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


Ms. Financial Tech


  • 680 GMAT
  • 3.42 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from New York University
  • Work experience includes eight years with a financial services technology company, where she is responsible for getting hedge fund and private equity clients “on-boarded” to the company’s tech platform
  • “I’ve consistently achieved the best results compared to the rest of my team and measured by the number of funds added to our platform and the overall quality of the work, according to my boss”
  • Extracurricular involvement kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, yoga, and photography
  • Goal: To move into management consulting
  • 31-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Michigan: 40% to 50%

Cornell: 40%

Carnegie Mellon: 40%

UNC: 40% to 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: In the real world, working for a firm for eight years puts you on the road to earn a gold watch. In the world of business school admissions, that becomes a disadvantage. For one thing, when people see eight years of work experience, they begin to think EMBA–and not MBA.

I also have a hard time understanding her description of the firm. She says the firm started out as an asset manager and then transitioned to a platform for other hedge funds and asset managers. I’m guessing what they do is to help prepare statements or manage trades with some kind of back office technology. Business schools wouldn’t consider that selective and that is the magic word in MBA admissions. It’s not selective enough. And moreover, she doesn’t want to build it out. She wants to change careers into consulting.

The big three leading consulting companies, McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, like book smart, very young people. This woman, at age 31, is by their standards, not very young. She would have a hard time when she graduates at age 33 at getting a job at Bain, McKinsey or BCG. They won’t be impressed with her prior history and at age 33 you are almost ready to retire at a firm like McKinsey.

These firms also care a lot about where you went to school and what your GMAT score was. They tend to look for 720s and above. So your 680 just isn’t going to cut it at M/B/B.

The good news is that she has selected a group of schools that are right on the target of having a 680 GMAT and a 3.4. The dirty little secret about those schools is that one of the ways they appraise candidates is that they want you to be employed when you graduate. They don’t want to be a collecting point for disappointed, unemployed people. My advice would be to say you want to continue what you are doing in some management firm. They would be a lot more amenable to that than to someone who is career switcher.

The big issue will be whether the schools think she can easily get a job when she graduates. To be honest, when you read this profile it sounds as if she is a little burnt out and is looking toward consulting as a magic way out. She would do better thinking about an EMBA program and if she wants a full-time MBA program she needs to say she would like to continue in a role that she currently is in.

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