The Ding Report: Who Was Rejected & Why

Ms. Retail

  • 740 (49Q/44V) GMAT
  • 3.2 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in business from a top Canadian college (think Queen’s or Ivey)
  • Work experience includes three years at WalMart; was in a

    rotational leadership program for one year, promoted to a buying position, promoted second time to manager on a strategic project.

  • Extracurricular involvement as founder of a networking organization for women that has gained press attention and won an award
  • Good recommendations from current boss and awesome recs from former boss who is also a good friend
  • Goals: To remain in retail consulting but gain broader exposure
  • 24-year-old Canadian female


Dinged without an interview by HBS

Sandy’s Analysis: Grrrrr. you have a low GPA and you work at a retailer—which is not exactly on HBS’ friends and family list (a short one). Generally, retail is not a favored feeder industry. My guess is the number of ‘buyers’ admitted to HBS each year could be zero to two, with the weight toward zero.

So this was a narrow window to begin with. The size and reputation of the company (in their mind) plays a huge role here And even then my guess is that the kind of retailer HBS likes is a WalMart or a Target, huge places with a big footprint. You obviously solved that issue because you are at WalMart.

So I think you were dinged because of execution or HBS simply filled its small bucket of peeps like you in R1, or bad luck.

My advice: Reapply for next year’s round 1 and really execute on your story and make sure those Canadian rec writers lose their typical moderation. Lots to like in this profile.

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

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.