Handicapping: Ms. Advertising Age, Mr. Real Estate, Mr. Social Media, Ms. Finance, Mr. Unilever, Mr. Consulting, Mr. Samsung, Ms. I-Banker

She’s a 30-year-old young professional in Paris who has spent five years in advertising strategy at two of the largest and most prestigious ad agencies in the world. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.6 grade point average from Dickinson College, she now wants an MBA to help create a new kind of innovation strategy firm (see above video or below text).

He’s the 25-year-old founder of a social media platform startup that has venture capital funding. With a 720 GMAT and a 3.4 GPA from a top liberal arts college, he hopes to go to business school to more effective lead his current and future entrepreneurial ventures.

She’s a 26-year-old woman from France who has worked in Canada as a financial analyst for a French international travel retail company and as a finance manager at the top Canadian telecom company. With a 660 GMAT and a Masters in Management from a top European School, she now intends to apply to a business school to move into a socially responsible investment firm or social enterprise.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What these applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics, work backgrounds and career goals with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps 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.)


Ms. Advertising Age

  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in international studies from Dickinson College
  • Work experience includes five years in advertising strategy, first at Saatchi in New York, and then focusing on brand building at TBWA in Paris (Both are of the largest and most prestigious agencies in the world); then one 1 year in a start up in London focusing on innovation consulting and Internet of Things solutions, a strategy she pioneered at TBWA
  • Extracurricular involvement representing Dickinson at conferences, ultimate Frisbee team member, study abroad in China, independent project on New Media evaluating the presidential campaigns of Obama and McCain; speaking and judging student work in marketing strategy at Dauphine in Paris, mentoring Dickinson students, conducting admissions interviews for Dickinson, completing a charity initiative that raised more than $1,000 for Saving Lions in Africa
  • Goal: “To get the business savvy to create a new kind of innovation consultancy capable of delivering a full range of business/brand solutions – as a stand alone unit or which in a consultancy”
  • 30-year-old white female from Europe

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%

Wharton: 30%

London: 50%


Cambridge: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: There are a lot of terrific and compelling extras in your profile, from Saving the Lions in Africa to being an Ultimate Frisbee Team member. You are an exciting candidate.

You have an attractive profile. I can tell by reading the lines and between the lines that you are an interesting European who has thrived in America and in Europe and is in the world of the top advertising agencies.

Here’s some advice. You say you want to create “a new kind of innovation consultancy capable of delivering a full range of business/brand solutions.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but don’t tell business schools you want to invent something new. That’s okay after you get it. Admission offices are very conservative, and they want to make sure they have a realistic view of what you want to do.

Present goals that are a natural and conservative outgrowth of what you are doing. Say you want to go back to advertising and want to be an impactful leader and cite innovative leaders in advertising who would be role models for you. There’s not a lot of people from advertising firms inside of business schools. I don’t know why.

I think you are quite strong at London, INSEAD and Cambridge. Those schools like stories like yours. You are accomplished and European. Those schools are not obsessed with GMAT scores yet. Those schools run older. All of their European tiny quirks break in your favor.

At HBS and Wharton, here is some tough love. A 700 GMAT, which used to be okay, is now just not enough. You could retake it and try to get a 720, which could make a difference at Harvard and Wharton. If you had a 720, you would increase your odds by five to ten percentage points at Harvard and perhaps more at Wharton.

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