Rejected By Harvard Business School? You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

Mr. Big Oil

  • 168Q, 164V GRE:
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduaate degree in electrical engineering from Imperial College London
  • 3.9 GPA
  • Master’s degree from UC-Berkeley in electrical engineering
  • Work experience includes six years in the oil industry with Schlumberger as a field engineer, with one assignment in Far East Russia for one year, another in Kazakhistan for one year, and two years in Nigeria; also two years currently with Shell as an account manager
  • Extracurricular involvement as the founder of three not-for-profit kindergartens that helped 350 kids to gain quality education in math
  • Essay focused on his personal background and how it influenced him to establish  kindergartens for poor kids, bringing in Schlumberger to fund the venture
  • Recommendations from SVP in large oil company, an HBS alum who he worked with for one year; the other from direct supervisor
  • Goal: To move to consulting in the energy area
  • 29-year-old male from Senegal

Sandy’s Analysis: Hate to say this but they probably took a 25- to 26- year-old HYP/MIT grad who crushed the GMAT and worked for Exxon.

Well, they do take people like that, and always do. I’m still a bit baffled, howver, because there is lots to like in your profile.

Your age and six years of experience is something they sometimes wink at easily, and the rest of your profile is real solid.

Senegal is a plus, too. There are usually from none to one kid per year from there, and Africa/Energy is a hot button. Schlumberger and Shell are also feeder companies to Harvard Business School. And your essay topic was good.

So it’s hard to know for sure and decision kinda baffles me, especially given how strong your stats and profile are. Although if you put a gun to my head, I’d go with my guess guy who was just more attractive to the folks in admissions.  It comes down to the fact that you are a bit older and there were shinier jelly beans in the bag.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.