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

whistleblowerMr. Whistleblower


  • 690 GMAT
  • 3.95 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from UC-Irvine
  • Masters of Accounting from the University of Southern California
  • Work experience includes a 16-month stint as an M&A analyst at a boutique investment bank; two years with a promotion to associate director at Oppenheimer & Co. where he worked in private equity and developed the team’s most profitable product
  • “SEC Whistleblower” who led to the agency’s recovery of $3 million from Oppenheimer and a person’s lifetime ban from the securities industry—“I have been told business schools would find this interesting and valuable”
  • Raised $5 million to start up a small oil company that had a $12 million valuation 16 months later
  • Currently an advisory board member for two small oil companies, a tech/entertainment start-up founded by a Goldman Sachs banker, and a charity that provides critical surgical and reconstructive care to children in conflict regions
  • Strong recommendations
  • 29-year-old male, HBS legacy and Penn 3rd generation legacy

Target Schools:

Harvard: 20%

Stanford: 15%

Wharton: 50%

Columbia: 50%

MIT: 40%

NYU: 50%+

Sandy’s Analysis: This sounds like MBA as Trophy Wife syndrome, a disease schools are not too found of. You’re 29, and you have been hustling rather well for two to three years and by your own description, have made a pile of $$$. You are now a board member of three small companies and a charity. Didn’t I just read about you in the New York Times today about the New York Charity Circuit

On Any Given Night Out

(for those attending benefits, their sense of having arrived is seldom in doubt) or was it in this even more shocking trend piece on the same page.

(for those attending benefits, their sense of having arrived is seldom in doubt).

OK, seriously, why exactly do you need an MBA given the above.

It is not clear if you are still working in your start-up oil company, but if you are, why would you leave it?  If not, why are going to B-school except to meet smart chicks?

To be brutally honest, unless your HBS legacy status comes with a lot of zeroes or with a building attached, you are the kind of legacy they like to ding, just to pump up their legacy ding stats given that there are “some” legacies they gotta take.  “Some” is Dee Leopold’s favorite fudge word –“many” HBS interview invites went out in Week 1, she said,  “some” will go out in Week 2.  Scary?

A 3.95 from UC Irvine and an accounting degree is solid (although accounting degrees are a bit suspect as being too business-y but  that per se is not fatal). Your 16 months at a boutique IB and your “fly up” to Oppenheimer PE after 16 months is solid but not gold-plated.

Being an SEC whistleblower, apparently reporting a guy at your own firm,  is one of those things that could go either way: positive if it is part of a pattern of public integrity gigs and interests, or odd (and even suspect) if it is a one-off.  We would have to know more about the context. I don’t mean to minimize it, but just thinking strategically, it is an element that would need careful consideration as part of an overall application.

Adcoms, of course,  would publicly and loudly  disagree (WE LOVE WHISTLEBLOWERS), and then we would need some inside adcom whistleblower to say, “Nah, Sandy is actually right.”

All the above convinces me you will have a hard time at  H or S. Wharton might go for this just because they like rich people (well, everyone does, but H +S can pretend more) and stats are good although a 700+ GMAT would help there (less so at H+S).

Columbia might play out like Wharton. MIT is hard to predict in this context. They might be taken by the start-up success and good numbers and just roll the dice, certain you won’t be reporting as unemployed after graduation, one way or the other. This is a case where you really need to get  your act together in the application and  for interviews about why you want an MBA. NYU will go for this if you spin some cotton candy about starting businesses in New York, and they know you are not using them as a safety, which may entail them putting you on the WL, you then getting dinged from other places, and then really telling them, “Look, dudes, I’m coming.”

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