Can You Get Into An Elite MBA Program?

Business woman

Ms. Family Business

 

  • 740 GMAT (3rd attempt after a 690 and 720)
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business administration from a top 20 university in the United Kingdom
  • Work experience includes one year with her family-owned $100 million (sales) manufacturing company in China where she led initiatives for significant change in the company’s marketing and HR functions; plans on working another one to two years before applying
  • Extracurricular involvement as a tutor with a program that aims to make immigrant, female workers from rural areas in Chinese cities financially literate
  • Short-term goal: To work with a boutique consultancy, 
specializing in family businesses
  • Long-term goal: To assume overall leadership of the family business and: 1. Maximize productive efficiency by increasing horizontal and vertical integration, 2. Move into new, emerging markets with significant potential for expansion, and 3. Establish an R&D center and emerge a local technological leader in our industry (which is currently low-tech and traditional)
  • 21-year-old, Chinese female

Odds of Success:

Wharton: 40% to 50%
Columbia: 50+%
Yale: 50%+
Cornell: 50%+
Harvard: 20% to 40%+
Stanford: 15% to 25%
MIT: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Huh? A 3.7 from a top-20 British University, a 740 GMAT, and you are in-line to take over “low-tech and traditional” family business in China with annual turnover of $100 million?  Plus some wonderful sounding extras, including   “mak[ing] immigrant, female workers from rural areas in Chinese cities financially literate.”

Kids like you get into HBS all the time so put them on your dance card,as I have above,  and also throw in Stanford (the applications are now similar). You seem to have a handle on how to spin this, viz.,

“1. Maximize productive efficiency by increasing horizontal and vertical integration (make that more simple and drop the jargon)

2. Move into new, emerging markets . . . .

3. Establish an R&D center and emerge a local technological leader in our industry (which is currently low-tech and traditional).”

You should also mention upgrading the business to create high-paying tech jobs and more jobs in general, increasing worker safety (a good item out these days since Chinese workplace tragedies are all over the news) and engaging with the communities where your businesses operate.  Plus sustainable practices, the chorus of any PC song.

I agree with your plan of applying in two years since you are only 21 with one year of work experience now. During those two years, try to get involved with company initiatives which support the tick list we have developed above (and keep working with those rural female workers, trying to take a leadership position in that organization).

Family businesses in China are a real area of interest to U.S. and European business schools. It helps if the business is big in terms of revenue or employees-–what can I say, size matters. If your company employs a lot of people mention that.  You can also say one challenge you will face is “right-sizing” the traditional workforce in light of the need for technological change and upgrading skills (how’s that for a B-school word which means ‘screwing badly’?)  B-schools think they can teach you how to do that.

You have a real solid story, and with proper execution, you should be in-line at your target schools (Wharton, Columbia, Yale and Cornell) and a plausible applicant at HBS, Stanford, and MIT.