You Won’t Believe Who Harvard Business School Just Rejected


Mr. Digital Marketer


  • 750 GMAT
  • Undergraduate degree in economics, first class degree, from a respectable college in Mumbai
  • Work experience includes four years at Procter & Gamble in product marketing, currently leading a team that works in digital marketing where we run campaigns on Facebook, Twitter as well as banner ads on YouTube. “I have also conducted workshops for the field sales guys on how they can leverage the digital medium to boost their sales.
  • “At my first year at the company, I was a field sales guy; had the best sales record in the country.”
  • Goal: To transition into a leadership role at a global FMCG company (Such as P&G) that would combine facets such as marketing, operations and finance, which in turn would drive the company’s growth
  • Extracurricular involvement as a mountaineer who has climbed Mt. Everest and Kanchenjunga (Two of the three highest peaks in the world)
  • Recommendations from a VP and the head of sales for India West and North.
  • Also dinged by Wharton and will probably matriculate to Kellogg
  • 26-year-old Indian Male

Sandy’s Analysis: Wow, the Wharton ding on these facts is deeply odd, given 750 and first class GPA, along with blue chip P&G work history. The Indian male cohort is competitive but still.

Your college also could be one issue. HBS takes Desi’s from mostly IIT and three other places (in India). if you are outside that orbit, it becomes a little more difficult. Other than that, you either screwed up the application, got unlucky, or got beaten out, at HBS, by cohort of other kids in FMCG etc.

Not sure exactly what happened, but your schooling did not help, but was not deal-breaker per se. A lot might depend on what they thought of your gigs at P&G, although digital product marketing ‘sounds like’ a hot area, it might also depend on what you actually do.

Again, do you know anyone in your unit who applied to B school and what are the outcomes?

HBS may have under-valued that role in their own hierarchy of which jobs count. You got a job which in the U.S. might be given, by HBS’s figuring, to mediocre college grad who grinds out FB posts, or maybe that and some ‘strategy’ –just my guess, it might have been they do not understand what you, or that what you do is not selective for real, or that they just prefer Desi’s who are capable of busting out of India and getting elite investment banking or management consulting gigs or a more traditional gig with a Fortune 500 company than yours.

Also, as noted many times, “SALES” is a poor relation at HBS to finance, operations, strategy etc. so that could be an overhang as well. Basically, your fate was sealed in college, which led to this good but not great (to them) job and only way you were getting in was by getting a more selective gig at P&G or the blah, blah IB/MC gigs they really like.

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