Expert MBA Admissions Advice Goes Virtual At Harvard Club

A supply chain CEO in the U.S. Midwest speaking to a classroom of MBAs in London, England. An investment guru in India holding court before a rapt audience half a world away in Southern California. The drawbacks of virtual participation to graduate business education have been well analyzed, but less has been written about the benefits. (Though not nothing — see here and here.) One chief advance: the ease with which expertise can now be resourced, as B-schools now can book guest speakers from anywhere in the world without the usual concerns about — and hassles associated with — travel.

Organizations and events on the MBA periphery are subject to the same realities as academia and industry, of course, emulating its tribulations and successes alike. Poets&Quants‘ own annual CentreCourt events went digital at the height of the pandemic in mid-2020 and attendance exploded. Already this year’s event is tracking at the same high rate of participation.

Likewise, last year and again in 2021, longtime MBA admissions consultant Betsy Massar would not have been able to produce her annual event on MBA admissions sponsored by the Harvard Club of San Francisco without going virtual. But moving to a digital space has made it possible not only to extend the life of the now-11-year event, but also expand the possibilities of who can contribute and who can attend.


Betsy Massar of Master Admissions

Massar, HBS grad and founder of Master Admissions, will facilitate MBA Admissions — Back to Normal?, a panel of five current students and recent grads from four elite schools who will share tips on how to make an application journey successful. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, July 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Pacific Time; click here to register and for more details.

This is an event for those aiming for admission to an elite school. Panelists are Philip Abboud, Wharton/Lauder ’23, Harvard College ’17; Kristina Hu, Harvard Business School ’22, Harvard College ’16; Bob Manfreda, Stanford Graduate School of Business ’19, Notre Dame, ’13; Sara Mansur, MIT Sloan/Harvard Kennedy School, ’17, Brown University ’09; and Matt Waldrop, Stanford GSB ’22, Harvard College ’15.

Hu is currently working on her startup The Equity Network, which helps Black, Latinx ,and Native-American college students and recent grads find their dream jobs. Waldrop is working on a fintech startup, and Abboud will be calling from Philadelphia between projects and classes, as Lauder started in June. “Bob Manfreda will be calling from Daddy-Land as his paternity leave just began (thank you Deloitte).,” Massar says. “Sara is participating from Park City, Utah, where she and her fiancé (another recent Sloan grad) are working remotely on their respective jobs — and with her job as Chief of Staff to the CEO of Ripple, one of the top digital currency companies, she’s got her hands full.”

The panelists will draw from their experiences as well as those of their peers — a sum of wisdom it would have been very difficult to get into one room regardless of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The panel benefits from being virtual because the two current students will be calling in from Denver and New York, respectively,” Massar tells P&Q. 

Digital events also make it possible for the audience to tune in, she adds..

“A lot of students are still at the office at 5:30 or 6, so if you have to schlep across town on an Uber to get from point A to point B, it’s sort of annoying, like, ‘Eh, I’m not going to bother,'” she says. “And the other thing is, it will be recorded and it will be available for members of the Club on our website.”


If you’re serious about applying to a top business school, you will hear useful information at this event, Massar says.

“More than half the people who attend are going to be applying in this year,” she says. “Not necessarily first round, but more than half. Most of the people are really serious. Like CentreCourt, people don’t show up to an event like this to figure out if they want to go to business school as much as they really are interested in trying to figure out what they need to know in order to be able to go to the top school.”

With five different individuals, there audience will hear five different stories, she says.

“For example, one is going to talk about getting into Harvard through 2+2 — but while she did get in, there are a lot of people who might’ve applied and didn’t get it through 2+2, and she will explain that there are many avenues, because peoples careers are very different. People’s decision plans are very different. Some might have planned since college, others might’ve decided almost within two months before actually submitting their application. Some have decided to go into joint degree programs. One student got in off the waitlist to his first-choice school and had already had plans to go one place, and then was planning to go to another.

“What’s interesting is, the decisions are very different based on different individuals. And so with five people, you’re going to get five, I hope, very different, very interesting approaches. Which means that if you’re attending this, you’re not going to feel like ‘Gee, I don’t have the perfect background, therefore I’ll never get in.’ You’ll look at people who certainly have good backgrounds, every one of them has a strong background, but every one of them came at business school from a different point of view.”

Enhancing the conversation will be the fact that Manfreda, the only panelist without a Harvard connection, has a book coming out about planning in advance for one’s B-school experience during and after the application process.

“Bob is going to speak to just really dumb things that you can prepare, things that you wish you would have prepared in advance if you’d know” Massar says. “The reality of it is that especially for career planning and even thinking about goals and how you’re going to present yourself as a candidate and even what school you choose, you should prepare for your post-MBA career in advance, and Bob will speak to that.”

Visit the Harvard Club of San Francisco and register for the event here


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