He’s a key player in a strategic planning group at Honeywell Aerospace where he has racked up nearly five years of experience while also helping to care for a parent with early onset Alzheimer’s. With a 700 GMAT and a 3.64 grade point average, this 26-year-old hopes to get an MBA to move into a general management consulting role.
He’s a 21-year-old Vietnamese entrepreneur who has done summer stints at Boston Consulting Group and Google and is now finishing up his undergraduate degree in business at UC-Berkeley. He launched a small shot glass manufacturing business last year and wonders if he is a good candidate for Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program for undergrad applicants.
She leads a Fortune 50 retail company team on its global sourcing strategy. With a 710 GMAT and a 3.17 GPA, this 26-year-old woman wants to know if she should retake the GMAT and aim for a higher score to offset her low undergraduate grades on her MBA application.
What these would-be MBA candidates share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?
Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm HBSGuru.com, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.
As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments on Poets & Quants, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature.
(Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)
Mr. Supply Chain
- 700 GMAT (44Q 66%, 41V 92%)
- 3.64 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in finance and supply chain management from a Pac-12 state university
- Work experience includes nearly five years in supply chain management at Honeywell Aerospace, currently as team lead in a strategic planning group; several promotions and have been a top performer in every role; was a key part of a team deploying a new planning system, responsible for troubleshooting and training about 75 to 100 people
- Extracurricular involvement is marginal with some intermittent volunteering at a local community center doing fundraising and tutoring
- “After reading other ‘handicapping’ articles, I now know that staying at one spot for 5 years was not ‘playing the game’ as you have said. One of the big reasons that I’ve stayed with the same company is because a parent developed early onset Alzheimer’s so I transferred back to my hometown 2.5 years ago to be a partial caregiver.”
- Goal: To move into a supply chain or general management consulting role
- 26-year-old white male
Odds of Success:
Chicago: 40% to 50+%
New York: 30% to 40%
Harvard: 20% to 40%
Stanford: 10% to 20%
Wharton: 30% to 50%
Sandy’s Analysis: This is more solid than you might think since you actually work for a company that makes stuff. AERO also is a hot field at the moment, and supply chain, while not sexy, is something most B-schools respect. In your case, staying with the same company for 5 years — and getting rave reviews, and promotions and increasing responsibilities — is a plus.
My rule of thumb about hustling out of your first job after two or three years to a ‘better’ one is mostly applicable to banking and consulting, where that is the M.O. of most high performers. You got a 3.6 from a respectable school and one that seems to fit your down-home profile, and if you can get Q on GMAT up to ~80 percent, you’d be a real solid candidate at your target schools of UCLA, Berkeley, Booth, and USC. Stern may wonder what some California Aero Boy is doing in NYC, so that might get you a WL, unless you made it real clear.
As for H/S/W, I am not seeing this as Stanford unless someone at your firm can pull a string, or has in the past. With an 80 percent Q score on GMAT, you could be a natural admit at Wharton, given that you would help round out the class and have a solid work and leadership background at Honeywell, a known company. At HBS, there is nothing driving you in per se, but this is real solid (esp. if you came thru with a 720/Q-80% GMAT). HBS might be impressed by how a guy with supply chain background at a major AERO company could contribute to case method.
That probably won’t tip things for you, but I’d say odds are 20-40 percent. If you indeed are a star at Honeywell, some champion there could help at HBS, beyond writing a normal recommendation, the guy has to communicate that you have been innovative in supply chain and also a major leader of diverse work streams, as you apparently have been. Viz., “part of a team deploying a new planning system, responsible for troubleshooting and training about 75-100 people . . .”
HBS is impressed with stories like that. You need to come up with some “goals” cocktail that puts all this together, adds some HBS transformational mojo, and pours out real smooth. Shaken or stirred don’t matter Mr. Bond, just clear and classy.
As to helping parent with Alzheimer’s, that is a good story, and could easily make a nice accomplishment or optional essay (or even a setback essay). As noted, you don’t really have to explain why you stayed at Honeywell for five years. It’s a solid accomplishment and can add luster to a mix of essays and narrative that is also solid—it would not, by itself, put a dent in explaining why you never moved on to another job, but you don’t to have to do that.
Mr. or Ms. Consultant
- 750 GMAT
- 3.75 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in economics and philosophy from an Ivy League university (Columbia/Brown/UPenn)
- Work experience as a consultant for top-three firm (Bain or BCG)
- Extracurricular involvement as a researcher of a sanitation-focused NGO in rural Kenya; co-founded an economics discussion forum during the financial crisis; led 30-person workshops on social justice, race and identity
- Goal: To gain leadership ability to direct strategy at a major tech company or to create disruptive business models in developing countries using technology
- “How would this be impacted if I applied for a MBA/JD? I have a 170 LSAT, but that was sort of taken on a whim and could be improved”
- Mexican with U.S. citizenship
Odds of Success:
Harvard: 40% to 50%
Stanford: 30% to 40+%
Sandy’s Analysis: Dunno, we got a 3.75 GPA at an Ivy School, a 750 GMAT, work at either Bain or BCG, possible Latino (are you a U.S. citizen and do you have a Spanish surname, or otherwise evidence that you identify Latino?). Did I miss this someplace, you never did come out and say what gender you were.
Well, never mind, although just to speculate, the number of Latino men with 750 GMATs is pretty darn small, so if you are a guy, which somehow from the vibe of your report, I don’t think, that would be better. You also have solid and interesting and global extra-currics in college, which as you note, include, “researcher of a sanitation-focused NGO in rural Kenya, spending several months in-country. Co-founding an economics discussion forum during the financial crisis and leading a 20-30 person workshops on social justice, race, and identity.”
And, as you add, “not much since then.” Assuming you can get solid recommendations from your consulting firm, you have a solid chance at both H and S. Stanford is very partial to M/B/B, all their phony “pseudo-equality” jive aside (“we want to know you as person . . .” yes, they do, a person who works for M/B/B), they really take lotsa, lotsa kids from those firms, and you have the PC college extras, the Latino thing, and super solid stats to boot. HBS, while it takes fewer M/B/B as a percent, still takes a lot.
The fact you have firm support is also significant. (Meaning, for those who don’t know, that the firm will pay your tuition, usually in the form of an interest-free loan which is forgiven by 20% or 25% every year you return, so you can work it all off in four or five years. Many folks who make that deal, don’t do the whole 4-5 years, and some just punt for a tech start-up, but, whatever, it is a strong vote of confidence on the part of the firm in you, which is what counts to adcoms).
The fact that you do not have much current extracurrics will not be a big factor in my opinion. There is just too much really strong basic material here.
As to your stated goals, either of the two you list are fine (1. “Gain the leadership capabilities to direct strategy at major tech company . . . 2. Disrupt business models in developing countries (Mexico/Kenya) using technology, e.g., car-sharing business in Mexico City to reduce traffic . . ). Schools don’t care about goals for someone like you as long as they are not insane. Just make sure you can link goals up to things you have done, and cite role models of people doing that, so it does not seem totally nuts.
You asked about getting a joint JD/MBA, and for the 134th time, allow me to say, I OPPOSE ANYONE DOING A JD-MBA JOINT-DEGREE (MD/MBA IS A DIFFERENT MATTER) because it is a waste of time and money. I still am open to readers who want to defend this boondoggle (at H and S, there is no real joint-degree program, you just get permission to cross-register. It is not like there are seminars about the synergy between law and business. You are totally on your own. The program is administered, in fact, by the Registrar and welcomed by the Bursar, with everyone else scratching their heads). If someone could write in and give me an example of anyone who might gain from a joint-degree, please do so. Arguably, someone interested in managing an IB firm or being a general counsel to a Fortune 500 company. But at any rate, that ain’t you babe (or dude).
Needless to say, your chances at Wharton are strong for all of the above and at Booth, Kellogg, MIT, Haas, and Yale are very strong, if you can convince them you actually want to come.
Mr. Shot Glass 2+2
- 740 GMAT
- 3.7 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in business from UC-Berkeley
- Work experience includes being a summer associate in 2012 at Boston Consulting Group and a summer associate product marketing manager at Google in 2011; currently own a profitable small shot glass manufacturing business launched in late 2011 with annual revenue a hair under $80,000
- Extracurricular involvement as co-founder of a service organization and president from 2010 to 2011; rock climbing
- Goal: To shape corporate strategy for technology companies either as a consultant, a venture capitalist, or an operating executive in a tech company
- ”I am interested in the HBS 2+2 program, but fear my non-science background will hurt me there. If not 2+2, Stanford, Wharton, Dartmouth, Kellogg or Yale in 2 or 3 years.”
- 21-year-old male Vietnamese.
Odds of Success:
Harvard 2+2: 60+%
Stanford 2+2: 50%
Sandy’s Analysis: IMPORTANT: Stanford has a 2+2 program as well, although they don’t push it as much as HBS, but it is Stanford and they will automatically defer admits from college seniors for two years, and maybe more. It seems a lot of 2+2 kids, almost half, don’t start after two years but take three years or more. See this Poet’s & Quants’ article for actual data, Harvard’s 2+2 Adjusts To Work & Love.
Here is another important stat about 2+2: While HBS is on the prowl for STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), the target for the program is 50 percent STEM, my guess being, because not many STEM majors are actually interested in 2+2, or maybe don’t know about it. But the dirty little 2+2 secret is they take many kids who major in Economics or even English and work on Wall Street — exactly the type of kids they have no need to take because, duh, those kids are not going anyplace in the next two to three years except finance and why not wait and see how they make out in the IB leagues over the next few years? Her Majesty would snort and say, “Well, we want to stop them from going to law school,” but she really wants to stop them from going to Stanford B-school in two or three years.
As to you, we got a 3.7 at Berkeley, a 740 GMAT, a summer at BCG, a summer at Google and some real interesting hobby/start-up businesses (shot glass manufacturing? Do you make the glasses or customize blanks? List website in comments, hey we got some shot glass readers here). Plus you started a service org.
Dude, that is solid 2+2 material at both HBS and Stanford, although I gotta say, 2+2 decisions are often unpredictable, with some amazing peeps not even gaining an interview. But whatever, you are in the running, and given those extras, and being Vietnamese, you got a real good, ahem, shot.
Ms. Sleepless in Sourcing
- 710 GMAT
- 3.17 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in marketing from Notre Dame
- Work experience includes four years at a Fortune 50 retail company leading a team and managing a $275 million global sourcing strategy
- Extracurricular involvement as an officer in an undergraduate women in business council and currently an e-mentor to a 6th grader, volunteer coordinator for sickle cell research charity and volunteer coordinator for alumni
- “I am on the fence about taking the GMAT again/waiting one more year to apply so I would LOVE any advice you had to share. I know my GPA is low, but not sure if retaking the GMAT would offset that or confirm my laziness during my first year in college”
- 26-year-old white female
Odds of Success:
Harvard: 10% to 20%
Chicago: 30% to 40%
Northwestern: 30% to 40%
Sandy’s Analysis: You are a long shot for HBS because of low GPA (3.17) and lack of any other compelling issue sucking you in, viz. minority status, adversity story, etc. 710 GMAT is OK for HBS and quite frankly I don’t think your outcome at HBS would change if you took it again and got a 730.
HOWEVER, a 730 GMAT could make a difference at your other schools especially at Wharton, Kellogg, and Booth, where you are a plausible but “on the bubble applicant.” You might also think about developing an alternative transcript, just to show your bona fides. At Wharton you are a bit of a reach, and retail global sourcing is not in their core interests, so this could be hard there. They won’t pay super attention to your better-than-average extracurriculars, but those could buy you some plus points at Kellogg and Booth, which are more alert to that.
Some of your decision about retaking GMAT and/or taking courses over the summer, could turn on what courses you screwed up during your bad first year at Notre Dame, and what courses you took when your grades got better. Marketing is not known as a tough major, and schools would be more interested in how you did in any ‘quant’ based courses like Micro/Macro Econ., stats, calculus, etc. If your work involves any quant elements, highlight that on your app. Another issue is what was your split on the GMAT? If your Quant score was below 70 percent, I would seriously think about retaking.
- 760 GMAT
- 8.5 on 10 scale GPA
- Undergraduate and master’s degrees from IIIT in Hyderabad, India
- Work experience includes three years as a software developer at Amazon; gained promotion to senior developer a year ago
- Extracurricular involvement in a leadership role in the alumni club in college, alumni fundraising after college, volunteer teacher to underprivileged poor school children; member of team delivering educational content to rural schools using technology
- Goal: To join either Microsoft or Google in product management or strategy roles or do strategy consulting work for the tech industry
- 25-year-old Asian male
Odds of Success:
Dartmouth: 20% to 30%
MIT: 40% to 50%
Chicago: 40% to 45%
Northwestern: 40% to 50%
Columbia: 30% to 45%
Sandy’s Analysis: Dunno man, those schools should not be hard in general (see breakout below) given the fact that you have a high GPA from a good Indian tech school (although not an IIT), a 760 GMAT and success as a software developer at Amazon which is a hot company (and one everyone has heard of). It also seems like you have solid extras.
Lots of guys like you want to transition from programming into management and the ‘secret’ is to structure your app so that you show leadership as a senior software developer and say that the most rewarding parts of your job have been technical leadership projects such as 1, 2, and 3, and what you want to do is use those talents to ‘transition’ into more general management. As to schools you note, here are some quick notes.
Tuck: You are not in their wheelhouse of banking, consulting or general management and your history and working career seem a long way from New Hampshire, so they may wonder why you are applying. It’s really important to visit Hanover and spend time at Tuck to develop that story.
MIT: They go for guys like you if you can spin your story more toward their mantra of innovation and make a case for how their programs in x, y or z are up your alley. Basically, they will go for your stats and tech background, plus the Amazon halo effect.
Berkeley: This one should be easy. You are in the same time zone. You got the stats. They are open to your goals. Just convince them you are serious.
Booth: You are not their core applicant, but they will go for the stats, Amazon, etc. Visit and make a case for how they can help you.
Kellogg: See Booth. Should be a bit easier since your goals align better with their core competencies. At Berkeley, Kellogg and Booth, your extras, especially your volunteer work “to teach underprivileged poor school kids, member of a team which delivers educational content to rural schools using technology” can be braided into your story about being an innovator.
Columbia: They will go for the stats, and Amazon, and rest don’t hurt. Just apply early.
Yale: see Columbia.
INSEAD + London Business School: Should be easy but 1. You are young for INSEAD, and 2. You got a U.S.-based story, so they may wonder what is up? You will need to explain that.
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