- 720 GMAT
- 3.67 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the best university in New Zealand; won NZ Aluminum Smelters Undergraduate Prize
- Work experience includes four years as an engineer and job manager at one of the top consulting firms in Australia, focusing on mining as the only female electrical engineer on my team; have worked on high profile defense and hospital projects.
- Extracurricular involvement as a mentor to new students at university; treasurer of Women in Engineering club; volunteer at an old age center and member of Young Professionals committee at work
- Goal: To move into a project management position in the mining industry
- 27-year-old female of Indian origin who migrated to New Zealand at age 18
Odds of Success:
Harvard: 30% to 40%
Stanford: 20% to 30%
Wharton: 35% to 45%
Chicago: 40% to 50%
MIT: 40% to 50%
Sandy’s Analysis: Jeepers, a 3.67 from the best New Zealand University, a 720 GMAT, four years, in part as the only woman on roughneck job sites, and the winner of the NZ Aluminum Smelters Undergraduate Prize. That is a tight and impressive package, and yes, you should play the lone woman in engineering card, a bit, but carefully.
One issue here is what is your consulting firm’s reputation with U.S. schools, you say, “Engineer and Job Manager at one of the top Australian consulting firms” but does that firm have a history of sending kids to U.S. business schools. If not, you may need to take more space than usual on your resume to detail its size, number of partners, number of offices, areas of expertise, etc.
Also make sure your recommendation writers note similar boilerplate as part of introducing themselves in the rec letter. Although most recs ask simply, “What is your relation to the candidate?”–a good way to begin that section is for a writer to state, “I am the senior engagement partner here at Aussie & Ruggers, a strategic consulting firm headquartered in Brisbane with offices in X, Y and Z, with XXX consultants, and major engagements with clients such as 1 2 3. I am a graduate of X University and Y business school, and joined Aussie in 2006, before that I was ……I have known the candidate since…..”
I know that sounds as if your advocate is wasting time, but that actually adds a good deal of credibility to the recommendation. Of course, if you work for McKinsey you can cut back on that to some degree. But a solid base of who is writing the recommendation is an excellent start. It announces a voice of credibility and balance.
Moving right along, you have a real solid story, solid grades and GMAT. You also have what appears to be selective job and a specialization in an important but often under-represented field, mining, as well as other experience in hot-button fields like Defense and Hospitals. Plus some miscellaneous but impressive extras. I am not sure I would say you want to stay in mining, despite being a Smelters award-winner. It sounds like you are too tied to the past and not thinking BIG enough. You should say instead that you want to combine your tech and emerging management and leadership skills to become an impactful leader in Asia (including Australia and NZ) and that could take several forms, which you can elaborate on.
For HBS, you could say that one thing you have done well is deal with various leadership challenges as a woman in a typically man’s field, but make the emphasis dealing with different challenges in different ways, and not just holding your own with a bunch of clowns who actually believe those Foster’s beer commercials. You want the emphasis to be on managing, taking control, and leaning forward on various problems versus just putting up with them and not getting depressed.
“Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, MIT and Columbia.” You got a chance at all of those places, with serviceable execution, helpful and enthusiastic recommendations, and an expansive conception of what you want to accomplish.