Calculating Your Odds Of Getting A Top MBA

globalmanMr. International


  • 720 GMAT
  • Top 5% of class in a selective school in France
  • Masters in Management from London Business School at age 23
  • “The big issue with my profile: why an MBA when I’ve already been to B-school? Quick answer: career change/classes in masters degree weren’t specific enough – no electives”
  • Work experience includes an Internship in portfolio management/private banking, created a commercial brokerage company, worked with startups (freelance consulting) and ended up working at P&G for 2 years in a finance/marketing/strategy role in the global headquarters of a $1 billion brand
  • Extracurricular involvement in charity work (soup kitchen in churches), founded and ran an investment club in undergraduate university, member of executive committee of LBS club (usually only available to MBAs but I secured a position even as a Masters student), play guitar in a band
  • Goal: To transition to management consulting with longer-term goal of working for or starting a venture capital firm
  • “I am passionate about technology”
  • Fluent in three languages and have lived in four countries
  • “French – but without being truly French: Born and raised in Paris, France – from a middle eastern background and went to an International school from 6 to 18”
  • 26-year-old male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 25%

Wharton: 30% to 35%

Stanford: 10%


Sandy’s Analysis: Phew, for a 26-year-old, you have done a lot including international schooling at a “select” French university (where you were in the top five percent), plus, as you note, a Masters in Management at LBS (which you think is the “big issue” requiring the most explanation), and then,  drum roll please, because this is important:

“Internship in portfolio management/private banking, created a commercial brokerage company, worked with startups (freelance consulting) and ended up working at P&G for 2 years in a finance/marketing/strategy role in the Global HQ of a 1+ billion dollar brand.”

Let’s break that down to its best elements:

–top five percent from French selective school. I am no expert on French higher education, and neither are most USA adcoms, but if that is from what most Americans think of as Grandes Ecoles [e.g. this], that is really good.  Even if not, top 5 percent of any ‘selective’ French school is OK.

–Masters in Management at LBS. Hmmmm, that is a one-year program designed for, as its website notes, “recent graduates who have less than one year of full-time postgraduate corporate work experience  . . .  and the motivation and desire to build a strong foundation for a career in business.” That is not going to be so hard to explain, especially if your undergraduate studies were in non-business subjects. While YOU SAY, you are going to explain this as,  “Quick answer: career change / classes in masters degree weren’t specific enough – no electives etc.”

I would suggest a variant of that, which is that the Masters in Management prepared you for business basics — such as accounting, marketing, strategy, etc.  –but was mostly academic, and did not involve, teamwork skills, internships, leadership, global issues, etc. Most of your target schools focus on creating leaders who make a difference, and you will need to position yourself as such.  My guess is, you knew this and you were just engaging in some shorthand in your description. But for others, that is the way to explain away a masters in management degree or other one-year degree. You want to learn leadership, teamwork, and impact. In your case, I don’t think explaining that away will be a huge problem per se, but as we will see, you got a lot more to explain, and at some point, adcoms just stop listening to explanations.

“Internship in portfolio management/private banking . . .” When was this? important, was this during college or during time at LBS? And what exactly did you do?

–“created a commercial brokerage company . . .”  OK, now cue the creepy music, what the hell does that mean? It sounds like something one does with family connections and is a  real but street wise business. We do not believe YOU CREATED IT. Anyway, really needs explanation or omission. Linked to your former gig with private wealth management (which is often a resting place for rich kids) and your Euro vibes, we are beginning to get a bad picture.

–“worked with startups (freelance consulting) . . .” Stop the creepy music, and cue deflating tuba chorus. Pal, I like you, but you are losing me here. There is really no such thing as “freelance consulting” for kids right out of college . . .although there is such a thing as hanging around coffee shops with your friends and dreaming. Unless you had a marketable and powerful skill, e.g. website design, accounting software installation, etc., I would omit this, unless, again, you can actually name engagements and outcomes.

— “and ended up working at P&G for 2 years in a finance/marketing/strategy role in the Global HQ of a 1+ billion dollar brand.” 

Hmmmm, just when I thought you you were a goner, you come up with this, even though, in your typical way, I am not 100 percent sure what it means.

I am 100 percent sure what P&G means, and my cher ami, you do not strike me as the P&G type. If this means you were working as ________________at some well known P&G brand, well, for app purposes, just state that.

We also do not believe that rolling stones such as yourself, as charming as you are, land beginner jobs at P&G subs doing a “finance/marketing/strategy role” which is what you had stated on your original report.

Sooooo, to make a fun but long story short, you are a guy with a good college GPA and a 720 GMAT with some possibly solid gig at P&G and a masters from LBS that needs to be explained away (plus some fluff and what looks like short periods of unemployment) which needs to be expunged, explained, or normalized.

One more thing: “Reason for MBA : career change. I want to go into management consultancy and in the longer term work for/start a venture capital firm. I am passionate about technology.”  In other words, three more trophy gigs, hopefully real ones, to add the trophy stories you have embellished, made up, or just diddled with above.

Can I be frank, even more so than I have been already? Reading between the lines, what we got here, is a possibly rich, or wants badly to be, charming, international kid, who is smart, unfocused, chic, and hard-working enough to land a real gig at P&G, and who wants to be even more rich. I like you, and many single, young adults reading this might like you (well, consent to a Skype date to check things out). The admissions committees of major business schools, however, are a heartless, sexless, humorless bunch (when operating qua adcoms, outside of the job, they are academic administrators with average interests in matters of the heart, sex and humor). They may not be able to articulate what bugs them about this profile as fully as I just did, in part, because that is not their job, but they will be bugged, and they will pay attention to that bug.

You need to really focus on the top 5 percent GPA, the 720 GMAT, and some honest explanation of whatever it is you do at P&G. You need to obliterate as much as possible of the rest. (You will need to explain a bit how come you need an MBA in light of current LBS degree). You then need to say you love consulting because you like to help companies grow,  and want to be a consultant. THE END.

Boring . . .yes. Effective . . .  maybe.  The international background, languages, etc. will come out in your application. I would not mention a passion for technology unless you can really prove it. You just sound too much like an HBS Section X wannabe!!!! Which is worse than an actual member.

HBS–You have a real outside chance with surgically clean execution.


Stanford–Ain’t going to happen. They love P&G as a source of under-represented U.S. minorities, not Middle East/French techno-playboy manques.

For that, they look at US Ivies and the wealth management practices of major investment banks.

INSEAD–Someone correct if I am wrong, but there are a lot of guys like you there, and they will welcome one more, if suitably disguised for admissions purposes.

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