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Handicapping Your Elite MBA Odds: Ms. Financial Analyst

woman in tech

Ms. Ed Tech

  • 740 GMAT (46V/47Q,8 IR)
  • 3.8 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in finance and accounting from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce
  • Work experience includes two years at Deloitte Strategy & Operations Consulting, with past year working for the CFO/COO at an education technology company (he and CEO are HBS alums) doing all financial modeling, strategic analysis, and support for fundraising/M&A
  • Extracurricular involvement as author of a personal finance and investing blog to educate young women and engage them in the markets; also held multiple, free financial workshops and talks, and have the series 65
  • Goal: To build on my extracurricular activities to create my own financial education company for young adults/women.
  • 25-year-old white female

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 30% to 40%

(If you use my goals! Yours could be destabilizing)

Sandy’s Analysis: Lots to like including

1. 25-year-old female

2. 740 GMAT

3. 3.8 GPA at University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce (finance and accounting concentration).

The rest of this is silver and not gold (from what I can tell, maybe more information would change my mind). That includes two years at Deloitte Strategy & Operations Consulting, which is a fine job and might be made to connect backwards and forwards to your goals and career at UVA but it is not planet MBB which emits many, many applicants against whom you will, to some degree, compete with.

I can live with that, and applicants from Deloitte get into HBS, even white ones, depending on what else is going on. What comes next for you needs real explaining, “past year working for the CFO/COO at an education technology company (he and CEO are HBS alums) doing all financial modeling, strategic analysis, and support for fundraising/M&A.”

A lot of your story is going to turn on the size of that company and why you chose to work there–the two are inter-related. I myself was not totally sure what “education technology” meant, but a quick search came up with this recent tidbit from Forbes:

Education technology is getting a lot of attention these days. The Obama Administration proposed nearly $4 billion to help wire our schools. Meanwhile, more than $600 million in venture capital poured into ed tech last year – a 32% increase over the prior year.

Teachers have also embraced the use of technology – almost unanimously.  In a recent survey, 96% of teachers reported that technology is making a significant impact in their classroom. http://www.forbes.com/sites/schoolboard/2015/05/11/the-only-metric-that-measures-the-success-of-education-technology/

Well, I still don’t know what it is, but I can imagine, and $600 million dollars worth of “diligenced” VC investing means at the least that something is going on, in addition to the usual VC follow-the-leader investing patterns.

If your company is a serious player in that field, or a serious start-up (that is often even better, there is no success like potential success), and you can relate what they do to your own passions for education, growth companies, and systems etc. THAT makes a good HBS story. And it explains why you went there from Deloitte, making it a seeming

excellent second job. That is important.

What you say your goals are, and what is behind them, is somewhat less effective in supporting this lovely story.

You note:

“Author of a personal finance and investing blog to educate young women . . . I also held multiple, free financial workshops and talks and have the series 65.”

And then add:

“Post MBA Goals: To build on my extracurricular to create my own financial education company for young adults/women.”

This could be a close call, and I could be wrong because there is no right answer, but I don’t see that goal as growing directly enough out of the best thing in your story, the very fact that you are already employed in a powerful and insider role at an “innovative” educational tech company. As the quote from Forbes makes clear, the magic of ed-tech is that it sells stuff to suckers, er, schools!!!! And schools have a well-documented history of buying lots and lots of educational tech– whether it works or not. I myself am old enough to remember Language Labs.

You will be selling to young women. Young women and young men have a well documented history of buying lots and lots of things, but financial advice is not usually in their shopping carts. Why not say you want to build out your Ed-Tech experience and become an impactful and innovative leader in that. Talk about new directions in Ed-Tech, name powerful players, etc. It just makes more sense.

You can still talk about your interesting extra extracurriculars. Say an ed-tech idea you want to explore is how gender makes a difference in processing math.

Being a regular player in the fun and ineffective and fully funded world of Ed-Tech is way more palatable to adcoms than the the idea you propose is–“to create my own financial education company for young adults/women.”

That is something we expect to see flogged on PBS by book sellers who have expanded their books into product lines. Or exercise gurus with CD’s to sell. You don’t need an MBA for that.

Well, as I have often noted, HBS cares way more about your past (which is real and measurable) than your projected future, but goal statements, while they cannot help you, can damage you if they sound odd, unreal, affected, scripted to stand out, etc. You are a strong but no shoe-in candidate, and saying goals my way makes your entire story consistent.

It may not make a difference, but there is no downside to my way, and some possible danger to yours, if you are a close case, and some other threads start to unravel in the application or interview process.