Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Mr. Army Intelligence


Mr. Ringo


  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.0 GPA (top 9 percent of class)
  • Undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from a Uruguayan University
  • Work experience in procurement for Telefonica for two and one half years; for past year as a value added services project engineer; also director of a start-up focused on “optimizations for agriculture with the use of wireless sensor systems. This startup has won several entrepreneurial prizes and a funding capital from the National Innovation Agency”
  • Extracurricular involvement in the One Laptop per Child program in Uruguay, part of an NGO focused on eradicating  child labor in Latin America, volunteer in public schools, played rugby for several years and part of a rock band (drum studies for 5 years); have also done several short films
  • Goal: To focus on entrepreneurship and new technologies in order to continue my business projects and collaborate in the entrepreneurial sector in Uruguay, a country that in recent years has started to explode its great potential to create and innovate
  • Fluent in English, Spanish and French
  • 27-year-old male from Uruguay

Odds of Success:

Stanford: 30% to 50+%

Berkeley: 50+%

Northwestern: 50+%

UCLA: 50+%

Michigan: 50+%

Sandy’s Analysis: I take it you are still working at Telefonica while you are also a director of your start-up? Your start-up, at the intersection of wireless and agriculture, is a hot area, especially the use of wireless to help farmers get better price information. Although I don’t know exactly what you do (you say, “provide optimizations for agriculture with the use of wireless sensor systems”) it sounds close enough to helping farmers, and if they are poor, so much the better. If you are helping big companies, well, that is not as good and should be downplayed.  Your start-up also synchs up with your training and current work for a big telecom and it has won prizes and awards from Uraguay’s Innovation Agency.

I would try to be very clear that your 3.0 GPA is in the top 9 percent of your class. We had this issue with another profile where the applicant went to school in Spain, and everyone chimed in saying, yeah, Spanish GPAs are really low, so it could be a Latin-Iberian thing.  I’m not quite sure how your job as a Value Added Services Project Engineer will stack up in admissions committee mind. Working for Telefonica  (the 3rd largest telecom in the world, says Wikipedia) is a plus, fer sure.  (Ahem, are you aware of anyone from your group who has applied to business school and what outcomes? That is always useful advice for profile writers. As I may have said in the past.)

You will need to be very clear about what Value Added Services Project Engineer means and what you do. All that said, there is a lot to like, including some exciting extras with One Laptop Per Child, and filmmaking. Your goals, “entrepreneurship and new technologies  . . . in Uruguay, a country that   . . . has started to explode its great potential . . .” would be attractive to most schools.

So this is a really exciting package, with solid grades, a nicely balanced 730 GMAT a blue chip job, a hot start-up and some interesting hobbies. And you are a drummer in a rock band, a “special” type in the minds of many. Are you more like Ringo or Charlie Watts? B-schools would prefer Ringo. Most music snobs would go for Charlie.

OK, back to reality here. I think you got a real chance at Stanford since you check all their boxes including being from an exotic and developing country, working for blue chip, doing hot start-up work, being a do-gooder and impactful goals with solid stats. Stanford takes lots of kids from Latin America, usually through different feeder mechanisms,  mostly the company you work for (calling Cemex!!!), so a good deal of your chances there will turn on their prior relations with Telefonica. You should think about HBS as well since it is bigger and you are also their type for same reasons. At other schools you mention, Berk, Kellogg, UCLA and Michigan, man, I’d say you are real solid if you can convince them you want to come. Try MIT/Sloan, you are deeply up their alley, and might like it.

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