Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: A Hedge Fund Analyst

Mr. Bainie In India

  • 730 GMAT (Q/50, V/39)
  • 7.9/10 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi
  • Work experience includes three years as a management consultant at Bain, with two promotions
  • “Focused work on consumer products industry (clients include world’s largest spirits company, India’s largest FMCG company). Currently leading the launch of a new drink at a beverage start-up (will return to Bain in Jan 2018). Will have 48 months of full time work ex at the time of joining the program”
  • Extracurricular involvement includes serving as general secretary at
    IITD where he led a 200+ team to organize college fest and implemented academic reforms; teaching English at evening school for seven years, mentor as part of the IITD alumni association and at Bain; awarded best all-rounder of graduating class among 800+ students by Director, IITD; and debating with several podium finishes and 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 beverage brand that makes nutritious drinks for rural Indians
  • Recommenders are from Bain and are Wharton alumni
  • 25-year-old Indian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%
Stanford: 10%
Wharton: 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Grrrrrrrr, you are the Desi twin of the woman right above you.
OK but not great grades at a classy school, viz.  IIT Delhi, CGPA: 7.9/10. She was 2:1 at Oxford.
A 730 GMAT (although in your case, the score is for real, and not something we plugged in because SHE was too lazy to include it)
A classy job but only ONE job, at a classy place, viz, “3 years of management consulting at Bain (joined straight after undergrad)
-Gained 2 promotions including an early one” (she did exactly the same thing at bulge bracket bank!).”

You do have one interesting item, a secondment to a start-up, “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).”

I am not sure if working for “spirits” companies is a small plus to the sober (and leaden) mind of your average Adcom, but the alcohol business is certainly deeply enmeshed in all the elements that make the Fast Moving Consumer Goods space  complex, interesting and fun. To wit, heavy advertising (often under restrictions), strong brand awareness, heavy government regs, a bit naughty, faddish consumer preferences, and positioning claims about quality and typical drinkers that are often made-up or subjective.

You also note:
1. General Secretary at IITD (led 200+ team to organize college fest, implemented academic reforms)

Small check.

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

OK

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

Can count

4. Others- Debating (several podium finishes) & theatre (acted/directed 10+ plays, including 3 with a pro theatre group)

Debating is almost a negative, H and S don’t like the type, especially if that is ALL you present as major extras. That is not the case with you. Theater is more positive because adcoms are often avid and star-struck culture consumers (or were in their pre-Mom days) who respect creativity and powerful acting.

Taken as a whole, that is actually an impressive set of extras for someone who is not the bonus point area of extras, to wit, having an impact beyond yourself (ahem that does not mean organizing the “college fest,” it means helping victims outside the university, and often outside the country).

Drumroll, please:

In the bucket of what is left after all the Indian IIT kids with 8-9+ GPAs and 750+ GMATS have been admitted, your success at Bain, your interesting work in the booze biz, and your experience concocting a new brew at a start-up, might make you, well at HBS, one of their few, ahem, deuxiemes cru admits. A lot may depend on how many Desi kids from MBB with bullet-proof gold credentials apply that year.

The fact that you have a consistent story about spirits/FMCG blah, blah is nice, but don’t let it deaden your essay by being the only thing, or even the most frequent thing, you say. They don’t really care. You’re a consultant, you’re going back to Bain, they got it, for better or worse. Your essay needs to make them somehow say, “hmmmmm, we like this guy, there is something here, just a bit of sparkle more than the average MBB applicant.”

I think Stanford is going to be hard. Your stats (for a male Desi) are in the far suburbs, and although  Bain is a Tier 1 place, and you have a had a good run, you are in an ultra-competitive MBB bucket. Your cultured palette and several extras will not be enough to jump the stats shark.

Wharton goes for your story, properly executed.

Want some love beyond tough love. To wit, tortured love.  Retake the GMAT and get 750+. That will make you rock solid at Wharton, real solid at HBS, and a more likely miracle case at Stanford, although still a miracle.