Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Mr. Fulbright Food Security

Mr. Oil & Gas

  • 720-740 GMAT (Projected)
  • 3.98 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from a Top 10 public university for engineering in the Midwest
  • Work experience includes two years at an integrated oil and gas company, four years at matriculation, in a rotational development program. Currently a global technical consultant subject matter expert including travel to support production operations in Africa and Asia
    Extracurricular involvement in a major honor society leadership at college, increased member participation and retention rates, increased community outreach and presence within school;
  • Goal: To transition into strategy consulting at MBB for energy companies both in U.S. and abroad
  • “Additionally, was a national finalist in multiple speech and debate tournaments in high school. Engineering took priority in college, but that background is one of the reasons consulting (synthesizing disparate information into a cohesive package and communicating with a client) appeals to me”
  • 26-year-old white male from Midwest

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20% to 30%
MIT: 30% to 40%
Dartmouth: 30% to 40%
Chicago: 30% to 40%
Virginia: 40% to 50%
Michigan: 40% to 50%
Northwestern: 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: This is a real tight story and adcoms love oil and gas guys with 3.98 GPAs from solid schools.  Get that 720-740 and I don’t mean to be annoying (it’s not me, it’s the adcoms) but in your case there could be a difference between a 720 and a 740.

How come? A white male guy in a sort of crowded cohort [energy] with lots of other WM’s is in the overrepresented part of the pool. And fact two: You have only worked for one company, so schools will not have the value of seeing where you were able to land a second job.

That is a big metric to them in crowded buckets, e.g. consulting, banking, etc.
Many applicants start at MBB or GS in consulting and banking, but one real powerful metric is where those strong applicants wind up working after two years for their second job. Do they work for a select PE shop or slip down the status pole a few notches or do something “different” (that could be OK if it is good different and can be explained.).

Schools really value that outcome as a very considered analysis by the second employer (often one they know and trust) who have more time and effort to compare people than they do. In your case, this may not matter if you are working for a huge brand name oil and gas company with a history of sending applicants to B-school.

You say,

“2 years at an integrated oil and gas company, 4 years at matriculation (will miss application deadlines this year). Rotational development program. Currently a global technical consultant subject matter expert including travel to support production operations in Africa and Asia. Next role before MBA will be in small capital project management.”

That sounds like one of the “majors,” to wit: ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP, Total S.A. or ConocoPhillips. (Well, I just looked that up, sorry if it is already out of date, did Amazon buy Total?)

If that is the case, they will treat your career there as kinda the first and second job, and the fact you have moved up smartly (it seems, make tha real clear in the app).

If you work for one of those lesser known intergrated companies (well, lesser known to adcoms), viz. PetroChina Co. Ltd., China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Petroleo Brasileiro, Ecopetrol, YPF S.A. or Petrobras Argentina SA, etc, only working for one company could be a problem.

Target Schools: HBS, MIT, Tuck, Booth, Darden and Ross. Considering Kellogg due to location in Midwest, not sure if it’s a good fit.

Guys like you get into and dinged at HBS, although you seem their type.  As noted, energy is a classy bucket with lots of other guys like you, and the difference between a 720 and 740 GMAT for a white guy could be significant. I’d really plan on retaking a 720, and I hate to say it.

MIT will go for this, they love Mid-Western and well spoken types, see my remarks about HBS and GMAT scores. Pretty much ditto.

TUCK. You should get in, you’d offer both diversity (oil and gas) and would probably fit in, unless you got interviewed by some Tuckie with a hair on his or her ass, and that could happen.

You said, “was a national finalist in multiple speech and debate tournaments in high school. Engineering took priority in college, but that background is one of the reasons consulting (synthesizing disparate information into a cohesive package and communicating with a client) appeals to me.”

Hmmmmmm, some tranche of people in admissions–not all that many, but– might find that kind of smarmy, humble bragging, over-slick BS to be annoying.  As to that tranche (an annoying word as well, don’t use that word either, although you seem the type that might), Tuck is over-represented, especially in the kids who do interviewing. Meet that wrong kid on the day you are interviewed, and Tuck could prove to be a dry well.

Booth should be a go. Same analysis as Tuck and fewer decision makers with Tuck hairs across their backsides.

Darden and Ross should be yes, even with a 720.

Kellogg.  Fact you fear it is not your type of place confirms a bit of my remarks about Tuck. If you don’t get the bad interviewer, etc. you should get in. As to liking it there, well, go to some forums and post-admit events, you’ll get the idea real fast.

Could be oil and gas and water.