side hobby, with art-themed pieces and art exhibit reviews consistently placed in Vanity Fair and New Yorker-type publications

    CAREER GOAL
    – I would like to return to arts nonprofits in management capacity with acquired MBA tools. I know that an MBA isn’t the most traditional path for someone in my industry, but after working at two organizations on the verge of financial collapse, it’s very apparent that stepping up and getting some basic business skills would help the entire organization to function better.

    TARGET SCHOOLS
    – Yale, Berkeley

  • Mr. Fed

    Hi Sandy, thank you so much for this series – it makes for an interesting read every time. It would be great if you could give my profile a look:

    27 year old Asian American
    3.3 from top Ivy (Harvard/Yale/Princeton)
    750 GMAT

    Targeting: H/S/W, Tuck, Yale, Darden

    Work experience in reverse chronological order:
    Currently a contracting officer at Department of Defense, in third year. Have supported over $500 million in procurements. Through rigorous price analysis, sound negotiation strategy, and re-engineering government business processes, have achieved over $100 million in savings for the taxpayer.
    1 year as paralegal with Department of Justice. Worked on financial cases.
    Summer internship as financial analyst with Department of Transportation.

    Extracurriculars:
    Debate panel, science magazine in undergrad
    Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity drive at work

    Goals:
    Eventually become a federal agency executive who can bring good business practices and processes to government.

  • P.

    I’m confused as to how Mr. Healthcare Actuary (in the comments) got a 740 with a 49Q and 44V. I got the same subscore divisions but got a 760… can scores vary that much with the day/month you take GMAT? Do adcoms put more stock in the overall score, or the Q/V subscores?

  • P.

    The “Downton Abbey” reference was very clever and funny. Gotta love Sandy’s dry wit.

  • Mr. Healthcare Actuary

    Thank you for all your work so far! I would greatly appreciate a profile assessment!

    Age: 26 White Male
    GMAT: 740 49Q 44V
    GPA: 3.91
    B.S. Actuarial Science, B.S. Statistics, B.A. Economics from a private school in the Midwest (USWNR ~100 National University).

    Work:
    -4 years working for Deloitte Consulting as a healthcare actuary
    -Have gained special recognition for numerous projects for major clients
    -Built a first-of-its kind forecasting tool that is now used widely throughout the health insurance industry
    -Leading member of actuarial recruiting staff

    Extracurriculars:
    -Co-founder of an college-prep nonprofit for minority youths in my city
    -Extensive work with local nonprofit focusing on business education for minority youth, including past participation on the board, and work during their weeklong summer camp
    -Community service council-member at work
    -Give several talks every year to local high school students to encourage them to consider the actuarial profession

    Goals:
    Work for an innovative, startup healthcare firm as a step-stone to eventual entrepreneurial endeavors

    Target Schools:
    Stanford
    Wharton
    UChicago
    Cornell
    Berkeley
    Duke

  • kiwi

    Hi Sandy, your thoughts and tips on my profile would be appreciated!

    Basics:
    -24 year old white male. New Zealand/US dual citizen, although lived all my life in NZ
    -3.87 GPA from top NZ university
    – Double degree Physics and Music (including many awards in both disciplines and top student in music)
    – Yet to sit GMAT, but sat GRE a few years ago and achieved 800 quant and 670 Verbal

    Work:
    2.5 years (at matriculation) at a world class Acoustic Consultancy company.
    During my time here I have dealt with acoustics in major industrial, environmental, architectural, performing arts and infrastructure projects.
    Regularly work in a team environment with colleagues as well as with engineers, architects, planners etc on projects.
    Have been key worker in my company of a large industrial research project with lots of responsibility.

    Extracurriculars:
    Professional musician and songwriter (guitar) including nomination for NZ Music Award
    Co-ordinator in climate change organization
    Volunteer at not-for-profit offering performance opportunities to young people with disabilities
    Travelled extensively in Asia, Europe, America and parts of Africa
    Avid skier, cricket and rugby player/fan

    Goals:
    Would like to leverage from my physics background and diverse exposure to many industries in my job, as well as experience in climate change movement to be a business leader in clean tech.

    Target (Looking to apply for programs starting 2013):

    Harvard
    Stanford
    MIT
    Berkeley
    Kellogg
    Duke

    Thanks in advance!

  • Mr. Filipino Banker

    Hey Sandy,

    I’m a big fan of this series and I hope you can evaluate my profile. I’m targeting Wharton, Stanford, Chicago.

    BASICS/EDUCATION
    – 24 yo Filipino male, international applicant
    – 3.85 GPA from a top Philippine University (most H/ S/W alumni from the Philippines come from this university), top1% of class
    – Business ad/economics major
    – 710 GMAT V40 Q47 AWA6.0
    – Mensa member

    WORK
    – 3 years (on matriculation) at the “startup” investment bank subsidiary of a large local universal bank. Not known internationally.
    – Great experience across a variety of debt deals in the Philippines, working directly with execs from clients and other banks.
    – Works directly with CEO and senior executives and was involved in almost all aspects of the firm’s operations because of small headcount. While supporting 2 deal teams full time, I simultaneously worked as risk management officer, spearheaded recruitment and training/mentoring effort for analysts. Will also highlight the challenges of hurdling a traditional/restrictive corporate culture to build new competencies in a 100 year old banking group

    EXTRACURRICULARS
    – Headed a catholic formation organization that holds retreats for students.
    – Headed a 100+ person carpool group for university students.
    – Artist dabbling in various media (painting, sketching, digital/multimedia)

    GOALS
    – In the long term, to put up private equity fund focused on emerging markets, looking at an MBA to be able to transition into a PE role to learn the ropes.
    – My interest in this path takes off from my experience working on deals that create socioeconomic impact in the Philippines.

    Thank you!