Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Mr. Dance Marathon

sales guyMr. Coca Cola

  • 650 GMAT (practice test)
  • 3.5 GPA (3.8 over the last two years)
  • Undergraduate degree in political science and psychology from Ohio State in 2011
  • Conducted honors research on Chinese oil market
  • Fluent in Spanish and basic German
  • Work experience includes two years a German faucet company (akin to Koehler or Moen) in marketing and pricing in Germany and in Cyprus; was laid off from job in Cyprus due to the widely publicized financial collapse of the island; currently work at Coca-Cola Co. headquarters in Atlanta doing market research for brand managers
  • Extracurricular involvement as an intern for a U.S. Senator, two years on an LDS mission in Peru; served as the chief spiritual leader for 90 people while living in Cyprus in a position similar to being a part-time priest, rabbi, pastor; also doing part-time market research for the non-profit branch of Coke finding locations for water filtration systems offering clean water
  • Goal: To continue working with Coca Cola abroad or to join Bain, McKinsey or BCG abroad
  • 29-year-old white male midwesterner


Odds of Success:

(with 700+ GMAT)

Yale: 30%

Northwestern: 40%+

INSEAD: 50%+

Duke: 40%+

Brigham Young: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis:  Hmmm, Ohio State, 3.5; jobs w. German faucet major and Coke; 29 year old male, GMAT=??? LDS mission, lots of powerful extras, mostly LDS related.

Lots to like, including Coke, which is real old school, but so are the places you are applying to. And after a while adcoms  get tired of reading applications from app inventors and other “disruptors.” The 3.5 is on the bubble, so GMAT near or above 700 could be important to you.

Also, given your smart goal of working for consulting shops like M/B/B, well, those places actually look at GMATs, so it  might be worth trying for a 710 or so, even if it means taking it several times.

]Sorry to be a pain on this topic, but we are witnessing a very strange phenomenon on Planet B-School: as GMAT scores rise dramatically, people (adcoms and other consultants) are rushing to discount their importance.  Huh, then how come they are rising? Just a question.

The line up of schools you suggest: Yale, Kellogg, INSEAD, Duke, BYU are all possible. I would caution anyone interested in returning to the U.S. about INSEAD. That can happen, but it is just hard. I think you would get in. They like Americans, have a comparatively high acceptance rate of 32%, and you have strong Euro experience as well, so it may make sense for you. If you are not planning on working in Europe after B-school, well, take a real close look at where INSEAD places people (happy to be tweaked about this, if anyone has the data).

One plus for you is that your story reads as a tight package: You are the Coke/LDS/brand management/McKinsey type from the Midwest,and I would both play into that while noting, as they say on the infomercials, “but there is more!” Your work in Washington, important mission work for LDS, and two years working in Cyrpus.

As to the schools you target:

Yale may want better stats­. They are on a magazine rankings jihad.Kellogg goes for guys like you. Coke/brand management is deep in their DNA.

Duke runs older and likes solid dudes like you (and Coke, too, is a peer Southern institution in their world).

BYU is just not that hard, and they might welcome an LDS non-alum!!!

If you get an 80/80 GMAT there is a chance you could get into HBS, with perfect execution, and some hankering on their adcom’s part for a Coke type. HBS features itself as the “Coke” of business schools, certainly in terms of age, size,  dominance and #1-dom, although I’d say just in terms of branding, HBS has done better over the past 10 years than Coke. Worth a Hail Mary there. They take a certain number of Coke/Pepsi types a year — just to add some fizz to the class.

Coke is a really strong part of your application. You don’t have to say you are going back, but you should say you are interested in brand management, especially for global products, which could help you key into your global and brand management background.

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