Handicapping Your MBA Odds

Mr. Wanderer from IIT

He’s yet another Indian male engineer with a degree from one of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology. But what separates this candidate from the most over-represented MBA applicant pool is that he works for Shell Oil as an internal consultant and has done assignments in Europe, Australia and the U.S. With a 760 GMAT, he hope to get into one of the world’s most highly selective business schools.

This 28-year-old former brand manager now works as a digital marketing strategist for a major financial services firm in the Washington, D.C., metro area. With a 680 GMAT and a 3.98 grade point average at UT-Austin, she wants to leverage an MBA into a job where her focus is on organizational structure at a major corporation.

Call him an underprivileged Brazilian male candidate. After a two-year stint in a leadership development program at a Coca-Cola bottler in Brazil, this 25-year-old is now in a middle-management job with his company. He comes from a small, isolated town in Brazil where he attended only public schools. He earned a 700 GMAT after three tries, and wants an MBA to transition into a prestigious consulting firm in Brazil or maybe a marketing role at a company.

CAN THEY GET INTO ONE OF THE WORLD’S TOP MBA PROGRAMS?

Get Sandy Kriesberg's advice to make handicapping your odds of getting in possible

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

What all three of these candidates and more share in common is the desire to gain an MBA experience at one of the very best business schools in the world. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com and a leading MBA admissions consultant, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics, work backgrounds and career goals with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature to be published shortly. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

And if you just have a short question, he is happy to answer that, too. So just post it in the comment section below.

Mr. IIT Wanderer

  • 760 GMAT
  • 8.3 out of 10 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai
  • Work experience includes four years as an internal consultant in operations for Shell Oil, with one promotion and assignments in Europe, the U.S., and Australia; Worked in Shell’s in-house consulting group helping optimize refinery performance, reduce maintenance costs, and improve operations efficiency; spent one year at Shell’s operating plant in Australia
  • Extracurriculars include “usual stuff at undergrad in debate and dramatics; also played chess at national level (top 50 in country)
  • 26-year-old Indian male

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30%
Wharton: 40%
INSEAD: 50%+
Columbia: 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: You are a classic Indian male engineer with a couple of plus factors. But there are a lot of people like you in the applicant pool from IIT with high GMATs. Your 760 GMAT is a plus. Your GPA is an okay score as things go. How do you break out of the box? Your job at Shell helps a lot. Instead of being just another engineer, you’re a high performing internal consultant at a global energy company and you’ve worked in Europe, Australia and the U.S. You’ve got a lot of frequent flier miles there.

Shell is an attractive employer to business schools because they don’t get that many applications from the big three or four major petroleum companies. I don’t know if it takes you totally out of the most overrepresented pool of male Indian engineers but it’s certainly a plus for you.

Columbia and Wharton will like your GMAT and your 8.3 out fo 10 GPA, and they will like the fact you work for Shell. I think your chances there are pretty inline at 40%, though you can always get unlucky and blow the interview at those schools. Afterall, at Harvard, more than 40% of the people who get interviewed don’t get in.

You are a very strong candidate at INSEAD, given your international work experience and everything else about your application.

You are on the bubble at harvard. You have a shot there if you present well and convince them you are really interested in the future of energy. You have to present yourself as an energy guy. You want to transition from energy engineering to energy management to energy leadership. You want to identify a hero you admire in the industry who could work at Exxon Mobil and is in charge of sustainability. You should say that would be an ideal job for you.

Execute well on the application well. You may have to work with your recommenders. Some of the people at Shell are not used to writing recommendations for top business schools so you may have to let them know that a low pass is saying you are the most talented guy they have seen in the past 20 years. Tell your recommenders that you would be very happy to give them a very comprehensive outline to work from.