The 2016 Ding Report: Why Great Applicants Are Often Rejected

Black man

Mr. Consultant With Red Flags


  • 770 GMAT (Q51/V43)
  • 3.65 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from a Top 3 engineering school
  • Work experience includes nine months as a social investment intermediary as a consultant to SMEs; five months building a digital social enterprise that would teach entrepreneurship in post-conflict regions; one year at a Financial Times 250 company in a strategy role; one year in strategy consulting (Booz/LEK/Strategy&/Oliver Wyman) and recently promoted to senior associate
  • Extracurricular involvement as a board trustee leading an impact assessment group in Uganda for a U.K.-based nonprofit; growth mentor for a female victim of trafficking; started a web design and graphic business at age 14 and ran it for five years; president of a university cultural society
  • “Red flags: Was technically unemployed during five months and did take out unemployment benefits to survive having lost funding; Inverse bell-curve trend in transcript (GPA progression through years: 4.0, 3.5, 3.0, 3.9; second year family issues, third year – intensified family issues + too many extra curricular commitments)”
  • Short-term goal: To transition in to product management, tech strategy or impact investment
  • Long-term goal: To own a venture capital firm focused on social tech and clean tech in Asia, Africa or Latin America
  • 25-year-old British male


Harvard—Denied without interview

Wharton—Denied without intervew

Sandy’s Analysis: Given your odd facts, whatever they are, and your allusive and DEEPLY annoying bragging, misleading and round-about resume, I would try to simplify your work history until your current job at (Booz/LEK/Strategy&/OW) and just present your good grades, great GMAT and some neutral account of your pre-Booz past with very conservative goals.

For instance, saying you’d like to be a leader at one of those consulting firms, doing something you have already done. Ahem, instead of the MEGA, high minded, confused BS you posted:

“Would use MBA to transition into product management, tech strategy, strategy consulting or impact investment. Long term dream, own venture capital firm focused on social tech and clean tech in Asia, Africa, LatAm – realised I like seeding and helping entrepreneurs more than being an entrepreneur myself.”

You got a lot to like, not sure what happened at W and HBS, but if you sounded as coy, annoying, “at your throat and on your knees” as in your posts and re-creations, well, I’m not shocked. Get a clear, straight story about consulting and say that is what you want to do.

As noted here and elsewhere, a million times, just make your application goals reasonable and likely based on your past work history.

You do not get extra points for being daring, large, aspiring, and greedy in your goal statement. All most schools want to see is some clear eyed sense of how the world works and confirmation, in your case, that you are NOT one of those brash, smart, wanna-be-rich Desis, yearning to be free, but rather a brash, smart wanna-be-rich Desi who knows how to present himself as a humble, boring consultant.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.