Non-traditional Admission Question (Family Business)

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I would like to know what are the chances of admission into a top 20 MBA program (Kellog, Booth, Columbia, Tuck, Yale, Fuqua, LBS, INSEAD etc) if my work experience consists only of being in the family business since graduation from college. This family business has an annual turnover of $60m, and consists of about 150 employees. It operates mainly in the physical trading of commodities, but has subsidiaries in clean technology, construction and sustainable engineering.

I have worked for about 3 years in a strategy and business development role, possessing responsibilities spanning from the analysis and execution of acquisition targets, to planning the long term corporate strategy of the businesses and assisting in securing pipeline projects and deals. My long term goal would be to transition into a management role, succeeding my father by heading the entire business, while looking to further innovate our patented technologies and expand operations onto a global scale.

Assuming a GMAT score of 700, and an undergrad degree from a top Australian university with a grade average of 76/100 (equivalent to the UK's Upper 2nd Class Honors, my university doesn't do GPAs), what is the likelihood of admission?

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by GeneralEducation » Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:14 am

B-schools look for quality of work experience and in your case your application essays and recommendations play important role in deciding your candidature so focus on these aspects and also target 700+ GMAT to add more value to your profile and prove that you are analytically strong. Also focus on the need for MBA when you are already involved in family business and you should be clear on your post MBA career goals, these will act as basis for your convincing essays. From your profile I can make out that you have many instances of leadership and team building abilities, but to write them convincingly will be a challenge so start your preparation at the earliest.Let me know if you have any question...visit to gauge your chances for top b-schools.


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by PrepMBA.AlexLeventhal » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:23 pm

I get asked every season whether a family business background is a liability for the MBA process. The answer is an emphatic "No"! Now, there are challenges at times with LORs, given your Dad can't very well write one (there are creative workarounds like a client, partner, or non family member executive). But I see family business applicants do very well, especially if they have been working for 3 plus years, show passion for the industry and their future plans, and have taken on increasing responsibilities. It also helps if the firm is sizeable (60 million is solid) and has multiple employees. MBA programs are doing more to attract and build curriculum and activities around family business issues, particularly as schools expand into Asia.

So no worries there. With a 700 gmat and your undergrad marks, yes you can confidently apply to top 20 programs. Just make sure you choose a balanced slate of schools to spread your risk, just like you would an investment portfolio.
Alex Leventhal
Harvard MBA, 1998
Prep MBA Admissions Consulting
[email protected]

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by MBAPrepAdvantage » Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:57 am
Family business is an excellent background. Some schools like Kellogg ( and Wharton ( and are thought leaders in this area so I would suggest you also apply to Wharton.

You are competitive for all the schools you listed so focus on aligning your background and goals with benefiting from and impacting the school. For each of your target schools research "family business" or "family enterprise" resources as this is a growing area at business schools. For instance, Booth has a Family Enterprise Group. While Columbia has a Family Business Management class and Family Business Management Program to create a family business ecosystem.

Good luck,
Michael Cohan
MBAPrepAdvantage Founder & AIGAC Board Director

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