Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
HEC Paris | Mr. Indian Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 2.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Unrealistic Ambitions
GMAT 710, GPA 2.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Community Uplift
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Worldwide
GMAT 730, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Darden | Mr. Education Consulting
GRE 326, GPA 3.58
Wharton | Mr. LatAm Indian Trader
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Wharton | Mr. MBB to PE
GMAT 740, GPA 3.98
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. MBB Aspirant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. Finance
GMAT 760, GPA 3.48
Harvard | Mr. Soldier Boy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.72
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Angel Investor
GMAT 700, GPA 3.20
Rice Jones | Mr. ToastMasters Treasurer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. MBB Private Equity
GMAT TBD (target 720+), GPA 4.0
Said Business School | Ms. Creative Planner
GMAT 690, GPA 3.81 / 5.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Wedding Music Business
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 Auditor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45
Harvard | Mr. First Gen Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0 (First Class Honours)
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB/FinTech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Break Into Buy-Side
GMAT 780, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Perseverance
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Politics Abroad
GRE 332, GPA 4.2/4.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Canadian Banker
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. Fintech To Tech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.54

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. Chemical Engineer

Geeky Guy

Mr. Google


  • 760 GMAT
  • 3.16 GPA
  • Undergraduate major in business from Emory University’s Goizueta School of
  • Work experience includes two years at Google in HR operations, with one promotion, managing process design and process improvements for human resource operations across the organization, plus two years in human capital consulting at Deloitte
  • Extracurricular involvement as an amateur ballet dance, volunteer as a stage manager for a youth ballet academy in San Francisco, pro-bono work as a marketing analytics consultant, also enjoys fencing, sailing and playing violin and piano
  • Goal: To return to Google and transition into product management or to go to a top design consulting firm (IDEO or Frog) and do product design
  • 26-year-old Asian-American male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 25%

Stanford: 15%

Northwestern: 40% to 50%

Dartmouth: 40% to 50%

MIT: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: A good way into this might be going through your target schools:

“Target schools: Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Tuck, MIT.”

This ain’t smelling like an HBS or Stanford admit. Your 760 GMAT works, but

the rest is either a lot or a little off.

To wit, a “3.16 GPA BBA Major from Emory Goizueta.”

That ain’t good, especially for an Asian guy (who seems to be OK in quant/tech given the rest of your story).

That low GPA may have influenced your first job “in human capital consulting at Deloitte for 2 years.”

Which was followed by,  “Working for past two years at Google in HR Operations (promoted once).”

I’m scoring those two jobs as silver+ and gold-plated silver.

Let me explain, Deloitte is a fine place but it is not considered as selective (the key word) as McKinsey, Bain or BCG.

I am not sure how Human Capital Consulting is ranked at Deloitte versus other streams there (if someone can educate me on this, please chime in). This summary and explanation of Human Capital Consulting Firms (a good backgrounder on all of Deloitte as well) ranks them as one of the top five along with Aon Hewitt, Hay Group, Mercer, and Oliver Wyman. So, we are calling that a good and serious job in the real world. But how does it stack up in the B-school admission stake races?

As is often noted, Deloitte and other Big Four firms are not common feeders to H and S except for URM’s. I’d actually like to know the number of non-URM’s admitted from Deloitte to H and S. That could be a shockingly low number and it might be even more low if you could cross-examine the applicant for what  else was going on.

BUT, BUT, BUT!!!!! What about Google!!!

True dat. After this lad earned his stripes at Deloitte he managed to get Job 2 in the promised land. To wit, “two years at Google in HR Operations (promoted once). Manage process design and process improvements for HR ops across the organization.”

Well, another tired Sandy-ism coming up, but one that is worth noting. “Not all Google jobs are the same to B-school adcoms.”

Google is a highly thought of company by B-schools and schools are happy to have ex-Googlers as part of the class to tell stories about the culture and blah, blah. This is true at H and S as well, but those schools often have a choice of many Googlers and they seem to favor kids who come from core Google functions like, ahem, search or maps or business development or whatever happens over there that some day could earn a profit.

You are in the utility part of Google, HR, and even in the backroom part of that, viz., ” Manage process design and process improvements for HR ops across the organization.” OK, I’m not a million percent sure of what that means, but it sounds like it is not mano-a-mano dealing with profit-center Googlers about HR issues, and then finding out what is going on, and then negotiating fixes. It sounds more like it is creating templates for HR issues like benefits, culture, and training and getting all the departments to adapt them. That jive is supposed to make departments more profitable but the job is not traditionally  considered “a profit center” (except in some PC way where everything, including free parking,  is considered a profit center because it makes employees happy and more productive).

Once again, B-school adcoms tilt toward applicants who work in profit centers.  Not because the job is any harder or more taxing or more valued per se (er, it might be) but because, to the reptilian diode brain of the admission officer, the job is more selective.

But it’s Google and this dude got promoted!

Copy. But it’s also HR, although I admit if any non-URM from HR is going to get into HBS or Stanford, it could be you. This is great HR. But barring some explosive X-factor about overcoming adversity or working with lepers (and curing some) this is going to be uphill.

Your extras in fact are fine but not transforming to this process:  “Amateur ballet dancer. Volunteer as stage manager for youth ballet academy in SF. Pro-bono work as a marketing analytics consultant. Also enjoy fencing, sailing, and playing violin/piano.”

It’s all good and keep up the good work. But that is not pushing any admit  buttons.

Finally, goals: “Go back to Google and transition into product management or product design at top design consulting firm (IDEO/Frog).”

HUH? Going back to Goog and transitioning into product management is a maybe. Going to McKinsey and heading their international HR department or something along those lines sounds less hip but actually makes more sense, as repulsive a vision as it might be.

IDEO and Frog? I’m no expert but IDEO could be an inspired choice. Their website is worth looking at:

“IDEO  . . . takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow. We identify new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires.”

The guy who wrote that deserves some kind of an award. . . to be named later.

“Latent needs.” They said that?  File under therapeutic business jargon, a growing category and an effective one.

Other schools you mention: Kellogg, Tuck, MIT.

Yes, yes, and maybe.

Kellogg and Tuck like guys like you, will blink at the GPA (if explained) and you are in-line there. Tuck might go for someone a bit more outdoorsy. Work in the sailing there. MIT likes to think they are involved with the more aspirational parts of this story and a 760 GMAT over there buys a lot of forgiveness. Could happen if you play the IDEO card or whatever their version of it is.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.