Stanford GSB | Ms. Startup Poet
GRE 330, GPA 3.2
HEC Paris | Mr. iOS App Developer
GMAT 610, GPA 3.3
INSEAD | Mr. Sailor in Suit
GMAT 740, GPA 3.6
Tuck | Mr. Global Corp Comms
GRE 325, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. Global Graduate Scheme
GMAT 750, GPA 7.2/10
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Stanford GSB | Mr. Energy Reform
GMAT 700, GPA 3.14 of 4
Harvard | Mr. Startup
GRE 327, GPA 3.35
Harvard | Mr. Public Finance
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Almost Ballerina
GRE ..., GPA ...
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Darden | Mr. Engineer Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Systems Change
GMAT 730, GPA 4
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Airline Captain
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5

Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. Mid-Market Consultant

poets and quants handicapping odds

Mr. Big Pharma

  • 710 GMAT (Q49/V36)
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate in finance from a small private school (think Davidson)
  • Work experience: includes two years in Big Pharma (think J&J) as a financial analyst
  • “By the time I apply, I will have three to four years of experience. I spent my first year in the corporate office supporting our largest therapeutic area, and after my first year a dynamic role opened up at an affiliate out in the Northeast that I happily accepted”
  • Extracurricular involvement playing Division I college tennis, as team captain for three season; currently a Division I volunteer assistant coach at a reputable university in the Northeast; founded a ECP (Early Career Professionals) network at employer; volunteer in the community and have combined the ECP Network to large non-profit events in which case the ECPs are volunteering and representing the company’s brand well in the community
  • Goal: To fulfil a passion to lead others, someday becoming the CEO of a “Fortunate” 500 company, maybe even at his current employer
  • “My company has an MBA sponsorship program that pays full tuition for a select few financial analysts every year. Because of this, we have had many people at the company get their MBA from the schools listed below. My first boss, who I am very close to, was an HBS grad; therefore, I will have very strong recommendation letters to many of the schools below”
  • 25-year-old Caucasion male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 25%

Stanford: 15%

Chicago: 30%

Northwestern: 30%

Duke: 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Hey, Mr. Big Pharma Financial Analyst, you could do us a huge favor and provide some details about these kids:

“My company has an MBA sponsorship program . . . they will pay full-tuition for a select few financial analysts every year to go back to school full-time . . . . Because of this, we have had many people at the company get their MBA from the schools listed below [HBS, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, Fuqua].”

I believe it. Why wouldn’t those schools admit qualified kids who are being sponsored by Big Pharma, hence no need to offer them precious scholarship money and who will not have trouble (in most cases) getting a job post-MBA. Plus, as noted, the ability to survive and thrive in Big Pharma as a financial analyst with a daily work routine is a good proxy for, if not a bold and upstanding citizen, at least a very competent sitting down one.

(I’m visualizing cubicles, I’m visualizing neat dressers, I’m visualizing lots of meetings and deadlines, I’m visualizing Excel sheets with more than 100 rows!)

My guess is, HBS and Stanford take URMS and kids with mega stats from these programs, while Booth, Kellogg, and Fuqua go for all comers with serviceable stats (that would be you, with the 3.8 and 710).

Hence the pharma program is giving you a bonus of 30 to 40 GMAT points at Booth, Kellogg and Fuqua, but not at HBS and Stanford. Anyway, that is my guess. But why guess when you can tell us what really happened over the past three years or so with actual applicants you might know.

You would be in the running at HBS and an okay long-shot at Stanford if you had an actual 750 GMAT, since they have a pharma door for white kids. It just requires huge stats.

Division 3 tennis team captain is a plus at some small, but real size, since it gives us a picture of Hail Fellow in lifetime sport and active alum, organizer and future Mr. and Mrs. Doubles Champions at reunions. All good.

Your other XC:

“I founded ECP (Early Career Professionals Network)  . . . . This has been a huge hit at the site as early career professional engagement is at an all-time high and we are experiencing less turnover as a result. Also, this is a way for our site to be proactive in our company’s Diversity and Inclusion goals.”

Roger that. Just let me make this point. Service-related work for your current firm and being an all-around good-guy, as you appear to be, is fine and will give you a good look and profile at places like Duke, Fuqua, Tuck, Kellogg and other really good schools.

It is not what Stanford (big time) and HBS (less time) look for in powerful extra-currics which HAVE AN IMPACT BEYOND YOURSELF. Even if ECP does have an impact beyond you in some technical way, it is still considered working for the man and not working for the man in Africa with AIDS, if you get the difference.

All that said, you have a totally fine profile. Just not seeing this as Stanford or HBS. They got Big Pharma kids with better stats and equally good if not more hip extras. And many of them are also URM, etc.

“Post MBA Goals: I have a passion for leading others; someday, I would like to lead thousands of people. I would love to be the CEO of a Fortunate 500 company, maybe even at my current company.”

Phew, I get it but that is a little too gushy. Just show them, don’t tell them, and you might sound more grounded and seasoned by saying you want to stay in pharma/healthcare which could be a lie, but it is a lie they respect, if supported by some focused and credible heavy breathing.

“I would love to be the CEO of a Fortunate 500 company . . . .”

I’m a typo-making typist myself, and “Fortunate 500” is either a doozy or a magnificent act of mishearing on your part. Anyway, it could happen!!!

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.