Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Ms. Pre-Med, Mr. Ad Agency, Ms. Silicon Valley, Mr. General Motors, Mr. Fortune 50

man stars

Mr. Indian Advertising Agency Guy

  •  710 GMAT
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from the National Institute of Technology in India
  • 3.05 GPA (Master’s)
  • Master’s degree in management communications from MICA India, Asia’s leading communication school
  • Work experience includes more than three years as a brand and communication strategist at global advertising agency Publicis; currently heads up strategy at a division of Publicis India
  • “Campaigns and brands that I have worked on have won Cannes Lions and I have very strong career progression. Currently, am advising CMOs and Brand heads on communication strategy and helping them craft branding strategies. However, I find this role limited and want to move to a more holistic consulting role.
  • Extracurricular involvement as the founder of the quizzing society at PG college, was main quizmaster for college’s quiz fest, some radio jockeying, theater work in university, contributor to various travel blogs, won some robotics and debate competitions in college
  • Goal: To transition into consulting
  • Indian male

Odds of Success:

Duke: 30% to 40%

Northwestern: 30% to 40%

Indiana: 50%

Emory: 50%

Michigan: 40% to 50%

Washington: 50%

Sandy’s Analysis: I’m going to call you silver but not gold. Every part of your profile is not gold: Your GMAT is low for Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. It’s low for Indian applicants. The National Institute of Technology school also lacks the prestige of an IIT in India. So you have a 3.0 at a second-tier school.

No offense to our communication community but it is not considered rocket science by admission committees at business schools. The fact you are at Publicis, a global giant, is a plus. You seem to be doing advertising rather than internal consulting for the company. I’m not sure what experience business schools prefer. I am impressed that several of your brands have won the Cannes Lions awards and your advertising buddies are probably impressed. But I think you should reorient your application toward big data and statistics rather than coming up with a great advertising logo or mascot. Creative types are often dealt with suspicion at business schools for better or worse.

The only fleck of gold on your resume is working for a global advertising company. If you have the right job there, like business development or strategy, it would be ideal. Adcoms like that.

You find working with CMOs and brand heads on branding strategies limiting? That is about as interesting as any business school applicant does.

I think you are an attractive applicant and can add a lot of a business school class. If you got dinged at HBS or Wharton, I wouldn’t find that as a surprise.

Kellogg is known as the creative school and they might go for you. Duke might go for you. You become a competent applicant at Indiana, Ross and Washington. At those places, your stats are in line.

A member of the admissions committee at Indiana or Ross might say you are smart enough. You are not a great student but have been successful at Publicis. That checks one of the boxes. Can you sit still, eat crap and spit it back. You weren’t able to do that too well in college, but you have been able to do that at Publicis. So you pass the mature-adult-who-can-suffer-in-silence test which is a serious one.

Quizzing is very big in India. But American adcoms kind of scratch their heads about it. I am not sure quizzing is a great thing to say or to brag about on an appliation to an American business school. My sense is that people who talk about it and found quizzing clubs are viewed as being a bad version of weird and nerdy. I am exaggerating for effect here but would like our Indian readers to respond to that.

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