Handicapping Your Odds of Getting In

Mr. Banker

  • 700 GMAT
  • Undergraduate degree in commerce in India
  • Received average scores in a tough charter accounting program
  • Work experience includes being a corporate banker for six years at Citibank and HSBC; set up a small mortgages credit shop for Citi and then moved to a sales role. Have since moved to HSBC to a risk analysis unit and now work for a standard chartered bank as associate director for mid-market. Set a new record in my region for the number of clients on-boarded and played an instrumental role in a record year for revenue
  • Extracurricular involvement winning prizes at acting for skits, including best actor for a contest held at my bank
  • Goal: To work in consulting/venture capital/private equity
  • 31-year-old Indian male

Odds of Success:

INSEAD: 25%

Columbia: 20%

Northwestern: 15%

NYU: 15%

Dartmouth: 15%

Virginia: 20%

Sandy’s Analysis: Both your age and what appears to be a LOT of so-so banking jobs (from Adcoms perspective) are holding you back.  You are 31 with what you are say are average scores in a tough charter accounting program with a 700 GMAT and not much extra currics or other powerful factors. Your biggest asset seems to be great career advancement over your banking career, starting off in retail banking and then moving up the ranks at several banks doing landmark deals and bringing in record new customers.

That record of solid, day-in and day-out accomplishment is something greatly valued in the real world, and deeply discounted on Planet Adcom. They got you pegged, rightly or wrongly, as some excellent second-tier commercial banker from backwater banks and cities. The fact you want to use B-school to transition from that into the more sunlight precincts of venture capital and private equity will only confirm their impression, rightly or wrongly. Plus, those gigs are hard to get for a guy with not much pedigree graduating B school at age 34 or so.

I would not mention the PE/VC wet dream in your app, and focus on transition to consulting, which you also mention. Given your solid banking background–unlike most kids at B school from Goldman, Morgan, etc, you actually do know how to cash a check or issue a real mortgage –you might be able to get a job at consulting firms which specialize in financial institutions, and that is what you should say, and only that.

Given iffy-ness of grades and marginal GMAT, I might recommend taking GMAT over.  You are going to be a close call at INSEAD, Columbia, Kellogg, Stern, Tuck, and  Darden, although those are right choices, along with Michigan, Duke, and other schools in 7-15 range on most rankings. You are also heading into EMBA territory, which is an option, but one which probably will NOT make your dreams come true. If any reader had evidence of using an EMBA as a way to transition from commercial banking to consulting, let me know.

You need to clarify your story as one of increasing success and responsibility and then work up some soap bubble of a goal statement about wanting to help financial institutions in Asia increase efficiency, lower costs, blah, blah as some kind of consultant to the industry, and allude to specialist firms in Asia which do that (do any?) and hint that you already have spoken to people doing that, and employment prospects are solid.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.