What Are Your Chances Of Getting In

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

He’s a key player in a strategic planning group at Honeywell Aerospace where he has racked up nearly five years of experience while also helping to care for a parent with early onset Alzheimer’s. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.64 grade point average, this 26-year-old hopes to get an MBA to move into a general management consulting role.

He’s a 21-year-old Vietnamese entrepreneur who has done summer stints at Boston Consulting Group and Google and is now finishing up his undergraduate degree in business at UC-Berkeley. He launched a small shot glass manufacturing business last year and wonders if he is a good candidate for Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program for undergrad applicants.

She leads a Fortune 50 retail company team on its global sourcing strategy. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.17 GPA, this 26-year-old woman wants to know if she should retake the GMAT and aim for a higher score to offset her low undergraduate grades on her MBA application.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these would-be MBA candidates 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.

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 assessment:

Mr. Supply Chain

  • 700 GMAT (44Q 66%, 41V 92%)
  • 3.64 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance and supply chain management from a Pac-12 state university
  • Work experience includes nearly five years in supply chain management at Honeywell Aerospace, currently as team lead in a strategic planning group; several promotions and have been a top performer in every role; was a key part of a team deploying a new planning system, responsible for troubleshooting and training about 75 to 100 people
  • Extracurricular involvement is marginal with some intermittent volunteering at a local community center doing fundraising and tutoring
  • “After reading other ‘handicapping’ articles, I now know that staying at one spot for 5 years was not ‘playing the game’ as you have said. One of the big reasons that I’ve stayed with the same company is because a parent developed early onset Alzheimer’s so I transferred back to my hometown 2.5 years ago to be a partial caregiver.”
  • Goal: To move into a supply chain or general management consulting role
  • 26-year-old white male

Odds of Success:

UCLA: 50+%
Berkeley: 50+%
Chicago: 40% to 50+%
Northwestern: 40+%
New York: 30% to 40%
USC: 60+%
Harvard: 20% to 40%
Stanford: 10% to 20%
Wharton: 30% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is more solid than you might think since you actually work for a company that makes stuff. AERO also is a hot field at the moment, and supply chain, while not sexy, is something most B-schools respect. In your case, staying with the same company for 5 years — and getting rave reviews, and promotions and increasing responsibilities — is a plus.

My rule of thumb about hustling out of your first job after two or three years to a ‘better’ one is mostly applicable to banking and consulting, where that is the M.O. of most high performers. You got a 3.6 from a respectable school and one that seems to fit your down-home profile, and if you can get Q on GMAT up to ~80 percent, you’d be a real solid candidate at your target schools of UCLA, Berkeley, Booth, and USC. Stern may wonder what some California Aero Boy is doing in NYC, so that might get you a WL, unless you made it real clear.

As for H/S/W, I am not seeing this as Stanford unless someone at your firm can pull a string, or has in the past. With an 80 percent Q score on GMAT, you could be a natural admit at Wharton, given that you would help round out the class and have a solid work and leadership background at Honeywell, a known company. At HBS, there is nothing driving you in per se, but this is real solid (esp. if you came thru with a 720/Q-80% GMAT). HBS might be impressed by how a guy with supply chain background at a major AERO company could contribute to case method.

That probably won’t tip things for you, but I’d say odds are 20-40 percent. If you indeed are a star at Honeywell, some champion there could help at HBS, beyond writing a normal recommendation, the guy has to communicate that you have been innovative in supply chain and also a major leader of diverse work streams, as you apparently have been. Viz., “part of a team deploying a new planning system, responsible for troubleshooting and training about 75-100 people . . .”

HBS is impressed with stories like that. You need to come up with some “goals” cocktail that puts all this together, adds some HBS transformational mojo, and pours out real smooth. Shaken or stirred don’t matter Mr. Bond, just clear and classy.

As to helping parent with Alzheimer’s, that is a good story, and could easily make a nice accomplishment or optional essay (or even a setback essay). As noted, you don’t really have to explain why you stayed at Honeywell for five years. It’s a solid accomplishment and can add luster to a mix of essays and narrative that is also solid—it would not, by itself, put a dent in explaining why you never moved on to another job, but you don’t to have to do that.

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  • Wolverine


  • Watergal10

    Hi Sandy,
    Appreciate it if you could evaluate my profile:

    – Indian, Female, Telecom Engineer, 3yrs WE, GMAT 660 (Q44, V37, AWA 5.5, IR 1)
    – Don’t know GPA, graduated out of Indian University (ranked lower than IIT), with First Class,First Class with Distinction being the only class above.
    – Weak point GMAT score and the extremely low IR score

    Work Experience
    – Turned down top Indian services company’s job offer to join family owned telecom product company with Tier 1 telecom clients in North America
    – Current role is Product Manager – serve as point of contact for several clients like AT&T and Ericsson in technical sales, marketing and integration efforts
    – Manage a team of 25 people in designing client requirements
    – Designed a patent pending product line that is currently the company’s IP

    Extra Curricular
    – Work in a local neighborhood government run school teaching English to students who have no basic English Knowledge
    – Negative: Won’t be able to get a certificate or letter for this cause its a government run school and obviously the government doesn’t know I volunteer there. The initiative is completely run by few teachers in the school so I co-ordinate the students timing and mine with them.

    Target Schools

    Thanks in advance!


  • Africaninvestor

    Hi Sandy could you please assess my profile:


    GMAT: 680 (took it 5 times) – 48 Q 35 V
    GPA: 3.6 (Magna Cum Laude + other awards) – authored honors thesis
    Undergrad: Ivy (Non Harvard, Princeton or Yale)
    Major: History
    Extracurriculars: In college – President of 2 cultural societies (minority), had leadership position in my fraternity and I volunteered at a soup kitchen; Out of college: Avid scuba diver, founded community development organization in Africa, founded alumni event planning organization.

    Work Experience: Worked at >$5BN hedge fund – promoted to the head of African investments at the fund; Left the hedge fund to start on the path of my long term goal which is to start my own venture capital company in Africa. Currently work at a start-up incubator in Africa.
    Reasons for business school: Get more leadership, start-up business operations and execution experience.
    Personal: 25 year old African American male
    Other: Both parents attended Harvard and my older brother recently graduated from HBS

    Schools applying to:

  • Ms. Confused

    Hi Sandy / John,

    In case you respond, below are my stats. What do you think my chances are for UCLA, USC, Duke, MIT (reach) or NYU?

    – 680 (I’m going to take it at least twice to get to as close to 700 as I can)

    – 3.75 GPA from UC Berkeley in Business Admin & Econ double major

    – Work experience: 2.5 years at PwC in the audit practice. Top performer, and promoted early among peers. 2.5 years at Warner Bros. as Sr. Analyst in Corporate Finance whereby I traveled internationally to France / India. Good performer at Warner Bros. but I switched departments so I likely will not get promoted to Manager before applying to business school.

    – I am currently mentor of a youth mentoring program for underprivileged high school students, and led a non-profit consulting group at Berkeley.

    – 26 year old female (Middle Eastern)

    I have two add’l questions: 1) How important is it for me to get a 700 on my GMAT if I want to go to UCLA? (I’m a horrible test taker.. nerves)

    2) Is Warner Bros. as good experience (or on the same level) as Disney? I can easily get a job at Disney, I’ve interviewed there a couple of times and got a few offers, so I’m just curious if you think I’m at a disadvantage over the Disney brand name? Thanks in advance for the time, and truly awesome articles!

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