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Rejected By HBS. Find Out Why


Profile Basics:

  • 720 GMAT (48Q/42V)
  • 3.6 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in economics from a Midwestern Liberal Arts College
    CFA Charterholder
  • Work experience includes two and one-half years at a Big 4 consulting firm, followed by two and one-half years in a public advocacy role at a bulge bracket bank in New York, with two promotions in the first two years
  • Extracurriculars include being a member of college endowment’s investment committee, host committee for multiple events including multi-million dollar fundraiser for the LGBT Center of NYC, LGBT Center’s Young Leader’s Council, CFA Institute Member
  • Essay on the “representation of the underdog, starting with experience as an undersized athlete. After finishing on the field, I continued to find ways to represent underdogs. I then moved to a firmwide panel where I was the investment bank’s internal panelist to discuss my experience and coming out story as the first person to openly transition while at the firm. That event created momentum across the company, allowing me to work with HR to change firmwide benefit policies and mentoring others who subsequently transitioned. Folded in my experience as the first to transition at a firm with tens of thousands of people to discuss goal to ultimately use PE or VC finance under-served populations and close the opportunity gap.”
  • Recommendations from a direct supervisor and managing director and a partner on the management committee of employer bank and a close mentor
  • 27-year-old white transgender female

Sandy’s Assessment:

Grrrrr. Dunno. On the one hand, you are a white banker and it is hard to know how they evaluated
2.5 years at a Big 4 frim in consulting followed by 2.5 yrs in policy/advocacy role at bulge bracket bank in NYC.

When I was a new lawyer, and the whole gang went to a famous steak house in NYC (lawyers do that all the time), and I ordered fish, my boss leaned over and told me.

“When you are in a steak house, you order a steak.”

Well, the adcom may think that when you are at a bulge bracket IB firm, you do deals and crunch numbers vs. public advocacy. To your credit, your stated goal was in line with that “to ultimately use PE or VC finance under-served populations and close the opportunity gap.” That’s all fine, but adcom may have preferred the steak.

I am also not sure how you being transgender played out with them. On the one hand, it’s irrelevant to them, but we all know that is not true, it’s just too big a deal.

I’m a bit surprised it did not tilt things in your favor, especially since you have become a very strong advocate for LGBT issues.

“Member of college endowment’s investment committee.” That is also deeply up their alley.

It’s possible your execution was confusing or annoying — there is a lot going on and your career at IB as an advocate needed to be explained. You also seem to have drifted over to HR within an IB setting, albeit in an advocacy way, but that could have been more pieces that needed explaining, or just mild annoyances.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.