Sandy’s Drive-By Analysis Of R2 Harvard Business School Dings

Female Engineer At Fortune 500 Manufacturer Dinged At HBS, Columbia & Wharton 

The Basics:

  • 720 GMAT
  • 3.43 GPA
  • Work experience in the U.S., Asia, and Africa for a Fortune 500 company in manufacturing and heavy machinery
  • Extracurricular involvement in mentoring, women in engineering, STEM for kids, and fundraising
  • Goal: To transition into corporate strategy
  • 29-year-old female

Application Outcomes:

Harvard Business School (dinged)

Columbia Business School (dinged)

Wharton (dinged)

MIT Sloan (applied, waiting for the outcome)

Stanford Graduate School of Business (applied, waiting for an outcome but most likely denied)

Sandy’s Analysis: Wow. Those results are not what I would have predicted. A lot of this outcome could turn on companies you worked for. Not all Fortune 500 companies are equal and top schools prefer brand names.

Also, how long you worked at each job, if more than one, could be important as well as how you explained job moves. Usually being a female in manufacturing is a good start so your dings could be the result of 1) Working for no-name companies, 2) too many jobs, and/or 3) bad application execution overall.

Hispanic Woman At NGO Gets Interview At Stanford But Dinged Outright By Harvard  

The Basics:

  • 167V/161Q GRE
  • 3.68 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree from a top three university (virtually no quant coursework)
  • Work experience includes three years in international development at an NGO based internationally and three years at a tech startup
  • Short-term goal: Strategy and operations at a social enterprise
  • Long-term goal: To run her own international health organization
  • 28-year-old Hispanic female

Application Outcomes:

Harvard Business School (dinged)

Stanford Graduate School of Business (invited to interview)

UC-Berkeley Haas (applied, waiting for the outcome)

Yale SOM: (invited to interview)

Sandy’s Analysis: When it comes to your ding at Harvard, a lot may have turned on the prestige of your jobs and the logical career development of going from a tech startup to an NGO or vice versa. Was the startup first? That would have been better unless the startup fits in with your goals.

Anyway, there is a lot to like here, which explains your invitation from Stanford. It’s just that HBS and Stanford saw it a little bit differently. Admission outcomes are not fully random but they are at the borders and that is where your application falls.

Asian Bulge Bracket I-Banker Dinged By HBS & Wharton 

The Basics:

  • 700 GMAT
  • 3.88 GPA
  • Work experience includes three years at matriculation in investment banking at a top three bulge bracket bank and just over four years at a large buy-side investment frim
  • Short-term goal: To transition into strategy consulting
  • Long-term goal: General Manager role at a Fortune 500 corporation
  • “I underestimated the impact of a below average GMAT for an over-represented minority profile. Part of me just didn’t believe it mattered that much. My colleagues, albeit younger and not Asian with a similar background, got into HBS and Wharton”
  • 31-year-old Asian male

Application Outcomes:

Harvard Business School (dinged, without an interview)

Wharton (dinged, without an interview)

Stanford Graduate School of Business (applied, waiting for outcome)

Sandy’s Analysis: It’s really simple. Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton have to ding some IB/PE guys and you made it really easy for them by 1) applying round two, 2) being too old, and 3) having a 700 GMAT.

Comments or questions about this article? Email us.