After a five-month search that saw the review of more than 100 candidates, Harvard Business School today (March 24) named one of its own graduates to become the new managing director of admissions and financial aid. Chad Losee, who only earned his MBA degree less than three years ago as a member of the Class of 2013, will succeed Dee Leopold who has headed the school’s MBA selection process for the past ten years.
Since September of 2014, the 31-year-old Losee has been employed as a manager in Bain & Company’s Dallas office, where he had worked from 2008 to 2011, before being accepted into Harvard’s MBA program. He will lead an admissions office with 20 full-time staffers and a number of seasonal contractors brought in to read applications and do applicant interviews during the peak admissions cycle.
In a surprising move, Harvard also announced that Leopold, who earned her MBA from HBS in 1980 and did a brief stint on Wall Street before returning to the HBS fold, will stay active at the school as the program director for 2+2, the deferred admit program she created for undergraduate students in college and graduate students in full-time master’s programs. This is a new job at HBS which had previously been handled by several staffers. HBS admits between 100 and 120 2+2 candidates each year.
SLIPPING INTO A PAIR OF DIFFICULT SHOES
Deciding who to admit or deny at Harvard Business School is the most impactful job in MBA admissions. In any given year, the school will receive just under 10,000 applications for fewer than 940 seats, for an acceptance rate of only 10.7%, second only to Stanford GSB which enrolls far fewer students. The job pays a minimum of $123,100 a year with a maximum base of $221,900. The mid-range annual salary is $172,500–far less than what Losee would have made if he stuck around Bain long enough to become a partner.
Losee will be slipping into a pair of difficult shoes. As director of admissions at HBS since May of 2006, Leopold has led major changes in the field, causing many other schools to add admission interviews and reduce the number of essays required to apply. Over her years in admissions at HBS, she and her team of staffers, working out of Dillon House on campus, have read and evaluated some 350,000 MBA applications, ultimately enrolling more than 32,000 students to Harvard Business School. Those students represent roughly four out of every 10 of the school’s 81,000 living alumni and include the most international and women graduates in HBS’ history.
Leopold’s decision to admit Losee was clearly a smart one. The summa cum laude graduate from Brigham Young University immediately bought into the school’s intense culture, fully embracing HBS and all that it has to offer. He graduated in the top 5% of his class as a Baker Scholar, making him one of the most desirable MBAs on the market in 2013.
‘THE LEOPOLD IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE HER SPOTS’
Instead of leaping into a high-paying job with a mainstream employer of MBAs, however, Losee decided to stay on campus, working for a year as an HBS Leadership Fellow in the Dean’s Office. In that role, he collaborated with the school’s senior leadership on a range of strategic projects, including the school’s online learning initiative, dubbed HBX, that brought him into close contact with Jana Pompadur Kierstead, who was then executive director of HBX and is now executive director of the MBA program. Losee, who will take over admissions in June, will report to Kierstead.
The admissions process won’t be entirely new to the Bain consultant. While an MBA student, he was an admissions ambassador for his section, helping candidates during their visits to the campus. Losee also served as an observer with the HBS Admissions Board, evaluating prospective students during their interviews. And he has remained active as an HBS alumnus, serving a term on the HBS Alumni Board, one of about 70 graduates appointed to provide expertise and input to the school’s leaders.
His deep involvement with the school on a number of fronts makes some admission consultants believe that radical change is not likely. “For applicants, this is no news,” says Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com and a long-time admissions consultant. “He is a dyed-in-the-wool creature of the HBS culture. I may eat these words, but people who teach disruptive strategy often do not engage in it, so I am expecting this regime to be more of the same in terms of who gets admitted and why. The Leopold is not going to change her spots.”