Show Me The Money: How A Scholarship Committee Decides

Kevin Frey, managing director of Rotman's full-time MBA program

Kevin Frey, managing director of Rotman’s full-time MBA program

‘SHE’S BOTH A POET AND A QUANT!’

“So let me tell you what else she does,” says Tsalpouris. “She has an online company with employees that is already profitable. She plays the cello and makes art as a hobby. So she has this quantitative side during the day at the bank, and this creative side after hours. She’s both a poet and a quant!”

“Okay,” says Frey, “so what kind of a career do we think she is capable of? Does she have executive potential or are we talking about someone who would be a middle manager?”

Tsalpouris, who says the candidate wants to stay in finance after receiving her MBA and to continue her entrepreneurial venture, assures Frey she has the right stuff to become an executive later on. “This girl has a lot of potential. She’s got the drive and the hustle. She is going to make it to the top. She works like a horse—and she does leave memorable impressions.”

Tsalpouris’ last point is delivered in an emphatic tone to suggest her disagreement with Frey’s assessment. Gauthier asks for the candidate’s resume and it is slipped across the rectangular table. “From an employment perspective,” adds Gauthier, “she will definitely get looked at seriously.”

‘JUST TO BE CLEAR, I DIDN’T HAVE A NEGATIVE INTERACTION…IT WAS JUST NEUTRAL’

Dookernan notes that the candidate’s answers to a pair of admission questions on video—required of every applicant by Rotman—showed her to be an articulate professional with poise. “She’s young, and she’s smart. I think $40,000 is okay.”

“Just to be clear,” adds Frey, “I didn’t have a negative interaction with her. I had a neutral interaction.”

The committee awards the young Chinese professional $40,000.

Next up is Dookeran. He presents a young Canadian woman who works in finance in New York. She has an Ivy League undergraduate degree in engineering and a GMAT score that tips just over 700. In her late 20s, she has worked for three well-known companies in the financial sector. Though she is Dookeran’s candidate, Gauthier also interviewed her, giving the applicant a score of 17 on the interview.

“She is a very impressive young woman,” says Dookeran. “You can see that in the companies she has worked for and in the scope of opportunities she has had. There were a couple of things that need to be polished. Her ability to be concise in her answers was something that I think she needs to work on.”

A VIDEO OF THE CANDIDATE POPS UP ON A FLAT SCREEN ATTACHED TO THE WALL

Da Silva suggests they go to the videotaped interview of the candidate. After entering a few keystrokes on her laptop, the applicant’s image pops up on a large flat screen attached to one of the walls in the room. The questions that each candidate must answer are random and unpredictable. She is asked: “What kind of personality do you work best with and why?”

The applicant slightly stumbles at first but then makes clear that she likes people who get to the point.

“She’s smart and capable,” sums up Frey, “But I don’t see her as an executive.”

“But is she coachable?,” asks da Silva. “Does she have that upside?

‘I think the self-development lab will help polish her skills,” says Tsalpouris, referring to a part of the Rotman MBA program that includes one-on-one executive coaching and extensive work on presentation and interviewing skills.

Dookernan throws a few more stray facts on the table about the candidate’s extracurricular involvement. The committee likes what it hears.

Gauthier suggests they give the candidate a $30,000 grant. “Her technical depth is going to be a fantastic asset in Toronto,” says Gauthier. “She wants to stay in finance so the MBA will build on her skills. And she had a strong answer on how she had to diplomatically disagree with a managing director after doing her due diligence on an issue she didn’t agree on. That took a lot of confidence.”

$30,000, it is.

A VISIT TO A CLASS BRINGS POSITIVE FEEDBACK FROM A PROFESSOR AND STUDENTS

The attention shifts back to Cruz who quickly presents a Latin American entrepreneur in his late 20s who studied in Europe and speaks multiple languages. His GMAT score is shy of 700, with an AWA that is not nearly as high as Rotman would like. But he has a perfect 4.0 GPA on both his bachelor’s and master’s studies from a prominent university in Europe. He owns a finance company that is doing well in his native country. His interview score: 18. His impression ranking: 10.

“What I want you to know about Robert is that during his time in Toronto, he went to a sample class with other Latin American students,” says Cruz. “He was fully engaged in the class and made an impression on the professor and the other students. They told me he would definitely fit in at the school, and they would love to have him here next year. We recommend $40,000.”

Gauthier again asks for the resume and scans it quickly. “I concur,” she says, after quickly studying the document. “His English is fantastic, and talk about hot skills? The number of employers looking for candidates with multiple language skills will love him.”

Frey voices the only concern at the table. “There is one flag on his AWA,” he says. “But given everything else going on from his impression ranking to his interview score and a whole lot of hustle, I think he makes up for it.”

Everyone agrees to offer him a $40,000 scholarship.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.