- 720 GMAT (first attempt)
- 3.7 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in accounting and finance from a top 40 private university
- “I taught with Kaplan for over three years and scored much higher back then. The test has changed a bit since, and I plan to retake targeting 750+.”
- Work experience includes more than two years in a high-profile financial reporting position with a billion-dollar multinational based in the Tampa area; also spent two years with a major public accounting firm (think GT/McGladry) and then a smaller firm until landing a controller position with a gold mining startup in South America
- “Eventually became functional CFO, raising capital and engaging PE firms until the company ran out of working capital, after which I was forced to depart for the sake of my own solvency”
- Also run a small accounting/consulting firm on the side catering to internet and local startups–operate on either a non-profit or an equity-only basis
- Extracurricular involvement in Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement
- Goal: To shift to a financial management role or consulting. “I am not thrilled with the prospect of spending the rest of my years preparing financial statements and footnotes.”
- “I was accepted to UChicago in undergrad and was unable to attend due to financial constraints. It was my dream to attend then and it still is today.”
- 27-year-old white male
Odds of Success:
Northwestern: 40% to 45%
Dartmouth: 30% to 40%
Sandy’s Analysis: What we got here, on top of a well-travelled 27-year-old white boy, is:
A. solid stats (3.7 GPA from a selective–Top 40–private college and a 720 GMAT, which you claim you can raise to a 750);
B. a mildly dissed major, accounting; and
C. a LOT of jobs and stories.
Those jobs go from the ultra banal to the surreal: Two years with a major-ish public accounting firm (“think GT/McGladry,” Hmmmm, I’m thinking that but nothing comes to mind); then a gig with a smaller public accounting firm, then, a dash for the gold, literally, as you worked as a controller for a gold-mining startup with properties in South America.
That is movie stuff, my man.
You say, “eventually became functional CFO, raising capital and engaging PE firms until the company ran out of working capital, after which I was forced to depart for the sake of my own solvency.” More movie stuff, although the experience sounds good.
“Currently work for one of the only $-billion-plus multinationals in the Tampa Bay area in a high-profile fin reporting position.” This sounds cinematic and vaguely sinister although I don’t know the local Tampa Bay economy.
Well, the excitement dies pretty quickly, as you yourself admit. You want an MBA as a gateway to a financial management or consulting role, crying, “I am not thrilled with the prospect of spending the rest of my years preparing financial statements and footnotes.”
OK. Just a note to self here — that would be yourself — don’t describe those many years of working for a start-up South American gold mine or a sinister-sounding Tampa Bay billion-dollar whatever as ” . . . preparing financial statements and footnotes.”
But you seem to know that. You need to say you were doing things like consulting and financial management, the very things you want to do after you get your MBA, except on some bigger scale with a firmer footing and a fatter paycheck and more inflated title.
Ahem, but don’t use those exact words. Adcoms lap up that story– doing the same thing you are currently pretending to do, but at some higher level.
Schools you want to attend: Booth, Kellogg, Sloan, Tuck.
Well, this is where it gets hairy. The two of those schools who play it most by the numbers, a game that favors you, are Booth and Sloan.
Booth might go for this since financial management /consulting is up their alley. You have solid stats, and might be easily employable given the work history you lay out here. Sloan is way smaller, less entranced by accounting and financial management, and more into hard-core financial engineering (or whatever they call it these days) and, in some subtle ways, more snobby. Don’t get me wrong, there are low-pedigree types at Sloan but they are not like you. They are more like wheat-fed low-pedigree cliches, e.g. guys from big state schools with 4.8’s and then gigs at 2nd-tier iron extraction companies–salt-of-the-earth stuff, as it were.
Your story on the other hand is more middle tier than low-pedigree. Top 40 private school, which is neither Prole nor near-Ivy nor near-anything. Working for a near Big-3 accounting company, which is what you said you did, before going really oddball, reads kinda dead on the page. Hence, no Sloan for you, my bet.
Kellogg and Tuck are more broad-minded but also picky (that can happen) and will, as a matter of giving you a quick once-over, be attracted to your big GMATs and GPA. After that, it is a matter of having them keep their interest as they sniff around the tangled bush of your job history. I would try to thin that out as much as possible. Just present your job history as a series of transitions from accounting to financial management, and dial back on the drama, Latin-Am gold mines, and confusion.
You add, as if your four or five prior jobs were not enough to take in, that you currently “run a small accounting/consulting firm on the side that caters to internet and local startups; operate on either a non-profit or an equity-only basis.” I would omit this quite frankly. What we don’t need here is more random alleys.
You are drifting into EMBA territory, not so much by age, but by number of jobs and experience, and that might be something worth thinking about. Given your accounting credentials, and work experience, you do not need a full MBA and could save millions of dollars by getting an EMBA near your current job and using that as a license to hunt for a better job, or keep the one you have.
You add, as a final note, “I was accepted to UChicago in undergrad and was unable to attend due to financial constraints. It was my dream to attend then and it still is today.”
I know those dreams, as do many of our readers. It may be time to dream a different dream. Get an EMBA, rise in your billion-dollar company, and then hire newly-minted MBA clowns from Chicago and show them how smart and nice you are while telling war stories about your days doing the books for that South American gold mining company.
If that is not what you have in mind, at least normalize your past, and make a compelling case about wanting to be a guy who can use financial skills to help innovative companies prosper.