Rejected By Harvard Business School. Can You Believe It?

Mr. Tokyo From Italy


  • 750 (Q50, V41) GMAT
  • 4.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from a top Italian engineering university
  • Master’s degree in engineering from the top Japanese engineering university (Top 50 in the world)
  • 112/120 TOEFL
  • Work experience includes four years of consulting experience at EY in Italy and Germany, out-of-turn promotion to senior consultant after one year in EY. Focus on new technology, mostly RPA and Machine Learning; Co-founder and CFO of a MedTech startup in Luxembourg (won numerous awards at European level)
  • Letters of Recommendation written by strong letters from a direct supervisor and a senior manager at EY in the last two years
  • Essay focused on his origins from a poor family in the south of Italy. “I’m the first person in my family to have a university degree and I took inspiration from my father, who loved studying and graduated from a public university in Italy when he was 43. I have lived more than two years in Japan and that experience changed my perspective about Italy. Japan is incredibly advanced about technology, so I decided to come back to Italy and focus on new technologies to change my home country. At the beginning of 2020, I joined a European Council hackathon and met people from different countries and fields and together we started VoiceMed, which is a MedTech start-up to recognize respiratory diseases via Machine Learning analyses of voice and coughs.”
  • Extracurriculars: “I teach entrepreneurship and finance at high-school as a volunteer and I’m in the panel to judge business ideas in high-school competitions at the national level. An Italy Change Agent for EY, I manage environmental-friendly activities (such as the distribution of reusable plastic bottles to all Italian EY employees in 2019).”
  • Post-MBA Goals: “In the long-term, I want to become a leader in the tech sector in Italy and to do this I want to go to the US to upgrade my leadership and managerial skills with an MBA, gain professional experience in the US working for high-tech companies (such as IDEO or McKinsey Digital Lab).”
  • 28-year-old Italian

Sandy’s Analysis: There is lots to like in your profile and your ding is a bit of a surprise. What is EY’s record in Italy and Euro (if you know) of sending applicants to H/S/W. All that said, I would have predicted an interview at Harvard Business School.

Phew, if Big 4 in Europe kids want to start applying to H/S/W, and that may happen for lots of reasons, some big shot at a Big 4 firm will have to reach out to HBS, a sorta executive-to-executive could work some magic. It should not be hard given how many HBS grads are Big 4 hires, and sort of formally open the channel.

And you note that in Europe, and especially Italy, is not a good H/S/W feeder; “I know that no one has got there in the last 25 years from EY Italy. But I expect that it is not common for Big 4 European guys to apply to H/S/W, so maybe almost no one has actually applied (I know no one who has applied since I joined the company).”

That is a meaningful fact.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.