Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. Interstellar Thinker
GMAT 740, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%

Handicapping Your Odds of MBA Success

Ms. Smelters

  • 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%

Columbia: 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.

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.