Handicapping Your Shot At An Elite MBA

After working in India as a software programmer for a major software company, this Indian-born engineer managed to land a strategy job with a global insurance company in Chicago. A 26-year-old who graduated at the top 20% of his class in computer science, he has an impressively high 750 GMAT and now wants to go to business school to help him make the move to McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group.

After a six-year stint as an advertising executive for a national Canadian magazine, he went to Harvard University at the age of 29. With a 740 GMAT and a 3.9 GPA, this 33-year-old male now wants to go to business school to either become a venture capitalist or a consultant who specializes in media strategy.

This young African American professional worked for a bulge bracket investment bank for five years, then picked up an Ivy League master’s degree in information management. He has spent the last two years at a consulting firm. With a 650 GMAT and a 3.3 grade point average, he’s now hoping to get an MBA degree to transition to one of the big three global consulting firms.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What they all share in common is the ambition to attend one of the world’s best MBA programs and to use that experience to enhance their career paths. Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of Boston-based 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, work backgrounds and career goals 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 to be published shortly. (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.)

And if you just have a short question, he is happy to answer that, too. So just post it in the comment section below.

This edition of our popular MBA handicapping series is an unusual all-video version, but if you want to skip the film and go straight to the stats, the analysis and the odds, you can do that, too, because we include a writeup with each profile.

Mr. Indian-Engineer-Turned-Strategy Analyst


  • 750 GMAT
  • Top 20% of class
  • Undergraduate degree in computer science from a well-known engineering school in India (not IIT)
  • Top 10% of class
  • Master’s degree in management from the Indian Institute of Management
  • Work experience includes a year for a major software company (think Microsoft, Oracle, SAP) as a software engineer in India and for the past two years for a global property and casualty insurance company in strategy
  • Extracurricular involvement is limited, only recently began doing pro bono work for an NGO
  • Goal: To use the MBA to work for a big three global consulting firm in their healthcare or financial services practice
  • 26-year-old Indian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 25%
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: 40% to 50%
Chicago: 40% to 50%
Northwestern: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: I like this guy a lot. I like Desi guys who are software programmers who have big GMATs. And he works in what he calls P&C. But as far as Harvard and Stanford are concerned that might as well be D&C. It’s an abortion for them. It’s not something they care about. They think it’s as boring as most people think it is. It’s not considered a selective job. On the other hand, it is a serious and important job.

For those reasons and the fact that he does not have much by way of extras or Stanford-friendly assets, it’s going to be a hard sell. He’s the silver version of a golden guy who has a 750 GMAT who went to the Indian Institute of Technology, then got a job with McKinsey and is now working for an elite PE firm.

HIs goals are good. Consulting firms will like this guy because he has a very high GMAT and they might very well like a person from the property and casualty field. He will get a big three consulting gig, no matter where he goes.

This guy has a management degree and that is another thing to be explained away. Schools say you already have an MBA. What are you doing? Schools blink at that. They blink at non-American MBAs on the theory that you didn’t get the full monty experience. Why would you now come back and try to get it?

So Harvard and Stanford are probably not going to accept him. Wharton goes for a guy like this with serviceable execution. He’s got big numbers. He’s going to be employed. He’s smart. Why not? His chances at Wharton, Chicago Booth, and Kellogg are all good. I don’t know this guy and I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but he may not be a Kellogg type. I would like to know how many people at Kellogg ever worked at Oracle. That is a wacky statistic I would like to know because he and Kellogg seem like oil and water.

I like this guy and he can get into the Sandy Kreisberg School of Business any day.