Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Mr. Army Intelligence


Mr. Cricket


  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from an unknown college in India
  • Post-graduate diploma in management from a well-known program in India
  • Have designation as a CFA, FRM (Financial Risk Manager), and a level one CAIA (Certified Alternative Investment Analyst)
  • Work experience includes nine months as a senior research analysis at an S&P subsidiary in India, two years as a financial analyst for a boutique private equity firm in Abu Dhabi, and a year and one-half as a portfolio analyst for a well-known family office in Abu Dhabi
  • Extracurricular involvement as captain of the cricket team at college, treasurer of the CFA Emirates and a member of the Red Crescent
  • Reason for MBA: To “reach the next level, faster career progress, networking, change of location”
  • 28-year-old Indian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: -10%

Stanford: -10%

Wharton: -20%

Chicago: -20%

Columbia: -20%

NYU: -20%

INSEAD: 30% to 50%

London Business School: 30% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: Your problem is not enough Blue Chip anything: schooling or work. Your jobs are all at small and unknown (to most B-schools) places and if you add to that a no-name college, it begins to set a pattern. The longish list of CFA, FRM, CAIA, and PGDM also begins to work against you in an odd and maybe unfair way.  You seem pretty well grooved in what you are currently doing, so much so, that you have gotten all those certifications.

Why should a leading B-school think you need one more? I would also do better than this litany for why the MBA: “Reach the next level, faster career progress, Networking, Change of location.” I mean I totally understand, but it just adds to the ‘narrative’ that you are a frustrated “lifer”  analyst who WANTS TO BE A HAPPIER ANALYST IN A DIFFERENT CITY.

Most top business schools do not consider relocating you to a more fun city as part of their mission statement.  So, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton are not going to bite. Booth, Columbia, NYU might if you put some real zip into your motives for the MBA, given that your background is solid and mildly exotic. INSEAD and LBS are not all that hard to get into, especially LBS. And you seem their age and background. INSEAD might find all this a bit boring, so that might be an issue there.

Hire a consultant (not me), seriously. Nothing personal. I just don’t focus on the schools you should focus on, but any competent consultant could help you standardize this package into something more attractive than your self-presentation above.

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