Rejected By Harvard B-School? Don’t Feel Bad. You’re In Great Company

sales guy

Mr. Canadian Telecom


  • 750 GMAT (48Q/45V, 8/IR, 6/AWA)
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in commerce from the University of Toronto
  • Other education includes CFA Charterholder and Derivatives Market Strategist
  • Work experience includes two and one-half years in corporate strategy at a major Canadian telecom and media company, with the last year spent in corporate development there (gaining two promotions in less than three years); Also worked at a MM PE fund during last two undergraduate years
  • Extracurricular involvement as a volunteer at alma mater, including mentorship of students, leading student consulting engagements for NGOs; currently on Alumni Steering Committee for UofT undergrad business, also have three years of volunteering with a scholarship fund for dependents of deceased soldiers, some decent political organizing experience but all for losing candidates; fraternity treasurer, finance club and entrepreneurial club leadership positions
  • Goals: To transition into a corporate strategy/development role at a global TMT company (Disney, Google, Softbank), or position in TMT focused private equity (Providence, Silver Lake, Accel-KKR
  • Recommendations from the heads of corporate development and corporate strategy at current employer (“One is an HBS alum, who was previously partner at M/B/B, the other is not an alum of a U.S. school but was Canadian office head for a well-known M/B/B competitor.
  • White Canadian male who would be 25 for Sept. 2016 start


    Sandy’s Ding Analysis: Ouch! You’re in a Fortune-500 corporate development bucket (does not matter if firm is actually F-500) and telcom is a hot area. All this is solid, including your goals.

    But saying you want to do private equity did not help because HBA has tons of guys with strong PE backgrounds who want to do that. Not sure how damaging that was or how much you rode it.

    It could just be the more typical annoying story that adcoms use to justify a rejection: “We liked other white guys from Fortune-500 backgrounds more than you–and also white women and everyone else.”

    Your extras were impressive but there was no marquee accomplishment. You just come off like a good-hearted, community-minded guy. Alas, that without out signal leadership in a marquee organization may not count super much.

    The obvious question for you and other dinged applicants is this one: What is your employer’s history of sending kids to H/S/W???? That could be a big factor because feeder schools and companies do matter to admission committees.

    But man, “major Canadian telecom and media” should be impressive. The fact that you didn’t even get an interview is a mild surprise, unless your application was screwed up and really hinted too much that you wanted to go to PE and cash in.

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