Assessing Your B-School Odds

He’s a self-described handsome and personable 29-year-old who works as a senior project manager for a consulting firm. With an undergraduate degree in sociology and philosophy, this poet wants to go to business school to help him start his own consultancy “at the nexus of the government and the private sector.”

She a quant and a poet, a Big 4 auditor who has played the violin for 17 years, having twice performed at Lincoln Center. But this 26-year-old Ukrainian woman is worried that her low 3.1 undergraduate grade point average  and low quant score on a 730 GMAT will keep her out of a top-ranked business school.

A graduate of the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School, he’s spent five years as a Naval Officer. He’s now looking to get an MBA to help him transition into venture capital and entrepreneurship. His dream school: Stanford.

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, 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:

Ms. Big Four Ukraine

  • 730 GMAT (V97, Q76)
  • 3.1 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business and MIS from a top 20 B-school
  • Work experience includes four years at a Big 4 accounting firm, starting off in the IT Advisory practice focused on Consumer Products and Media & Entertainment industries; obtained Certified Information Systems Auditor certification
  • Extracurricular involvement in firm’s women’s network; actively involved with Cosmetic Executive Women and active in New York’s tech/start-up scene
  • Violinist for 17 years, having played in numerous orchestras and performed at Lincoln Center twice; amateur photographer and avid traveler
  • Main concern: Low undergrad GPA due to my pre-med classes, low quant score on GMAT
  • 26-year-old Caucasian female, originally from the Ukraine

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 30% to 35%
Columbia: 30% to 40% (if Early Decision)
Yale: 30%
INSEAD: 50% to 60%
London: 50% to 60%

Sandy’s Analysis: Well, violin-playing Ukrainians and amateur photobugs score high with me, and you have a good deal to like even for adcoms, whose tastes often have different hot spots.  I think your concern over your ‘low’ Quant score on the GMAT (76 percent Q with total score of 730) is misplaced. That is fine for most schools, and the fact you were working in (and majored in) finance and MIS should tamp down any actual fears about your abilities to do quant-type stuff.

The rest of the GMAT is a beauty contest, and your 730 is quite a good-looking score.  The GPA issue is a more valid concern, schools will cut you some slack with the pre-med story, but what is GPA with first, pre-med year out of the mix? That could be an important issue.  Your work experience, consulting at a Big-4, is solid for schools you are interested in, and you have both firm and general extracurrics, which make you seem like an active and attractive addition to most B-school classes.

You don’t state goals, but I assuming something to do with Consumer Products, Entertainment and Media (CPEM? TED’s Balkan cousin?). So that is a good fit in an expanding and exciting area. The fact you can leverage actual tech skills (“Certified Information Systems Auditor” certification)) into sectors like Consumer Products and Entertainment, is another employability plus.  Those areas often attract ‘soft’ applicants who then discover, “ whoa dude, there is numbers here and not just taking pictures of models in the latest shade of blush.” Your quant background (even beside GMAT score) will be a plus.

All that said, I think Wharton may gag over the 3.1 and Big Four. Although as we have noted, Wharton’s “80 percent GPA window” is wider on the low side  than many imagine.  Some rave recommendations would help.  Columbia does not like swallowing a 3.1 either, but if you applied Early Decision there, and stressed how being in New York City could help you hussle in your CPEM career aspirations, and made it clear how employable you would be, well, it is an acceptable reach. Really lobby them by going to forums, taking the tour, etc.  Yale is a wild card since they are trying to re-imagine themselves, partly with solid stats. I think you stand a good chance at INSEAD and LBS.

LAST WEEK’S COLUMN:  Handicapping Your Business School Odds

  • Omar


    Forgot to share other info that I forgot to mention in the above post

    I want to do an MBA with a focus on general management

    Can I make it to ivy league

    GMAT and TOEFL yet to give.



  • Omar


    Can you please evaluate my profile….

    Average grades in school and graduation B.E.

    Worked for 3 years with IBM
    IBM certified developer

    Started my own healthcare company during the job (as I was bored of IT) and currently working full-time
    (1 year part-time and 1 year full time)

    Traveled extensively to African & Middle Eastern for my business
    Have 1 patent
    2 papers published in international journals
    Know 5 languages – English, German, Arabic, Hindi , Urdu (my native)
    Worked as a volunteer in an NGO for 6 months
    Besides this have certification in skiing and trekking and other extra curricular experience

    Why I want to do MBA

    I feel the lack of management skills in areas such as marketing, negotiations, strategy, finance etc. hampering my business growth.

    There have been several instances where this lack of knowledge has been clearly felt.

  • Korean Female

    Hi Sandy, I would really appreciate if you could review my information!
    Korean female, 26 years old
    710 GMAT (over 80%/80%), TOEFL (as I am int’l) 118
    GPA 4.0/4.3 I graduated as the first class in my school (Summa Cum Laude) from one of the 1st tier universities in Korea (undergraduate major : business)
    WE: I work for the top PR firm in the world and I worked for about 3 years now and was promoted three times. Before, I worked at retail/operations and managed revenues, mkt activities, 100+ store employees, etc. I also worked as an intern in one of the major NGOs and did fundraising. (overall work experience : four years all in Korea)
    Extra curricular: Taught English for blind, worked as a school ambassador (undergrad), worked as student representative to help the school get a prominent international certification
    International experience: lived in Europe, US, other Asian countries for 10 years
    Reason for MBA: want to make a transition to management consulting that will give me increased opportunities to help a client (not limited to pr and mkt), eventually want to start my own consulting firm that also puts focus on pr/messaging as well
    Dream schools: HBS, Wharton, Sloan, CBS, Kellogg, Booth, Tuck, INSEAD
    Concerns: PR not a hot job for schools (a field where almost no one has a MBA nor wants one), schools are not very familiar with Korean universities (apart from the very top one) and I’ve heard stories that they don’t really understand what level those schools are, took GMAT multiple times, in a competitive pool (Asian female.. maybe not as competitive as Asian male but still these ppl tend to have higher GMAT)

  • Tony

    Sandy, these posts are awesome, thank you.  I have read nearly all of them, but I don’t think I saw one from my industry, so I was hoping you could give me a quick assessment.  Thanks either way!

    27 year old white male (enough Hispanic to qualify, how much would that help?)
    GMAT: 750 (Q: 48 (80%) V: 44 (97%)) 
    GPA: 3.2 – major in Economics, Financial Econ minor from Vanderbilt

    Work: 5 years experience at one of the major movie studios in Los Angeles (part of a Fortune 100 corporation).  Started at a very entry level position, the only way for someone who didn’t know any one in Hollywood coming straight from school, but since I have been promoted through four levels in my time here, now at an analyst level. This progress is commendable if I can say myself, especially during a period when my industry was suffering losses and going through major cut backs.  

    Recs: Solid.  My current boss is SVP and earned an MBA from UCLA and will write me a very positive recommendation.  My other one or two will also be very good, with one of them also being from an MBA grad.

    Extras: Have produced several shorts, one of which got into a short film festival in Los Angeles, as well as a couple commercials.  Co-commissioner of company softball league (huge company), some various volunteer work but nothing too noteworthy. Also a part of other sports rec leagues.  And a recently self-taught trumpet player.

    Short term goal after MBA:  An executive position in Strategic Planning or Distribution for a major studio or production company.  Would like to focus on burgeoning international side of business (where my experience is currently).

    Long term goal: Head of studio or production company.

    Why now:  I am at the doorstep of a next level job, and an MBA will strengthen and hasten my case in becoming an executive. I have developed a great working knowledge of my industry, and an MBA would bolster the skills necessary to put this knowledge to use.

    Schools:  Stanford and HBS (long shots to say the least I know), Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Tuck, Columbia, Stern, UCLA, INSEAD, LBS.  are there any other top programs who might take a shine to someone like me?

    Perceived weaknesses:  is there any way to explain away my undergrad GPA other than youthful naivety that could make these schools look the other way?  I am immeasurably wiser at 27 then I was at 19.  Could an even higher GMAT nullify the GPA?

    Also, coming from a niche/underrepresented industry – does that help or hurt me?

    I know this post may be a bit long, but thank you for any sort of response you can provide!


  • Jakemgraham

    Hi Sandy, I really appreciate the help.
    27 year old white male
    GMAT: 740
    GPA: 3.1 Econ from a large state school
    Work Experience:
    5 years with a FTSE 100 Engineering Company
    2012 – Sales Manager – Brazil ($30m responsibility, 8 direct reports, youngest department manager in company (16k global employees))
    2011 – Brazilian Automotive Sector Head (Brought operations of a new US division to the Brazilian market, 2 direct reports)
    2010 – Mergers & Aquisitions Analyst at HQ in the UK
    2009 – Operations Coordinator at one of our Chinese Plants
    2008 – Marketing Analyst in the US
    Extra: Youngest person identified as a “Rising Star” (the 100 fast tracked employees of the corporation), corporate ethics trainer in the UK, US, Mexico and Brazil, organizer for the Brazilian equivalent of Habitat for Humanity.
    Recommendations: 1 Division President, 1 Global Director
    Short term goal: to have P&L responsibility for a B2B business division operating in the US or Latin American markets
    Long term goal: CEO of a global company
    Target Schools: HBS, Stanford, Berkeley, Northwestern, UCLA, USC

  • Jp_m

    Hey, can you tell me my chances?Race/gender: Black male
    Age: 26
    Nationality: Trinidadian (Trinidad is an island in the Caribbean fyi)BBA (First Class) from University of New Brunswick (Canada)
    GPA: 3.5
    Post-grad qualifications: Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
    Work experience: 
    Ernst &Young – 2 years – Transaction Advisory Services
    International Finance Corporation – 1.5 years – Access To Finance
    PricewaterhouseCoopers – 1.5 years – Financial Advisory Services
    Extracurricular: Volunteer at home for displaced children, tutored various subjects in university, volunteer at school for gifted children
    GMAT: 730
    Goals: To start my own forensic investigation company specializing in corporate and financial investigations in my home country Trinidad, which is plagued with corruption and fraud.
    Also would like to start an NGO for housing and schooling of displaced children.Can you give me your opinion? My ideal school is Harvard, but Columbia, Kellogg and Wharton are definitely options.

  • French

    Hello Sandy, I would really appreciate if you could review my profile. I intend to apply for entering class of 2013. Thanks !
    – Caucasian male, French, 23-24 years old.
    – 3.58 GPA from a B-school in Paris with BBA in finance and marketing; valedictorian.
    – 740 GMAT
    – Work experience: 2 years at a boutique investment bank in NYC specialized in the Power & Utilities industry (3 at matriculation – went straight from graduation). Very small (6 bankers total), so much less deal-flow than BB, but more exposure. Boss is a Harvard U undergrad and Harvard Law grad, taught at B-school, and has connections on Harvard U board. Three alumni from my school in France worked at the bank (one 10 years ago, the two others left 2 years ago), and all three ended up at Tuck.
    – CFA level III candidate. Took it a week ago, waiting for results.
    – Extras: At school: was part of a student organization that welcomes US exchange students. In junior year, spent a semester at a Emory Goizueta; founded a club on the GMAT there.
    – Goals post-MBA: work in asset management (HF/PE/Mutual fund). If I can’t, stay in IB.
    Target schools in order of preference:- Harvard- Stanford- Wharton- Columbia – MIT- UCLA- NYU – Cornell- Texas-Austin- USC

  • Mr. Asian Artistic Salesman

     Hi Sandy,

    I would greatly appreciate it if you can evaluate my profile. I feel like my background is somewhat nontraditional (sales & marketing) and not nearly as presitgious as many of the applicants I’ve read about on here. Everyone seems to be in in Finance, IT, or consulting, making it very difficult to know where I stand.

    Asian American Male – Citizen, 25 at matriculation

    Undergraduate Degree: State University Northeast (ranked top 60), Economics & Psychology Major
    -GPA: 3.45 (last 2 years averaged 3.9 with extra credits), does this make a difference?)
    -GMAT: 700 (Q45, V40, 90th percentile 1st try; )

    Work experience: 4 years of experience by matriculation.
    – 2 years as a Regional Specification Sales Manager (promoted 3 times) – Company is the Global Leader in Lighting. – In charge of all specification sales in Southeast 7 states ($1m in sales first year).
    – 2 years as Marketing Manager (currently)- Global 1.2B Indian Company, but no brand recognition in US. -Product Manager, worked hand in hand with sourcing team in Asia to develop portfolio. And also handled Social & Traditional marketing responsibilities.

    Outside of work:
    -Started a 501c3 Nonprofit focused on education and child development
    -Big Brother for Big Brothers and Big sisters -3 yrs at the moment
    -Business Development Manager –  Partnered with Indian Website Design Company to develop sales for US market (in return this company helps with my side software/website ventures)
    -Working to develop social media website/app
    -Artist: photography

    Passions: Marketing/Sales, Entrepreneurship, Art, Education
    MBA in order to: Switch Industries to Brand Management/Marketing – Consumer products,
    Long Term goal: Start my own company, or become the CEO of a fortune 500 company.

    Target Schools: Kellogg, Booth, Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Haas, +Any schools that fit my passions.

    GMAT & GPA seem to low, given that I am not the typical Ivy league applicant, and if I have to compete against other Asians could this be a problem?
    Occupation, I don’t think it’s spectacular and I have yet to read about an applicant whose background is in Sales.
    Goals: I’m an entrepreneurship at heart, so I am always pursuing various interests and passions. I feel like adcom will frown upon my app because I seem to lack focus.

  • Xiongmao0215

    Hi Sandy and John,

    Would you please take a look at my profile and let me know your thoughts?

    -GMAT 730 (Q49 (85) V41 (92))
    -26 year old Asian Female – lived in several countries before moving to the U.S.
    -Undergraduate degree – Marketing – from mid-tier U.S.mid-west business school – GPA – around 3.5
    -Undergrad Leadership – Asian-American Student Organization, University Student Government, Student Services Fees Committee, and Student Representative to the University Board of Regents,
    -Internships – had 3 summer internships in Marketing at top U.S. Discount Retailer Headquarters during Undergrad
    -Work experience – 4 years – 1.5 years in Merchandise Planning at same company as summer internships, 1.5 years in Product Planning with top home shopping network headquarters, and currently in Marketing at top Consumer Packaged Goods Company headquarters.
    -Other Languages – Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese
    -Community – Wish Granter for Make A Wish Foundation, Big Sister Big Brother, Mentor for American Corporate Partners, and fundraising for Salvation Army

    Reasons for MBA – to become a Marketing/Brand Manager, and eventually start my own business.

    Target Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, Haas, Anderson, Carlson

    Please let me know if you need more information.

  • JohnAByrne

    Anecdotally, Sandy seems pretty much on the mark. But I would love to hear from all applicants whose profiles have been assessed by Sandy. File your outcomes here and let’s see the result.

  • CLG123

    This popular series has led to an upcoming book, but out of curiosity (sparked by Paul’s post below) — now that we should start seeing actual admissions data start to roll in on people featured in this series, what is the reality?  Are the “never in a million year” long-shots getting in?  Did anyone change their strategy to follow Sandy’s advice, only to later get rejected? Are the facts / results matching these prognostications?

  • Paul

    Thank you for the quick response. I sent you an e-mail with the info.

  • Ms. Talent Management

    Hi Sandy,Please consider my profile below.Female, 28 at matriculation (barely), caucasian.740 (Q: 80th percentile, V: 97th percentile)3.66 English (with Economics minor) Mid-Tier Liberal ArtsSchools: Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck, Ross, Darden
    Work Experience:5 years in Accenture’s management consulting practice, specializing in human capital & talent management.  Currently a manager having been fast-track promoted twice and receiving excellent ratings (including top 5%).  I’ve done people-focused work in technology implementations, organization redesigns, and post merger integration.  I have management experience (both client and consultant, including offshore teams)
    Extra Curriculars:Heavily involved Accenture “extras”: Women’s mentoring, Green Practices Initiative, Recruiting (5 years)Pro-bono consulting work for environmental not-for-profit doing strategic planning and culture alignment work (2 years)Mentorship for young woman with Autism through local community center (1.5 years)
    Goals:Short Term is to get into an MBB strategy practice for a few years to build out experiences before launching my own small firm focused on intersection of talent and strategy.
    I know I don’t have any gold plated anything, and I will have to well articulate the “why now” (as I’m a bit “old” for the consulting set) and “why mba” as opposed to working on internal transfers, etc.  Assuming I could execute well, what do you think my chances are?

  • ngo mba

    Hi Sandy. At the outset, let me mention that I have found your analysis insightful and incisive, consequently am hoping for some on my admission chances since I believe I have a unique profile that has not been analysed before.

    Indian, female
    Taking GMAT a week from now, 1st attempt = 650
    Undergrad: 65% in engineering, non IIT, top 15% percent of class
    Masters finance, top 20 b school in US, 3.1 cgpa
    Working in a prominent, reputed ngo in the US for 4 years now
    No recent/current extras, some volunteer work during undergrad
    Speak english hindi french
    Reason for MBA: Move from financial advisory to strategic management/advisory role in ngo sector

    What are my chances at Insead? What can I do to strengthen my application? How much does bringing my gmat closer to insead’s average gmat score improve my chances?

  • hbsguru

    dunno what happened, just send me a resume and include GPA and GMAT and outcomes, and I’ll tell you what I think happened.

  • Paul

    Hi Sandy/John,

    I was featured in one of the previous iterations of this series, applied this year, but unfortunately got rejected at my target schools. A few weeks back I sent an email (and a second follow up email) to Sandy to inquire about his rejection feedback service but did not get a reply. I was wondering if I could use this forum to get a follow up to Sandy.



  • Industry Lad

    Hi Sandy,

    What do you think?

    – GMAT 760 (V46 (99) Q49 (85))
    – 27 year old Caucasian South African Male
    – Undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering with distinction from top South African University (top 10% of class). Don’t know what the GPA would be.
    – Work Experience: 4 years with top 5 global diversified mining company on their high potential program. 2 Years as a production engineer in South Africa. 2 Years as a project manager in Chile and I now work as a Business Development Manager in an enterprise development initiative of the company in South Africa.
    – Extras: Tutored younger engineering and high school students while at college to help out with maths and other subjects. Outdoor sports and travel enthusiast having visited 18 different countries on 4 continents.
    – Speak 3 languages (English, Spanish and Afrikaans – in order of proficiency)

    Reason for MBA: To develop my business and broad skillset further in order to be well suited and prepared to lead in large organisations after the MBA.

    Target: GSB, HBS and some european schools (IESE, INSEAD) but my focus is on the US schools.

  • Jarem

    Would love your feedback on my profile.  I fall into the oversubscribed bucket of 2 yrs cons / 2 yrs PE…what are my chances?

    – GMAT 710
    – GPA 3.7 in top 5 undergraduate accounting program
    – 2 years experience at one of Big 3 consulting firms M/B/B (20 months in US / 4 months int’l)
    – 2 years experience at middle market private equity shop (current job)
    – 27, married with 3 kids, white / Caucasian / male
    – Took two years off of school during college to complete church-service mission (Mormon)
    – Extras:  leading multiple young professional mentorship initiatives as a global steering committee member for global alumni organization, lead professional development initiatives as member of student gov’t for undergrad business program
    – In a nutshell….I’m a charismatic and empathetic leader with a passion for mentorship.  I want to raise my own growth equity fund and provide entrepreneurs with the capital and the strategic advice they need to change the world with their ideas.  An MBA will further season my business judgment and lend me credibility with future investors and business owners.  
    – Targets:  GSB, HBS, Wharton (in that order)

  • Mr. Teacher-cum-Author

     Mr teacher-author

    ·  –      Indian
    male, will turn 24 years in August 2012

    ·  –     710
    GMAT (V 36 Q 50)

    ·  –     8.45
    out of10.0 GPA (non-IIT) second tier tech school in India, first in family to
    go to college

    ·  –      Undergrad
    major was Computer science & engineering

    ·  –     Work experience:
    currently doing two years teacher service for TFA’s India arm in an urban slum

    ·  –     Internship
    at the Ministry of Education of a large State to improve the quality of
    schools; worked under the Secretary (top bureaucrat)

    ·  –     Have
    written a book on the lives of slum children, which is due for publication in
    the last quarter of the year. Possibility that the book might be foreworded by
    an Indian industry stalwart and philanthropist.

    ·  –     Extra-currics: Managed the
    first high-profile international tech symposium at my college, worked with Head
    librarian to improve the condition of college library

    ·  –   Reason for MBA: Gain knowledge of global
    economics, finance and strategy, to complement existing skills of teamwork,
    communication and problem solving

    ·  –     Goal- To work in consulting for
    3-5 years, and then in international development (at the World Bank or the
    IFC); long term goal is to work with the Indian government on education and

    ·  –    May get
    one rec from the top 2 people of Teach for India.

    ·  –     Schools: Stanford (dream
    school), Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern Kellogg, Booth, Ross, Tuck and
    Darden. Also suggest other schools where you think I may have a better shot.

    ·  –     What are my chances at top
    MPA/MPP programs like Harvard Kennedy or Princeton WWS?

    ·  –     Would chances (at Stanford
    especially) improve if I take GMAT again and score like 730-740? I don’t think
    I will get more than that.


  • Tristlw

    Hi Sandy,
    Could you please evaluate my profile?
    27 year old African-American 28 at matriculation 
    GRE V162/Q160
    State college in Texas (small School) 2.4 GPA
    Entreprenuership Award during college & Started school clothing store
    Fortune 500 Company(JPM) in retail banking 5 years (2 promotions)
    Teach financial literacy courses through Junior Achievement & through local churches
    Short-term-Investment Banking Long term-Private Equity
    Tuck, Cornell,NYU,UNC, MIT
    I worry that if I say investment banking as my short term goal then the schools will feel I won’t get hired and I have been wondering if I should say that I want to go into consulting focusing on financial services

  • CarltonS

    Hi Sandy, 
    I’m a little anxious about application process and would love if you assessed my profile. 
    BASICS24 year old African American Male3.6 GPA / 4.0 GPA710 GMAT
    EDUCATIONComputer Science Engineering – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    During college I had internships at Amazon (Software Engineering),  Bank of America (Finance),  Procter & Gamble (Process Engineering) and a mid-tier pharmaceutical company. 
    I’ve spent the past 2 years and working at Deloitte Consulting LLP in Technology Consulting as a Systems Integration Consultant.
    Co-founded 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Baltimore to create policy debate programs for public inner-city high schools.  Debate has empirically helped increase student academic success  Previously served as Chief Information Officer of the organization. Post-undergrad I started alumni branch for the organization and continue to judge at tournaments. 
    Community service locally at soup kitchens in Baltimore.
    Policy debater in high school and college.  
    WHY I WANT THE MBAShort-term – Shift from technology to management and strategy consulting to gain another dimension of business experience.
    Long-term – Shift to industry general management role in tech sector. Want to be at intersection b/w technology and business.  
    Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Northwestern, Berkeley, MIT, UCLA
    CONCERNSMost of my projects at work have focused on systems integration which isn’t perceived as a sexy field. 
    GMAT score is lower than median at some of my target schools. (Should I retake?)
    Thanks for all of your help.

  • GenzAmg

    Hi Sandy,

    I would appreciate your help in assessing my profile.

    26 yr  – Female – Married – from a small town in southern India
    GMAT – 700+ (expecting)

    B Pharm (Hons) from BITS-Pilani (among top 10 schools in India comparable to few IIT’s) – GPA 7.8/10
    MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Northeastern University (Boston). Worked on a thesis project under a pioneer in the field. 4 scientific publications. Topper (GPA 3.8) in first semester but ended up with 3.5/4.0 GPA.

    EXPERIENCE (4 + years)
    Diversified experience working for different departments within R&D. Internship at Amgen and 3+ years of experience at Genzyme. Now working for a relativelly small company in Cambridge area managing the work at CROs and CMOs (leadership role within R&D)
    Can get excellent recommendation from my supervisors.

    WHY MBA:
    Had intentions to pursue PhD while doing Masters but realized my interest in MBA while working in the Industry. I would like to see myself as a CEO/ COO in Pharmaceutical/Biotech/Cosmetics Industry.

    Crowd pleaser, multi-talented as a kid (not the best, but good at almost everything), district level chess player, eventually focused in academics. Worked for student clubs during Undergrad and some leadership experience working for Undergrand Alumni (raising funds, organizing events)

    I have been an individual contributor but never did a major voluntary work.
    Relatively less leadership experience.
    Worked more in Research and so I am worried that they may consider me, technical.
    May not be able to achieve very high GMAT scores (720+).
    I can tell an interesting story but I am still working on my English.

    Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Duke, Tuck

  • PharmaEng

    As for the Abbott Labs co-op, I meant a BusinessWeek top 50 internship, not Forbes.

  • PharmaEng

    Hi Sandy, would love to get an assessment.

    Target Schools: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, Kellogg, Sloan.

    -26yo white male
    -740 GMAT
    -B.S. Chemical Engineering with a Biological Eng certificate (needed to take extra classes) from Northwestern University. 3.4 GPA

    -Undergraduate co-op at Abbott Labs for 2 years (Forbes top 50 internship)
    -Post graduation work at top level pharma company in a 3yr biopharmaceutical rotational program. Rotations in R&D and manufacturing. Manufacturing work dealt with a type 2 diabetic drug that is currently seeking FDA approval and looks to hit market in the next two years.
    -One of my three rotations took me to Europe for a year where I lead a small team (3 people) on various technical projects.

    Fairly weak on these. Sporadic volunteer work through career network. Much of my free time is spent playing sports or doing personal fitness. Looking to be certified as a personal trainer within the next year.

    In the area where I work MBAs are a rare breed, so there is no one to directly lean on. Will be able to get glowing recommendations from superiors though.

    I am seeking to leverage my technical knowledge of biotech and pharma in order to work in PE or VC that invests in pharma and/or biotech. I have a much greater inclination for the business side of things and do not want to remain on the technical side for my entire career.

    Thank You!


    Sandy, I would appreciate your help in assessing my profile. Thank you.

    26 year old Caucasian Male
    3.1 GPA / 4.0 GPA
    790 GMAT

    B.M. Cello – Juilliard School of Music – 4.0 GPA – 2003
    (Graduated when I was 17 yrs. old)

    B.S. Marketing – University of Notre Dame – 3.23 GPA – 2009
    (Graduated when I was 23 yrs. old)

    Toured the world as a concert cellist, performing as a soloist and chamber musician. I was injured in an automobile accident, suffering nerve damage in my left hand, thus ending my performance career. I didn’t want to teach or compose and felt burnt out, so I decided to go back to school and live “the college experience”.

    After graduation I spent one year in the Peace Corps, spending my time in Nigeria helping to build wells and filtration systems to provide clean water to villages.

    Currently working at Parker Hannifin as a Market Manager in the General Filtration division, leading a team of three direct reports (youngest manager in the division).

    I want to have the tools that will help me start my own business, which is to explore advanced filtration technology applications for clean water solutions in Africa and South America.

    Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Yale, and Northwestern.

    My low GPA at Notre Dame (I did have fun though!)
    Non-sexy career path (e.g. No consulting, wall street, etc.).

  • Sandy,

    Mr. Sociology here.  I’d like to thank you tremendously for taking the time to review me.  You clearly took a great deal of time going through the details I gave you and made some very accurate inferences.  For someone like myself without a great MBA-bound social circle, the advice is invaluable.  Hopefully I’ll be able to do something in kind for you someday to return the favor.

    I’ll provide an update on how I land in the Fall of ’13.  I still think a “where are they now” update to this series would be really fascinating.

  • pezz361356

    Sandy – I’d be interested to know how you would rank my odds based on my
    information below:


    Demographics: 26
    year old white male. UK National, now resident of UAE.


    700+ (minimum predicted off practice tests, hopefully higher when sat next


    GPA: UK Degree classification 2:1 (Upper Second Class with Honours). Degree was
    in Quantity Surveying Consultancy, essentially managing the commercial &
    contractual matters for construction projects.

    2 years additional personal study I am also achieved professional membership
    status for one of the world’s largest professional associations.


    Work experience: 4 years part time work experience for a construction consultancy
    during undergrad degree (required great time management skills, had rocky start
    in first year of degree, then improved year on year).


    Work Experience: 4 years total post grad experience. Consisting of 3 years
    fulltime with a medium sized London based construction consultancy (1 year of
    which I was based out of the head office of a large global investment bank,
    leading the commercial & contractual side of their London HQ facilities enhancement
    project), steady promotions & rapid progression are demonstrable. The last
    year I have moved to Dubai, where I have been promoted to a senior cost manager
    position at a fortune 500 construction consulting & engineering company,
    managing several members of staff, managing construction budgets for projects
    up to $1.6bil.


    Raised money for charity by organising a rally from London to Mongolia using a thoroughly
    unsuitable car.

    onto the UAE National Board for one of the world’s largest professional associations.

    learning Arabic.

    on undergrad was voted student representative every year of attendance.


    Schools: Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, Booth


    goals: Big 3 strategy consulting firm.


    in advance. Mr Construction Consultant.


  • Adam

    Hi Sandy, I would love to hear what you think of this:

    GMAT: 720+ (expected)
    BS Textile Engineering from NC State
    3.0 GPA

    Work experience includes 6 years at the #1 automotive textile manufacturing company in the world.  Started as a process engineer but quickly worked my way up to Plant Manager in charge of our China facility.  Strong leadership. 

    I will have 2 years of international experience by application date. 

    I will be 31 years old at matriculation (caucasian male).

    I will have three very solid references.

    Extras: Not much, except that I am an Eagle Scout 

    I do not intend to stay in textiles, my career goal is to be the CEO of a company.

    Will my experience in China and evidence of strong leadership be enough to get me into a top 10 school?  Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Alex

    Hi Sandy – Curious how you would rank my odds based on the following information. Thanks!

    Demographics: 26 year old white male in NYC
    GMAT: 750
    Undergrad GPA: 3.65
    Undergrad School: Washington University in St. Louis
    Undergrad Major: BSBA Finance and International Business; Also a major in Political Science
    Work Experience: 2.5 Years @ Thomson Reuters in their Financial Consulting Group. 1.5 years @ Accenture in their Management Consulting group.

    Extracurriculars: Fairly limited – spend some time with political campaigns and local mentoring opportunities. Spend most of my free time focusing on personal fitness (half-marathons and competitive basketball leagues).

    Target Schools: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, NYU, Columbia

    Career goals: Big 3 strategy consulting shop for 5 years, then leverage work experience to influence public policy on energy sustainability and/or national debt.

  • Mr. Defense Enginner


    I would love to hear Sandy’s assessment of my profile.  I’m looking to go to HBS or MIT in Fall 2013.

    GMAT: 760

    GPA: Undergrad 3.74, Masters 3.75Undergrad:  U. of Rochester, Electrical & Computer Eng.Masters:     Cornell, Electrical & Computer Eng.

    Work Experience:  6 years at a Defense Contractor in Massachusetts
    (Raytheon) as an electrical & software engineer.  Was promoted to
    Sr. Engineer after 3 years.  Lots of integration work which involves
    solving problems.

    Recommendations:  Can get at least one exceptional recommendations
    and two good ones.  Strong analytical and technical recs, not a lot of
    leadership experience.

    Goal: To apply my exceptional analytical skills in a consulting / operations role.

    Demographics:  29 year old white male.  US.

    Extracurricular:   Volunteer training and raising seeing-eye dogs.
                             Volunteer at a dog shelter doing photography and general kennel help.
                             Founder & Captain of competitive soccer team. 


  • Mr. Teacher-cum-Author

                    Mr. Teacher-cum-Author·  –   Indian
    male, will turn 24 years in August 2012·  –   710
    GMAT (V 36 Q 50)·  –   8.45
    out of10.0 GPA (non-IIT) second tier tech school in India, first in family to
    go to college·  –   Undergrad
    major was Computer science & engineering·  –   Work experience:
    currently doing two years teaching stint for TFA’s India arm in an urban slum
    school ·  –   Internship
    at the Ministry of Education of a large State to improve the quality of
    schools; worked under the Secretary (top bureaucrat)·  –   Have
    written a book on the lives of slum children, which is due for publication in
    the last quarter of the year. Possibility that the book might be foreworded by
    an Indian industry stalwart and philanthropist.·  –   Extra-currics: Managed the
    first high-profile international tech symposium at my college, worked with Head
    librarian to improve the condition of college library·  –  Reason for MBA: Gain knowledge of global
    economics, finance and strategy, to complement existing skills of teamwork,
    communication and problem solving·  –   Goal- To work in consulting for
    3-5 years, and then in international development (at the World Bank or the
    IFC); long term goal is to work with the Indian government on education and
    development.·  –   May get
    one rec from the top 2 people in my organisation·  –   Schools: Stanford (dream
    school), Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern Kellogg, Booth, Ross, Tuck and
    Darden. Also suggest other schools where you think I may have a better shot.·  –   What are my odds at top
    MPA/MPP schools like Harvard Kennedy or Princeton WWS?·  –   Would chances (at Stanfordespecially) improve if I take GMAT again and score like 730-740? I don’t thinkI will get more than that.


  • Mr. Teacher-cum-Author

    HI Sandy,Mr. Teacher-cum-Author·  –   Indian male, will turn 24 years in August 2012·  –   710 GMAT (V 36 Q 50)·  –   8.45 out of10.0 GPA (non-IIT) second tier tech school in India, first in family to go to college·  –   Undergrad major was Computer science & engineering·  –   Work experience:currently doing two years teaching stint for TFA’s India arm in an urban slum school ·  –   Internship: at the Ministry of Education of a large State to improve the quality of schools where candidate has worked under the Secretary (top bureaucrat)·  –   Have written a book on the lives of slum children, which is due for publication in the last quarter of the year. Possibility that the book might be foreworded by an Indian industry stalwart and philanthropist.·  –   Extra-currics: Managed the first high-profile international tech symposium at my college; worked with Head librarian to improve the condition of college library·  –  Reason for MBA: Gain knowledge of global economics, finance and strategy, to complement existing skills of teamwork, communication and problem solving·  –   Goal- To work in consulting for 3-5 years, and then in international development (at the World Bank or the IFC); long term goal is to work with the Indian government on education and
    development.·  –   May get one rec from the top 2 people in my organisation·  –   Schools: Stanford (dream school), Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern Kellogg, Booth, Ross, Tuck and Darden. Also suggest other schools where you think I may have a better shot.·  –   What are my odds at top MPA/MPP schools like Harvard Kennedy or Princeton WWS?·  –   Would chances (at Stanford especially) improve if I take GMAT again and score like 730-740? I don’t think I will get more than that.


  • Army Guy


    I appreciate your feedback on the following:

    GMAT- 690(73%Q)
    GPA- 3.85
    Degree in quant heavy major at West Point
    -Engineer officer with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Currently in command of a company and pending an upcoming deployment.  Commanded over 250 soldiers in Afghanistan.  Also managed millions of dollars in infrastructure projects in conjunction with Iraqi and Aghan governments (power plants, water treatment and irrigation).  Lots of leadership stories and work with Iraqi Engineers and Afghan Police.
    -Lots of extras, post running team, started several clubs through the Army community, some time as a single dad while wife deployed.
    -Goal is not conventional, and is my biggest concern.  I’ll be staying in the Army, in a job that requires an MBA.   Long term I want to change the way the Corps of Engineers work, so issues that I saw in the Iraq rebuild don’t happen again.  I’d also like to take the Army/DOD in a direction that helps spur economic development high threat areas of the world
    -29 year old white male
    -Target schools: Stanford, Harvard, UCLA, HAAS, Duke

  • GotTime

    Hi Sandy, I’d love to hear what you think my chances are for these schools. Thanks!

    Programs: Columbia, Kellogg, NYU, Stanford. Wharton

    26 year old white male

    710 GMAT score (74% Math, 92% Verbal) – planning to retake
    and hopefully boost my math score

    Top 10 Liberal Arts College, BA in Political Science, Concentration
    in Political Economy. 3.51 GPA, graduated magna cum laude

    Current position –

    Marketing Associate for a top ten international commercial real estate
    services firms. The company is newly branded after
    mergers, and I craft the firm’s brand voice internally and
    externally – through client-facing copy, internal news and CEO communications. 2

    Past Positions (reverse chronological order) –

    Proposal writer for top 10 international commercial real estate services
    firm. 1 year.

    Full-time Speechwriter to the Chairman and to the CEO of a
    top three international commercial real estate services firm. 1 year – was laid
    off (in 2009), but I did do freelance work for the company until got  a full-time job with a competitor.


    Currently on volunteer messaging committee for a political campaign – drafted messaging piece on voter’s rights issues; working as a
    volunteer recruiter.

    Served as precinct captain and achieved ‘star’ volunteer status
    for a NYC citywide election

    During college helped found a non-partisan voter registration/awareness
    club on college campus, and was volunteer for various fair & clean elections

    Licensed real estate salesperson in NY State.


    Move into brand management for
    consumer products, while gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the
    marketing discipline (not just the fluffy branding, but the crunchy analysis
    that underpins it). Ultimately I want to move into senior manager position in
    marketing, and oversee this process across multiple brands.

  • Kmu

    Hi Sandy,

    Would appreciate your assessment:
    700 – 730 GMAT (expected)
    3.7 GPA
    Undergraduate degree at Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada (Deans Honors)
    Work experience includes one year doing corporate strategy and development at a large Canadian telecom, and two years in investment banking at a top 3 Canadian financial institution

    Extracirricular include: VP of finance at one of the largest clubs in my university, currently starting up a basketball league for young professionals across several banks on Bay street,  biked around Taiwan for several weeks and volunteered to help migrant children in China

    Goal: Do tech-focused private equity in emerging markets – especially Asia.  Be a pioneer in creating a ‘silicon valley’ for China.

    Other points:
    Planning to finish my CFA next summer
    Last two years, single-handedly took care of my grandparents (including several surgeries) who are here by themselves and don’t speak English
    Asian-Canadian minority, 25 years oldTargets are Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, and Kellogg

    Thanks in advance