Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds

Mr. IIT Bainie

      • 730 GMAT (Q50/V39)
      • 7.9/10 GPA
      • Undergraduate degree in engineering from IIT Delhi
      • Work experience includes three years as a management consultant at Bain & Co., with two promotions; work focused on consumer products industry, including the world’s largest spirits company, India’s largest FMCG company; currently leading the launch of a new drink at a beverage start-up and will return to Bain in January of 2018
      • Extracurricular involvement as general secretary at IITD, leading a 200+ team to organize a college fest, implemented academic reforms; passionate about mentoring, teaching English at evening school for seven years; mentor as part of IITD alumni association and at Bain; awarded best all-rounder of graduating class among 800+ students by Director, IITD; debating (several podium finishes) & theatre (acted/directed 10+ plays, including three with a pro-theatre group)
      • Short-term goal: To return to Bain as a manager and gain experience in F&B industry
      • Long-term goal: To launch a beverage brand that makes nutritious drinks for rural Indians
      • Recommenders are Wharton alums from Bain

25-year-old Indian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%
Stanford: 15%
Wharton: 30% to 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Grrrrr, I’m tempted to call you Mr. Beverage but Mr. Milk might be more accurate, given that this is a nutritious and vitamin jammed application that any mother would gladly want for her infant but similar to the White Woman we profiled today (see Ms. Bulge Bracket Banker) not clear you got the up from adversity/helping victims mojo that Stanford likes to drink.

HBS can get this down, and so can Wharton, although outcomes in all cases may depend on what the consultant cohort looks like.

Let’s start with the basics:
What we have here is a 25-year-old Indian male, with a bachelors from IIT Delhi, CGPA: 7.9/10
GMAT: 730 (Q: 50, V: 39).

Well, that seems OK-ish to me. There is tremendous and unresolved, to my mind, chatter on the Internet on how to convert an IIT score to some US equivalent, for an informed but not fully satisfying discussion see this.

Based on my own experience, an IIT CGPA of 7.9/10 is real solid but not bright gold (nor do I know the relative place of IIT Delhi in the IIT pecking order). IF ANY READERS HAVE INSIGHT ON THIS, PLEASE NOTE THAT IN COMMENTS.

I’d say the 7.9 is more competitive at H/S/W than the 730 (GMAT scores I DO know about) and I would strongly suggest you take that over. It is below the average score for all comers at H/S/W and could be below the average Desi, male score by A LOT!!!!!

Moreover, I got a hunch it is also below the average GMAT score for MBB (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) applicants at HSW by a lot. And them guys is your competition to some serious degree.

As to your career at Bain, which you summarize as  “three years  . . . (joined straight after undergrad), gained two promotions including an early one  . . . .”  I would note here, as with White Woman from bulge IB, you have three successful  years with early promotions, and while that is OK in some ways, it is not as good as two years at Bain and then some SECOND JOB at some super hot and selective place, viz, PE or heat-seeking start-up.

In your case, actually, you will enter B-school after four years at Bain, and a secondment (I think) at a beverage company, viz., “Focused work on consumer products industry (clients include world’s largest spirits company, India’s largest FMCG company), currently leading launch of a new drink at a beverage start-up (will return to Bain in Jan 2018).”

Well, that’s a great Bain career, and if you had A+ grades and GMATs it might make you on par with folks who work in consulting for two years and then hit career super jackpot at Job 2.

But your great Bain career and so-so stats will not even you up to solid gold folks, many of whom are sitting at desks to the left and right of you (well, not at the beverage company but back at Bain).

-Short term: Return to Bain as a Manager, gain experience in F&B industry

Hmmmmmm, let me caution you about making too much out of your food and beverage experience. Adcoms first of all do not consider food and beverages to be any special kind of industry, unlike many versions of tech, e.g. medical devices,  and certainly biotech. It is old economy, and while the title FMCG may mean Fast Moving Consumer Goods, it is ironically, quite SLOW MOVING as an industry, that part of it not being gobbled up by Amazon anyway, and it also suffers from the “familiarity breeds contempt” syndrome.

We all actually know what FMCGs are, and that takes a bit of the mystery away from why you really need an MBA to be a big deal in this, ahem, space. Don’t get me wrong. There are folks from FMCG at all top B-schools, but my guess is, their passion for FMCG was not a major factor in their admission.

Ah, but clever you have seen this problem and come up with a work around.
Your long-term goal is “Launch beverage brand that makes nutritious drinks for rural Indians.”

Boy that stone kills several birds in your mind, you are founder, you are an innovator, and you are bringing nutrition in liquid and screw-top form to x number of rural Indians. I admire the instinct, and you might say that as one of several goals, but I would state my goals more broadly as someone interested in innovative and impactful leadership in India where you see the chance to create new products, create new jobs, service new markets, and examples of this are 1, 2 and 3.

As to your extras, yes, there are a lot of them, but as with White Woman, let me give you a no-mercy take on what adcom makes of them.

General Secretary at IITD (led 200+ team to organize college fest, implemented academic reforms)

That is actually impressive in some “man, this guy loves stuff like that way . . . and seems to work and play well with others.”

2. Passionate about mentoring
-have been teaching English at evening school for 7 years
-Mentor as part of IITD alumni association and at Bain

Keep up the good work, but mentoring does not light their fire. If folks in that evening school are blind or some lower caste, YES, maybe.

3. Awarded best all-rounder of graduating class among 800+ students by Director, IITD

See remarks at 1 above, at some point being the kind of person who wins these prizes begins to add up to something that even oddball and PC adcoms have to recognize as “yes, square and retrograde but impressive.”

4. Others- Debating (several podium finishes)

Debating is a near negative, full of hot heads, zealots (even if acting) and show-offs. The very idea of debating is anti-community. Even as an exercise, it’s scripted, rhetorical, and misfocused.

& theatre (acted/directed 10+ plays, including 3 with a pro theatre group)

Adcoms OK about theatre as something you used to do.

The issue is whether this long and impressive list is going to move the needle, since none of it was helping victims in distant places and a good deal of it makes you seem normal and popular, and who needs people like that?

I think in your case, quantity may, just may, transform itself into near quality, so these will help.

I’m not seeing this as Stanford, which is not bent in favor of consultants to begin with, especially since they will hold their noses and take other consultants who are more boring, odd, and have immaculate stats.

HBS might throw you in the stew. Your job there will be in recs and app execution, to appear really likable, not just ha, ha, all-rounder likable who does theatre.

Wharton may actually like this jive at face value.  Enough to swallow a sub-average GMAT score for your demo.