Assessing Your Odds Of B-School Success

She flunked out of Harvard when her grades plunged due to some family issues, but managed to return after a year’s leave of absence and get a 3.3 grade point average overall. With a 780 GMAT and a marketing job with a top consumer packaged goods company, this 25-year-old professional hopes an MBA will help her transition to consulting or a brand management job.

He did a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, working in AIDS prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now in operations for a large, regional trust company, this 25-year-old hopes an MBA degree will help him work for an entrepreneurial venture or a top management consulting firm.

She’s a cellist and a tech geek who has launched a pair of startups. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.9 GPA, this 25-year-old woman wants to leverage her interest in design and her experience in brand management at a global consumer goods company to get into a top-ranked MBA program.

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 here 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 candid analysis:

Ms. Intelligence

  • 670 GMAT (will retake)
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from West Point, with a track in Civil Engineering (graduated in the top 30% of my class)
Work experience includes four years in the Army as an intelligence officer; currently managed a team of four, handling all intelligence analysis, security and anti-terrorism issues for a battalion of 500 soldiers; planned missions for the intelligence assets in almost all of western Iraq; led a military intelligence platoon of 26 soldiers for two years, including one in Iraq, was responsible for $12 million of equipment and training those 26 soldiers for deployment
  • Extracurricular involvement as captain of the Alpine ski team, competed in Sandhurst military competition and was an active member of the model UN team; assist a military family in my spare time to cope with transitioning after a tragic incident; taught English in Cambodia for a month as a West Point cadet; climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
  • Goal: To get some solid business experience, eventually becoming my own boss
  • 27-year-old female

Odds of Success:

Duke: 60+%
North Carolina: 60+%
Virginia: 60+%

Sandy’s Analysis: You may be setting your sights too low, all of those schools– Duke, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Darden– should be solid for you given a female from West Point with a 3.4 and a 670 GMAT and a solid military and volunteer career, especially since you have been in Iraq, with major leadership (e.g. “leader of a military intelligence platoon of 26 soldiers for two years”) and material responsibilities (for “$12 million dollars worth of equipment”).

A female from West Point with Iraq experience and lots of extras could be HBS or Wharton if you could manage a 700 GMAT on next try and firm up goals. You currently say, “get some solid business experience, eventually become my own boss . . . .” That is a bit lame and unfocused.  Try saying you want to go into consulting as a “gateway” to a career in either consulting or working for a tech company in some data related way, since that synchs up (on Planet Adcom if not in reality, but maybe that too) with your Army intel experience.

Just spin out something that is clear and involves working for well-known brands.  Schools got tons of entrepreneurs, or wannabes, and saying you want to be “your own boss” is a bit out of date. That is what dead-enders said in the 1950s when working for The Man.  Hip kids like you are supposed to say you want to create great products, services and jobs, but I would not go the “own boss” route in any case. Go with consulting. Top consulting  firms would be very interested in a female West Point applicant and the rest of your story is real solid. Take a deep breath and start thinking Top 10 B-schools.

  • rafaelarbex@gmail.com

    Dear Sandy and John
    I’d love to get my profile evaluated

    Brazilian, Male, 26

    Bachelor in Industrial Engineering (apr 2014) in a top 20 University in Brazil
    GMAT: 700 (50Q/35V) / 6.0 AWA / 7 IR
    GPA: 3.2 (among the top 10% for engineering in my university)

    Morana & Lupo (local stores, each is part of a franchisee chain)
    Jan 2014 – Present
     Total revenue is growing at an average of 70% per year since 2014, partly because of a change that transformed sales team commission bonuses aggressively meritocratic
     Leads the group’s expansion, growing in the last 2½ years from one to three stores. Fourth store under construction
     Leads 3 teams with an average size of 5 employees each
     Creates and sets managerial controls and methods that improve management. New purchase system introduced, based on historic sales data, enabling more assertive purchase and reducing inventory up to 30%
     Performs and controls all financial functions and performed analysis on the expansion of the group

    Arbex Pina Empreendimentos Imobliários (Family-owned real estate investments and management company)
    Jul 2012 – Dec 2013
     US$40K saved in interest payments in one year by switching bank loans from no guarantee short-term to secured long-term, reducing the average monthly interest rate from 6% to less than 1%
     US$1.5MM negotiated in loans, assets and rental agreements
     Developed a Strategic Planning that led to a better management of group’s assets, anticipating the conclusion of construction properties that have been leased
     Assisted in the coordination of a group of 15 masons and carpenters, on charge of some functions such as workplace safety
     Developed executive construction projects and ensured that all other projects were approved by town hall

     2 Patents registered at INPI and others 2 under writing
     98th Percentile at Mensa International: the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world
     3 months exchange experience in Dublin, Ireland (Jan 2012 − Mar 2012)
     5 months experience Volunteering at AIESEC (Mar 2009 − Jul 2009)
     Language Skills: Portuguese (native), English (fluent), Spanish (advanced) and Mandarin (beginner)
     Elected President of the Student Council at High School, representing more than 1,100 students

    -> Short-Term: Be hired by a Top Employer (To save money and Acquire experience) on Tech or Bottom of the Pyramid sector
    -> Long-Term: Open my own business (Preference Tech or Bottom of the Pyramid sector)

    TARGET SCHOOLS: UCLA (Anderson), UC Berkeley (Haas), MIT (Sloan), Yale (SOM), Indiana (Kelley) and U of T (Rotman)