Handicapping Your MBA Odds: Mr. Air Force Captain, Mr. Aussie, Mr. PE & Whistleblower, Mr. Banker



Mr. Aussie


  • 750+ GMAT (practice tests)
  • 3.7 GPA (top 10% of cohort)
  • Undergraduate degree in finance and accounting from a highly ranked Australian business school with an exchange to a Top 5 U.S. business school
  • Elite athlete scholarship to university
  • Work experience includes internships at a mid-market investment bank in M&A, a bulge bracket investment bank, and a hedge fund; then six months at an bulge bracket investment bank, one year at an Asian-focused hedge fund, and two years at a tech start-up in Silicon Valley
  • Extracurricular involvement as a black belt in martial arts; frequent contributor to university magazines as an interviewer of high profile business people within the Asian market; represented Australia in athletics at high school; established a charity focused on tutoring indigenous Australians with the intention of securing more Indigenous Australians the opportunity to study at the tertiary institutions
  • Goal: To work for a U.S. venture capital firm or to return to hedge fund work within the U.S. market
  • Single Aussie male

Target Schools:

Harvard: 30% to 40%

Stanford: 20% to 30%

Wharton: 50%

Columbia: 50%

NYU: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis:  Well, get that “750+” GMAT if you can, the “+” doesn’t count all that much. Just try getting something near 730 if you want to go to Stanford because one issue we have with you is lack of unbroken blue chip experience –although you are close. We all love Aussies and a good deal of this will turn on the reputation of your school in U.S. business school circles.

You say, “Top ranked Australian Business School in Finance/Accounting, with exchange to top 5 undergrad U.S. business program,” which could mean top ranked Australian Finance School, which may not mean much, or top ranked school in Australia.  I am no expert, but one respected ranking of Aussie U’s (THE Times Higher Education World University Rankings) is below:

1. University of Melbourne

2. Australian National University

3. University of Queensland

4. University of Sydney

5. Monash University

6. University of New South Wales

7. University of Western Australia

8. University of Adelaide

9. The University of Newcastle

10. Macquarie University


Are we talking one of them?  Apparently given your internships. The easy answer, and my guess is, you know this, how many kids has your school sent to top U.S. business schools.

Moving right along, we got this quicksilver to play with, “6 months full time at Bulge Bracket investment bank followed by 1 year at an Asian-focused hedge fund & then 2 years at a technology start-up in Silicon Valley.”  A good deal of the impact of that will turn on how well known the hedge fund is and what kind of facts you can provide about the start-up.

Let me state the obvious: There are hedge funds and there are hedge funds, and these days, everyone seems to have a hedge fund or one on his resume. So the pedigree of your hedge fund counts a bit. Make sure in your application to underscore its AUM, historical investment record, number of partners, any metrics which can give it solidity. I realize that is not always easy because some data is private.

What is true about hedge funds goes double for start-ups. I mean, as noted prior, any moron can start a company, and many have. You seem like a solid, well-credentialed dude, but make it clear. To U.S. adcom eyes, there are some possible soft spots here, including leaving a bulge bracket IB after only 6 months to join a hedge fund. Believe me, that is something anyone at an IB would love to do but it is very rare to do that in the U.S./Wall Street environment where a typical “jail sentence”  is two years IB before you get to do two years in an HF.

As to your extracurrics:

  • Black belt in martial arts–I like, but schools don’t care.
  • Regular contributor to university magazines interviewing high profile business people within the Asian market–I like, but schools mostly don’t care.
  • Represented Australia in Athletics at High School, Elite Athlete scholarship to University–hmmmmm, I like, and some jock sniffing adcom might get a nice whiff, as might some literary adcom might like the magazine stuff.
  • Established a charity focused on tutoring indigenous Australians with the intention of securing more Indigenous Australians the opportunity to study at tertiary institutions– Bingo. Everyone loves indigenous peoples, so your Hail Mary chance of getting into Stanford depends on how much you can work up  this angle.

Bottom line: There is lots to like here but also lots of question marks. I think H and S are going to be hard because there are dudes sorta like you with rock solid credentials, especially in terms of gold-plated schooling, as well as IB and HF experience. I could be wrong, a good deal depends on the specifics.  If you could “normalize up” the schooling and first two jobs so that you appear to be an elite dude with a proxy Wall St IB/HF career who is NOW working for a real start-up and HEARTS indigenous people . . . . . . . . . . well, that works, but it is a big ‘if.”

Goals: U.S. venture capital or return to hedge fund work within the U.S. market.


Ba’day Mate!!!

Saying that ain’t doing you any good and throws you deeper in the ultra- competitive pool of absolute gold-plated U.S. Ivy/IB/PE kids. You are bleaching out any possible color to your story. What makes you the least bit interesting is your Aussie background, your work with indigenous peoples, and your move from a HF to a start-up. By stating goals as you do, you are negating every element of that possibly interesting story.You need to concoct some wall-banging story about working with Asian funds to support start-ups in the region, and throw in the particulars of your own start-up experiences. If you can wind up employing indigenous peoples more the better. I’m not fully spinning this out, but I COULD, I hope you get the idea.

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