Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Ms. Automotive, Ms. Finance, Mr. Auditor, Mr. NGO, Ms. Financial Analyst

Our highly popular MBA handicapping series is back, with a new video and four great legacy assessments of real candidates who want to get into a top business school.

After focusing on his round one and round one clients, Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is returning to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg will handicap each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

He’s also willing to answer any other questions you might have on the current round of the admissions cycle.

Sandy’s tell-it-like-it-is analysis:

Ms. Automotive


  • GMAT: 710
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from a U.S. public university
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Work experience includes two years for a major locomotive company and slightly under a year for one of the Big Three automakers with a focus on zero emission standards vehicle development
  • Had an internship on electric vehicles at the Department of Energy
  • Goal: Short-term to move into high-level management strategy at an automotive firm; long-term to become a strategy consultant and move to the tech sector.
  • 27-year-old Indian woman

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 50%

Stanford: 40%

Berkeley: 50%+

Columbia: 50%+

Northwestern: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: Yes, yes, yes, and yes! You are a totally impressive, consistent, screwed together package. You are female in the automotive industry with very high stats and a consistent story. And you have worked for a locomotive company and that is a good one. And now she is working for a Big Three auto company and you don’t want to go into private equity.

She wants to stay in the auto business and that is a plus. Business schools have to pay a certain homage to the Big Three. Though they may not like them, they are not going away. She has positioned herself as a progressive in zero-emissions standards vehicle development. She is a successful engineer who wants to transition into management. It’s just a tight, consistent package.

The basic advice for you is to do no harm on the application. Position yourself as you have and don’t blow the interview. For Stanford, for the essay on what matters most to you and why, you shouldn’t do a victory lap or a collection of next hits but a story about what has influenced you and what you have learned from others. It doesn’t have to be locomotive or automotive. It could be what you learned from a parent or a mentor or a life event and how that influenced your goals in a broader sense, not just professionally. That is what Stanford is looking for in that first essay. In the second essay, they are looking for the more traditional answers.

Your might expand your long-term goals to say the auto industry is changing in dramatic ways, and you want to play an impactful role in it. You should say that the auto industry is a very exciting place to be, and it presents a lot of management challenges. Say that you want to be an innovative, exciting leader in that industry and use Mary Barra at GM as a role model. But that is just the cherry on the fruit salad.

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