Handicapping Your Shot At An Elite MBA: Mr. Indian-Engineer-Turned-Strategy Analyst


Mr. Tech Marketing


  • 730 GMAT
  • 3.4 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from an Ivy League school in math and finance
  • Work experience includes product marketing manager at Facebook, Google, or Twitter, responsible for go-to-market strategy, product evolution, and marketing for a “very high-profile advertising product and one advertising product doing amazing well,” previously worked in consulting and also built a startup in private equity operations
  • Extracurricular involvement in multiple campus and fraternity leadership positions, founder of a student-run investment fund, and founder of an entrepreneurship forum to bring venture capitalists and industry leaders together
  • Goal: To move out of adtech to either find startup team or startup idea while in B-school and eventually move into the VC industry
  • 27-year-old Asian American male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%

Stanford: 30%

Wharton: 50%+

MIT: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: What we have here are two great candidates and whether or not you combine the two into one great candidate is a very interesting question. If he were a product manager at Google and had these qualifications and wanted to go on in product management and then business leadership in the tech industry, that would be a great profile. If he had a startup history and then wanted to go to business school, that is a good story.

The fact that it is a hybrid story doesn’t make it better. Business schools are like doctors. They don’t like complex stories. What doctors want is for you to go in, give your symptoms, then diagnose you and say here is a pill that can fix this.

By presenting a complex story, you begin to wonder what this guy really wants and what is really driving him and why he is leaving a product management role at a premier company to go to business school.

What business schools like is people who are already on one track and want to stay on that track. I don’t care what they say. What they like is someone who works for Google, has been successful at Google, and guess what, wants to go back to Google. What he should tell business schools is that he wants to become a mega-manager at Google.

His odds for Harvard are pretty good. But a 3.4 GPA even in a STEM major is on the low side and I hate to say it but that could hurt him at Harvard and Stanford. But MIT loves this guy. It’s a school that would buy the hybrid model, and MIT loves Google more than Stanford does because it is just farther away and more rare. Wharton will go for a guy like this. As so often is the case, he has to convince them he wants to go there.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.