Meet The Wharton MBA Class of 2017

Michael Hinckley

Michael Hinckley 

The Wharton School Of The University of Pennsylvania

Hometown: Carlsbad, California

Undergraduate School and Major : Amherst College, Economics Major & Five College Certificate in International Relations

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

  • Author of Microfinance: The Way of Grassroots Finance(Book published by Westry Wingate, 2009)
  • Deutsche Bank – Investment Banking Analyst
  • General Atlantic – Private Equity Associate
  • S. Department of the Treasury – Policy Advisor(Focus on financial market policy and crisis response programs)
  • Affirm (Financial technology startup founded by Paypal co-founder Max Levchin) – Summer Intern (pre-Wharton)

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? One factor that makes the GMAT tricky is limited time, especially in the Quant section.  Be sure to take lots of practice tests, and focus on your timing strategy so you can execute it on the actual test!  Also, accept the fact that, even if you wanted to, there’s no way you can practice every type of quantitative problem in advance. Once you feel comfortable with the broad concepts, be confident and take the test!

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? There are lots of great schools out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.  If you think ahead of time about what factors matter most to you, you can eliminate a lot of work and stress for yourself (and your recommenders) by applying to a targeted list of schools.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? As always, planning ahead is critical in the process.  I wrote several drafts of my essays, and I approached my recommenders a few months in advance of starting, which was helpful.

To my own surprise, I found the introspection of the process itself to be really valuable because it forced me to think critically about why I actually wanted to go to school and about what I actually wanted to do after. The answers to those questions have evolved over time, but the process of writing them down and defending them to myself was really valuable.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I’m excited to advance some entrepreneurial ideas I have during business school, including some in the financial technology and virtual currency industries.

Historically strong in finance, Wharton is one of the only schools in the country with a dedicated Financial Technology Club (“Wharton Fintech Club”), and I thought it’d be an exciting place to explore these and other areas. Wharton is also the only business school with a full-time MBA campus on both coasts. I’m hoping to pursue a semester at Wharton’s San Francisco campus during my second year to expand my professional network in the startup community. Finally, working at a startup this past summer, I saw how valuable data, statistics, and other analytical tools are becoming, even for startup employees in “non-technical” roles. Wharton is one of the only schools that offers classes – and even a customizable major in data science –  affording business school students the chance to gain actual “hard skills”  in cutting edge data science technologies like R.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I’m excited to explore startups and entrepreneurship, including potentially starting my own company while here. I want to sharpen my hard skills by learning data analytics tools.  I also hope to improve my soft skills in areas like leadership and communication.

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