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

Mr. Old Undergrad


  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from Harvard University. going to Harvard at the age of 29 after attending a community college
  • Work experience includes six years as an advertising executive for a national Canadian magazine and the last three years at a consulting shop working in intellectual property and strategy
  • Started two companies, a Groupon competitor sold to eBay and a loyalty coalition company sold to a large retailer
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer coach for a Triple A ice hockey team, a competitive goalie who is a nationally ranked top five player in both ice hockey and ball hockey, pro bono audio visual work for local charity events
  • Goal: To move into top-flight management consulting in media strategy or to become a venture capitalist
  • 33-year-old Canadian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%

Stanford: 10%

Wharton: 40% to 50%

Michigan: 50%+

Cornell: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: This is an interesting guy and obviously a super smart guy. I don’t know what happened to cause this guy to work for a magazine out of high school. Somehow he transfers from a community college in Canada to Harvard and gets a 3.9 and a 740 GMAT. He’s 33-years-old.

That is the good news. Here is the bad news: This guy is going to be 36 when he graduates business school and he’s going to be looking for an entry job at a management consulting company. That is about the age when people start retiring from McKinsey, Bain and BCG. He may have a hard time getting that job and the schools know it.

What he has to count on is an admissions officer who reads his profile and says, ‘I don’t care what this guy says he wants to do. He is a really smart guy and he is going to be a plus in our program.’

What he should do is make it clear that he doesn’t want to work for one of the big three in consulting. He should say he either wants to start of work for a boutique media strategy consulting firm. Go look those up on Google and you would be amazed on what comes up. This could be a case where Google could help you prepare your application.

He’s not a guy who went to college a long time ago and is a burnt out middle manager. That is the heartland of Executive MBA programs. That’s the kind of guy who goes to an Executive MBA program. This guy actually presents as one of the man children who is technically 33 but thinks of himself as 24 and presents that way.

This guy should not say he wants to be a VC. That’s just day dreaming. When a venture capital firm hires youngsters out of business school, it really goes for the prestige. In reality, this guy would probably be a terrific venture capitalist. It’s just getting into the game that will be hard for him.

In God’s eyes, his extracurriculars are impressive. In the Canadian God’s eyes, those are terrific. In the eyes of an admissions officer, it doesn’t add up to much. The admission committee ladies won’t know much about ball hockey unless then are Canadian jocks. But let me say I am impressed.

There’s nothing driving you into Harvard or Stanford. But at Wharton, Michigan and Cornell, you are in good shape. All of those schools will buy your numbers. Wharton has become very big on GPA and GMAT numbers. It’s the way they got listed as tied for No. 1 in U.S. News. That happened because they said they were going to go for high numbers and they are going to keep doing it.

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