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I am a Sales Manager at a CPG company in Argentina (F500, resp: 62% of modern trade business, leading a team of 5 account executives).
Previous roles: Account management in healthcare (F500, 3 years), and supply chain & sales in P&G (promotions every 1/1.5 years approx, stayed there 5.5 years).
Target School: Columbia
Considering: Kellogg SOM, NYU Stern
See More Profiles For: Columbia
Application Status: Open
Undergrad School: UCES
Undergrad Major: Marketing
Ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino
Recruiting Team Leader | Volunteering: Covid Support to elders in my city during quarantine (2 years)
Title: Sales Account Manager
Company: Fortune 500
Length of Employment: 3 yrs, 1 mos
Title: Business Development
Company: Fortune 100 Top 10
Length of Employment: 5 yrs, 6 mos
I was part of an M&A between a healthcare company (from England) and a CPG company (from the US), leading an area from scratch (brought clients, negotiated JBPs, and made several reports to track KPIs). Got me a promotion after 6 months.
Long-term: Exit consulting and return to industry (strategy/marketing, VP level)
Join in! Click here to assess the odds of Ms. Latina Sales Manager
Kudos to you for your promotions within the CPG space! In managing a team of 5 account reps, it appears that you may already have P&L responsibility (discretion over pricing and/or volume). If that’s the case, you’ll want to highlight that as it’s a common currency in the CPG world that will resonate with the AdCom.
As an Argentine applicant, you’ll be a relatively underrepresented international demographic. However, CPG is pretty well represented in LatAm applicants, with many applicants coming out of leadership development programs for P&G (like you!), Unilever, Colgate Palmolive, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Bimbo, Dannon, and Kraft Heinz. If you don’t come from a “big name” like this with name recognition signaling potential for the AdCom, you’ll just need to work a bit …
As an Argentine applicant, you’ll be a relatively underrepresented international demographic. However, CPG is pretty well represented in LatAm applicants, with many applicants coming out of leadership development programs for P&G (like you!), Unilever, Colgate Palmolive, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Bimbo, Dannon, and Kraft Heinz. If you don’t come from a “big name” like this with name recognition signaling potential for the AdCom, you’ll just need to work a bit harder to prove your leadership experience in lieu of established corporate pedigree (e.g., opportunity to “wear more hats” in a smaller outfit with less corporate hierarchy).
At 31, you will likely have around ~9 years of work experience, or double the average for a full-time 2-year MBA applicant for the programs you are considering: CBS, Kellogg and NYU Stern. Your longer-than-average work tenure will either be seen as a detractor (“this candidate is burned out/stagnated in their career and looking to switch gears”) or a asset (“this woman has the real-world senior-level price/volume managerial experience that will add value to a marketing strategy classroom and that perspective will be valuable in the MBA class peer group”). Within CPG, there is an overrepresentation of women, so your gender will not necessarily help you, BUT older, more experienced candidates are disproportionately male.
Be careful about making the case for Kellogg and NYU overly simplistic and marketing-based. “I want to go to Kellogg because I love marketing and have worked at some of the leading names in global CPG for 9 years” is not going to cut it. That simplistic candidate value proposition which is overly-reliant on the marketing niche is overused, especially for strategic marketing power-houses like Kellogg.
Your short-term goal of consulting may be difficult given your below-average GMAT (710). Unless you are a U.S. underrepresented minority, MBB typically recruits summer interns and full time hires with 730+ GMAT. It’s not unheard of for an MBA student with <730 GMAT to get an MBB interview invitation, and once you get the invitation the GMAT doesn’t matter… it’s all about the case study performance and behavioral/personality “fit” at that point. It’s just going to take more networking and schmoozing to get those interview invites. If you can nudge your GMAT up a bit, it would help you application in the obvious sense (higher GMAT is always better!), but it will also validate and support your near-term consulting strategic positioning.
If you can’t get your GMAT up or would like to consider a different approach, another strategic positioning option is to espouse an interest in returning to CPG in-country immediately after MBA. If you take this route, you need to make it clear “Why MBA?” and “Why Now?” since you have already been successful in this field for a long time without an MBA. CPGs in the U.S. sadly do not sponsor work authorization, and the AdComs are intimately aware of this, so it would not be prudent to talk about working for Coca Cola in Atlanta or Gen Mills in Minneapolis or Pepsi in NYC, as (over)qualified as you may be for those post-MBA Brand Manager or Associate Brand Manager roles.
You have what it takes to get into a top MBA program if you position your enhanced experience as a feature rather than a bug and you build a watertight career arc. The name of the game with professional strategic positioning is to signal goals that are simultaneously imminently achievable AND very ambitious based on your experiences and accomplishments thus far. If you do that, you’ll have solid odds at the schools you mention, and a good enough chance at H/S/W that you should apply to those, too. You miss all the shots you don’t take! We are rooting for you!
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