Dee Leopold To Leave HBS Admissions Job

Dillon House is where Harvard Business School makes all of its admission decisions.

Dillon House is where Harvard Business School makes all of its admission decisions.


‘A VERY TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW’

Admission consultants were generous in their praise of Leopold. “Dee was a breath of fresh air for applicants and the entire admissions eco-system and her innovations were then picked up by many other more stodgy schools,” says Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com and a leading MBA admissions consultant. “Finding someone with her ability to manage a huge staff, her ability to make unexpected and great changes, and her openness is going to be hard. ”

Chioma Isiadinso, who had been an assistant director at HBS worked with Leopold years earlier, echoed what many consultants believe in saying that Leopold’s departure will be a “big loss” for the school. “No HBS Admissions Chief at least in the past two decades has had the depth and breadth of impact that Dee has had,” says Isiadinso, founder of EXPARTUS, an MBA admissions consultancy. “She has created unprecedented transparency to the admissions process at HBS; she has changed what used to be a black box and made the HBS admissions culture one that has truly become customer-focused. But the biggest legacy she will leave at HBS is her willingness to experiment and try new things including her seismic shift from multiple essay process to a single essay approach. She is a veteran and knows her stuff which has earned her significant capital to implement the admissions changes that she has.”

Dan Bauer, a Harvard MBA who founded and runs the The MBA Exchange, one of the largest admissions consulting outfits, agreed. “Dee will be a very tough act to follow,” he says. “She has made a significant, irreversible difference in the MBA admissions arena that will be her legacy. Her candor and openness in all communications raised the bar for adcoms at other top schools. At the same time, she conveys genuine empathy for the (often self-induced) stresses felt by eager MBA applicants. Dee’s effective use of social media has established a comfortable connection for HBS with candidates worldwide. And her hosting of 50 admissions consultants on a day-long visit to the HBS campus in 2010 was a milestone confirming our industry’s influence and professionalism.”

“Dee Leopold has done an incredible job during her tenure to make Harvard MBA admissions more transparent,” says Linda Abraham, founder and CEO of Accepted.com, a prominent MBA admissions consulting firm. “She has also been very willing to experiment with the way HBS had processed applications for years — cutting back on the essays, and then moving to optional only essays. At the same time when she saw that applicants want to tell the admissions committee ‘things,’ she then reversed course and made the essay required. ”

FROM PALO ALTO, A MESSAGE FROM DEE

Leopold, currently doing round one interviews in Palo Alto, California, put a post up today entitled “Business As Usual” (Oct. 28) on her director’s blog. “You may already have heard through the grapevine that I am stepping down from the Director of Admissions seat at the end of this season,” she writes. “That’s true. It’s been a fabulous ten years. This is a great job and HBS is an amazing place to build a career. I’m ready for something new and it’s a privilege to have senior leadership that helps navigate change.”

She assured candidates that she will be “here on-the-job until the Class of 2018 (that’s you!) is all set and ready to go. As the subject line says, it’s Business As Usual in Dillon House. I’ve told you many times that Dillonites are the Dream Team – and I will say it again. So please go back to figuring out how to Introduce Yourself and Round One interviewees should be making sure they have clean socks picked out for their interview!”

HBS ALUM PATRICK MULLANE WILL HEAD UP HBX

In her memo, Kierstead also announced that Patrick Mullane (MBA ’99) would succeed her “as the new executive director of HBX. When Mullane graduated from Harvard Business School, he reportedly turned down Andersen Consulting and Toys ‘R’ Us to join a dotcom company called SupplierMarket.com, a firm ultimately acquired by Ariba. Until recently, Mullane was CEO and president of Fabrico, a contract manufacturer and engineering services company that manufactures parts for a variety of industries, including nuclear power and fuel reprocessing. Formerly from Houston, Mullane was born in California and has worked as a general manager in a range of industries.

Leopold could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

DON’T MISS: A REVEALING INTERVIEW WITH HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL’S DEE LEOPOLD